Dr. Donald Palissamo, the former president of the American Medical Association, suggested that the way to resolve the debates over Medicare would be to require that all members of Congress and their families depend upon Medicare themselves.

Congress has exempted itself in order to enjoy a Rolls-Royce medical plan paid for by the rest of us. If they have a boo-boo, they immediately run to the superb Walter Reed Hospital, where the finest doctors rush to provide immediate care to them.

This is understandable, since the funding for Walter Reed is provided by the votes of these privileged representatives of ours.

If these people had to endure the same frustration that ordinary Americans (including doctors) do with Medicare, then they would quickly find practical solutions to the medical care mess in this country.

We won’t see this idea promoted in the major American press, which seems to be enchanted with all things run by government.

What’s sauce for the goose should be sauce for the gander, a concept that is continually ignored by Congress.

As George Mitchell once claimed on the Senate floor when debating the Equal Employment Act, “We must exempt ourselves, because we are different.” How sad.

Charles Hildreth


Snowe’s criticism of OSHA based on misinformation

With a re-election bid just around the corner, Sen. Olympia Snowe has shown that she, too, is not immune from letting the facts get in the way of a good story.

For example, in a recent piece (“Regulatory review would aid business, environment,” April 3), Sen. Snowe cited the example of a proposed OSHA rule that she says “would have required businesses to install unnecessarily costly equipment to reduce noise levels when less expensive — but just as effective — equipment was available.”

The fact is, the engineering and administrative controls OSHA proposed are far more effective at protecting against hearing loss than the equipment Snowe referred to in her column.

Perhaps Sen. Snowe lacked access to this data when she wrote her piece. If so, our organization would be happy to provide it to her so that she may make a decision informed by fact, rather than talking points furnished by potential campaign donors who are more interested in the bottom line than the health and well-being of their workers.

Frank Gallagher

Communications Director, National Council for Occupational Safety and Health


Budgets are moral documents and have to support the poor

I have been told that my Christian faith isn’t practical. I have been told this many times — though I have never understood this claim. As a United Church of Christ minister, I proclaim a faith in a God that brings good news to the poor, releases captives, recovers sight to the blind and lets the oppressed go free.

They are big ideas. They are hard to imagine. They may even be impractical — but I believe that God calls us into this reality that we don’t quite know how to make or imagine.

I believe that we are encouraged to try to let the oppressed go free so that 28,000 people in the state of Maine are not struggling with basic needs. I believe that we are responsible to release those that are captive to the cycles of poverty that we perpetuate with our own greed.

I believe we are to bring good news to each of our neighbors so that General Assistance, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and MaineCare remain intact and available. This is where my faith is practical. My faith requires that we take care of our neighbors to create this seemingly impossible reality.

I join my voice with members of the Maine Council of Churches and the Religious Coalition Against Discrimination who recall that budgets are moral documents.

The balances upon those pages have names and faces with their own stories to tell. This is why my faith is practical and why I believe our state budget should always include programs to support our neighbors.

The Rev. Elsa A. Peters


As a board member of the Maine Council of Churches and the Religious Coalition Against Discrimination, I stand with people of faith who recognize that the economic status of every person in Maine is a religious issue.

My family would profit financially from Gov. LePage’s tax and budget priorities. My family would be bankrupt morally by both because they dismiss the necessity of compassionate assistance for all people in Maine.

My family is blessed by its birth status: We have sound minds, healthy bodies, excellent education and the ability to use each to enhance our daily lives. We strive to share our resources with those less abundantly blessed.

We, like most families, do not have the expertise, energy or money to fund fully and staff professionally private agencies to provide the basic life services that Mr. LePage’s budget decimates: TANF, MaineCare, General Assistance, Drugs for Seniors and public benefits that aid legal immigrants in establishing productive lives.

Access to health care (including comprehensive family planning services), safe housing, adequate food and universal education are the privilege and duty of a moral government to fund and administer.

As citizens, our ethical duty grounded in our Hebrew and Christian scriptures is to hold our government accountable to low-barrier provision and thoughtful funding of programs that assist both the temporarily and permanently vulnerable among us.

Please, listen to your conscience, heed your heart, recall your own blessings and demand a budget that taxes those of us who can choose to afford to pay more rather than cutting services to those who have fewer choices about their daily lives.

Anne Underwood


Support MPBN funding? No, back LePage’s cuts

I read Bill Nemitz’s column of May 18, took his not-so-subtle hint, and called Gov. LePage’s office.

And — probably not as Nemitz had intended — I offered the governor support for his move to end state funding for MPBN.

Dennis Twomey

Old Orchard Beach