Sounding off: Divisive politics is dangerous
As a decades-long independent, I find the behavior of the Republican and Democratic Party leadership in Washington disgraceful, embarrassing, unpatriotic and dangerous. They, along with their respective cronies in the media, have successfully divided the country into opposing factions who disregard the Constitution, precedent and common sense, whenever convenient.
Extremists now control the narrative, and party leaders play to the fringes. Democrats in particular are now supporting and electing candidates with far-left ideologies who state their support of socialism and radical ideas that have always been considered extremely dangerous to our Democratic principles. This radicalism is currently disguised as hatred for Trump, but consider the day Trump leaves and ask yourself, will they suddenly become less radical regardless of who is president? Can you say, “slippery slope”?
Good people on both sides have fallen victim to the tactics of “divide and conquer.” It’s no longer what is best for America, but what is best for your side.
In addition, the duplicity of the media cannot be ignored. Their ratings (and revenues) are driven by playing to their respective “sides” and their good fortune of having a high percentage of gullible, easily led followers. Facts are the victim.
The Greatest Generation has been replaced by the “divided generation,” and permanent gridlock. Washington is broken, and as long as so many citizens view everything from the ends rather than the middle, don’t expect improvement. Going to bed at night believing Obama was a Kenyan or Trump is a Russian spy might make you the problem.
Tim Kaczmarek, Natrona Heights
Medicare for all? It’s not free
Certain politicians have been proposing the idea of Medicare for all. Sounds great, right? What they are not telling the public is that Medicare is not free. Consider Original Medicare 2019 :
Part A: Premiums: Less than 30 quarters working (Medicare taxes paid), $437 per month; 30-39 quarters working, $240 per month; over 40 quarters working, $0 per month.
Part B: Premiums: $135 to $460 per month, depending on income.
Part D: Premiums: Depends on the insurance company selected plus $0-$78 per month, depending on income.
Medigap insurance: Parts A and B only cover 80 percent. This covers the remaining 20 percent. Depending on which of the 13 plans selected, it costs $34-$248 per month.
Parts A, B and D have deductibles, copays and/or coinsurances. There are severe lifetime penalties if one delays getting Parts B and D. There is no maximum out-of-pocket per year. For example, the deductible for Part A is $1,364 per benefit period, and there can be several benefit periods per year.
Don’t forget the 7.65 percent the feds take out of every paycheck. Part of that goes to Medicare. With Medicare for all, it will go higher.
Consider the government’s record managing Social Security (estimated bankruptcy in 2034), Medicare (estimated bankruptcy in 2026) and the VA hospitals. The government’s latest foray into health insurance, the Affordable Care Act, has resulted in enormous increases in premiums and deductibles. Medicare for all. Is it for you?
Jim Talamo, South Greensburg
With news of the Supreme Court open to hearing gerrymandering cases from North Carolina and Maryland, it’s time to fan the inferno about Pennsylvania’s own redistricting reform.
For a long time, I believed that promoting an independent, nonpartisan citizens’ commission on redistricting that is proposed by Fair Districts PA was the right answer. Someone asked me who would pick the people to serve on the commission, and I realized that there is no such thing as an independent, nonpartisan anything.
A commission would just be another layer of partisan bureaucracy for our ever-functional state government. Such a thing was killed by Rep. Daryl Metcalfe anyway last year when he eviscerated House Bills 722 and 563 and Senate Bill 22 as chairman of the House State Government Committee. Maybe he unwittingly did us a favor?
Since it seems impossible to wrangle control from the General Assembly, let’s work with that instead of trying to fight it. What we need is to write the rules to be idiot-proof, or even Metcalfe-proof. We need to lay out the terms of drawing district lines so explicitly that it would be impossible to gerrymander ever again.
Keep districts compact. Only use geography and population data from the census, then feed it to a computer algorithm and press a button. Instead of trying to circumvent the Legislature, let’s use it to our advantage. It’s like the old saying, if you can’t go around a thing, go through it.
Jeffrey Vermeire, Collier
Fanning flames of Russian hysteria
“Without presenting any evidence, President Trump said … .” This is how the media covers the Trump administration, with additional commentary accusing him of lying.
