Our planet depends on our campaign finance policy

The millions of comments submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency on the new power plant rules prove that Americans are paying attention to this issue. Unfortunately, thanks to the Supreme Court’s wrongheaded Citizens United decision, public opinion (and science) doesn’t hold the same weight it once did.

No matter the EPA’s decision, you can be sure that some in Congress will work to undermine the important work of cutting our nation’s greenhouse gas emissions. If you want to know why, look no further than the priorities of the people who spent the money to get them elected. When unlimited money is poured into our elections, the priorities of our legislators are distorted and the voices of the public are increasingly drowned out.

If we want to see national action to protect our planet from climate change, we need to get big money out of politics. We need a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and allow reasonable limits on campaign spending, and we need public matching funds to allow candidates with grassroots support to run campaigns free of big money’s influence. These actions will quicken the passage of policies we need to protect our planet and our democracy.


From Zach Weinstein, campaign organizer, CALPIRG, Oakland, Calif.

114th must address home healthcare

The Hill’s Dec. 5 Congress Blog by Douglas Holtz-Eakin, former director of the Congressional Budget Office, calls for the next Congress to address Medicare home health payment cuts that could hinder access to care for America’s seniors.

Holtz-Eakin recently took part in a workshop hosted by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and National Research Council titled The Future of Home Health Care, during which he joined many other thought leaders in healthcare, as well as patients and caregivers, seeking to shed light on the current state of home healthcare, as well as the policy, workforce and technology challenges that will need to be addressed as America’s seniors seek to age in place and stay healthy at home. A full workshop summary is expected to be released by the IOM in February.

I echo his concerns about the impact of blunt, across-the-board Medicare home health payment cuts that undermine the ability to meet the significant healthcare needs of our most vulnerable seniors and Americans with disabilities. As Congress considers reforms in this area, I encourage policy-makers to use the IOM’s findings to inform their thinking about critical reforms for the future.

From Teresa Lee, executive director, Alliance for Home Health Quality & Innovation, Washington, D.C.


Distinguishing between 'Internet' and 'the Web'

I am disappointed to see that The Hill has made the common mistake of confusing “the Web” with “the Internet” in its headlines and articles about network neutrality. Network neutrality rules pertain to the Internet in general; the Web is one of many uses of the Internet, all of which would be covered. This is not merely a technical distinction, but one that lies at the very core of this debate, as the generality of the Internet depends on network neutrality.

From Benjamin Kreuter, New York

Medical research needs push into modern era

As a clinical psychologist, I share Jenn Berman’s puzzlement and concern that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is wasting tens of millions in scarce funds on unnecessary, cruel mental illness experiments on baby monkeys (“Government animal experimenters need to have their heads examined,” Nov. 21, The Hill’s Congress Blog).

I am well aware of the challenges facing individuals suffering from mental illness, including social stigma, insufficient or ineffective treatment and inadequate funding for research that will improve understanding and treatment of these conditions. However, terrorizing depressed monkeys does not address any of these challenges. So why squander precious resources on a project that, in its 30-year history, has contributed nothing to improving mental health treatment of humans?

Modern research tools including neuroimaging techniques, epidemiological studies and postmortem studies of human brain tissue are far better methods for understanding and developing new treatments for these complex ailments. This is where the NIH should be dedicating its research funding.

Public health is the mission of the NIH, not inflicting pointless suffering on other sentient beings.

From Michael Radkowsky, Washington, D.C.

Job creation wars

I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry after reading Reince Priebus’s reaction to the November jobs report (“GOP: 300,000 jobs a month should be the norm,” Dec. 5). I know the chairman of the Republican National Committee wants to repeal ObamaCare, but it may be time for him to get his eyes checked.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, former Presidents Kennedy and Johnson are credited with having created more than 15 million jobs.  During the Nixon and Ford presidencies, more than 10 million jobs were created. That’s basically the same number of jobs Jimmy Carter created.

During Ronald Reagan’s presidency, the number jumped to 16 million, while George H.W. Bush is credited with only having created 2.6 million jobs. That number skyrocketed under Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonGeorge Conway: Witness missing from impeachment trial is Trump Is Donald Trump one of the smartest presidents in US history? Trump impeachment and trial: All parties should feel ashamed MORE, who created a staggering 22 million-plus jobs.

Unfortunately, George W. Bush wasn’t so lucky. During his two terms in office, a paltry 1.2 million jobs were created.

While Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaKaine: Obama called Trump a 'fascist' during 2016 campaign Former NYT correspondent rips Democrats' 'selective use' of constitutional violations Obama portraits leaving National Portrait Gallery to tour museums across the country MORE still has nearly two years left in office, his numbers are solid. Inheriting the worst economy since the Great Depression, he has created more than 5 million jobs to date. 

The next time Priebus criticizes job growth in this country, he better make an appointment with his ObamaCare doctor first. I think his memory and eyesight need checking.

From Denny Freidenrich, Laguna Beach, Calif.