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Congress oversees no evil in Pentagon abuse of fund

President Obama is right (“President warns of ‘draconian’ military cuts,” Oct. 8). Congress needs to work to find a solution to sequestration. But not just for defense. Sequestration cuts created by the Budget Control Act were meant to be equally divided between defense and non-defense spending. However, the Pentagon has been able to effectively avoid the impact of sequestration cuts, by moving non-war items into the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account. Last year, the OCO included at least $10 billion for line items that were undeniably not for war activities, such as $90 million for the unreliable and dangerous V-22 Osprey aircraft. Because it is hard to track the migration of funds from the regular Pentagon budget to the OCO account, the dollar amount could be as high as $20 billion or $30 billion.

The crisis in Iraq and Syria is not an excuse to bust the spending caps or increase the Pentagon’s already bloated budget. There’s enough money in the Pentagon’s base budget and plenty of slush in OCO. The fact that the Pentagon wanted to use the war budget this year to purchase eight inefficient and costly F-35 fighter jets is proof that Congress needs to exercise its oversight authority to rein in wasteful Pentagon spending. The OCO is specifically identified for combat-related operations and efforts and should not be used as a slush fund to make up for budgetary pitfalls.

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While other areas in the discretionary budget have faced extreme austerity, for years, the Pentagon has relied on the OCO account to circumvent cuts in its base budget and fund non-war-related items. It’s time to put an end to the budget gimmicking and urge Congress to budget in a way that serves the nation’s actual needs. We should be urging Congress to find a balanced alternative to sequestration, one that raises new revenues, preserves funding for programs that serve the most vulnerable populations, makes investments to strengthen the economy and finds much-needed savings in the Pentagon budget, including reining in spending on OCO.

From Tila Neguse, legislative associate on domestic policy at the Friends Committee on National Legislation, Washington, D.C.


Experts don’t even know true story behind Ebola

There are too many inconsistencies being offered by various “experts” surrounding the cause of transmission associated with the Ebola virus. 

Prior to the removal of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Tom Friedan from the media spotlight, he continuously opined the contagion could be transmitted only by direct physical contact between an infected individual and recipient.

 On the Sunday morning television talk-show circuit, Anthony Fauci asserted that infection can only be spread during latter stages of the disease’s progression through bodily fluids contact.

 Other “experts” now say the virus survives on hard contact surfaces. Others still say airborne infection is “not entirely out of the question” given the contagion can transmit from pigs to monkeys. 

 The question now, therefore, comes to mind: How did the virus spread? Surely the infected NBC cameraman would never have allowed himself to be exposed to the bodily fluids of an infected Ebola patient. Moreover, the nurses who succumbed to the infection in the U.S. followed all safety protocols, and to this day cannot explain how they contacted this scourge.

 The doctrine of “police powers” constitutionally grants to the states the capacity to regulate the public health, safety and welfare of those within its jurisdiction. Notwithstanding the fecklessness of the CDC and this Obama administration, Gov. Chris Christie is absolutely correct in mandating a New Jersey quarantine policy, and as such is held legally enforceable against anyone who has entered that state from West Africa, physician or not. 

 As Joe Scarborough said recently on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” he does not believe experts such as Fauci are lying relative to the causal factors related to the transmission of this pathogen. But Scarborough asserted these epidemiological experts just don’t know, or have a true handle on, this Ebola transmission story. And, for once, I agree with Scarborough. 

From Earl Beal, Terre Haute, Ind.


Answer to all problems: 1950s economic model

Another midterm election is upon us. Money, not revealed, is being funneled to the candidate that will make the contributor richer. 

That is the purpose of elections in America: to make corporations money by passing legislation their bribe money has paid for. 

No one knows who they are or how much they give. Your elected officials are being legally bribed and your congressmen are obligated to do their masters’s bidding, not yours. Both parties do the same, but the GOP seems to have richer friends. Why else would they oppose a raised minimum wage and equal pay for women?

Democracy is no longer an accurate description of the American election process. We had a balanced economy in the 1950s, a most prosperous time where everyone shared in the wealth of this nation. How do we fix the problem? SIMPLE. Do the 1950s model. The deficit will disappear. We could have full employment and we would once again be the envy of the world.

From Norm Stewart, Aventura, Fla.