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EVERYBODY'S COLUMN / Letters from our readers

Fiscal crisis cannot be laid at the feet of both parties

During the recent economic crisis, everyone likes to put the blame for the deficit on both parties. But a fairer analysis of the history of the debt crisis tells us something quite different. Both parties share some of the blame, but the balance is very much on one side.

The real crisis began in the 1980s, when President Ronald Reagan tripled the national debt from $1 trillion to $3 trillion by dropping the income tax on the top 1 percent from 80 percent to less than 40 percent. He raised the debt ceiling 18 times. President Bill Clinton was able to balance the budget by raising taxes and managing a healthy economy. But the price in the Republican Congress was deregulation of just about everything, including the banking system.

President George W. Bush took a budget surplus and immediately turned it into a deficit by giving another lucrative tax cut to the top 1 percent. Add to this the Medicare Part D pharmaceutical boondoggle, which didn't allow negotiating prices, and you had a trillion-dollar ocean of red ink. Then came the astronomical expense of two wars, one of which proved to be unnecessary. Bush raised the debt ceiling seven times.

Because of the deregulation of the banking industry, the economy came tumbling down in the Great Recession. During the 12 years immediately preceding the collapse, the Republicans controlled Congress and, for eight years preceding it, the presidency as well.

Obama inherited the entire economic mess and was forced to continue the bailout of Wall Street begun by Bush and save General Motors and Chrysler. And now with the intransigence of the tea party, triggered by the propaganda on Fox News and "hate" radio, we face economic disaster. Tell us, then, who carries most of the responsibility for the crisis we are in!

John W. Kowalski



Mayor should keep out of business matters

Bravo to Partners Michael Shatzel and Jason Davidson for having the foresight to open a new restaurant in the Naval Park.

Shatzel comes from good restaurateur roots and has a good track record when it comes to opening and operating a successful restaurant.

In spite of Mayor Brown's "doubts" about someone having first-hand knowledge of how to "build and finance" a business, the mayor should stick to politics and let professionals do their thing.

Mike Ball



All parties have spent this country into debt

Rather than require balanced budgets, George W. Bush and Barack Obama have allowed America to become dependent on federal government deficit spending. That is, spending based on increasing borrowing rather than by increasing taxes.

The so-called "Bush-Obama deficit increasers," including the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan -- which cannot be rescinded -- increased spending on preparing for new wars, the Medicare Prescription Drug Act of 2003, increased spending on Medicaid and the tax cuts of 2001 and 2003. This legislation was approved by both the Democratic and Republican parties. Politicians call this compromise.

Federal government deficit spending now threatens America with economic crises, yet the Democratic Party is willing to rescind only two Bush-Obama deficit increasers -- preparing for new wars and the Bush tax cuts.

The tea party and Republican parties are willing to rescind only one Bush-Obama deficit increaser -- Medicare.

In my opinion, this irresponsible and hypercritical behavior by the Democratic, tea and Republican parties will allow the Bush-Obama deficit increasers to continue threatening America with economic crises.

Michael F. Patterson

Clarence Center


GM retirees deserve their promised benefits

Let me introduce you to the newly formed "Retired Auto Makers of General Motors."

In no way are we trying to interfere with the United Auto Workers union whose contract will soon expire. All we're asking is to remember retired members when the new contract is agreed upon.

The UAW gave up most of our benefits at the last signing. Few people realize this, but union dues are still being deducted from our monthly paychecks.

We retirees believe that we deserve to be remembered after paying union dues while working for General Motors most of our lives. We were promised by both management and the union that no one would ever tinker with our pensions when we retired. These were empty promises.

Most of us would not have retired had we known that General Motors could and would cut our pensions. During the last year, General Motors has paid its stockholders several times. General Motors is not as poor as it claims to be. Those who fell for its story of bankruptcy had better think again.

We cannot understand how they can claim bankruptcy in the United States while its stocks are growing in other parts of the world. General Motors is in the habit of settling things in 20 years, but by then most of us will be six feet under. We need our benefits now, not in 20 years.

