I would like to thank Mr. Maggio for his willingness to join the public discourse with his response to my earlier letter to the editor. I would ask him, though, to refrain from the personal attacks ("gutter trash," "nutjob"), which should be unnecessary if a gentleman has facts and reason at his disposal. I will not call you names, but I will call you wrong. Obviously, consistently, terribly wrong.

Regarding your claim that I seek to blame the Democrats for everything, if you review my actual letter you will find that the only mention of Democrats was to state the fact that in their first year of control of Congress they roughly tripled the size of the federal deficit. Since you apparently missed, or did not comprehend, the central point of my letter, I will recap it for you. Almost everyone agrees that higher energy costs, higher food prices, higher inflation, higher unemployment and higher federal deficits are a bad thing. Yet there are three policies being followed by our federal government that I cited as directly contributing to all those ills. By allowing greater production of domestic oil supplies, eliminating ethanol mandates, and cutting federal spending we can cure most of our current economic troubles. Do you agree with me that it is foolish for our government to hamstring our own economy? From your response, I cannot tell.

I assigned the responsibility for these counterproductive policies on all of us, as citizens of the U.S., and on the officials we elect to represent us. Your answer is more specific and simplistic: it's the Republicans behind it all. Your logic here escapes me: the Republican-majority Congress of 1995-2006 is responsible for the overspending of 2001-06, but not for the fiscal responsibility of 1995-2000. You give credit to President Clinton for the balanced budgets, are you unaware that our Constitution gives control of the purse strings to Congress, and that Congress consistently spent less than President Clinton requested each year? The contention that President Bush "lost" New Orleans is just plain silly. President Bush does not command hurricanes (although perhaps we should check the archives to see if the Chinook published one of your letters just before last December's windstorm). While FEMA's response to Katrina was pathetic and wasteful, it is typical of what you can expect from government bureaucracy. It was also their best performance in response to a disaster to date (can you name a disaster where they did a better job?) and in sharp contrast to the complete and utter collapse of state and local efforts. While unemployment has ticked up in recent months, it is still low by historical standards, and hardly anything to "blame" anyone for. Are you aware that the average unemployment rate during the Clinton years is actually slightly higher than the average thus far in the Bush years?

I would be the first to admit that some of the Republicans in Washington, D.C. are far less conservative than I would like. Certainly neither party is immune from the temptation to purchase votes with taxpayer dollars. Still there are acknowledged and stark differences between Democrats and Republicans in their policy positions.

As to which party is more responsible for these three counterproductive policies, I'll leave it up to the readers.

When each budget comes out, which party do you see fighting to restrain spending, and which party do you see constantly promoting new programs for government, new regulations and ever increasing spending? Which party opposes drilling in ANWR and which party largely supports it? Which party believes in taxing and penalizing energy production and use and subsidizing less efficient alternatives, and which party by-and-large trusts the free market to resolve our energy challenges?

By the way, I wouldn't be too hard on Pacific County's Democrat Party leadership. They have managed to elect Democrats to all of the county positions for over 30 years now. I attribute this to having selected candidates that closely mirror the conservative values of Pacific County voters.

Brett Malin

Seaview

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