I believe forcing the Republicans to filibuster will have the effect of showing the American public that the Democrats would rather fight than compromise ["Democrats Get Into a Fighting Mood," February 19]. The reason for the obstacles to passing legislation in the Constitution is that the Founding Fathers envisioned a government ruled not by a simple majority but rather by consensus. This has been the case throughout most of our history, but it is not the case now. The Democrats need to invite Republican ideas in order to craft legislation that is palatable to consensus building, not just to the Democratic majority. I think that the general public is beginning to understand this fact.
ANTHONY J. ORRICO Jupiter, Fla.
It is time to call the bluff of the Republicans in the Senate. Force them to filibuster using any strategy the Democrats wish. Endless nonsense and roll calls will only show Republicans as the unreasonable individuals they are.
DONNA HANSON Pullman, Wash.
The electorate is clearly distrustful of Congress, and we feel insecure when Congress becomes too divisive to make law. Citizens understand that we are in deep trouble, yet there is ongoing fear that our lawmakers are wired only for their self-interest and lack the backbone to attend to the general health of the nation. There are no statesmen we can go to, only a bunch of cowards. The best we can do is clean house and try again.
TERRY DUSSAULT Merrimack, N.H.
Tackling the Budget Deficit
As a small-business man and employer of 11, I have followed the deficit and healthcare debates with great interest [Editor's Note, February 19]. I am for voting out everyone who supported the bailouts and stimulus. How much would we have saved by facing our dilemma in September 2008 instead of, say, next year? I blame George Bush for the run-up in spending and bailouts and now President Obama for his acceleration of the same policy. It seems criminal at this time to cut taxes, but I would settle for a freeze if frozen everywhere. Freeze the taxes at all levels. On the spending side, we are witnessing the end of the entitlement age. And we can no longer afford to be the world's policeman. Tea parties are only the tip of the iceberg. I expect an open revolt of nonpayment of taxes, which I've been invited to do April 15.
MICHAEL P. ROARKE East Greenbush, N.Y.
For a long time now, the problem has been spending more money than can be begged, borrowed, or stolen. It's the same old story for the federal government, for states, for municipalities, for some companies, and for many individuals. Everybody must live within their means. It's folly to do otherwise.
JOHN MEERS Ipswich, Mass.
The new fiscal commission seems to be a cover, a way to pay more functionaries in the increasing pool of politicos at the public trough, to give an illusion of something being done. Here's a fix: Cut expenses by eliminating major elements of the bureaucracy, imposing a hiring freeze, and cutting all federal salaries 20 to 30 percent across the board. Unless a third party is large enough, the likely loser will be Republicans. If the tea-party movement stays with Republicans, maybe we'll see a real turnover at the top.
LARRY OSTERMAN Knoxville, Tenn.
Too much spending is Washington's problem! The government has taken on too many tasks that it cannot afford. We have lost sight of the federal government's responsibilities. It is trying to be all things to all people. The government is hamstrung by special interests and partisan bickering. Obama has been powerless to make any real "change."
JERRY APPELL Palm City, Fla.
Controlling the deficit is relatively easy. Kick out the think tanks, special interest and insurance groups, wonks, and gurus. Bring in legitimate economists, not hired guns. Calculate the expected revenue for the next five years, less 10 percent. Make a list of priorities: Healthcare is not among them, but job creation is. Put the money in state hands to be used solely for high-priority infrastructure projects. Stop unfunded mandates to schools and states, and quit messing with fringe groups that represent less than 25 percent of the population. Quit packing in pork by every legislator. Then, determine what a legitimate middle-income family is. If you are blessed to make over $110,000, then you will share more of the tax load than in the past 10 years. Make across-the-board cuts of 5 percent mandatory across every agency until the deficit is down to a manageable level, again based on sound economic forecasts. Bring back pay-go, not the blank-check methods. It's time for common sense in Washington.
JOHN P. GILLE Elk Point, S.D.
In Defense of Sarah Palin
Sarah Palin, a great wife and mother, apparently represents values that are threatening to many in our evolved society. Today, the incendiary language of people who are intolerant of a view just shocks me. In your recent article on Palin, the term "ferocious" was used for her defending Down syndrome individuals ["Palin's Mixed Messages," February 19]. Have you forgotten that it was claimed she was not even the mother of her Down syndrome child? She has had to shoulder despicable claims. Why? She's too big a threat. Palin did a remarkable job in Alaska reclaiming revenues for the people and fighting the "good old boy" establishment. She deserves respect for being smart and courageous.
PATRICIA FRANKIE Middlebury, Vt.
Health Summit Reactions
At the health reform summit, Republicans again demonstrated insensitivity to the real difficulties Americans are and have been experiencing with spiraling costs in our healthcare system [Editor's Note, February 26]. Their step-by-step proposal is in sharp contrast to the Democrats' urgent, get-it-done-now approach. Are Republicans unaware that most insured Americans pay at least twice as much for coverage as anyone else in the industrialized world? Do they not know that pharmaceutical companies charge two and three times as much here for drugs as they charge in other countries? Have they not heard of the American Medical Association's study, covering more than 300 metropolitan areas, that shows competition among private insurers disappearing, hence outrageous hikes in premiums? Maybe worst of all, don't Republicans understand their own role in helping to perpetuate the crisis situation in America? They, after all, have been complicit in torpedoing real healthcare reform from the start, rejecting single payer, then public option, the only sure ways of bringing big cost savings to reform efforts.
RON W. SMITH Providence, Utah
The health reform summit was successful in that it enabled Obama's team to claim bipartisanship but failed overall because of Obama's lack of experience. It failed to be properly moderated (a moderator does not present his own views and should not dominate the time for presentations). The summit failed to advance healthcare reform because opposing views were not able to be fully expressed or debated by legislators. Leadership cannot be established by looking in the mirror or by listening only within the beltway.
JOSETTE WILLIAMS Ridgefield, Conn.
After the health reform meeting, it is clear that now is the time to move on with a simple majority and reconciliation! Republicans want to "start over." But Albert Einstein defined insanity as "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."
TOM KARASEK Longview, Wash.