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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

Topic: Congress

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April 2, 2014 at 7:04 AM

Government assistance: have a heart; important role for the wealthy

What has happened to our heart?

It is my hope that every legislator, on the state and national levels, will read “Are we a nation of takers?” by Nicholas Kristof [Opinion, March 29].

Congress wouldn’t need to worry about balancing the budget if all the corporate subsidies for private planes, yachts, hedge funds, etc., were eliminated. Congress, where “the majority of members are millionaires,” only talks about cutting food stamps while ignoring the billions of tax subsidies for corporate meals and entertainment. This happens when, according to a Gallup poll, that almost one-fifth of American families struggle to buy enough food to avoid hunger.

What has happened to the “heart” of our great country?

Anne Corley, Mercer Island

Wealthy need to buy things to grow economy

I am astounded by Nicholas Kristof’s incomplete reporting in his Sunday column.

There was a reason for the tax breaks for those who can afford to purchase

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0 Comments | More in Public assistance | Topics: Anne Corley, Congress, Nicholas Kristof

March 4, 2014 at 4:36 PM

Readers share stories of losing federal unemployment benefits

Thanh Tan recently asked for readers’ thoughts in the Opinion Northwest blog on Congress not extending federal unemployment insurance. The Feb. 21 blog post followed this editorial calling on lawmakers to help struggling but active job-seekers.

Within days, the post received more than 300 responses from across the country — the map at the top of this post shows locations of responses we received. Many people explained how the temporary assistance had helped them to keep their families housed and their Internet connections available so that they could post their resumes online. A few disagreed with the extension, saying it discourages the long-term unemployed from trying harder to find work. Older workers offered heart-wrenching stories about the difficulty of getting an interview and holding on to a position in today’s economy. During the process of verifying a few different writers’ identities, a few phone numbers were disconnected.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the U.S. Senate is plotting again to pass an extension measure with the help of some Republicans. The Congressional Budget Office outlined the benefits of a short-term fix in this Dec. 3 analysis. “Recipients of the additional benefits would increase their spending on consumer goods and services. That increase in aggregate demand would encourage businesses to boost production and hire more workers than they otherwise would, particularly given the expected slack in the capital and labor markets,” the report concludes.

Here in Washington state, the Employment Security Department reports about 28,000 people exhausted their federal benefits on Dec. 28 after Congress failed to act. Since then, the agency estimates thousands more drop out of the system every week.

What happens to them now?

Scroll down to read some of their stories. If you have a story to share, please add it to this form or at the bottom of this post.

Support a federal extension of unemployment insurance:

I support the extension due to the fact that I lost my job of 29 years in June. My benefits ran out in January. No one will hire me due to my age. I’m 64 years old. Having 26 weeks is not long enough to find a job at my age. It is devastating to our budget with first the loss of a long-term job, and then no unemployment to help with expenses. My job loss was due to my position being eliminated. I would have loved to continue working until I was old enough to retire, but my employer had other plans. We have now had to put our home up for sale, we sold our second vehicle and have cut out anything possible to cut back. I’ve gone from a job that paid over $3,000 a month, to unemployment at less than half of that amount, and now down to zero for my income — it is hard to live on just my husband’s Social Security. I need to work, and have worked since I was a teenager. I need the extra weeks of unemployment to carry me until I can find a job. It is not right to not extend the benefits to those of us who are struggling to find a job. Something needs to be done to help all us who are out of work.

— Sharon Washburn, Yakima

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0 Comments | More in Unemployment | Topics: Congress, Federal unemployment benefits, jobless benefits

January 22, 2014 at 6:02 AM

Immigration reform: Everyone is connected in the struggle for citizenship

At a time when we desperately require pragmatic and steady courage within our Congress, extremism often finds a way to blot out any movement toward bipartisanship [“Immigration reform: More than an issue of illegal immigration,” Northwest Voices, Jan. 16]. Despite this fact, I believe we are fortunate to have a moral and social issue…

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0 Comments | More in Immigration | Topics: Congress, illegal immigration, Noah Dorson

December 30, 2013 at 4:52 PM

Trans Pacific Partnership: Fast-track authority at odds with self-governance

Thank-you for the pro and con opinion pieces regarding fast-track authority for trade deals [“Should Congress give Obama fast-track authority for trade deals?” IOpinion, Dec. 30].

Don Kusler is absolutely correct: Allowing fast-track authority for trade deals such as the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) — negotiated in secret — is in direct opposition to principles of democracy and of our Constitution, which gives Congress authority over foreign commerce. How can Congress properly exercise that authority if its members are not given the chance to review and amend trade legislation?

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0 Comments | More in trade | Topics: Congress, NAFTA, trans pacific partnership

December 15, 2013 at 7:15 AM

Federal government has sunk to new lows

It has shunned the jobless and protected corporations

So, let’s give Congress a pass because we avoided budget gridlock and another debacle over the debt ceiling? And, as you infer, the consequences at the polls would be avoided [“A federal budget deal, and no drama,” Opinion, Dec. 12].

We have sunk to new lows. I hope and trust the American people will figure out why this is happening, who is responsible and vote them out of office. Spoiler alert: that would be the radical element of the Republican (or tea) Party.

They have taken food from the needy, cost us billions, ignored immigrants, shunned the jobless and those just trying to survive. All while protecting the corporations, the military-industrial complex and the wealthy at the expense of education and training, infrastructure and the other investments needed to rebuild a civil society and reverse our current historic inequality.

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0 Comments | More in Congress, Economy | Topics: Congress, Debt ceiling

November 21, 2013 at 7:35 AM

Postal Service financial problems lie in the political realm

The U.S. Postal Service  lost $5 billion over the past year, and postal officials urged Congress to pass legislation to help the beleaguered agency solve its financial woes. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)

The U.S. Postal Service lost $5 billion over the past year, and postal officials urged Congress to pass legislation to help the beleaguered agency solve its financial woes. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)

Congress needs to end this financial crisis

The Times is rightly concerned about “scant review” by the Postal Regulatory Commission [“Deliver scrutiny of the UPS-Amazon deal,” Opinion, Nov. 16].

The PRC seems reluctant to turn down any move by postal management to make deep-discount deals with big mailers, or to curb proposed reductions in service that would slow the mail and harm local newspapers and others who rely on timely mail delivery.

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0 Comments | More in Congress, Postal Service | Topics: Congress, Postal Service

October 13, 2013 at 7:31 AM

Republicans and Democrats: We’re all losing

Term limits should be enacted for members of congress While the Republicans and Democrats argue, we’re all losing. Valuable services are being denied and now we’re facing default. Government is too big. What is the alternative? We can’t completely close shop and start over. The answer is to fire the employees. If the people working for me…

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0 Comments | More in Congress, Government shutdown | Topics: Congress, government shutdown

October 7, 2013 at 11:31 AM

Government closed leaves thousands without work

Congress should take the hit Members of Congress who have caused the partial shutdown of the government should take the hit too. I would like to see their pay withheld until they agree on a budget. [“Obama, GOP meet; no one budges,” page one, Oct. 3]. Of course this would be symbolic, as many of them are…

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0 Comments | More in Federal government, Government shutdown, Health care | Topics: Congress, federal government, government shutdown

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