Email letters, October 21,  2013

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Some people would have you believe the billionaire’s money is just a wonderful gift to candidates of his choice.  Why somebody from Douglas County would give money to District 51 candidates is beyond me to begin with other than his opinion that vouchers and private schools are the way to go.

Interesting that there are 8 candidates for the Douglas County school board elections with a majority of them expressing a desire to take back their schools and get the budget under control.

Others would have you believe that because you are a union member supporting candidates that support teachers one is trying to rule the hen house. 

Some are just plain ignorant if they believe reform has not been taking place and some improvements made.  Not all reforms are good because they are instituted by politicians who know nothing about education.  The same is true about electing school board members with personal agendas that know nothing about education and how it works.  In fact, the last time they may have been in a school or classroom is when they were a senior.

Problem is, those voting for these people haven’t been in a school either!

In contrast to Lee Cassin’s blind loyalty to Scott Tipton (“Rep. Tipton deserves thanks for voting to end shutdown”), Alfonso Salazar puts his finger squarely on the problem (“Tea party Republicans must learn to play by the rules”).  As Gary Harmon reported (“Tipton:  Senate, Obama must negotiate now”), Tipton seeks to befuddle his gullible loyalists and evade “personal responsibility” for his actions.

Since 2011, Tipton has been an enthusiastic participant in the “Tea Party” Repugnicans’  deliberate efforts to “deny President Obama a second term” and sabotage his presidency by effecting “gridlock”.  As widely reported yesterday, their “strategy” has thus far cost our economy some $300 billion and 900,000 jobs.  “Heckuva job, Scotty!”

On October 1, 2013, Tipton voted for the anti-democratic rule change that guaranteed a prolonged shutdown.  Only after local economic impacts within the 3rd Congressional District prompted calls for his resignation did Tipton vote for the Reid-McConnell bill that both ended the shutdown and avoided default.  Meanwhile, those 16 days of Tipton-encouraged shutdown cost the national economy (i.e., wasted) at least $24 billion. 

From March 23, 2013 (when the Senate passed a budget resolution differing from the House version, thereby requiring a conference committee) through September 30, 2013,  Speaker Boehner – on twenty separate occasions—refused to appoint conferees, while Senate Republicans filibustered Majority Leader Reid’s appointments.  Thus, for six months, House Republicans “refused to negotiate” – fecklessly hoping to extort the repeal of ObamaCare by threatening shutdown and/or default. 

On October 1, 2013, with the shutdown then underway, Boehner finally appointed House conferees and staged a cynical “photo op” with an empty conference table – because, as President Obama warned for two years and Leader Reid confirmed, Democrats rightly “refused to negotiate during a shutdown” and/or under threat of default.

On October 16, 2013, the Reid-McConnell bill required what Repugnicans had refused to do – “negotiate” and resolve budgetary differences by December 13, 2013.

Tipton persistently proves how contemptibly low his “intellectual high ground” really is.

Dick Prosence’s on-line letter (“GOP platform should have two goals; reducing the size of government and promoting growth”) isolates the core problem of facing Republicans today:  those two goals are fundamentally incompatible.

Thus, while “Tea Partiers” would single-mindedly pursue the former – even at the $24 billion expense of shutting down the government entirely (thereby reducing its size to zero) and/or defaulting on the national debt (thereby de-“promoting growth” and costing some $300 billion and 900,000 jobs since 2011) – more thoughtful Republicans would emphasize the latter.  However, the widely-reported internal “civil war” within the Republican Party has the effect of reducing “conservative” policy pronouncements to empty rhetoric – because they offer no real policy alternatives and automatically reject those that President Obama and reputable economists have been advocating since 2009.

Thus, Prosence completely misunderstands the on-going debate in Washington – it’s all about the debt.  In 2006, then-Senator Obama warned his colleagues about the dangers of Bush’s profligate deficit spending.  In January 2009, President Obama inherited the largest national debt and annual budget deficit in our history – along with massive job losses and a negative growth rate unprecedented since the Great Depression.

