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From voters to "Beltway Gang': We've had it

Taxation without representation is still tyranny. As middle-income America slips deeper into recession and mental depression, our elected representatives continue to represent only the foreign interests and the very rich. Nowhere have I heard that we will make deep cuts in foreign aid to bring our deficit into line. Remember, charity begins at home. If the people in Washington cannot come up with any other solutions but to destroy the working class of this country, maybe it is time to do what we did with King George in 1776.

We can use our votes to send a message to the whole "Beltway Gang" _ we have had it . . . we have had it.

Nancy A. Nail, Port Richey

Voting citizens have a clear choice this year: business as usual through re-election or flushing the incumbents out of office. A grassroots coalition exists determined to send politicians a message. This spontaneous movement must have the support of all concerned citizens to override that solidly entrenched, money-sharing constituency. Not that you will be electing a person of higher morality but that you send the message that you are fed up. Additionally the newly elected will realize they too can be replaced.

Lobbyists, special interests and political action committees (PACs) are the puppeteers. For love of our country we must cut the strings. Not a call but a plea to all concerned voters to join in this movement. We must take back our country, we must take back our children. When 60 percent of a high school graduating class cannot read their diplomas; when veterans are systematically abused in VA hospitals; when the only solution to any problem is taxation; when drug money dictates the lives of our citizens; when our country is denied a balanced budget; when our children, husbands, brothers and sisters are sent off to war in violation of the Constitution; when our courts are a mockery, whom _ whom! _ should we hold accountable?

How quickly our politicians act to defend foreign oil fields, how slowly they act to curb the profiteering of American oil companies. We endured a congressional pay raise over our objections, we suffered through the Catastrophic Coverage Act, we may lose loved ones over oil and after it is over we will be asking, "What was that all about?" In short, Americans, we must verbalize what we are all thinking and that is "our politicians from top to the bottom are a pack of incompetents."

We now have this singular opportunity to speak in a unified voice. If it fails, apathy prevails and the politicians get a blank check.

Andrew C. Vogt, Westport

Re: Bush takes 10-year-old's letter to heart, Oct. 17.

This is really a letter to Lisa Lilla. Dear Lisa: It really was very nice of you to write the president. I am sure you were very pleased that he saw fit to read it on national television. Few of us ever get that much attention from him.

It is also very nice that you are concerned about

our government raising your father's taxes. You told Mr. Bush that he "should not use other people's money to help the deficit." Tell us, Lisa, where is it coming from? Who pays U.S. taxes? Who are the people of the United States?

I'm sure you get an allowance. Have you ever wanted it increased? If you discover as you grow older that your requirements are greater or prices go up, will you ask for more? Where will that come from? Since you seem to say that it should not be other people or your father's money, will you suggest that it be given by your neighbor? Or if prices go up for things you want, are you going to ask for less? It is difficult, isn't it?

I am sure your father is interested in providing you with the best home that he can. He probably has a mortgage to accomplish it. He has to find some place to get the money to pay for that and all your family consumes. It comes from his pocket, from your family unit, not from somebody else.

The sad thing today is that our country can afford just about anything you and I really want if we are willing to allocate resources to it. We could have great medical programs, great schools, great highways, plenty of defense, good parks and good housing. But we must have leadership with integrity, spelling out a plan, and they must have the strength to tell us that we have the ability to pay for it.

We all want the services of government. Do we sit on the side and insist that we must not be taxed to provide these services? Do we not understand the principle of cash in/cash out? Do we believe government programs and taxation are separate? Lisa, I am afraid no Santa Claus will come sleighing out of the sky to pay, and your father knows that you do not have a free allowance.

You provided the basis for a good civics lesson. I hope you and all of us will study it carefully.

Earl E. Ditmars, Dunedin

In reference to this new budget fiasco, how can a government penalize its senior citizens, the ones who made this country great by their sacrifices in two world wars and one police action (Korea) plus enduring the depression of the '30s?

How can a government forgive billions owed us by Egypt and Israel while hounding some of its own citizens who are delinquent in their taxes?

How can a government in the middle of a budget crisis that has already shut the government down once this month afford to give Israel $400-million (in loan guarantees) for housing for emigres while our citizens sleep under bridges or in cardboard boxes?

How can a government facing all these loan $5-billion to the IMF for countries to "ease their rising energy costs and supporting the U.N. sanctions against Iraq" while ignoring the energy costs and sacrifices at home?

It's about time our politicians caught on and started using their heads for something other than a hat rack; time is running out in more ways than one.

John J. Harwood, Clearwater

People keep talking about voting incumbents out of office, but what about those whose names are not on the ballot because they have no challengers?

