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August 13, 2013 at 6:53 AM
Repeal the sequester
The Seattle Times editorial board recently concluded that “sequestration was envisioned from the start as a punishment for being bullheaded, not as a solution.” [“Editorial: The roaring effects of federal budget cuts,” Opinion, Aug. 2.]
As a member of The Can Kicks Back, the millennial outreach partner of the Campaign to Fix the Debt, I echo this sentiment, and applaud the board for recognizing that the problem of deficits, debt and overspending is real.
But, as the editorial notes, these things were never meant to happen. In fact, the rules of sequestration were put in place to force leaders to come to the table and implement a grand bargain, something that I fear is now too far-fetched.
Yet what the editorial fail to note, and what I believe to be the biggest problem with sequestration, is that sequestration fails to address that our inefficient tax code does nothing to limit the actual drivers of our debt: entitlement programs.
Moreover, as the Congressional Budget Office’s predictions show, even if the current sequestration were to remain for 10 more years, the national debt will remain historically high relative to our economy.
Leaders in the other Washington must repeal and replace the senseless sequester.
Michelle Munneke, Chelan
July 11, 2013 at 6:00 AM
Congress has failed
News coverage of the spending cuts mandated by the sequester will continue on into 2014, and perhaps longer. [“Bill Clinton: States need to be better budgeters,” seattletimes.com, June 25.]
Each time an article appears about the effects of the sequester, it would be helpful to include a sidebar reminding readers of why this has come to be. Congress failed to act to reduce our nation’s deficit by thoughtfully and carefully cutting expenses and/or increasing tax revenue.
A specially selected group of 12 experienced and accomplished lawmakers, six senators and six representatives comprised equally of both major parties, failed to agree on how to accomplish what most other Americans manage to do on a monthly basis.
This news coverage sometimes takes on the tone of a sad joke: the beatings will continue until morale improves. Are we to understand that the sequester will continue until the economy improves?
With the power of my vote, I helped hire some of those people in Congress. With that same power, I will work to fire them, or replace them.
Jeff Greek, Seattle
March 22, 2013 at 4:04 PM
Sen. Harry Reid’s response inappropriate
Have we become so calloused that when tragic events occur, nothing seems to faze us?
Where is the outrage over the insensitive, outlandish remarks by Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid?
Speaking on the Senate floor, Reid had the gall to link the deaths of seven United States Marines [“U.S. bans mortar rounds after blast,” News, March 20] to the sequester. The senator’s remarks are unconscionable and I believe he owes the American people in general an apology, and certainly the U.S. Marine Corps in particular.
His politicizing such a horrendous occasion is thoroughly disgusting and is beneath the dignity of a Senate leader. It will be interesting to see just how his office will “spin” his latest gaff.
–Boyce Clark, Edmonds
March 6, 2013 at 5:00 PM
Outrage is present
I am responding to one sentence in Lance Dickie’s March 1 column, “Our fiscal Doomsday Machine” [Opinion]: “Outrage at the contagion of tax avoidance in this country would be welcome.”
Well, I am outraged. I am outraged that tax policies, and tax avoidance (and evasion) by corporations and the wealthiest 1 percent continue to rob America of the capacity to tackle our fiscal problems and fund the nation most of us want, the one most of us voted for when we re-elected Barack Obama.
I am outraged at a far-right Republican minority that gleefully refuses to raise the revenues that would fund Obama’s efforts to put people back to work and improve our aging infrastructure, even though that’s what the majority of us expected to happen. I am outraged that what enables them to do so is not the strength of their ideas, but longstanding machinations (gerrymandering, filibustering) that are nowhere to be found in our Constitution. I am outraged that people blame the president and both parties equally, when it’s obvious the problem is with the Republicans and those who vote for them.
We had a choice and we made it. Did you ever think that the losing party would get its way every time by stamping its feet and refusing to play? Well, I didn’t. And for that, I am outraged.
–Penny L. Miller, Issaquah
March 6, 2013 at 7:00 AM
Priorities called into question
On March 2, The Seattle Times rightly headlined in bold type on page one the news that the federal government sequestration budget cuts have been put into effect [“Nobody budged”]. As a result of the sequestration, numerous programs will be cut that are crucial in helping people climb out of poverty or maintain a hold in the middle class — including, for example, work-study funds for college students, unemployment benefits, Head Start and the Women, Infants and Children program that provides decent nutrition for disadvantaged pregnant women and infants.
But the editors chose to pair the momentous news about sequestration with a headlined article warning that the Blue Angels may be grounded [“Blue Angels grounded? Seafair plans for worst,”]! In contrast, an article noting cuts to social programs was relegated to page four [“Spending cuts to be widely felt,”].
Do these article placements basically reflect a lack of moral clarity on the part of the newspaper’s editors? Or, worse, did the editors choose the placements based on an accurate reading of the public’s concerns?
–Daniel Burnstein, associate professor emeritus of history, Seattle University, Seattle
March 4, 2013 at 4:00 PM
Sequester will prove damaging for the arts
Thanks to the Oscars and my wife’s extensive library, I started reading “Life of Pi.” Yann Martel is brilliant, even to the point of writing an incredible preface. I was struck by the closing words in his author’s notes; “If we, citizens, do not support our artists, then we sacrifice our imagination on the altar of crude reality and we end up believing in nothing and have worthless dreams.”
Think now of sequestration in the context of Martel’s words [“Nobody budged,” page one, March 2]. What will be the first thing to lose funding? The arts. What will be the first to restore funding? The military.