Thus, Obama’s first priority was to restore economic stability by bailing out banks and the auto industry and re-stimulating the economic to promote employment.  Looking longer term, the biggest driver of future projected deficits (and this increased debt) was the rapidly rising health care costs that threatened the viability of Medicare.  Thus, his second priority was to embrace Republican’s “conservative” market-driven approach to harnessing a more competitive health insurance industry to drive down those costs.  The Affordable Care Act does that – even though Republicans have rejected their own idea.

Thus, what has been happening in Washington has always been a “serious discussion of lowering the national debt” – with Democrats offering constructive proposals (like the American Jobs Act of 2011) and Republicans obstructing everything and offering nothing but more “deregulation” and tax cuts for the wealthy (abject failures for 30 years).

Now, Prosence is recycling the same pseudo-policies touted by Romney-Ryan in 2012—and properly rejected by the American people.  Why – because there is no evidence that “reducing the size of government” actually promotes growth.  Rather, as evidenced by the multiple harms inflicted by “sequestration” and the “shutdown”, an amply revenued (not smaller) federal government has many critical roles to play in “promoting growth”.

L.W. Hunley (“Most fast-food workers are teenagers or college kids”) is flat wrong in claiming that such young people largely account for those earning abysmally low wages in the fast-food industry. 

Rather, the Center for Economic and Policy Research report finds that people aged 25-54 hold the largest share of fast-food worker jobs in the U.S.  11% of workers earning $7.25 an hour or less are older than 20, as are 68% of workers earning between $7.26 and $10.09.  This means that minimum wage workers are not simply teenagers looking for some pocket money while living at home with their parents; most fast food workers are trying to make a life for themselves and their families on the pittance that they earn.

The report also breaks down fast-food workers by demographics including race, gender, and whether those workers have kids.
“This new information simply serves to underscore what’s already known about the fast food industry:  Employers are incorrect in asserting that these jobs are a wrung on the ladder to the American dream.  Mobility does not actually exist for low-wage fast food workers.”  Moreover, the National Employment Law Project’s previous report found that a meager 2.2% of fast food workers hold managerial, professional, or technical positions, while more than 89% remain career front-line workers with little chance to advance.
Thus, Hunley should learn to practice what he preaches and “do a real job of disclosing all the facts instead of only reporting what” supports his sadly distorted view of reality.

Richard Bright’s response to Robert Laitres (“Hard-working citizens shouldn’t have to subsidize slackers”) regurgitates the same false meme spouted by Mitt Romney during the 2012 presidential campaign, when he maligned the “47% who pay no income taxes”.

Just who are these “slackers” Bright would refuse to “subsidize”?  As widely reported at the time (but apparently missed by Bright), 2/3 of those who have no federal income tax obligation actually pay social security payroll taxes – so, are working (not “slacking”).

Of the remainder, most are elderly – having already paid federal income taxes and/or payroll taxes during their working career – and are receiving Social Security in non-taxable amounts (not “slacking”), while some non-elderly simply do not earn enough outside the Social Security system to incur any federal income tax obligation.

The remaining fraction includes some 7000 millionaires who manage to pay no federal income taxes, and U.S. servicemembers serving in combat zones – whom Bright seems also to regard as “slackers”, even if active (rather than former) U.S. Marines.

Moreover, these “slackers” are concentrated across the states of the former Confederacy (plus New Mexico and Idaho) which tend to vote Republican!

Thus, Republicans have become the party of “Tea Party” slackers and wealthy scofflaws, while Democrats continue to steadfastly advocate for restoration of the Middle Class and for expanding opportunities for the working poor who strive to get there.

Mr. McDaniel is spot on when he points out the difference between the contributions of Mr. McVaney and those of more than 150 individual donors to the MVEA Small Donor Committee.  The Sentinel was wrong to equate them in its editorial.

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