Letters 10-24-2016

It’s Obama’s 1984 Several editions ago I concluded a short letter to the editor with an ominous rhetorical flourish: “Welcome to George Orwell’s 1984 and the grand opening of the Federal Department of Truth!” At the time I am sure most of the readers laughed off my comments as right-wing hyperbole. Shame on you for doubting me...

Gun Bans Don’t Work It is said that mass violence only happens in the USA. A lone gunman in a rubber boat, drifted ashore at a popular resort in Tunisia and randomly shot and killed 38 mostly British and Irish tourists. Tunisian gun laws, which are among the most restrictive in the world, didn’t stop this mass slaughter. And in January 2015, two armed men killed 11 and wounded 11 others in an attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. French gun laws didn’t stop these assassins...

Scripps’ Good Deed No good deed shall go unpunished! When Dan Scripps was the 101st District State Representative, he introduced legislation to prevent corporations from contaminating (e.g. fracking) or depleting (e.g. Nestle) Michigan’s water table for corporate profit. There are no property lines in the water table, and many of us depend on private wells for abundant, safe, clean water. In the subsequent election, Dan’s opponents ran a negative campaign almost solely on the misrepresentation that Dan’s good deed was a government takeover of your private water well...

Political Definitions As the time to vote draws near it’s a good time to check into what you stand for. According to Dictionary.com the meanings for liberal and conservative are as follows:

Liberal: Favorable to progress or reform as in political or religious affairs.

Conservative: Disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditions and limit change...

Voting Takes A Month? Hurricane Matthew hit the Florida coast Oct. 6, over three weeks before Election Day. Bob Ross (Oct. 17th issue) posits that perhaps evacuation orders from Governor Scott may have had political motivations to diminish turnout and seems to praise Hillary Clinton’s call for Gov. Scott to extend Florida’s voter registration deadline due to evacuations...

Clinton Foundation Facts Does the Clinton Foundation really spend a mere 10 percent (per Mike Pence) or 20 percent (per Reince Priebus) of its money on charity? Not true. Charity Watch gives it an A rating (the same as it gives the NRA Foundation) and says it spends 88 percent on charitable causes, and 12 percent on overhead. Here is the source of the misunderstanding: The Foundation does give only a small percentage of its money to charitable organizations, but it spends far more money directly running a number of programs...

America Needs Change Trump supports our constitution, will appoint judges that will keep our freedoms safe. He supports the partial-birth ban; Hillary voted against it. Regardless of how you feel about Trump, critical issues are at stake. Trump will increase national security, monitor refugee admissions, endorse our vital military forces while fighting ISIS. Vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence will be an intelligent asset for the country. Hillary wants open borders, increased government regulation, and more demilitarization at a time when we need strong military defenses...

My Process For No I will be voting “no” on Prop 3 because I am supportive of the process that is in place to review and approve developments. I was on the Traverse City Planning Commission in the 1990s and gained an appreciation for all of the work that goes into a review. The staff reviews the project and makes a recommendation. The developer then makes a presentation, and fellow commissioners and the public can ask questions and make comments. By the end of the process, I knew how to vote for a project, up or down. This process then repeats itself at the City Commission...

Regarding Your Postcard If you received a “Vote No” postcard from StandUp TC, don’t believe their lies. Prop 3 is not illegal. It won’t cost city taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal bills or special elections. Prop 3 is about protecting our downtown -- not Munson, NMC or the Commons -- from a future of ugly skyscrapers that will diminish the very character of our downtown...

Vote Yes It has been suggested that a recall or re-election of current city staff and Traverse City Commission would work better than Prop 3. I disagree. A recall campaign is the most divisive, costly type of election possible. Prop 3, when passed, will allow all city residents an opportunity to vote on any proposed development over 60 feet tall at no cost to the taxpayer...

Yes Vote Explained A “yes” vote on Prop 3 will give Traverse City the right to vote on developments over 60 feet high. It doesn’t require votes on every future building, as incorrectly stated by a previous letter writer. If referendums are held during general elections, taxpayers pay nothing...

Beware Trump When the country you love have have served for 33 years is threatened, you have an obligation and a duty to speak out. Now is the time for all Americans to speak out against a possible Donald Trump presidency. During the past year Trump has been exposed as a pathological liar, a demagogue and a person who is totally unfit to assume the presidency of our already great country...

Picture Worth 1,000 Words Nobody disagrees with the need for affordable housing or that a certain level of density is dollar smart for TC. The issue is the proposed solution. If you haven’t already seen the architect’s rendition for the site, please Google “Pine Street Development Traverse City”...

Living Wage, Not Tall Buildings Our community deserves better than the StandUp TC “vote no” arguments. They are not truthful. Their yard signs say: “More Housing. Less Red Tape. Vote like you want your kids to live here.” The truth: More housing, but for whom? At what price..

