Letters

Letters 05-02-2016

Facts About Trails I would like to correct some misinformation provided in Kristi Kates’ article about the Shore-to-Shore Trail in your April 18 issue. The Shore-to-Shore Trail is not the longest continuous trail in the Lower Peninsula. That honor belongs to the North Country Trail (NCT), which stretches for over 400 miles in the Lower Peninsula. In fact, 100 miles of the NCT is within a 30-minute drive of Traverse City, and is maintained by the Grand Traverse Hiking Club...

North Korea Is Bluffing I eagerly read Jack Segal’s columns and attend his lectures whenever possible. However, I think his April 24th column falls into an all too common trap. He casually refers to a nuclear-armed North Korea when there is no proof whatever that North Korea has any such weapons. Sure, they have set off some underground explosions but so what? Tonga could do that. Every nuclear-armed country on Earth has carried out at least one aboveground test, just to prove they could do it if for no other reason. All we have is North Korea’s word for their supposed capabilities, which is no proof at all...

Double Dipping? In Greg Shy’s recent letter, he indicated that his Social Security benefit was being unfairly reduced simply due to the fact that he worked for the government. Somehow I think something is missing here. As I read it this law is only for those who worked for the government and are getting a pension from us generous taxpayers. Now Greg wants his pension and he also wants a full measure of Social Security benefits even though he did not pay into Social Security...

Critical Thinking Needed Our media gives ample coverage to some presidential candidates calling each other a liar and a sleaze bag. While entertaining to some, this certainly should lower one’s respect for either candidate. This race to the bottom comes as no surprise given their lack of respect for the rigors of critical thinking. The world’s esteemed scientists take great steps to preserve the integrity of their findings. Not only are their findings peer reviewed by fellow experts in their specialty, whenever possible the findings are cross-checked by independent studies...

Home · Articles · News · Other Opinions · Do little, take a break
. . . .

Do little, take a break

Stephen Tuttle - August 8th, 2011
Do Little, Take a Break
Our collective play date in Washington has taken a break. The sandbox is
empty, the toys gone. Some of the children pretending to be our elected
representatives did not play well with others.
As John McEnroe was fond of bellowing, “You cannot be serious!”
The Great Budget Near-Disaster of 2011 has concluded round one. After
months of wrangling that was frequently surreal, Congress has agreed to a
deal that raises the debt ceiling, thereby at least forestalling a default
on obligations by the United States government for the first time in our
history. It also reduces spending by an amount that’s about the same as
the amount of increase in the debt ceiling.
Then they passed the hard work on to an as yet unnamed super-commission of
12 legislators, six Republicans and six Democrats, assigned to conjure up
another $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction in the next year. If they fail,
automatic cuts occur in both defense spending and Medicare at about the
same time as the Bush tax cuts expire.
So, a smaller group of the same people who could not agree on much of
anything while the debate slithered through Congress will now try to agree
on the same issues they could not resolve previously. What could possibly
go wrong?
In the pathetic little agreement that does exist, Republicans successfully
protected even the most odious tax breaks for the wealthy and
corporations. (Tax breaks for corporate jets and yachts? Those are
“essential”? Really?) They also made sure there was no tax increase for
the wealthiest 5% of American income earners.
They even forced a vote on a balanced budget amendment despite knowing
there is absolutely no chance it will receive anywhere near the 67 votes
needed in the Senate.
The president got a deal that prevents a default but he succumbed to the
realities of vote counting – there were simply not enough votes in the
House to support his plan and he didn’t do much to change that reality.
As David Letterman cleverly said, “Obama compromised with the Republicans
in the same way Custer compromised with Sitting Bull.”
The great irony here is the public actually supported Obama’s so-called
balanced approach that included both spending cuts and revenue increases.
Virtually every poll taken on the subject showed about two-to-one support
for the combination of spending cuts and tax reform as opposed to the
cuts-only plan now in place.
As is becoming a pattern, the president and Democrats did a horrible job
of selling a plan that already had public support thereby successfully
snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Again.
The Great Agreement contains no major or even minor reforms to entitlement
programs, minimal defense cuts, no tax reform that closes giant loopholes
or increases taxes on the wealthiest Americans; in fact it doesn’t do much
at all, leaving the hard work to the super commission yet to come.
Nor is there so much as a word about job creation. There seems to be
little debate that the ongoing malaise in the job market is the cause
of much of our budget woes. According to the Congressional Budget
Office, an unemployment rate of about 5%, as opposed to the current
9.2%, would provide sufficient revenue and create an economic multiplier
impact that would put the deficits back to a manageable level and we
wouldn’t even be having this debate. Jobs, apparently, are no longer a
priority for Congress.
Lost in all of the silliness and rhetoric is the fact that none of the
proposals discussed actually balances the budget for decades. The entire
debate was about reducing the amount of overspending
Especially troubling was the fact that Speaker of the House John Boehner,
despite his best efforts, lost control of his own troops in what must have
been some kind of bloodless coup. The Republicans in Congress are now
controlled by tea party darling Eric Cantor of Virginia and his merry band
of freshman absolutists. They believe compromise is weakness, that their
principles are more important than yours or mine and that they are
entitled to 100% of what they want 100% of the time.
Thank God they weren’t around to destroy the compromises that led to the
Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, every
additional amendment and almost every piece of significant legislation in
our history.
They claim they are just doing what their constituents want. That’s
interesting.
It seems unlikely their constituents wanted them to take the country to
the brink of economic catastrophe just so they would get their way. Or to
protect all tax loopholes and make sure the very rich need not worry about
even a tiny tax increase. Or to make seniors pay for their own Medicare.
Or attempt to reduce the deficit on the backs of the poor, the sick, the
young, the elderly and what’s left of the middle class.
The only thing that’s been accomplished, really, is Congress has delayed
the work they claimed to be so diligently undertaking and created a
commission to do their jobs for them. There is no reason to assume the
legislators who will comprise the commission will be any more successful
than was Congress since it will be the same people engaged in the same
debate.
There is much work to be done and little time in which to do it.
So, of course, Congress has now adjourned for a five week vacation... I’m
sorry... Congress has recessed for five weeks of “district work sessions.”
Uh-huh. You really can’t make this stuff up.

 
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