The New York Times on Jan. 11 published a piece about the FBI’s inquiry into the possibility that Trump was working on behalf of Russia. Subsequent stories have been published. Despite The New York Times not presenting any evidence, it is praised for publishing a “bombshell” report that is causing additional Russia hysteria.
The only evidence presented was the last paragraph: “No evidence has emerged publicly that Mr. Trump was secretly in contact with or took direction from Russian government officials. An FBI spokeswoman and a spokesman for the special counsel’s office both declined to comment.”
If The New York Times was consistent in its reporting, the Russia “bombshell” article would have begun with “Without any evidence, we’re accusing Trump of being a Russian agent.”
Mike Suley, Scott
2 cheers for Gov. Tom Wolf
The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative was established several years ago by Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont “to support the development and implementation of each RGGI State’s CO2 Budget Trading Program” using a cap-and-trade mechanism to lower greenhouse gas emissions.
In the last couple of months, Gov. Tom Wolf, directly or indirectly, has taken two actions to make Pennsylvania a “greener” state. In mid-December, the state joined the RGGI states in agreeing to abide by a regional plan to cut transportation emissions . Then, on Jan. 8, the governor signed an executive order that commits Pennsylvania to setting targets to greatly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Two cheers for the governor! To get the third cheer, he should find a way for the state to fully join RGGI.
At Citizens’ Climate Lobby, we believe that the real key to slowing the increase of the planet’s temperature is to enact the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act , which has been introduced in both houses of Congress in Washington with bipartisan support. It’s a better way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions than a cap-and-trade process; but given the strong headwinds inside the Beltway, getting local and state governments to do more to save the planet makes a lot sense.
I look forward to giving the governor a third cheer in the near future.
Bruce Cooper, Adams
Quit politicizing the border wall
I find it disturbing that the crisis of the wall (barrier?) has been politicized to this point. What I would like to see is Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer and the rest of those who say there is no crisis bused to the border, where they can actually see what’s going on instead of parroting what someone else is telling them.
I doubt either Pelosi or Schumer have ever even spent one night at a Red Roof Inn or driven alone through any area outside their comfort zones. They live and work behind their fences or walls with armed security.
Walls are immoral? Where the heck did Pelosi get that from? It doesn’t even make sense. Walls and barriers are everywhere and have been for thousands of years. After 911, walls and barriers went up all over the nation to protect American citizens from threats from those who are here legally or illegally.
The right thing to do is finish what was started years ago by past administrations, both Democrat and Republican. Complete the wall or barrier. Who cares what it is called? Anything to stop the chaos coming across our borders. Everyone knows it’s not the full answer to stop border crossings, just one large of the piece of the puzzle needed to stop or slow the illegal crossing.
Quit politicizing this issue and finish the wall and fix DACA.
Renee Deglau, Hempfield
‘Wall’ issue is a ‘will’ issue
The Bible is clear on how to handle immigrants. Exodus 22:21 says, “You shall neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him.” This is repeated in Leviticus and Deuteronomy.
Exodus 12:49 says, “One law shall be to him that is home-born, and unto the foreigner who sojourns among you,” repeated in Numbers and Leviticus. One law for all. Some of those coming into our country do not want to submit to the laws of the nation or to God’s laws.
Walls work. Israel heard the outcry of racism as its wall was being built, but suicide bombings by those behind the wall decreased dramatically once it was completed. On the negative side, the Berlin Wall separated entire families and millions from freedom for nearly three decades.
America not only needs a wall, it needs the will to protect its citizens.
While the media and progressives can argue President Trump’s numbers, the facts are that bad things are happening because of lax border security. A report from the Center for Immigration Studies indicates that in 2014, ICE released 30,558 criminal aliens, convicted of 92,347 crimes. These aliens were convicted of 2,560 crimes after ICE released them.
When presented with these facts, some try to refute them with charges of racism or other such labels. This is not a “wall” issue. It’s a “will” issue. The will of the lawless verses the will of the just.
We have walls for protection, not because we hate people on the outside.
Judy Snyder, Scott