We're required to vote for retention or non-retention of judges whom (with a few exceptions) many of us know little or nothing about, while we do know more about incumbents.

Instead of, or in addition to, judges' names, shouldn't we be able to vote yes or no for incumbents, even when they have no challengers?

It seems to me that our so-called democracy isn't working quite the way it's supposed to with respect to elections.

And as for financial "sacrifices and burden sharing" by all of us, it seems that we're all equal except that congressmen/women and the president and cabinet are "more equal."

L. Jump, St. Petersburg

Re: President Bush's decision to have all the "non-essential" government employees stay home from work if a budget isn't worked out. Does that also include the Congress?

Doug Peterson, St. Petersburg

America now has the lowest voter participation of any democracy in the free world. In the past election, only 38 percent of Americans went to the polls. Thirty-eight percent influenced the future of all Americans. Despite the fact that Americans are fed up with the campaign techniques of today's politicians, 62 percent did not vote.

Why?

They cannot recognize a Democrat from a Republican. Both sides are controlled by special interests and are committed to them. The longer in office, the greater the influence. It is a form of blackmail. The more the giver gives, the more the giver gets in return.

The majority of politicians remain in office until they retire or die; and, in many cases, their designated heirs assume the post.

Elected officials thrive on short memories, yours and theirs. When sneaking through the whopping raises for representatives and senators, they have ignored one of the reasons they gave for the raises. It was "to attract new experienced people with vision through competitive salaries." Yet, when an opponent challenges, they use their "special interest" donations to assault and intimidate opponents to

ensure their own re-election.

Barry Goldwater expressed it this way, "Unlimited campaign spending eats at the heart of the American process."

What seems to escape most Americans is that, indeed, we are still a democracy and elected officials are no more than hired help. It is about time we put our vote where our thoughts are! If not now, when?

Do not feel sorry for the defeated politicians. They gather their pensions, unused PAC contributions and live wealthier ever after.

Murray Held, Lutz

Re: Bush announces $5-billion International Monetary Fund loan to E. Europe, Oct. 19.

Get Japan or Germany to do it _ why always the United States? We are desperately trying to reduce spending _ we need to cut foreign aid, SDI, NASA and some worthless, costly government expenditures. You would think Bush would be doing what was necessary to cut spending, and when I read the above headline, I wondered what is going on.

If the guys at the top can't or won't handle the problem, vote them out _ as easy and simple as that. Let's get out the voters! Democrats or Republicans _ let's make it "Americans" and what is best for the country.

Rosemary Holmes, Seminole

Stop the circus in Washington.

Pass a bill canceling the Gramm-Rudman law. It clearly has been shown to be worthless as far as our present lawmakers are concerned.

Let them continue to play at their games and let the president continue to threaten a veto if he doesn't get his way.

The present system is a farce and an insult to the American people.

Karl H. Schwartz, Port Richey

I used to think that we elected people to Congress and other political positions because they knew more than we did as to what the needs of the people and the country were.

How stupid of me _ these are selfish individuals, who have been at the public trough for so long, they don't know anything but their own personal gratifications. Then suddenly along come lobbyists with their bribes they call gifts. Now our politicians have an incentive for their votes. They are further corrupted and the people and the country suffer.

Cure: Vote all incumbents out of office. Pass a national law that all lobbying is hereby illegal and will no longer be tolerated. It is time for all politicians to use their own brains and common sense, as this is what the voters of our country put them in office for.

M.A. Bailey, Largo

There may have been other times in the annals of American history wherein we have had a divided government, but the decade of the '80s is a classic case study of how not to govern a federal democracy especially through the traumas and dangers of "crisis management."

Unfortunately, we are burdened on one hand by a party promoting private privilege, on the other a party with a lost sense of social justice. Adding to the dilemma has been the rise of the imperial presidency that reached its zenith during the disastrous Reagan years, and unknowingly we have crowned a noble successor who has taken up the royal mace from his renowned predecessor and is wielding it with the same ineffectiveness.

Through the impotence of a self-perpetuating Congress, Americans have become victims of imperialistic executives who too often have called the country to arms, who continually embarked on military "just causes" and emoting to dictators to tear down their walls while at the same time propagandizing us into believing that 535 congressmen are totally incompetent while the imperial one is prophetic and infallible.

At long last the natives have become restless and angry, tired of being asked to make personal sacrifices while the movers and shakers destroy a once-powerful nation. Meanwhile, the imperial office engages in power politics to impose its 19th century philosophy on a nation struggling to survive the 20th, let alone reach the 21st.

So now we are faced with Armageddon and totally dependent on those who brought it about, and in our infinite wisdom we will again restore them to power, for too many remain loyal to leaders who have failed them while others no longer care to choose.

