State of the Union sounded more like campaign speech

I watched President Obama give his State of the Union speech in the majestic trappings of an overfilled House Chamber with all the hoopla, the president beaming and fawning politicians standing, applauding and cheering like groupies at a rock concert. 

Obama talked about “the lowest unemployment rate in over five years,” but you’ll note he did not say we have the lowest employment participation rate in over 30 years, and from December of 2012 to December of 2013 the rated dropped 0.9 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

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Maybe you remember the lines “I’ll cut red tape to help states get those factories built” or “I’ll act on my own to slash the bureaucracy and streamline the permitting process for key projects.” Does anyone believe that the head of the party that lives for and breathes bigger government and to enact and create regulation after regulation would now reverse itself? Will this tiger who calls for more regulations now change his stripes?

Maybe you remember these words “But the debate is settled. Climate change is a fact.” No, Mr. President, the debate goes on, and that is why you and others have changed from man-made global warming to climate change because there has been no proof of man-made or any global warming, just some paid scientists’ suppositions and predictions filled with ifs, maybes and could happens. 

The president’s State of the Union address was a hastily reassembled conglomeration of snippets from the past campaign speeches with no solutions and no leadership.

From Jim Posmer, Polk City, Fla.


Global cancer research needs our support

World Cancer Day, on Feb. 4, offers a collective moment for us to recognize and support the immense need for global health programs. Cancer has touched most of our lives; it took my mother when I was 13. I want to spare others that pain. Fortunately, in my free time, I can help. So can you. 

Medical research is imperative to help conquer this disease, but we must also ensure existing treatment reaches those in need. The world’s poor lack economic access to cancer care; more than 2.4 million cancer deaths are avoidable each year in developing countries using practices that are affordable and available in developed countries. 

Promoting economic development will ultimately help developing areas afford cancer care. Until then, outside assistance is imperative to save millions of lives. The World Health Organization expects over two-thirds of cancer-related deaths to occur in developing countries by 2020. Organizations like Partners in Health are answering the call. Their treatment and prevention programs have a major impact in places like Rwanda, but they can only go as far as their resources allow. 

I volunteer with Partners in Health in Washington, D.C., where we’re forming a local team to help educate, fundraise and advocate for global health. I choose to volunteer because these programs save and improve lives, and I get to work alongside passionate individuals — and, of course, for a mother’s approval. 

From Devin Hartman, Washington, D.C.


Fuel standard a burden

With all due respect to former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert and his colleague from Iowa, former Rep. Jim Nussle, it appears that geography has clouded their view of the free market and federal policy in their comments about the Renewable Fuel Standard (“Ethanol’s a success – don’t lower the fuel standard,” Jan. 29). 

 Their views prove the old adage: “Where you stand depends on where you sit.” Unfortunately, Hastert and Nussle are sitting on the wrong side of the facts and public opinion. Their views on the Renewable Fuel Standard are misguided and out of date. A lot has happened since they left Congress to debunk the myths of the standard.

As an organization representing small-business food retailers, we take particular issue with their statement that the Renewable Fuel Standard “does not ... raise food prices.” To the contrary, a study by PwC found the standard will raise chain restaurant commodity costs annually by $3.2 billion by 2015, which, for a small-business chain restaurant, is an additional $18,000 per year.

Simply put, the federal mandate hasn’t been a success; it has increased the burden on small-business owners. It’s time for Congress to repeal the Renewable Fuel Standard and restore fair and affordable food prices.

From Rob Green, executive director, National Council of Chain Restaurants, Washington, D.C.


Give women equal pay

In his State of the Union address, President Obama talked about creating pathways to the middle class. The quickest way to move millions of people up the economic ladder is to pay women 100 percent on the dollar. The 77 percent they earn today is both unfair and unAmerican.

The best way to accomplish this goal is to require every female member of the House and Senate to take a pay cut of nearly $40,000 a year. Why should they get a full $170,000-a-year salary like their male colleagues when everyday working women coast to coast fail to make the same pay as the men in their office or on their assembly line?

The sooner the elected women of both parties feel the full force of this economic discrimination, the sooner Congress will act on equal pay for equal work. The positive impact of women being paid 100 percent on the dollar will then be immediately felt in their homes, in their local shops and on their tax returns. 

This economic boost will be a win-win for all Americans.

From Denny Freidenrich, Laguna Beach, Calif.