Passing almost unnoticed, the Democrats in the Senate “failed to pass” a bill which, among other things, would have continued assistance to hundreds of thousands of long-term unemployed people.

In the undemocratic Senate, 54 out of 100 is a majority, yet it is not enough to pass legislation when Republicans signal that they will filibuster the vote.

Under odd Senate rules, that situation calls for 60 votes, virtually impossible to get when the entire Republican contingent, including Maine’s two supposedly “moderate” senators, refuses to approve the bill.

The unwillingness to aid critically unemployed workers demonstrates a breathtaking indifference to suffering.

The argument, of course, is that now, after aiding banks and investors, we have to reduce federal spending because of the growing deficit.

It doesn’t seem to matter that economists and others note that most of the proposed spending will come back to the Treasury since it will be spent, thus creating taxable events.

Much of the solid Republican opposition, however, is not at all deficit-based. After all, this is the same party which, along with some Democrats, squandered the surplus left by the prior Clinton administration with tax reductions, primarily benefiting the rich, and decided to fight two very expensive wars without a specified means to pay for them.

Halting war spending and ending those tax reductions would mostly eliminate the current deficit.

The predominant reason for Republican opposition is, simply, wanting to pin the recession and the failure to respond to it on the Democrats.

In other words, the GOP hopes that solid opposition will rebound to their benefit come November, no matter how much harm their actions will cause.

James Atleson

Cape Elizabeth

The Republicans in the Senate have defeated a stimulus bill that would have extended jobless benefits in the middle of a recession. They do not seem to care about the unemployed at all.

Our two senators have voted with their party to keep this bill from being voted on and passed. They are an embarrassment to the citizens of the state of Maine and need to be held accountable by the people in their next bids for re-election.

As for your paper, I do not find this information on your website at all. Are you protecting the senators from the people?

Dennis Barbour


I would like to see, in the pages of this newspaper, an explanation from Sens. Susan Collins and/or Olympia Snowe of how they justify their votes to deny the jobs bill, with its extension of unemployment insurance to more than 1 million unemployed American workers.

Given the senators’ unstinting support of our military/industrial complex, this explanation should contain no references to our national debt or other irrelevant talking points. How are these workers supposed to house and feed and clothe their children?

The unanimity of the Republican senators in this vote suggests strongly that this vote was more about ensuring a defeat for President Obama than about any principles, however obscure.

Henry Oatley


It’s great that Sen. Susan Collins and her communications director in Washington can tell her constituents in Maine we are incorrect for commenting on the weak role she is playing in the comprehensive clean energy and climate debate. (See Kevin Kelley’s letter June 20, “I have to set the record straight”).

I feel the need to remind our senator that simply co-sponsoring a bill does not make you a leader; it means you are doing the job you were elected to do — legislate. Declaring that other approaches to the climate debate were “dead” before they were written and focusing solely on the CLEAR Act is a disingenuous ploy by the senator to abdicate herself of any responsibly for what happens with this issue.

Sen. Collins never made a good-faith effort to work with her colleagues on a comprehensive clean energy and climate protection plan. Her bill is not comprehensive and will not address many vital issues that demand the need for such legislation.

Collins needs to stop pushing her bill as the only reasonable solution and sit down at the table to talk about a comprehensive plan that can pass the Senate this year.

Sen. Collins is not acting like a leader. Leaders don’t say, “It is my way or the highway.”

If Sen. Collins wants to take her ball and go home by opting out of the debate on comprehensive clean energy and climate protection legislation by blindly pushing her own agenda, that is her choice. Just don’t tell me she is leading on this issue when she CLEARLY isn’t.

Matt Gorham


I sent a letter to Sen. Susan Collins about the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s jurisdiction over carbon emissions, I received a response that I have to report as short-sighted.

The senator has put forth legislation that will not totally take effect until 2050, long after some problems may be irreversible and industries lost.

The powers given to the EPA were given by our elected government to deal with issues in a timely manner. Now the senator wants to delay change and action so that business can continue polluting and making money.

We need to take the stimulus and green technology monies that are now available and race to find ways to turn the current paper mill and biomass technologies from polluters to leaders in green technologies, so that businesses in Maine can leverage the engineering and manufacturing skill learned.

We must not rely on the policies of the Republicans that have sent all our jobs to Asia. We need to move faster and smarter than our competition, not lean on protectionist policies like those that killed the steel and car industries. The senator refuses to learn from the past and is failing to lead us into the future.

Charles Reid

South Portland


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