Politicians focus on power, not balancing our budgets

There are two sides to every story (“House approves budget deal, handing major victory to John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerSpeculation mounts, but Ryan’s job seen as safe Boehner warns Trump: Don't pull out of Korea-US trade deal GOP Rep: Ryan wasting taxpayers dollars by blocking war authorization debate MORE,” Dec. 13). Tea Party Republicans are correct to be critical of Republican Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerSpeculation mounts, but Ryan’s job seen as safe Boehner warns Trump: Don't pull out of Korea-US trade deal GOP Rep: Ryan wasting taxpayers dollars by blocking war authorization debate MORE. The adopted budget for 2014 and 2015 is a disaster for those who advocate fiscal restraint, balanced budgets, no tax increases and a reduction in long-term debt. Billions in “user fee” increases are just hidden taxes to pay for more social programs advocated by Democrats. Promised savings of $85 billion over 10 years accompanied by a $23 billion reduction in debt is just creative bookkeeping. How can anyone not find far more than $2.3 billion on a yearly basis in savings out of a $3 trillion-plus budget?

There are just as many good managers in the government as in the private sector. If their superiors would give them the authority and flexibility to manage budgets, they could find far more savings than members of Congress and the president have proposed. Millions of Americans have cut far more out of their family budgets and managed to survive. Why can’t our elected officials do likewise? There is no guarantee that future budgets adopted by Congress and signed by presidents will enforce these commitments that exist only on paper. Both the Congress and president on a bipartisan basis are just kicking the can to 2015 and beyond instead of dealing with our financial crises today.

In reality, this budget doesn’t even reduce the level for future growth in spending to a slightly lower level than what President Obama has consistently advocated.

 Everyone has forgotten that decades ago, balanced budgets were supported on a bipartisan basis by both the president and Congress regardless of which party was in control. Neither the Republicans nor Democrats in Congress or the president offer a real balanced budget anytime soon. If Tea Party Republicans wanted this toxic brew Boehner is serving, they might as well have voted for Democratic House candidates and bringing back Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House. At least with Pelosi, what you see is what you get. 

 How disappointing that everyone in Washington appears to be preoccupied with staying in power regardless of the cost to taxpayers.

From Larry Penner, Great Neck, N.Y.

Republicans  should take a look in mirror

With the recent cut-off of jobless benefits to those unemployed 26 weeks or longer, another 1.3 million people are now dangling without a safety net (“Jobless aid expires for 1.3M people,” Dec. 28). 

Never mind that long-term unemployment is at its highest rate since World War II, that those out of work — for more than half a year! — are having a very tough time finding a job or that long-term unemployment is taking a toll on people’s health. The real damage of long-term unemployment is that it is destroying the U.S. economy.

I don’t want to make this a partisan issue, but the Republicans in the House really need to take a long look in the mirror. 

After losing the 2012 presidential campaign, the GOP conducted a well-publicized audit of its political goals and objectives. One of the party’s conclusions: Republicans need a change of address. The cul-de-sac they live on — of limited access and ideas — actually is preventing the GOP from growing.

I thought the Republicans embraced this message of change until last September’s vote in the House to cut $40 billion in food stamp relief. If ever there was a moment when American idealism faced off against partisan cynicism, this was it. That is, until Saturday’s cut-off of jobless benefits.

How can the GOP lawmakers say with a straight face they are on the side of poor families? That “pull yourself up by the bootstrap” mentality just doesn’t compute for millions of hungry or unemployed Americans.

If congressional Republicans really want to help those in need, then they better figure out a way to put people to work. How do you spell help? It’s j-o-b-s, not c-u-t-s.

From Denny Freidenrich, Laguna Beach, Calif.

While we’re at it, end Congress’s benefits too

I think Congress is 100 percent correct in its attempt to eliminate unemployment insurance, food stamps and healthcare for those who take from the government and do no work to earn it. That is why we should deny the House of Representatives their welfare, their salary and their free healthcare, to coincide with the number of days they go to their workplace. They are the most blatant of all of us about getting paid and receiving benefits and not working.

From Norm Grudman, Aventura, Fla.