Attack on Koch brothers was partisan, misleading

Readers familiar with columnist Bill Press know that his writing is partisan. However, statements he made in his recent op-ed in The Hill (“Thank a Koch brother,” Feb 2) are not only partisan but also outright wrong. Just as Mr. Press has a right to voice his opinions, we are obliged to point out his inaccurate and misleading assertions.

The premise of Mr. Press’s opinion piece (and his new book, a compilation of past dishonest and misleading posts by partisan bloggers at Think Progress) is false and irresponsible. Charles Koch and David Koch’s public policy positions are not based on hatred of President Obama, as he tries to assert. 

While the Kochs respect the office of the president, they respectfully disagree with the policies of the president that promote excessive government spending, uncontrolled debt and the onerous regulations that are crippling our nation. 

Charles Koch and David Koch have been outspoken advocates for free markets and have a history of supporting free-market candidates, regardless of party affiliation. 

For nearly 50 years, they have consistently championed personal liberty and economic freedom because they believe these are essential for improving the well-being of society as a whole, especially those who are least well off. The Kochs challenge cronyism, subsidies and wasteful government spending, which are bankrupting our nation and threatening our future.

 Mr. Press’s op-ed and his book are filled with errors, omissions and outright dishonesty — which we have catalogued in detail on our website, Press insists we are connected to FreedomWorks (we are not). He claims we have a stake in the Keystone pipeline (we don’t). He says we instructed our employees how to vote (also wrong). He declares that we won’t work with unions (demonstrably false). He implies that we strong-arm universities (not true). And he implies that the Kochs have participated in name-calling (also false).

 We urge readers of The Hill to visit for the facts, and to treat Press’s partisan screed for what it is — an ad hominem attack without foundation.

From Philip Ellender, president and COO of Koch Companies Public Sector, Washington, D.C.

Military can’t afford to take any more cuts 

President Obama’s vision for a slimmer military is a good jumping-off point for a national discussion on security after the Iraq and Afghanistan wars (Gen. Wesley Clark’s “A defense strategy for our time,” Feb. 3), but Gen. Clark fails to address its greatest flaw: The new strategy only deals with the current round of budget cuts, not the further $600 billion in “sequestration” that will hit in January 2013 What good is a game plan that gets you to the 50-yard line and stops?

The reality is, defense has already been slashed to the bone under President Obama, with almost $500 billion in cuts and “efficiency” savings bringing the Pentagon down to just 16 percent of federal spending (it was 40 percent in the 1970s) while entitlement spending has exploded, on course to consume 100 percent of government revenues by 2050.

Sequestration means $600 billion in additional cuts across the board of our entire military, undermining the whole idea of finding savings in outmoded areas (like massive standing armies) while investing in capabilities we really need (like satellites and drones).

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta understands this. He’s been railing against “goofy meat-axe” defense cuts for months and says if sequestration hits, the new strategy will be “out the window.” I imagine Gen. Clark agrees as well. But only Congress can put the brakes on sequestration before it demolishes our military.

From retired Cmdr. Peter J. Reyniers. Lake of the Woods, Va.

No Child Left Behind’s success was overstated

In “No Child Left Behind deserves high marks,” (Jan. 17) Margaret Spellings gave a highly unwarranted positive evaluation of No Child Left Behind (NCLB). The law aims to enhance public schools’ accountability for the academic achievements all American children, regardless of ethnic or economic backgrounds. 

In her argument, Spellings erroneously established a causality relationship between NCLB and the academic improvements of Hispanic and African-American students, failing to consider (A) whether the students have improved even without NCLB, such as from other programs assisting minority students, and (B) whether cross-sectional data (performance of a particular group at a particular time) is an accurate measurement. Perhaps longitudinal data (performance of the same students over time) could better indicate changes in quality of education.

Furthermore, she ignored NCLB’s negative effects. To meet the test’s requirements, schools focus extensively on reading and mathematics, neglecting other academic disciplines such as the sciences, the arts or history. Test-oriented curriculums tailored to meet NCLB standards create the illusion that students improved academically, when in fact, overall educational quality might have declined. 

From Qu Li, Nashville, Tenn.