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June 30, 2009 Letters to the Editor

Vets with vouchers

I am a 76-year-old veteran of the Korean War era who never has used veterans’ medical benefits. I’ve always had good health insurance coverage from my employers. I’ve also had first-class treatment from our existing medical system when I needed it.

I’ve heard many complaints from fellow veterans and some horror stories about veteran hospitals from what I consider reliable sources. Since I don’t use it, I have no dog in the fight to improve veteran health care except as a taxpayer to make sure worthy veterans are getting the best care for our tax dollar as a reward for their service.

If it weren’t for politics, we probably could close most veterans hospitals and issue vouchers to ex-servicepeople so that they could obtain near home the high-quality care that most of us receive without long waits, travel and possibly marginal or bad care where it is encountered. The example of the quality at these hospitals and clinics that I hear about may be a cautionary note about what to expect from nationalized (government-run) health care.

I would like to think that there are some examples of well-run veteran care facilities, but so far I have not heard of any that are exemplary.

Orin Lowe


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Excise tax ripe for cut

Abbot Town Clerk Lorraine Leeman should review the facts before agreeing to go on record against excise tax relief (“Battle brewing over bill to reform Maine’s excise tax,” BDN, June 12).

Ms. Leeman speaks strongly against a citizen initiative to cut in half Maine’s seventh-highest-in-the-nation auto excise tax, a reform that would save Maine taxpayers $85 million each year. She uses her own town of Abbot to show why excise tax relief is bad, but after looking at the facts, it’s clear her points don’t add up.

Ms. Leeman reveals that in 2008 Abbot collected $112,830 in excise taxes for road funding. Based on additional information from the Maine Revenue Service, this was an increase of more than 18 percent from Abbot’s 2007 excise tax collections.

Have Abbot’s roads seen an 18 percent improvement? Did Abbot residents’ property taxes see an 18 percent decline? Hardly.

Ms. Leeman may not be the best source for objective information regarding local tax relief. Making a living on the taxpayer dime certainly could influence one’s position on whether residents should experience local tax relief.

Beulah Bragdon


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Heath out of step

I see the BDN has wasted ink on Michael Heath yet again (“Move to reject gay marriage seeks allies,” OpEd, June 24). I am eagerly awaiting his discussion about Mark Sanford, John Ensign, Scott Roedet, James von Brunn, Bob Packwood, Ted Haggard or many other Christian conservatives who would deny real Americans their life, liberty or freedom of choice.

Instead, he must beg for money from away to promote sexism, racism and 15th century values. Feel free to go to Texas and burn books with the rest of that crowd. Real Mainers won’t miss you.

Jim Burns


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‘Liability to health’

Here’s to entrepreneurship in our health care system. The true health care entrepreneurs are doctors and other health care professionals.

Large health insurance companies have failed to make health care affordable, just as they have become expert at maximizing their profits. They have inserted themselves between patient and doctor and are a liability to our health. Wouldn’t we be much better off with a comprehensive health care system that includes preventive care and incentives for healthful lifestyles?

The United States is long overdue for a system modeled on Medicare or the system now enjoyed by members of Congress. We would each remain free to choose our health care providers, pay into the system just as we pay into Medicare throughout our working lives, and expect payment through the federal government, just as members of Congress and Medicare recipients do now.

Such a universal single-payer health plan is favored by most Americans, but our politicians say it’s not possible.

Why are most of our politicians too timid to stand up to the powerful lobbies of the health insurance companies and the pharmaceuticals? Could it be because of the big money that finances their campaigns? Where are the politicians who can represent the life and death interests of we, the people? Let’s take critical decisions about our health out of the hands of those who get rich by denying payment for our health care and put these decisions back in the hands of our doctors and nurses, the true entrepreneurs here.

Martha Dickinson


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Rich dodge tax reform

Taxation can be a complicated issue, but people really do understand how it affects them. One doesn’t have to know academic taxation to understand the recent “tax reform.”

Just take two examples. The top 1 percent of Maine taxpayers make about $800,000 per year and get a tax reduction of around $15,000.

The single person making $30,000 will get around a $100 tax reduction.

The person making $800,000 will not have a sales tax on repairs to their yacht, their ski tickets or golf-spa membership.

The person making $30,000 will be taxed on repairs to their car, attendance at sporting events and movie tickets.

Sen. Perry, Taxation Committee chairman, has said, “Two years from now we’ll be back at it to draw the income tax rate down another 2 percent.”

This will give the people making $800,000 another $15,000. So when you have to have your car repaired just look at the bill, read the part that says sales tax and know that most of it is going to a person making $800,000.

If you feel this is not fair, call your representative. They will probably say this is fair; it is a proportional reduction in taxes, people from away will help to pay for this.

Don’t be misled by words. The truth is that you are paying for a huge tax break for the richest people in Maine.

Russ Hazzard


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