Home · Articles · News · Other Opinions · Bad news from the Budget...
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Bad news from the Budget Wars

Stephen Tuttle - April 25th, 2011
Bad News from the Budget Wars
The first round of the budget wars was fun, didn’t you think?
The rhetoric was especially amusing with plenty of melodrama from both
sides. If the politicians were correct, we’re doomed. Republicans said we
were doomed if we didn’t cut at least $100 billion from the last few
months of the 2011 federal budget. Democrats said we were doomed if we
cut more than $19 billion.
In the end, both sides compromised on a $38.5 billion cut, considerably
less than the GOP’s Official Level of Doom and considerably more than
the Democrat’s. (Actually, once you subtract money that wasn’t going
to be spent anyway and factor in cuts that don’t begin until next year
or later, the actual impact on the 2011 budget is less than $500
million out of a $1.65 trillion deficit.)
The next chapter will be the debate over raising the debt ceiling to more
than $14 trillion. It’s incomprehensible. It doesn’t even look real when
you write it down – $14,000,000,000,000.
The hardcore budget-cutters, who care little about consequences and
greatly about bottom lines, vow to vote against it. We all understand,
and many sympathize, with the sentiment. Unfortunately, failure to
increase the ceiling has some really dire consequences, like defaulting on
our current loans, damaging our credit rating and, subsequently, devaluing
the dollar.
If Congress manages to resolve the debt ceiling issue with minimal
bloodshed we’ll finally move on the main event, the 2012 budget.
The facts, which will likely be ignored by both extremes, are stark. Fully
63% of the budget is now consumed by Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid
and defense spending, the Big Four of the federal budget. There are
additional hundreds of billions spent on defense and security that are off
the books. Even worse, the percentage of spending on Social Security and
Medicare will continue to rise dramatically as additional millions of Baby
Boomers become eligible to use both.
Even if we eliminated all spending other than the Big Four we still would
not balance the budget.
Nevertheless, the battle lines have already been drawn.
The starting point for Republicans will be Rep. Paul Ryan’s recently
released proposal reducing spending by $6 trillion over the next 10
years. The starting point for Democrats will be President Obama’s proposal
that reducing spending by $4 trillion over the next 12 years.
Neither plan balances the budget, eliminates annual deficits, reduces the
debt or addresses Social Security. Ryan’s plan actually increases defense
spending and provides huge tax breaks for corporations and the rich.
The keystone to the Ryan plan is the complete deconstruction of Medicare.
Medicare began in 1965 as an amendment to Social Security legislation.
The idea was to provide healthcare for Americans 65 and older at a time
when senior Americans were being ravaged by poverty.
Medicare has been plenty popular among those who receive it, less so among
the medical community paid by it, and is abhorred by newly elected
Republicans who see it as unsustainable and a ripe target for cutting.
A typical Medicare recipient has about 75-80% of their healthcare costs
covered. The remainder must be covered with supplemental insurance or
paid for out-of-pocket.
The Ryan plan would more than reverse that ratio. He would have
individuals 65 and older pay for 84% of their healthcare needs through
private insurance and Medicare would cover the remaining 16%. His theory
is that private insurers, excited about the possibility of tens of
millions of new customers, and in a perfect example of the free market at
work, will fall all over themselves to sign up these new policy holders.
And at competitive rates, too.
But health insurance isn’t a typical supply-and-demand commodity. To be
viable there must be a very large number of policy holders who rarely, if
ever, have a health issue other than an annual check-up. They subsidize
those with chronic or catastrophic health issues.
The tens of millions of seniors Ryan proposes to unleash on the health
insurers will nearly all be heavy consumers of healthcare services or
products, or soon will be. The pool of those doing the subsidizing will
remain the same size. Premiums would necessarily skyrocket unless there
is some sort of significant government subsidy to either consumers or
providers. It won’t work.
President Obama and far too many Democrats, on the other hand, think this
can be solved to a large degree by taxing the rich, closing tax loopholes
and eliminating some tax breaks.
What we call loopholes and tax breaks cost the treasury more than $1
trillion a year. We almost all agree that those which allow huge
corporations to escape without paying any taxes at all need to be
reformed. As should the laws that allow the likes of General Electric to
create corporate shells “headquartered” in tax sheltering places like the
Cayman Islands and avoid U.S. taxes altogether.
Which other loopholes should we close? Those that allow us to deduct
mortgage interest or college tuition or business expenses or out-of-pocket
medical expenses or the taxes we paid last year or any of the others we
all use every year?
We absolutely must reform Medicare and Medicaid. Our tax system is long
overdue for a serious overhaul. Paul Ryan’s plan, which strips away
benefits from those least likely to be able to find coverage elsewhere, is
certainly not the answer. Nor is Barack Obama’s Robin Hood proposal.
Somewhere in the middle is an answer. Not the mindless slash-and-burn
approach of the new Republicans or the every-social-program-is-sacred
philosophy of the old Democrats but something in the middle.
Republicans and Democrats are going to have to work together. And they’ll
have to do it with a presidential election looming in 2012.
Given their previous track records and the likelihood of them suddenly
behaving like grown-ups, maybe both sides were right when they debated the
2011 budget reductions; we are doomed.

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