Richard M. Hoesel

President, Retired Auto Makers



Obama is digging us ever deeper into debt

President Obama never issued a plan to create jobs and curb the growing debt. His policies are dragging down the country, and he will do and say anything to get re-elected. All he does is campaign and raise funds for himself. He recently said "I feel your pain." How can he when his trips, vacations, golf and campaigning costs us millions. His two buses for campaigning cost us $2 million. Which, by the way were made in Canada (so much for made in the USA).

In the past two and half years the President has avoided responsibility for the following: Obamacare, 30 years bad EPA regulations, NLRB out of control, an undeclared war, lack of energy policy, and he continues to say we are in a recovery. Tell that to the unemployed. If you disagree with his policies you are viciously attacked. Where is Obama the uniter?

I am not a member of the tea party but I respect them for saving our country from bankruptcy. Without the tea party, our debt would probably be $20 trillion instead of $15 trillion.

According to the polls, the president has failed, yet the media still favor him as the "chosen one."

John Orlowski



Buffett has the plan to get us out of debt

Warren Buffett has the right idea on higher taxes on the rich. Why should workers pay a rate of 36 percent while the rich pay 17.4 percent?

Congress is determined to decrease Medicare benefits. It is something that workers have paid into for 20 to 40 years, so don't talk about decreasing their benefits. Why should members of Congress get elite health care for the rest of their lives that they have not paid one cent into? They should have to pay for their own health care after they retire like the rest of us do.

Medicare is solvent and would be even more so if the politicians kept their sticky fingers out of it.

The only place the Republicans have created jobs is in China. It's time to charge American companies raking in tremendous profits from overseas production to pay into Social Security.

Anne Szczepanski



The focus should be on eating healthier foods

Recently The News printed a front cover story on the "delicious" fried foods available at the Erie County Fair. Buffalo has long been seen as a "beer drinking-chicken-wing-eating" city. I guess after today we can add "fried food-loving" people as well.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) estimate that more than half the adult population of the United States is overweight (defined as a body mass index of 25 to 30). A significant number of these people are obese (defined as a body mass index greater than 30).

The obesity epidemic is even beginning to affect children, whose obesity rates have doubled in the past two decades (NIH 2005). And instead of declining, obesity rates are rising, along with the frequency of conditions that are closely associated with obesity, such as type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.

Maybe The News should print an article about how dairy, wheat and gluten are dangerous to us, or the FDA and pharmaceutical companies attempts to ban supplements which are cheaper and more effective than drugs.

Henry G. Dembski



Teachers are not just having fun in the sun

In response to the Aug. 21 letter writer who suggested that teachers should be required to tutor over the summer to make up for "the abysmal decrease in test scores" and "the ever increasing teacher tax (school taxes)," instead of going to the beach and wearing flip flops: Thank you, for your candid response.

Like so many, I fear the writer does not know the facts and is unwilling to search them out.

Teachers are required to have a master's degree and complete 175 hours of professional development every five years to keep their certification. There is fierce competition for a job opening, right now averaging between 300- to 1,000-plus applications for each position. This only gets them Into the classroom, where they must "Leave No Child Behind" in instructing toward challenging state testing, while encouraging positive social growth among up to 30 students per classroom!

They average 15 to 20 hours of unpaid overtime every week, and give up many days of unpaid time preparing to teach our children over the summer, weekends and holiday breaks. Add in, the special education law, behavioral challenges and annual professional performance reviews. Not to mention the volunteer committees, meetings, special programs, out of school day events and parent contact time.

In my district, teachers average $55,000. Let's compare that with the average New York state trooper who makes $113,000 for (I'm guessing the letter writer would say) "eating doughnuts and sitting in a car all day."

Please save the challenges for the teachers who are not up to the job. To be sure, there are very few. Teachers earn every penny coming to them and, in most cases, deserve much more.

Eric Schmidt



Grant has forgotten kids

After reading the Aug. 13 News about the firing of Buffalo Schools Superintendent James A. Williams, I know now what's wrong with the system. Erie County Legislator Betty Jean Grant cared more about the man's "dignity." She should have cared more about the children's education.

William W. Burge