President brought needed sobriety to defense debate

President Obama did more Friday than effectively rule out trillion-dollar defense cuts (“Obama lays down new marker in Defense spending debate,” July 15). He also brought a needed dose of sobriety to the debate, reminding those calling to slash defense during wartime that any cuts must be “consistent with our defense needs and our security needs.”

For months, extreme figures on both the left and right have called for severe cuts that would undermine our dominance in the skies and gut our industrial base and research capabilities for decades.

Almost $200 billion in defense spending has already been placed on the chopping block, a remarkable figure for a nation fighting two wars as well as flying thousands of sorties a month over Libya. Those calling for indiscriminate additional cuts need to explain specifically how such cuts won’t cost jobs or compromise our national security.

The U.S. is second to none in aerospace and defense today. Budget proposals that fail to spell out how we maintain that second-to-none status are not proposals at all, but mere rhetorical posturing. And the abstract calls of some for hundreds of billions in additional cuts don’t seem very sober at all.

Arlington, Va.

Cut politicians’ pay, not Medicare and Medicaid

From Virgil Bedwell

How can the politicians take their automatic pay raise when the economy is in such bad shape? How can they talk about cutting Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, etc., while they continue to live high off the hog and get an automatic pay raise? The budget should be balanced by starting at the top of the ladder, not the bottom! Each politician should take a pay cut, not get an automatic pay raise; their budgets should be cut and their travel expenses should be cut. Obama’s credit card for flying around in Air Force One at more than $75,000 should be cut. If he would cut his travel, that would save millions on the budget. Saving those millions, as well as the millions from the politicians’ budget, would amount to trillions when added up. If you would then cut the pay of the highest paid federal employees and get federal pay in line with the pay for the same jobs in the private sector, before you know it the budget is about balanced. Quit paying the Iraqi government and other governments to be friends when they are still stabbing us in the back, we would then have a balanced budget. And guess what: You don’t have to touch Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. 

Canton, Ill.

Don’t cut the lifeline 
for low-income students

From Everette Bradford

Funding for college is proposed to be eliminated, given recent budget decisions. For many low-income and working college students, the reality of crossing the educational threshold of an institution of higher learning will be a morbid reality. Could we begin to imagine the face of America solely compiled of only those educated people who were able to afford college? I think not, because education does not have a face. Everyone, no matter their ethnic, social or economic makeup, deserves to access all educational opportunities both domestic and globally. Socrates was a man of wisdom who learned through questions. How will I learn if you take away the funding for me to afford the questions? 

Capitol Heights, Md.

Vote out the incumbents; it’s time for a third party

From Paul Burns

I believe I am writing for all Americans. We need a third party and for all Democrats and Republicans to go. The spending is out of control, and I can do a better job of fixing this thing than they do. People are sick of our elected officials and sick of these two parties. They do not understand we know they do not represent us.

My take is for all voting citizens to vote out the incumbent again and again, and first replace them by a third-party member or the opposing party second. I believe we need a revolution like Egypt, Libya or Syria — not the guns and violence, but like the Vietnam protests. We have to do something to remove these people and get people in there that will do the job.

Vote against the incumbent and vote third-party first. I will not be voting for my senators or representative incumbents. Thank you.

Wrentham, Mass.