Health Reform and Party Politics

Yes, the differences will be settled, but the result will be a victim of compromise so that President Obama will have a healthcare bill to sign ["Now the Hard Work Begins," Dec. 24, 2009].

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Yes, the differences will be settled, but the result will be a victim of compromise so that President Obama will have a healthcare bill to sign ["Now the Hard Work Begins," Dec. 24, 2009]. This bill represents a rush to put together legislation to meet an arbitrary deadline, despite its burgeoning into a 2,400-page document, replete with commensurate detail and complexity. Even the lauded bill's achievements in regard to holding the insurance industry more accountable are worrisome. Pre-existing conditions? Can't deny coverage. Become seriously ill? Can't cancel coverage. But at what cost? The cost factor that's to be ameliorated by the expected "insurance exchanges" won't be in effect until 2014, 2013 at the earliest. Despite these concerns, the reluctant Democrats were persuaded to go along. Primarily, it's political; the party in power has the power. And the president will be able to announce in his State of the Union speech the milestone in healthcare that his fellow Democrats have achieved. Don't we wish it were as ideally intended, including benefits, coverage, and costs? But that's what dreams are made of.

Richard Palzer Clarendon Hills, Ill.

GOP Party Politics

I agree with Mary Kate Cary's point regarding the Republican "purity" test with one exception ["I Survived the GOP Purity Test," Dec. 18, 2009]. Rewarding illegal behavior by offering a path to citizenship to illegal immigrants is wrong on many levels. The most important is that by doing so, we would simply be encouraging more illegals to come. If you want more of something, get the government to subsidize it.

Francis White Hickory, N.C.

I disagree with the Republican purity test. In particular, I dislike its support of the National Defense of Marriage Act. It spends too much political capital for what it achieves. The national party should relegate it to voter referendums at the state and local level. Few states wind up approving gay marriage, anyway. Conservatism should be about decentralized power, not more federal involvement in everyone's business. The Republicans need to provide a contrast with their opponents, not an echo (to paraphrase Barry Goldwater).

Steven Kalka East Rockaway, N.Y.

Political parties used to stand for something, but now it's hard to tell the difference. They are so driven by the desire to be in power that they have forgotten what they stand for. They stand for whatever their largest benefactors stand for. They concentrate on differences with the other party instead of working to find common ground. They polarize citizens into thinking that it makes a difference which "side" you're on. The country needs more independents who stand for what is right for their constituents!

Peter Clifford Barrington, R.I.

Climate Change Conundrum

It is indeed time to reopen the debate and re-examine the science of climate change, especially as it relates to human-caused climate change [Editor's Note, Dec. 18, 2009]. Dissenters have not had an appropriate forum in which to express their views and present the results of their research. Moreover, an increasing number of American citizens doubt the validity of climate research science. Because many climate research scientists have become climate control activists, one must wonder if the National Research Council can convene a forum where both sides of the debate would be objectively and fairly presented. Hundreds of millions of dollars are in the pot for climate change research. Grant money is absolutely essential to academic research. So, will those who depend upon grant funding for climate research risk killing the goose that continues to lay golden eggs by allowing dissenters to present contrary information?

Tom Dunn Laramie, Wyo.

Climate change is certainly occurring. On that, most everybody agrees. But it is still very unclear how much human activity has to do with such change or what humans should do to affect the future. We should be adapting our lifestyles to the foreseeable changes, but before we force trillions of dollars of expenditures on reducing carbon emissions, we must spend a few billion dollars so we can accurately predict what will happen when we try. Let's not just do something expensive to prove our hearts are pure. Let's do the right thing, even if it's expensive!

Al Treder Covington, Wash.

Based on the released E-mails from the British Climate Research Unit and claims by Russians that 75 percent of their climate data were ignored, there is increasing suspicion that the facts supporting global warming science have been tampered with. It seems obvious that we need to re-examine the science. It is too important an issue to be based on a suspect foundation.

David Strawson Aberdeen, N.C.

The public opinion that human activities are warming Earth at an unacceptable rate seemed to decline about the time that Al Gore became a self-appointed spokesperson for that postulation. The public distrust of politicians, past and present, sours the entire debate. It is time to re-examine the science by real scientists who have no political agenda.

Jack Sater Eagan, Minn.

Assessing Afghanistan

As long as there is no strong government in Afghanistan, there can be no peace [Editor's Note, Dec. 4, 2009]. NATO must be committed to the long-term building of governmental infrastructure, starting at the local level, until the job is complete. Democracy in the United States did not start at the center; there was no central government. It started at the local levels and grew into a central government. NATO has a chance to protect the Afghan people from the terrorists and teach the country how to grow into a strong, vibrant member of the international community. Nothing short of a long, fully committed obligation will rid Afghanistan of terrorists. NATO must also press for a presence in Pakistan to allow the Pakistanis a chance to rebuild their democracy to deny the terrorists from gaining more ground there as well. Once Afghanistan and Pakistan are standing strong and tall as full-fledged members of the world community, "we" will have won the war against the terrorists within those countries. Then it will be time to take the war to wherever the terrorists re-form their organizations.

John P. Sullivan-Lehmbeck Jr. Clarksville, Tenn.

As a Vietnam vet, I see us following that same path. In 'Nam, we had no idea if the [Viet Cong] were friend or foe. It seems to be the same way in Afghanistan. Why spend a trillion dollars on what I see as a lost cause? Let us face facts: This country needs to take care of itself first and stop worrying about everyone else's countries. Fighting a war for a just cause is fine, but this war to me is not winnable in two years or 2,000.

Kevin G. Bauman Amelia, Ohio

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