I am very concerned and angry about the Republican Party’s aim to cut Medicare, Medicaid and services for the poor, elderly and disabled while it continues to support tax cuts for the wealthy. In fact, it proposes making all Bush-era tax cuts permanent.

As a social worker, I see firsthand the hardships that seniors face trying to live on their meager Social Security checks. One of my clients receives only $636 a month from Social Security. She is a divorced woman who stayed home and raised her children, as did most women of her generation. When she did work, she earned minimum wage, hence the low Social Security benefits she now receives.

I challenge any lawmaker to try to live on $636 a month with today’s cost of living. This woman cannot afford to pay her Medicare Part B premium, let alone supplemental or prescription-drug plan premiums.

She is able to live in her own home with the help of programs like the Medicare Savings Program, which pays for her Part B and D premiums. She also receives fuel assistance and food stamps. If these programs are cut, my client will be forced to move to an assisted-living facility at the approximate cost of $5,000 a month, paid for by the state.

These proposed cuts also would affect my family directly. I am the mother of a young man who is developmentally delayed. I worry about his future as someone largely dependent on the welfare system for his housing, insurance and care. He, like most other people with disabilities, is unable to advocate for himself, which makes cuts to his services even more outrageous.

Please ask your state representatives to protect our most vulnerable citizens and eliminate tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.

Vicki Durrell

South Portland

Both the Republican and Democratic plans to reduce the deficit have deficiencies.

The Obama vision is short on specifics, but at least appears to favor Main Street. The Paul Ryan plan looks like another giveaway to Wall Street, and tells Main Street to tighten its belt — if Main Street still has pants left on that Wall Street has not stolen.

Neither plan appears to me to do much about the deficit, exacerbated by the mess the Wall Street banksters got us into, nor do they do anything to prevent another similar disaster.

The Ryan Republican plan incorporates giving individual states a set share of money in block grants to divvy up among Medicare recipients. If that is not enough to cover expenses for the needy, I guess it’s just tough luck.

I seem to remember not long ago that Republicans were nearly hysterical about the Democrats instituting so-called “death panels” to cut off Medicare medical benefits. It appears that the new Republican plan does exactly what they were complaining about. The Republican Medicare voucher plan may not be a death panel, but for a lot of people, it would be a death sentence.

The Ryan economic plan is referred to as a “path to prosperity.” My question is, whose prosperity — mine, or Wall Street billionaires, because it sure looks like more of the same.

Obama’s plan looks like a lot of hot air. Ryan’s plan looks like a love letter to the rich. Back to the drawing board, gentlemen.

John Dow


Harold Meyerson’s recent column bemoaning Paul Ryan’s “Path to Prosperity” budget plan has an Alice in Wonderland perspective in which down is up, prudence is wrong and profligacy is virtuous.

In Meyerson’s progressive worldview, it’s acceptable for discretionary spending to grow much faster than the economy, inflation or incomes for years, and any attempt to slow outlays to a sustainable pace is a recipe for national decline. When the United States becomes another Greece because it has spent too much and borrowed too much, Meyerson will still be arguing for more.

This country does indeed have an unspoken social contract that includes a safety net for those truly in need. It has never included Meyerson’s version, which is a never-ending and unaffordable expansion of the welfare state.

The great value of Ryan’s budget is that it proposes to change the way our government operates. It proposes to cut significant amounts of spending over the next 10 years, but because even large periodic, ad-hoc spending reductions are unlikely to close the growing budget gap, it puts an enforceable statutory cap in place to protect the budget from politicians who can’t control their spending impulses.

Finally, it transforms open-ended entitlement programs like Medicaid into affordable and sustainable strands of a safety net designed to help those most in need.

These are badly needed budget reforms, but Meyerson is too far down the rabbit hole to understand that.

Martin Jones


It would appear the House Republicans want to give us another brinksmanship drama about the budget.

They approved an additional $309 billion above the budget for war spending, insisted on borrowing $70 billion this year and next so that the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans get a tax break, and they just approved a budget extension to September.

They passed the budget extension knowing the debt limit would need to be increased, and now they want to disassociate that action from their recent agreement to keep the government funded and make believe it is a new issue.

Congress gave itself the best health care plan for life. (Lawmakers) also gave themselves a lifetime pension with full benefits. I would maintain that cutting those two benefits is the first step in cutting expenses.

The Federalist Papers are pretty clear that our representatives and senators should be regular citizens, sharing the same problems we do. I would feel a lot better if the senator or representative discussing and voting on, say, Social Security had to live on that also, just like we do.

I would say the same for health care and Medicare. Buy your insurance like the rest of us, and plan your retirement around health care like the rest of us instead of getting a cost-free benefit for life.

This has to be the highest form of hypocrisy to take such good care of yourself and eliminate, say, a program for homeless veterans.

If you feel this has merit, you need to act. Send a letter to your congressman, because Congress is already running for election again and they certainly will place their personal interests before you and me.

John Schwartz



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