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Thursday, April 23, 2015: Medicare cuts, ranked choice voting, Democrats’ budget proposal

Real heroes

The American Red Cross, Pine Tree Chapter, held its 18th annual Real Heroes Awards Breakfast on April 15. Those who weren’t there really missed out. They presented eight special Heroes Awards to very deserving people and organizations. But the members of the American Red Cross are the real heroes. Don’t forget them next year and don’t neglect to leave the gift of blood soon.

Chuck Knowlen



Medicare protection

More than 50 million Americans depend on Medicare, and many more baby boomers are added every year. In order to finance the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, $716 billion will be stripped from Medicare to help finance the Affordable Care Act for the next 10 years.

Cuts will include $145 billion in payments to hospitals serving low-income patients, $66 billion for home health services, $39 billion for nursing services, $260 billion to hospital services, $156 billion to Medicare Advantage, $33 billion for other services, and $17 billion for hospice care.

We’ve all seen what happens when government controls health care. We can all expect to be on the same waiting lists and reductions in the quality of medical care that our veterans receive.

While this scandalous treatment of our elderly goes on, Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the U.S., received $528 million in federal funding last year, more than $1.4 million per day.

Even though technically a nonprofit, Planned Parenthood reported more than $127 million in excess revenue and $1.4 billion in net assets.

More than 41 percent of its income comes from U.S. taxpayers to cover bedroom activity, not health care. Planned Parenthood destroys health by selling contraceptives and abortifacients like the pill, which the World Health Organization has found increases the risk of cancer.

Let’s make our government protect health, not destroy it.

Ronald J. Stauble Sr.



Ranked-choice voting

Ranked-choice voting is the way we should be voting. Here’s how it works: After all the votes are counted and no candidate has received a majority of votes, there’s an instant run-off because voters ranked candidates according to their preference by listing them as No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3.

Let’s say that a voter’s first choice got the least votes. That choice is eliminated. But the vote still has value because a voter’s support then goes to the second choice. This process continues until one candidate receives 50 percent or more of the votes.

Portland, Maine; Hendersonville, North Carolina; Memphis, Tennessee; and other municipalities have had great success with ranked-choice voting. Those voters resoundingly affirm that the ballot design is easy to understand and the instructions are easy to follow. When it’s broken down, it’s an intuitive process. We make choices every day.

Ranked-choice voting is nonpartisan because candidates must appeal to a wider spectrum of voters. They can’t afford to run a “slash-and-burn” campaign.

I want candidates who represent the best ideas. And I want to be empowered with real choices, plus I don’t want to worry that my vote was “wasted” or “spoiled.” If anyone else feels the same, there will be an opportunity to vote on this reform in November 2016.

Ranked choice voting been endorsed by leaders of both parties, including Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, who said it saves taxes and leads to good government.

Give it some thought. It’s worth it.

Joasha Dundas



Strong economy

As a student of social work I believe it is imperative to consider all ways in which Gov. Paul LePage’s proposed budget will be harmful to low- and mid-income Mainers. Tax policy, responsible for the distribution of limited resources, creates the circumstances in which people can or cannot access food, clothing, shelter, education, employment and prospects for betterment.

LePage’s budget creates limited circumstances for the people and Maine by proposing a regressive sales tax, establishing a narrow tax base, taxing nonprofits and putting Mainers and Maine’s infrastructure at risk by ending revenue sharing with municipalities. Furthermore, the budget does not pay for itself, and research has shown that the cuts LePage is proposing do not help to grow state economies.

Maine’s Democrats have proposed an alternative plan that would focus income tax cuts on low-income taxpayers, double the homestead exemption for everyone, increase municipal revenue sharing and reject taxing nonprofits. The Democrats do support raising the sales tax, but not the extent LePage has proposed. This plan not only protects vulnerable Mainers from unjust harm, but creates a stable tax base and the opportunity to grow Maine’s infrastructure.

I would like to encourage all Mainers to contact their representatives and senators and urge them to vote in favor of the proposals outlined by state Democrats so that Maine may be a state with not only a strong economy, but with a strong and healthy people.

Allison Strausberg



Abortion is immoral

The April 14 BDN OpEd by Abbie Strout, the so-called “director of education” at the Mabel Wadsworth Women’s Health Center, was most disgusting. Her statement that “abortion is a common, necessary and normal part of reproductive lives” is just another sick example of the legal immorality that has infiltrated our society. How any respectable human being can make an irresponsible statement like that is simply mind-boggling.

Joe Bertolaccini



Clean up elections

I don’t know about other Mainers, but the attack ads and negative campaigning that have been so prevalent in past elections are things I want to see stop. I want to have the Maine Clean Elections Act return to its former effectiveness, and I hope others do, too.

There is a great opportunity coming up to help us return to more transparent and accountable elections. From 4 to 6 p.m. on Sunday, April 19, at the Unitarian Universalist Society of Bangor, 120 Park St., there will be a community forum with Maine Citizens for Clean Elections to discuss the Clean Elections Initiative coming up this year.

Speakers include former state Sen. Ed Youngblood and state Rep. Jim Davitt. Those in attendance can find out how to help restore clean elections to Maine and shine a light on dark money. This is a campaign of, by and for the people of Maine. We urge all to join us as we work to restore clean elections in Maine.

Laurie Cartier


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