Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins have both vastly disappointed all proud Mainers and have most seriously betrayed our free-thinking spirit, our innate independent heritage and our hopes both for ourselves and the country.

How? siding with every other Republican in the U.S. Senate in guaranteeing legislative gridlock and by assuring that the processes of fair government and equal representation will not and cannot survive.

They’ve both signed the “Senate Gridlock Promise” of Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and thus placed their names alongside the most rabid Republican members of the Senate, aligning themselves with the most reactionary, treacherous nay-sayers of the last 50 years.

I am sure they both have heard of a now unknown and vilified senator from Maine, Sen. Owen Brewster, who became anathema to both the people of Maine and to their history.

He was a senator almost identical to the people’s representatives that now thrive in the Senate. As both Collins and Snowe have done, he betrayed the ideals and aspirations of his supporters by living too closely to the poison that pumps through the clogged arteries of national government.

What Mainers best represent our state and history? George Mitchell, Edmund Muskie, William Cohen – and my favorite, most endearing and inspiring senator, Margaret Chase Smith. These were true leaders with true Maine followers engendering true Maine love and admiration.

We have nothing of that for either of our current senators.

Vacillating on the New START treaty, hemming and hawing on nearly every important piece of legislation that languishes now in the present Senate, all stillborn because of their lack of participation. They deserve no respect and no admiration and show no leadership.

What we have is a game of tip-toe through the minefields of other senators’ hate and a distinct lack of courage. They are now a product of Washington and not a true measure of Maine.

Mark duBay

Portland

The second half of the 20th century saw Americans, through their government, tackle projects that would establish the United States as the leader and envy of the Free World.

The GI Bill for returning veterans revamped our view of who could go to college and prompted the creation of a higher education system that transformed the American economy from blue- to white-collar.

Government investments in infrastructure like interstate highways and the space program increased our productivity and promoted the development of new technologies and new industries. Government regulations stopped our rivers from burning and cleaned our air.

This economic miracle happened with tax rates for the rich at more than twice today’s levels.

Despite these obvious successes, conservatives, starting with Ronald Reagan, began to tell a revisionist history and preach voodoo economic theory. Suddenly government had never done anything right and economic expansion could only occur if the richest citizens got tax breaks and industries were deregulated.

This approach based on self-interest worked well for the top 5 percent, whose claim on the nation’s income jumped from 17 percent to 22 percent.

But the other 95 percent of society now finds its infrastructure in decay, deregulated industries bringing our economy to the brink of collapse, income for the middle class stagnating or declining, jobs disappearing and college beyond the reach of many of our children.

Worse still, 42 conservatives in the Senate now hold the entire nation hostage to their demand that the richest 2 percent get tax breaks, while simultaneously insisting that we turn our backs on less fortunate citizens in their time of greatest need.

This is not the America that was the leader of the Free World. This is not our heritage. Please tell Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins to stop supporting this tragedy.

Dwight Ely

Scarborough

 

This whole battle over the unemployment extension feels a lot like the GOP making a point versus a campaign to save money.

If reducing the budget and saving money were the real priorities of the incoming GOP majority, they wouldn’t be bothering with the paltry sums extending unemployment would add to the deficit and instead would be looking at ways to chop off serious amounts of expenditures.

If the GOP is so darned set on saving me from myself, why did they, and do they, insist on spending billions in other countries while their own at home are suffering? And who is gaining from that expenditure of billions?

The logic simply does not wash. They would squander billions without a second thought, but hold back on tiny amounts that could really help people. Pound foolish and penny wise, anyone?

I have a new theme song for the GOP, “Under My Thumb,” by the Rolling Stones, because this battle is not about money, it is about power, the power to shove it back in the face of their opposition. This is about a sandbox, a playground, a game of King of the Hill, an I-got-it-and-you-can’t-have-it mentality. Grow up!

Jason Simonds

Jefferson

 

Senate Republicans have blocked an extension of unemployment insurance for thousands of Americans.

The party has blocked one of the most effective means of stimulating the economy and, by doing this, creating economic activity which will lower the deficit.

At the same time, the Republicans, including Maine’s two senators, are pushing to maintain the Bush tax cuts for those earning over $250,000.

These cuts, amounting to a gift of billions of dollars (that’s a “B”) to those who hardly need it and, as economists believe, would have minimal effect as a stimulus, are clearly much less effective than unemployment insurance which will be spent.

Republicans and conservative Democrats, somehow, can reconcile these conflicting positions. Like Maine’s senators, they seem to have a deck with only two cards.

One, the deficit card, is used when there’s a proposal to actually help people and stimulate the economy. The other card is the contrary stimulus card, that is, tax cuts to the rich will stimulate the economy despite all economic evidence and will in fact add billions to the deficit.

Actually, Maine’s senators have a third card that is often played. It’s the one that says, “This is all proceeding too quickly and we need more discussion,” despite the fact that their party has almost unanimously voted against or used the filibuster (requiring 60, not 51, votes to proceed in the Senate) to block most legislation the past two years.

To many Americans viewing the recent midterm elections, it must be dismaying to see that these obstruction tactics actually seem to benefit the obstructionists. The losses to all of us, however, in matters such as health, the environment, equality and arms control, is immense.

James Atleson

Cape Elizabeth