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Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012: Fighting in Washington, tax cuts and cancer pain management

Fight for me

This country was founded and its Constitution written by men who, although they often vehemently disagreed with each other (think states’ rights), were able to work together for the greater and common good.

I think about that each time I read about or hear about how a politician is going to “fight for me in Augusta or Washington.” We have high schools graduating students who can’t make change for a $10 bill, a health care system that needs a complete overhaul, an obesity epidemic and a national debt that our children’s grandchildren will probably be paying off.

I am tired of having politicians “fight for me” because nothing is getting done. Alex Haley wrote, “When you clench your fist, no one can put anything in your hand nor can your hand pick anything up.”

Walter N. Plaut Jr.


Allow high-end tax cuts to expire

Mike Tipping’s BDN blog, The Tipping Point, recently noted a report by two Maine professors about the devastating effect Paul Ryan’s proposed budget would have on the state, including our seniors. But even if the Romney-Ryan ticket isn’t elected this fall, we will be facing similarly destructive tax and spending plans by the year’s end.

That’s when hundreds of billions of dollars worth of across-the-board tax increases and indiscriminate spending cuts are set to kick in unless Congress acts to stop them. That can only happen if the two parties reach a bargain on how intelligently to confront our deficit problem. Democrats have already agreed to a $1 trillion worth of spending reductions over the next decade. Meanwhile, Republicans haven’t agreed to a single dime of revenue increases, even from multibillionaires and multinational corporations awash in profits. It seems clear which side needs to give a little.

Our two moderate Republican senators are well qualified to reacquaint their GOP colleagues with the art of compromise. One easy place to start the process is by allowing Bush-era tax cuts on the 2 percent of taxpayers who make more than a quarter of a million dollars a year to expire, generating tens of billions of dollars that can be used to pay down debt and preserve bulwarks of the middle class such as Medicare and student loans.

All Mainers should contact Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins and urge them to allow the high-end tax cuts to expire as part of a balanced budget deal.

James Yerkes


The fight for quality of life

Earlier this month I traveled to Washington, D.C., with cancer survivors and volunteers to call on Congress to support legislation that emphasizes patients’ quality of life during treatment for a serious disease such as cancer. Lawmakers have the power to improve the lives of cancer patients by making treatment of their pain and other symptoms standard practice during the course of care.

I joined more than 600 cancer patients and survivors from across the country who volunteer for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network to educate lawmakers about proposals that have the potential to better coordinate patient care and reduce the pain, fear and anxiety that many patients feel during treatment.

When I met with a representative for Sen. Susan Collins, I asked for the senator to make a commitment to patients’ quality of life by co-sponsoring legislation that gives patients more control, makes sure that their pain is properly managed and provides better coordination between doctors and medicines so that patients know what to do when they’re discharged from the hospital.

A national commitment to protecting quality of life will help cancer patients get well, stay well and live full lives.

Janet Miles


Humble farmer

May I offer a humble suggestion to our political practitioners in reference to the federal tax and budget debate now raging?

Since both Democrats and Republicans (as well as the odd independent) agree that tax cuts due to expire at the end of this year shouldn’t — for folks making less than a quarter of a million dollars annually — let’s not let them expire.

Once we’ve extended tax cuts for the middle class, we can look up at the happy 2 percent of households that rake in over $250,000 each and every year and allow the rates to move up ever so gently — not much, just back to the levels that helped bring on the prosperity and budget surpluses of the Clinton years.

Do our worthy U.S. Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins realize that with these two easy steps we could bolster the embattled middle class, raise hundreds of billions of dollars for debt reduction and, most importantly, cut short a debate in Washington?

Robert Karl Skoglund

St. George

Support Kevin Raye

Editor’s note: This letter is being rerun because it originally contained typographical errors.

Our country and our state are in trouble. At the federal level we are racking up debt at a rate of $1 trillion a year. In Maine a third of the population is receiving welfare. It is time for a change, and Republican Kevin Raye is the right person for the job. Raye understands what it takes to run a successful business, meet a payroll and balance the books — skills that appear to be in very short supply in Washington.

Importantly, Raye has promised to work to repeal Obamacare, while his opponent fully supports it. While it would be nice if we could give everyone in our country free health insurance, the bottom line is we, as a nation, cannot afford to do that. Amazingly, under Obamacare, people who prefer and can afford low-deductible, broad-coverage health insurance policies (so-called Cadillac insurance) will be hit with a 40 percent penalty. Think about that: The very people who can afford their own health insurance are going to have to pay a penalty.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud supports Obamacare even though we cannot afford it, even though it is expensive for small business, even though it raises taxes and even though it is unfair to those who want good coverage. Of course, as a congressman, Michaud will not have to pay for Obamacare — he gets the best health insurance money can buy, free. Well, it’s not really free — you and I are paying for it, just like we are paying $800 a month for the new SUV Michaud drives around Maine.

Raye will work to repeal Obamacare, and he will never ask you to pay for his personal vehicle. The choice is clear.

Randy Poulton


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