May 4, 2012

Letters to the editor:
Cannon played role in Maine history

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

Steve Bosse, an employee of Cote Crane and Rigging, guides the historic cannon as a crane moves it from the steps of Portland City Hall to a truck for transport to the Maine Maritime Museum in Bath for the bicentennial exhibit of the War of 1812.

2012 Press Herald file/Gordon Chibroski

Naturally, the diminished system is less attractive to candidates, especially those who face very tough races against high-spending opponents. In this era of colossal super PAC spending, we can expect another onslaught of so-called "independent" spending, and if history is any guide, much of it will sling mud and level spurious attacks at targeted candidates.

The Legislature could have equipped Clean Election candidates with the means to respond to these sorts of attacks by passing a "requalifying" amendment to the law. This would have kept the program strong and viable for most candidates, and it would have done so within existing resources.

This system, which was used by candidates in both parties, encouraged independent decision making by elected officials and an open stream of communication between the officials and the constituents who supported them. This decision opens the door to outside influence of large spending in Maine politics and causes our leadership to become less accountable to the people they represent.

By doing nothing, our Legislature's majority has amplified the voices of the best-funded special interests at the expense of candidates, voters and democracy itself. Now it is up to voters to cut through the noise and find out exactly what candidates stand for. Put them on the spot and ask them if they support a strong Clean Election system for all candidates.

Isabelle V. Weyl


Reader questions GOP approach to saving money

Two revealing developments occurred recently. First, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted to cut yet another program. This time it was the federal food stamp program, which helps feed a significant number of poor children.

Several days later the Obama administration announced that it would expand a Medicare competitive bidding program for medical equipment to a growing number of cities with the intention of eventually becoming available nationally. The program was a one-year experiment in nine metro areas which saved money for both patients, who bear part of the cost, and taxpayers without compromising quality or access. This program reduced costs by 42 percent for 2.3 million people. Nonetheless, Republicans in the House introduced a bill to repeal the bidding program, stating that it was flawed because it would force smaller suppliers out of the market. This may seem to make sense, except more than 50 percent of the companies that won bids were small suppliers. While I see this as a no-brainer, it baffles me that the champions of the free market system are against something that would save money for everyone.

So because the Republicans are worried about the deficit, they want to cut money to feed the poor and want to give that money to the military to buy more "stuff" that the Pentagon neither asked for nor wants. However, they are against a program to cut costs for Medicare, the largest source of our growing debt. I just don't get it.

Ann Marie Briggs


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