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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
August 8, 2013 at 7:02 PM
Corporations need to pay
I really appreciated reading Deana Knutsen’s guest column on remaking the U.S. tax code without hurting health care. [“Bring balance to U.S. tax code,” Opinion, Aug. 7.]
She hits on a key question: When assessing our tax structure, what kind of legacy will we leave for future generations?
Under our current tax system, corporations in America are paying less than half of their fair share in taxes through a combination of loopholes and deferrals. While millions of families are suffering as a result of the sequestration cuts, U.S. corporations are both legally and illegally dodging their tax responsibilities.
I’m tired of seeing people in my community suffer from cuts to valuable programs that millions of kids and seniors rely on.
We deserve revenue-positive reform that prioritizes the needs of our families and communities over corporate profits.
The first step is to close tax loopholes that allow companies to stockpile their profits in offshore accounts where they pay little to no taxes. We pay our fair share; it’s time they do too.
Jeanette Wenzl, Seattle
April 25, 2013 at 11:17 AM
Bring back funding
When state and federal programs are cut because of sequestration or austerity, our entire society suffers [“Cuts to food program hurt hungry kids, educational goals,” Opinion, April 19].
As members of Bread for the World, we study the effects of hunger and poverty, and see the beneficial results when programs that help poor and hungry people receive adequate funding.
Even short-term episodes of hunger can cause lasting damage to child development, putting children at risk for a range of cognitive, behavioral, emotional, and physical problems. Cutting these programs can increase costs. Hunger already costs our country an estimated $167 billion annually in lost productivity, reduced educational outcomes and increased health-care costs.
We wholeheartedly join with guest columnist Eric Pettigrew in calling on our elected representatives and senators, both state and federal, to ensure full funding for programs such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps), the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and the Washington Basic Food Program.
Sharon D’Amico, member, Bread for the World, Kirkland
April 25, 2013 at 7:06 AM
Raise ticket prices
Sequestration requires the Federal Aviation Administration to cut its budget by $637 million [“Some flight delays over FAA budget cuts,” News, April 23]. Since America’s airlines carried 736 million passengers last year, here’s a radical idea for the Congress to debate for the next 10 years: Raise the price of a ticket a buck.
I had no idea the cost of running the airport was being subsidized by the U.S. government. Why isn’t the cost to operate the airport included in my ticket price? Why is the U.S. government, that has to borrow 40 cents on every dollar it spends, subsidizing the cost to operate an airport?
Jerry Forell, Kirkland
March 27, 2013 at 7:12 AM
Groups should be more creative
So John Clark, chairman of biological structure department at the University of Washington School of Medicine, fears sequestration may force him to lay off just one researcher from his lab [“ ‘Hutch,’ UW descend on D.C. to lobby on sequestration cuts,” NWMonday, March 25]?
I have two suggestions: Humbly submit a request to the UW endowment of $2.1 billion, or just do it the way the Dawgs are building the new stadium — from private donation.
Be creative Dr. Clark. Think outside the box, both biologically and fiscally.
–Mark Wilson, Seattle
March 17, 2013 at 6:30 AM
Cuts to Head Start will affect families, society
I have a child enrolled in the Virginia Searls Head Start program located in Bothell. I think making a 5 percent budget reduction to Head Start will be harmful for a lot of families that can’t provide preschool education [“How budget cuts could affect you,” seattletimes.com, March 7].
I also feel it would not benefit the general society, because every dollar we invest in high-quality early education can save more than seven dollars later on — by boosting graduation rates, reducing teen pregnancy, even reducing violent crime.
The Head Start model addresses the needs of the whole child — emphasizing health, nutrition and social-emotional development — and being compassionate partners with parents.
In my family, Head Start has been a powerful resource. We as a family were having a difficult transition moment, and enrolling my son in a Head Start program helped him on his social-emotional development. Early learning education is so important for each child, not only for those who can pay for it. Every single child should have the same opportunity of quality education no matter what their level in society.
–Maricela Rodriguez, Kirkland
March 12, 2013 at 6:30 AM
Appreciation of history is more important than a vacation
The Seattle Times reported that President Obama has canceled all tours of the White House as a result of staffing reductions prompted by the sequester, tours that are overseen by Secret Service personnel [“No more White House tours, thanks to budget cuts,” seattletimes.com, March 6]. Yet there are now media reports that he is planning for a summer vacation on Martha’s Vineyard, an excursion that will cost the Secret Service and the White House budget far more than the budget for a year of White House tours.
Perhaps President Obama should follow the practice forced on many of his constituents and consider a “staycation” this year. There is lots to see and do in the Washington, D.C., area that he and his family could enjoy. The money saved by substituting a staycation for a lavish trip to New England would be more than sufficient to restore the White House tours and once again provide school groups and ordinary citizens a chance to appreciate this historic building that our taxes built and support.
It’s a simple equation, really. Golf on a very costly island, or the interests of America’s youth. I encourage him to make the better choice.
–Christopher Hodgkin, Friday Harbor
March 10, 2013 at 6:30 AM
Deficit should be dealt with on micro level
I am no fan of the sequester: Some of the programs cut by it are vital programs that should never have been touched [“Nobody budged,” page one, March 2].
But seeking a grand bargain is a recipe for a long, drawn-out battle, and will probably entail numerous capitulations to special interests. Instead, Congress should pass small bills to fix each program hurt by the sequester individually. And those who oppose such legislation should be held accountable for it on a program-by-program basis.
Preferably, these bills will be fully funded, so they don’t add to the deficit, but that is another story. Maybe tackling things in this manner will allow programs like Social Security, which do not contribute to the deficit, to be kept off the table.
–Benjamin Schreiber, Kirkland
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
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