Email letters, June 25, 2014

GOP was one winner in Colorado primary

The armchair pundits and TV talking heads were right. The tea party is dead, in Colorado at least. It’s nice to see Mesa County wants someone with horrible record-keeping skills and certainly questionable ethics for sheriff. Way to go.

There was only one winner in the recent Colorado primary, for sure: the GOP establishment. Here I thought we were actually concerned about our future. Apparently, I was wrong.

DAVE WARE
Grand Junction

Clean air petitioner should have stamped out cigarette

I was seated in a 16th Street Mall public chair on a beautiful afternoon when a male in his upper 30s approached me with a clipboard and cigarette in his hand. He asked me if I was a Coloradan voter and if I would sign his petition for “clean air and water” in Colorado. His cigarette prevented me from signing. Regretfully, he took his “toxic tobacco” smoking break in the chair next to me. Maybe he is a future politician?

MIKE SAWYER
Denver

King as sheriff would need to manage office funds better than Senate funds

Steve King for Mesa County sheriff? He was fired from the sheriff’s department in June. He stormed out of a meeting when the accounting books didn’t work in his favor. So, depending on his mood swings, can he keep a level head on his shoulders? I, for one, think we should all send him some more hairspray to keep his hair in place while he continues to live off taxpayer
dollars. If he is elected, I hope he can manage the sheriff office funds better than he did when in Senate. I am Republican, by the way.

SAM BAGLEY
Palisade

PERA retirement money a vital part of local economy

The Public Employees Retirement Association just announced that in 2013 it made a return on investment of 15.6 percent. That amounted to $6.1 billion. Meanwhile PERA sent $3.7 million to retirees and added $4 billion to the trust fund, raising it to $43.7 billion.

PERA has been in existence since 1931, weathering many national financial storms, while its retirees paid $282 million in taxes last year. Employees, like teachers, contribute to PERA from their first paycheck, which is then professionally invested while they concentrate on their jobs.

PERA retirees in Mesa County spend an estimated $110 million a year in local businesses in good times and in bad. Every month more than $300 million is sent to retirees who call Colorado home.

The defined benefits PERA provides attracts better future teachers and other public employees where the rate of pay is not always commensurate with educational levels. Retirement money then becomes a vital part of our local economy.

HARRY MCDONALD
Grand Junction

Tipton supporters should remain skeptical

Connoisseurs of Congressman Scott Tipton’s latest weekly “Update” titled “Addressing the problems at the VA” and touting his co-sponsorship of “The Veteran Access to Care Act of 2014” (H.R 4810) should remain skeptical.

While local veterans might be heartened by Tipton’s support for improving their timely access to health care, Republican rhetoric is likely “lip service” – because the House bill awaits reconciliation with the Senate’s “Veterans’ Access to Care Through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act of 2014” (S.2450).

The difference between the bills is some $35 to $50 billion annually (according to the CBO), and Republicans are already balking at that price tag.

Of America’s 21.4 million living veterans, only 8.4 million are enrolled in the VA healthcare system.  Another 8 million eligible veterans are not yet enrolled – but thousands are enrolling every month as a result of the Obama administration’s coverage of PTSD and Gulf War Syndrome, and to satisfy the ACA’s “individual mandate.”

Both bills fund the VA to contract with private physicians to provide health care to “wait listed” and “rural” (40+ miles from a VA facility) veterans, but the House bill “sunsets” in two years (a short-term “Band-aid” response), while the Senate’s takes a longer-term and more comprehensive approach – funding the hiring of more health care providers within the VA system and constructing 20+ new VA hospitals and dozens of clinics.

The Bush Administration underfunded the VA for eight years.  President Obama has doubled the VA’s budget since then.  Republicans have annually cut $2 billion from his recommendations and filibustered the previous version of the Senate bill in January.

Thus, contrary to Tipton’s tired mantra that “spending is the problem,” the root problem is that Republicans mindlessly cut taxes – and thus revenues – while starting the two longest wars in our history.

BILL HUGENBERG
Grand Junction


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