Prevent gun violence
The Maine chapter of Solidarity Sundays urges Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King and Rep. Chellie Pingree to take action against the epidemic of gun violence in the United States. Thoughts and prayers aren’t enough for the victims and their families in Texas, California, Las Vegas or any of the other communities affected by gun violence. They won’t protect our young children and won’t keep us safe when we are in what we expect to be safe spaces.
Please work to close the loopholes that allow people to buy guns at shows and through private sellers without background checks and institute universal background checks for ammo and gun buyers. Please keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers. Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s Assault Weapons Ban of 2017, a bill that would ban the sale, transfer, manufacture and importation of military-style assault weapons, is a good place to start.
There have been 317 mass shootings in 2017, as of this writing, according to the Gun Violence Archive. We are looking to them for leadership to prevent further horrors such as these.
Quality child care a national security concern
The Nov. 12 BDN editorial on the importance of high-quality early care and education mentioned that the military is one of numerous groups concerned about this issue. I can attest to this as retired general and member of the nonprofit Mission: Readiness.
Just as children who do not get a strong start in life are not prepared for success in school and in the workforce, they also are not prepared to serve their country in uniform. Seven out of 10 young people in Maine, and across the country, are ineligible for military service, mainly because of educational shortcomings, obesity or having a record of crime or drug abuse.
The good news is that we know what works to help address this problem. A Mission: Readiness report cites research demonstrating that high-quality child care can support children’s success and military readiness. For example, a long-term study of more than 1,300 children found that children in higher quality child care were better prepared for school at age 4 compared to children in lower quality child care, and they were still performing above their peers and had significantly lower levels of behavior problems at age 15.
Given the benefits to children’s development and our future national security, state and federal policymakers should continue to promote access to affordable, high-quality early care and education.
Brig. Gen. Rob Carmichael
U.S. Army, retired
Tax bill a windfall to ultrawealthy
The tax bill snaking its way through the House and Senate is a disaster in the making for Maine. It will benefit only the very richest Mainers, and will hurt most the poorest and least fortunate among us. It will only accelerate the widening gap between rich and poor.
According to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, over the next decade, nearly 47 percent of the benefits will go to the top 1 percent of all households, and 24 percent to the top one-tenth of 1 percent. To pay for these windfalls to the ultrawealthy, Medicaid, Medicare, Pell grants and other student financial assistance, the Women, Infants, and Children program, and Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program could be targeted for cuts, potentially hurting Maine’s youth, seniors and poor.
Other changes that will harm Mainers include eliminating the deduction for state and local taxes and the medical expenses deduction, which is used mostly by middle- and lower income taxpayers with catastrophic health care costs.
In addition, taxpayers will be devastated when they are faced with a sudden, sharp increase to their federal taxes in 2025, when tax breaks for individual expire, to pay for permanent cuts for wealthy business owners.
This tax bill is a scam whose real purpose is to reward Republican Party donors through a huge gift, elimination of the alternative minimum tax and the estate tax, and, laughably, lower taxes on storing and staffing private jets. Sens. Angus King and Susan Collins should vote against it.