Reject tax bill

The Senate’s “rich get richer, poor get sicker” tax bill is an abomination. It is predicated on the false assumption that tax cuts for corporations and for the top 1 percent will “trickle down” and lift up the poor and middle class. This bill will increase the deficit, and it will be paid for by gutting the Affordable Care Act and removing important tax breaks for the middle class and graduate students, while lavishing benefits on those who certainly don’t need it. In fact, more than 400 millionaires and billionaires recently sent a letter to Congress urging that their taxes not be decreased.

Increased deficits will provide Congress an excuse for gutting essential federal investments in health, natural resource and environmental research, in education, in environmental protection and other areas. This bill will increase the vast income inequality in this country. It is terrible for Mainers and for the American people. We do not need tax breaks for the rich. We need programs that will reduce income inequality, improve wages, and enable poor and middle-class families to flourish and to be ensured quality affordable health care regardless of their income.

I am extremely disappointed that the House passed its bill, with little debate or honest analysis of its impact. It is up to the Senate to stop it. I urge Sen. Susan Collins to vote for the people of Maine, rather than for the pocketbooks of the rich. This bill is unethical and un-American.

Susan Conard


Limit nuclear weapon use

I am very concerned that the actions of President Donald Trump in regard to North Korea and Iran are leading us into unimaginable horrors of a nuclear war. There is no doubt the dangers to the United States from North Korea and Iran’s development of nuclear weapons are tremendously alarming. But I believe Trump is making the situation far more dangerous by his reckless and threatening tweets regarding North Korea, and his declaration to pull the United States out of the Iran nuclear agreement.

At the Nov. 14 Senate Foreign Relations Committee meeting devoted to the topic of the first strike nuclear war issue, concerns were brought up by Sen.Chris Murphy that Trump is too unstable, volatile and quixotic in his decision making to be trusted with the immensity of making a decision unilaterally about a first strike nuclear attack.

Given the extremely dangerous situation of having a U.S. president who openly threatens nuclear war, I believe it is of the utmost urgency to stop our president from putting the United States and the whole world in critical danger, without detracting from what many members of Congress and government officials see as a necessary deterrent for our country’s defense.

I therefore think the most effective course of action is for Congress to establish concrete formulations of what constitutes “imminent danger” to justify a first strike nuclear attack.

Elliot Benjamin


Invest in Maine’s children

I want to voice my support for the recent BDN editorial, “Maine can show its children matter by ensuring they are safe, healthy, and educated.”

In my 27 years in law enforcement, including my time as Penobscot County sheriff, I have seen firsthand the difficult situations many children in Maine face. From living in poverty to experiencing neglect and abuse, too many kids face substantial roadblocks to getting a good start in life.

According to 2016 data from the National Survey for Children’s Health, nearly 40 percent of Maine children under age 5 have had one or more adverse childhood experience. This can affect brain development and, ultimately, set kids behind academically as early as the first day of kindergarten.

Fortunately, early interventions can help.

High-quality early education has been shown to lead to better performance in school, fewer high school dropouts and ultimately fewer crimes committed. It is also a key tool in ending cycles of abuse and neglect. By investing in high-quality pre-kindergarten and making it accessible to more at-risk kids in Maine, we can help ensure these kids get the support they need to grow up into healthy, educated and crime-free citizens.

If we invest in these programs now, then we are investing in a safer and more productive future for our state.

Troy Morton

Penobscot County sheriff