Obama’s donation order for contractors is politicization

Advocates of President Obama’s proposed executive order on government contractors and political spending are ignoring key facts and blurring important distinctions (“White House donor order becomes flashpoint in Congress,” June 17).

There are no undisclosed political contributions from federal contractors to candidates, parties, PACs or other political committees, except for those that are $200 or less, below the disclosure threshold.

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What is sought is not undisclosed political contributions, but a list of companies and individuals who pay membership dues or make donations to nonpolitical committees such as trade and professional associations or social welfare organizations that might spend even a small fraction of their overall revenues speaking out in politics. This would politicize the government contracting process by giving this or any future administration a clearer understanding of which companies, executives and directors are supporting or opposing causes that the administration favors or disfavors.

Also worth noting is that there is no reason at all to believe that the current federal contracting process is influenced by campaign contributions or the memberships and donations made by companies, executives and directors to trade and professional associations or social welfare organizations. The proposed executive order is a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist, unless the problem is that the Obama administration doesn’t have a clear enough view on who they need to punish or reward.

From Sean Parnell, president, 
Center for Competitive Politics, Alexandria, Va.

LEED-certified green buildings are the future

In response to “Report: ‘Green’ buildings could harm your health,” June 7): The Institute of Medicine’s recently released report highlights the critical interrelationships that exist as our society struggles with the global and local impacts of climate change. While the report focuses specifically on the potentially negative human health impacts associated with efforts to lower carbon emissions from the built environment, we are confident that the report authors understand that interconnected problems cannot be solved in isolation of one and other. This report calls for increased focus on direct human health impacts of new technologies and strategies being employed in response to the climate change crisis our world faces. It is not acceptable to solve one set of problems by creating another. Rather, an integrated approach to these (and other) interconnected challenges needs to be employed to achieve solutions that solve problems in a systematic way. The LEED green building rating system does this by prioritizing strategies and solutions that help to mitigate climate change while heightening human health; by promoting a whole-building approach to sustainability that takes into account all areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.

Through its uptake, LEED has started a global conversation focused on the cumulative impact of buildings on environmental and human health. High-performing, LEED-certified green buildings are not only helping to solve the critical challenges posed by climate change, they’re leading to a new generation of contaminant-free buildings that protect the indoor air we breathe and minimize the risk of building-related health problems. USGBC applauds the study for continuing the dialogue on building impacts and for shedding light on the profound gaps in substantive building-related research.

From Brendan Owens, LEED AP, P.E., vice president, LEED Technical Development, U.S. Green Building Council, Washington, D.C.

US military depends 
on health of our children

While I understand the challenges and costs of implementation, House action on June 16 to roll back new nutrition standards in our schools will not only be a setback for our children, but also for our military (“Showdown looms in House over public school lunches,” June 15). With one in four young adults ages 17 to 24 too overweight to join the armed forces, obesity poses a serious threat to our future military readiness by limiting the pool of young adults qualified to enlist. To combat child obesity, it makes sense to focus on improving food served in our schools, since many children consume as much as half of their daily calories during school hours. 

Last year more than 100 retired admirals and generals of the nonprofit group Mission: Readiness, including myself, strongly supported passage of the “Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act” to update school meal standards so that they reflect the latest dietary guidelines. This summer, Congress can help finish the job by supporting the swift implementation of science-based meal standards. By enhancing the quality of meals that end up on millions of school trays every day, we can improve our nation’s long-term health and ultimately strengthen our national security.

From Ret. Lt. Gen. 
Norman R. Seip, U.S. Air Force, Alexandria, Va.

There are no benefits 
to raising the price of gas

The CEO of General Motors’s recommendation to raise gas taxes to encourage people to buy smaller and more fuel-efficient cars is an example of what happens when the government gets involved in business. 

Lets hope Uncle Sam never takes over McDonald’s and raises the price of hamburgers in order to encourage salad sales.

From Al Sartor, Walnut Creek, Calif.