Printed letters, October 11, 2013

Remember the political ads on television several years ago of then-candidate Barack Obama, declaring how disgraceful out-of-control government spending had become?

He compared it to someone who kept maxing out credit cards and opening more accounts with the “Bank of China” to keep spending more money that couldn’t possibly be paid back. Someone else could worry about paying that debt later.

But that was then and this is now. Now those who want to put the brakes on government spending are branded as a crazy, right-wing extremists.

Even though President Obama won the election last year, so did a large number of conservatives in the House of Representatives who opposed the Affordable Care Act and plunging the country more deeply into debt. The bottom line is we don’t have the money to pay for it.

Since the U.S. Constitution says all spending bills must originate in the House, representatives have the “power of the purse.” They are elected every two years to represent the most current wishes of the citizens and to maintain the balance of power. This helps to keep any group or individual from becoming excessively powerful at the expense of our rights and liberties.

Obama needs to consider this before making chilling statements such as, “I will not let Congress stand in my way.”

The public has become disgusted with the arbitrary way this “law of the land” is being administered. Some 12,000 waivers have been issued to big corporate businesses, big labor unions, Congress and the president — one law for them and a different law for us.

If Obamacare is good, they should be willing to abide by it themselves.



Tea party exerts undue 
influence on Republicans

Republicans campaigned on shutting the government down. Their grass roots cheered it.

After the GOP House caucus voted recently, the representatives were giddy with joy. As psychotic as it sounds, members of the GOP were happy about their planned extortion. The hated government would be shut down, or millions would be denied health insurance plus the rest of us denied the numerous benefits of the Affordable Care Act. Right-wing media would blame Obama and lay a smokescreen of misinformation.

Regular news outlets would predictably use a false equivalency that would claim the president was equally at fault because he would not negotiate with a gun to the country’s head. Billionaires would buy ridiculous ads falsely proclaiming that government would replace doctors.

This strategy sounds insane to observers who pay attention, especially from congressmen who already have government-subsidized insurance. Why would anyone joyfully hurt so many?

Conservative “news” outlets have generated lies and misinformation about Obamacare that have left many not even knowing that the Affordable Care Act and Obamacare are the same thing. They like all the benefits of the ACA but hate “Obamacare.”

Very few know the ACA reversed the upward trajectory of government health care costs and extended Medicare for ten years. The media made the public delusional.

The Senate has sent a clean continuing resolution to the House for the dollar amount that the GOP wanted. It would immediately pass if Boehner allowed an up-or-down vote. But why compromise when you can extort and lead the nation into one manufactured crisis after another? Blaming President Obama is like the rapist blaming the victim.

The tea party is in an ideological war, and it does not care if it brings down the country or its people. Thank God for the Republicans who still do care.


Grand Junction



Editorial on federal shutdown 
panders to local sentiments

Tuesday’s editorial was interesting. Talk about provincial, self-serving attitudes! Every community in the country has a complaint of some kind about local discomfort caused by the current government closure and how its situation is exceptional and it should not be a victim of the closure.

Keep in mind who caused the possible illegal closure and why: Republicans cannot achieve their objectives through normal legislative action, so they have chosen extortion to get their way. We have elections and regular legislative routine and Republicans lost.

The author of the editorial commits a cardinal journalistic offense of taking one anecdotal comment in a notorious reactionary Washington paper as proof that Obama is trying to inflict as much pain as possible on citizens. Once again, who caused the closure?

There is a budget on the table from the Senate that Obama will sign. House Republicans refuse to allow a vote unless they can have a majority without any Democratic votes.

They don’t have the votes so, like three-year-olds, they try to blame Obama and Democrats for their own inability get their way with a program voters rejected twice by electing Obama and the legislature passed with the Affordable Care Act.

The final sentence of the editorial tells all. The author suggests that the whole mess will hurt Democrats. That suggests that the editorial is either trying to please local sentiments or is hoping to help in spreading distrust in those who are standing up to a completely unconstitutional, outrageous plan of extortion to inflict on voters something contrary to what those voters have rejected over the last five years.

Republicans should grow up, as is also true of the editorial writer. The Sentinel is diminished by such a thoughtless, partisan effort to spread misinformation and mistrust. Why encourage the Republican information bubble?


Grand Junction


Freidman off-base in criticism 
of shutdown, Colorado recall

Thomas Friedman appears to have his brains, head or both where there is no sunshine. He deplores the government shutdown because of the Obamacare issue with Republicans. He sees this as deplorable “because the future of how we govern ourselves is at stake.” 

Well I, for one, hark back to the passage of a multi-thousand-page health care bill (strictly on a party-line vote) that was read by nobody, because the Democrats could force it that way.

Even then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi implored passage so we could then find our what was in it. That was endangering the future of governing our country. All that is happening now is fallout from this occurrence.

Later in the column, Friedman excoriates those who voted for the recall of two Colorado state senators, just because they voted their “conscience on a narrow issue.” Well, those senators voted against, apparently, the wishes of their constituents. Friedman says they “lost their seats in a recall election engineered by gun extremists and reportedly financed with some $400,000 from the National Rifle Association.” This donation was actually more on the order of $360,000.