–Jim Presti, Bellevue
Congress, Obama failed constituents
I work at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. We, along with our Cancer Consortium partners at the University of Washington, Seattle Children’s Hospital and Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, do good work with federal dollars, yet because of the sequester we will suffer along with significantly less-meaningful and less-efficient projects across the morbidly obese spectrum of federal spending.
This travesty was caused by congressional intransigence — alternatively I could say it was their failure to lead. I am referring to senators and representatives from all states, along with the Obama administration. All have failed to properly represent the interests of constituents and to uphold their sworn duty to our Constitution.
I will leave it to them as individuals to pick which of these two epithets most aptly describes their role in the current budget debacle and to ponder how they can do better. Meanwhile, the constituents back home will have to deal with the consequences of their failure.
–David Rogers, software developer, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle
March 1, 2013 at 4:00 PM
Solutions for ‘unsustainable’ programs?
The Seattle Times editorial said that we must consider cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security because the aging of the population has made these programs unsustainable [“Avoid sequester gimmick,” Opinion, Feb. 22].
My question is: And what? We just let them die? Let them starve and turn them away from our doctors? A civilized society doesn’t do that.
It is absolutely idiotic the way long lists of solutions to our economic woes involve making us poorer. Hello. Anybody home?
–Harold R. Pettus, Everett
February 27, 2013 at 4:01 PM
Reliance on federal funding may need to end
Monday’s Seattle Times article “Stalemate in D.C. may cost state millions in federal aid” [page one, Feb. 25] predicts a disaster for our state. Hundreds of teacher layoffs, thousands of children losing vaccinations, child care, college help and Head Start. Loss of cancer screening, cuts in health care and drinking water protection, etc. All from a 3 percent cut in federal aid to our state.
It’s incredible to think that we can’t find moneys by juggling our own budget dollars to avoid such cuts. If not, it shows how irresponsible our politicians have been in depending upon federal help to run our state.
We had better get used to paying our own way because the feds have run out of money!
–Wayne Jensen, Kirkland
Sequester sees bipartisan disapproval
Republicans hate the sequester. Democrats hate the sequester. The president hates the sequester. Finally, everyone agrees on something. Be bipartisan. Repeal the sequester.
In total, the U.S. House took 33 votes to repeal Obamacare. Surely they can take one vote to repeal the sequester!
–Paula Joneli, Des Moines
Lottery to ease budget needs
It’s time the residents of the USA take the matter into their own hands since Congress will not.
Let’s establish a U.S. residents lottery where the profits goes toward paying down the deficit and the debt.
I would be the first to commit to buying a ticket or two a week to support a good cause that will not harm my fellow residents the way a sequester will.
–Ruth Knagenhjelm, Normandy Park
Support those with low income, food banks
When people are being faced with significant cuts to their unemployment checks, how can we let food banks take the hit as well [“Jobless, cities could be first to feel budget pain,” seattletimes.com, Feb. 25]?
Many people already relying on unemployment benefits and other social-welfare programs will have to line up at food banks to get the food they need. However, food banks are also at risk for a loss of funding. The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), which provides the funding necessary to keep food banks and distribution centers open, may be eliminated completely as a result of upcoming budget cuts.
Even without the threat of budget cuts, the need for emergency food services in Washington has been on the rise. Since 2008, the number of people visiting food banks has increased by 35 percent yet the amount of state support TEFAP is receiving has remained the same.
According to the Washington State Department of Agriculture, between June 2011 and June 2012 alone, there were 8.6 million visits to food banks. This number shows an increase of 500,000 from the previous year. A $3.7 million increase in TEFAP’s budget is necessary to keep up with the rising demand in emergency food services.
You can help! Please urge your legislator to support the $3.7 million increase of TEFAP’s budget. Find your legislator by visiting www.leg.wa.gov or by calling the legislative hotline at 1-800-562-6000.
–Amy Thome, Perla Castaneda and Morgan Cole
February 26, 2013 at 7:01 AM
Cuts not substantive
Allow me to shed a different light on this upcoming sequestration nonsense [“Threat of $85 billion in cuts is about to become a reality,” News, Feb. 24]. Let’s put it in perspective. The politicians are coming unglued because we might have to cut $85 billion out of a federal budget of $3.803 trillion. That’s a 2.4 percent cut, but not a real cut, just a reduction in the rate of increase.
We are actually still spending more in 2013 than we did in 2012. This is a joke. These politicians are insulting our intelligence as human beings. Our government is spending $1 trillion we don’t have, every year, and we are fighting over a rounding error ($85 billion). The problem is nobody wants to make the cuts necessary and become the bad guy which might hurt their chances at getting re-elected.
Yes, major cuts will hurt the economy, just as it is painful for a drug addict to go through withdrawals. Like the drug addict, our economy has been artificially stimulated for some time now by ridiculously low interest rates, three rounds of quantitative easing, money printing, a trillion-dollar stimulus package and huge bailouts. What we got was a phony recovery that will tragically end in a much deeper recession than the one in 2008.
–Casey O’Connor, Seattle
Foreign aid should be subject to cuts
While I hope that the “sequester” doesn’t happen, I’m extremely disappointed that I’ve seen no mention of whether or not foreign aid is subject to the cuts.
Why do you think the president is focusing on spending cuts that relate to diminishing first responders and air-traffic regulators? I am appalled if foreign aid is not subject to the cuts. After all, money is being borrowed on the current and future taxpayer’s backs to give to other countries.
Why does the United States have to give money away to foreign countries and our services for first responders and air traffic are degraded? Before 1 cent is cut from support of first responders and air-traffic regulators our dues to the United Nations should unilaterally be cut by half, and all foreign aid stopped.
–Mark Flanery, Auburn
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