One can surmise that King George III at long last must be smiling in his royal tomb at the sight of what his rebellious colonists have wrought upon his once prized possession.

Edward G. DiPanni, Clearwater

It becomes tiresome to hear Republicans bleating about how they have not been able to get legislation

through because of their constant minority in the U.S. Congress. This is truly backward thinking. Consider:

The 435-member House of Representatives, plus the 100 U.S. senators, duly elected by the people to serve as the legislative branch of government, have been stymied by having opposition party presidents since 1968, with the exception of Jimmy Carter's 4-year-term. In other words, the legislative branch has not been able to enact needed legislation because of vetoes or the threat of vetoes by the executive branch.

Need more be said?

Charles Roberts, St. Petersburg

Am I the only one disgusted with our elected officials? Is there anyone else out there fed up with all the continuing problems that face our country and nothing being done about it? Well, in a few weeks, all of you can do something about it. Remember Jack Gargan's full page ad a few months ago relating to the budget deficit, S&L debacle, the $35,000 raise these fat cats gave themselves, and now they can't even come up with a good budget program because they are all bums as far as I am concerned. It's always the middle class who must foot the bill and bite the bullet when times are rough. Well, election day is upon us and I am voting every incumbent out _ no favorites. You do it, too, or forever hold your tongue.

Jacqueline Walker, Palm Harbor

Re: Hobgoblins in the house, Oct. 6, and President Bush's greatest test, by Robert Pittman, Oct. 7.

I find it rather interesting and concerning that opinions expressed by the St. Petersburg Times and many of those on Capitol Hill indicate that only President Bush has the power and thus, the responsibility for fashioning an acceptable federal budget. He is accordingly being blamed for the current budget mess. The Constitution clearly states the contrary _ the responsibility for collecting and spending monies rests with the Congress, and not the president. Article I, Section B states: "The Congress shall have the power to lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defense and general Welfare of the United States." Section 9 of the same article further states: "No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law." No mention of any specific presidential powers, responsibility or authority in regards to collecting or spending federal monies is made within the Constitution. Article II, Section 3 states that the president "shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to them consideration of such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient." This appears to be the only indirect reference to presidential responsibility in regard to the budget process.

Thus, those who blame the current mess on the president or expect him to be the only source of "power" capable of resolving the matter, clearly do not understand the provisions of the Constitution which assigns that authority to Congress. I presume their ignorance is the result of either a lack of knowledge of our democratic process, or a desire to express partisan political agendas.

I challenge those who blame President Bush for the problem to properly explain the constitutional support for their accusations. I feel it will be

extremely difficult for them to do so; and thus reveal their opinions to be generally political. Congress is the institution that has the authority and power to solve our current problems; and its inability to manifest the necessary leadership _ "profiles in courage" _ at this critical time should not be ignored and camouflaged by conveniently blaming the president.

Many issues of late, such as the Judge Souter nomination, center around the importance of our Constitution and its provisions. I challenge those who currently blame the president for our budget problems to take the time to actually read and honor it.

John F. Bealle, Largo

The paradox lies in President Bush being a statesman who deserves high marks for his handling

of foreign affairs but a failing grade when dealing with our most pressing domestic concern: the budget.

I remember in 1980, a presidential candidate George Bush during a campaign debate terming Ronald Reagan's tax cutting proposal as "voodoo economics." Unfortunately, after he became vice president, he conveniently erased that assessment from his mind and followed President Reagan's idealistic philosophy. And then during his own presidential campaign he coined his famous "Read my lips, no new taxes" phrase and followed the Reaganomics path. Results through the

past 9{ years of the Reagan-Bush presidencies: our national debt has risen to an astronomical $3.2-trillion; with the interest alone expected to reach $300-billion by 1993.

During recent budget discussions with the congressional leadership, the president delegated budget director Darman and Chief of Staff Sununu as his point men in these talks, while he spent time at Camp David. Then the following week when his TV address to the nation failed to draw the support he expected, he withdrew completely from the fray and blamed Congress for the ensuing debacle.

Prior to his TV address he returned from Camp

David by motorcade rather than helicopter to demonstrate his concern in curtailing travel expenses. But again, paradoxically, he has recently made campaign trips in a new jumbo 747 jet to Topeka, Tallahassee, Tampa and Atlanta. I'm sure these were much more costly trips at taxpayers' expense than a 45 minute helicopter ride from Camp David to the White House.

Finally, on Oct. 9, while jogging in Tampa, he refused to give the news media a straightforward answer on the proposed tax increase; instead a rather disdainful statement "read my hips." Not exactly a presidential response. No matter what the final outcome, our chief executive has demonstrated a lack of leadership at a time involving the economic well-being of our country.

Dorothy McDonald, Dunedin

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