Friedman should note what The Denver Post published prior to the recall: “Proponents of the recall have raised about $540,000, while opponents have collected nearly $3 million. Much of the cash has come from out of state — a sign of the national significance these recalls have.”

I have a list of the major donors, if Friedman would like to know who they are. Just one of them dwarfs the amount the NRA donated.


Grand Junction


Sending homeless away 
invites needless litigation

An answer to letter writer D.D. Lewis:

I don’t think sending homeless folks somewhere with a one-way ticket will help the problem. However, having sue-happy lawyers get involved is just going to make matters worse.


Grand Junction


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Today’s letter from Dianne Cox (“House has responsibility to control purse strings”) affords another timely opportunity to reexamine the profound illogic and persistent “denialism” which permeates the “thinking” and resultant fact-free opinions of local would-be “conservatives”.

As the Sentinel’s front-page graph clearly demonstrates, after Reagan-Bush’s “VooDoo Economics” had tripled the national debt and George Bush had squandered the Clinton surplus in the process of doubling the national debt again, Democrats – including then-Senator Obama – were entirely justified to object.

However, while Democrats symbolically voted against the debt ceiling increase in 2006, they did not attempt to “shut down the government” or cause an international financial crisis – in contrast to the “crazy, right-wing extremists” elected in 2010 and 2012.

Yes, the purportedly “fiscally conservative” House does indeed have “responsibility to control purse strings” – and the House is controlled by Republicans who are “controlled” by “crazy, right-wing extremists” (not President Obama).

However, just as Republicans since 1980 have cynically and disingenuously claimed to be “fiscal conservatives” (belied by the graphic depiction of their profligacy), the new crew of “Tea Partiers” is by no means fiscally responsible.

The true extent of their craziness is illustrated by the facts that:  repealing “ObamaCare” would increase future deficits, the “shutdown” is costing the economy (not to mention affected individuals) unrecoverable billions, the mere threat of default has already driven up interest rates the Treasury must pay on new borrowing, and hastily drafted legislation to retroactively pay furloughed federal employees for not working (rather than for doing their various critical jobs) would pay them twice for not working (since their bill did not account for the fact that those employees are already entitled to unemployment benefits).

Fortunately, as the Sentinel editorialized today (“Congress inches toward budget, debt solution”), most Americans (unlike Cox) now know who is genuinely irresponsible.

Deanne Adamson poignantly raises pertinent questions facing many struggling parents and aspiring, responsible, but discouraged high school students in today’s troubled times. 

Without questioning the validity of her listed facts, the reality of her family’s financial situation, and/or her political leanings, I offer the following thoughts.

First, in a free enterprise economy like ours, the difference between “being successful” and “living on the public dole” is supposed to be motivation enough to ambitiously pursue the former.  Consequently, at least in theory (and in contrast to the British system before Margaret Thatcher), we have no “public dole” sufficient for long-term personal sustenance.  Rather, elements of our “social safety net” (like unemployment benefits and Food Stamps) are intended to be temporary, transitional protection against the vagaries of “the business cycle”.  Thus, historically, Republicans and Democrats have differed over the duration, sizing of, and eligibility criteria for such benefits – not about their efficacy.
Today, the closest we have to a “public dole” are Social Security Disability Payments – a program that has reportedly become riddled with fraud, because of widespread distress.

Second, because of the near-Depression of 2008, millions of Americans lost their jobs—and the economic recovery has not been sufficient to restore them.  Unfortunately, too many Americans similarly-situated to the Adamsons voted for political candidates who shouted “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs” – but then obstructed every effort to actually create them.
Rather, those same demagogues still obstruct President Obama’s continuing efforts to revitalize our economy – preferring to impose austere economic policies that are still destroying jobs rather than stimulating demand for products and services – such as many “job creating” small businesses like the Adamsons’ offer.

Third, the Affordable Care Act was intended to help families and small businesses like the Adamsons’ better afford reliable health insurance coverage.  If it is failing to do that for them, it needs to be improved and enhanced—not repealed, replaced, or delayed.  It remains unclear, however, whether Deanne has actually shopped on Connect for Health Colorado for more affordable coverage, and whether her existing policy actually provides the level of coverage now standard under “ObamaCare” (no annual or lifetime limits, no denial of coverage or policy cancellation based on pre-existing conditions, etc), and/or whether her family or her husband’s business would be eligible for available subsidies.  More detailed information on what the Affordable Care Act is – or is not doing – for them would certainly be useful in better understanding their situation.

Fourth, you don’t need to be an “economic genius” to know that increasing demand for health care services will drive up their cost.  However, increasing demand for health insurance coverage on competitive “insurance exchanges” induces insurers to pressure providers to squeeze excessive overcharges out of their billing systems – so insurers can charge lower premiums.  This is the “market driven” approach advocated by Republicans, implemented in Massachusetts under Governor Romney, and then embraced by President Obama – when many “liberals” were demanding a “single payer” or “Medicare for all” approach.  Only after President Obama sought to enact the Republicans’ own idea was it then dishonestly stigmatized and vilified as “ObamaCare”.  Blame Sarah Palin. 

Finally, since Deanne’s son is still only a sophomore, he has 2+ more years to learn the critical thinking skills needed to answer his own questions – and for our dysfunctional political system to offer him a more vibrant economy and motivating array of options.

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