Tax bill slashes Medicare funding
On behalf of 230,000 AARP members in Maine, I am writing with great concern regarding the latest version of the Senate tax bill. Congressional leaders are trying to rush this bill into law, and there are several aspects of the bill that would have dire consequences for millions of Americans, including thousands in Maine.
First of all, the bill would slash billions of dollars in Medicare funding, starting as soon as next year and pave the way for more cuts down the road. These cuts mean that older Mainers could lose access to the doctors they know and trust. It means hospitals would be forced to make tough cuts. It means millions of Americans who’ve earned their Medicare benefits could be turned away from care.
Medicare is a promise made to the American people — not a trade-off for tax cuts. Efforts to make the tax code fairer should not come at the expense of Medicare.
The Senate bill would also eliminate the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate. This would cause a spike in health insurance premiums by an estimated 10 percent. As a result, 13 million Americans would lose their health insurance.
AARP opposes the current tax bill because it is unfair to older adults and to people living on fixed incomes. All concerned Mainers should contact Sen. Susan Collins at 1-844-502-4371 and ask her to vote no. We urge both the Senate and the House to reach a bipartisan solution that protects older Americans and makes the tax code simpler and easier to understand.
Volunteer state president
Don’t drill in Arctic refuge
Is the degradation of America’s protected lands worth a small increase in our already abundant oil resources?
Many in Congress who are allied to the oil industry think so, and they are willing to put legislation into the proposed tax bill that would allow drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. These type of backdoor tricks are usually used for unpopular or shady legislation, and this drilling project is a prime example. We must insist on the integrity of our protected lands against corporate greed.
I am urging Sen. Susan Collins to reject this bill that would compromise the important tradition of American land conservation in exchange for a nominal increase in the oil reserves and a quick pay-out for corporate interests.
Gagnon gives Moore a pass
While I agree with Matthew Gagnon’s Nov. 23 BDN column regarding sexual impropriety in Congress, I found it disingenuous that while he mentioned Al Franken, John Conyers and George H.W. Bush, nothing was said regarding Roy Moore, who is an accused pedophile running for the U.S. Senate in Alabama, nor the “abuser in chief” in the White House who has been accused by multiple women and recorded bragging about his sexual abuse of women on the “Access Hollywood” tape. So much for “fair-and-balanced” writing.
Early childhood education matters
The Nov. 18 BDN editorial, “Schools need chance to let improvements work,” highlights the lack of consistency in Maine’s programs to measure student achievement. The need for consistency in testing is obvious if we want to measure student progress from year to year.
Consistency, however, is not good when we consider Maine’s efforts in early childhood education. Early childhood education has been consistently underappreciated, under-coordinated, and under-funded by Maine’s state government.
Almost one half of fourth-grade students in Maine are from low-income families. Most of these same students do not meet proficiency standards in literacy or mathematics. Maintaining consistency in the length of the school day, the length of our school year, the disjointed coordination of federal, state and local programs, and the lack of funding for early childhood education, are not going to provide these children with an equal opportunity for a good public education and a fulfilling life.
The importance of early childhood education is almost universally recognized by Maine people in business, education, law enforcement and the military. If Maine can solve the early childhood education puzzle with effective programs and adequate funding, and remain steadfast in purpose, then the academic performance of all fourth-grade students will improve, and the details of what type of student assessment to use will not really matter.