The primary issue the Republican Party stressed in its 2010 legislative races was the size of the U.S. national debt. And rightly so. It is a threat to our long-term economic and geo-political stability. In 2001, the debt was $5.7 trillion. By 2009, it was $10.1 trillion. President Bush had borrowed $2 trillion for tax cuts, $3 trillion for two wars, and ushered in an unfunded Medicare prescription drug program. And he left us in a major recession. Though quiet for eight years, Republicans were now hopping mad. President Obama has borrowed in excess of $3 trillion more; primarily to help us climb out of the recession. Republicans are leading the charge to reduce the debt. Or are they? 

The five largest oil companies reported first quarter profits of $33 billion; yet Republicans voted to extend their taxpayer-funded subsidies of $21 billion. Republicans also voted to increase tax cuts for Wall Street bankers; while refusing to tax the wealthy at levels in place during the 1990s, when 22 million jobs were created, compared to 2 million during the Bush tax-cut years. Forget their argument that taxing the wealthy a bit more would stifle job growth. Only 3 percent of small business owners have personal income exceeding $250,000 per year. 

Paul Ryan’s budget proposal, which Republicans voted to support, shifts costs to beneficiaries (when those now 55 turn 65) instead of controlling costs. Beneficiaries would have to purchase private policies, with limited premium support from the government in what amounts to a voucher. Per the Congressional Budget Office, Medicare program costs under the Ryan proposal could increase by up to 40 percent. Costs beyond the premium support amount would be the responsibility of beneficiaries, starting with private insurance administrative costs averaging seven times higher than government administrative costs (20 percent versus 3 percent). Nearly 80 percent of seniors don’t agree with Republicans on throwing their children and grandchildren under the bus. It’s time for an alternative solution. 

Rep. Herrera-Beutler has voted the party line on all the issues I noted above. It shouldn’t be a surprise, since three of her biggest campaign contributors were the health insurance industry, big oil and the Koch brothers. She clearly represents their interests; not those of her 3rd district constituents. Her recent mailing to voters is intellectually insulting. The smiling congresswoman shows joyful seniors with a thumbs up for the Ryan Medicare plan, stating “sick and poor seniors would actually receive more money for their Medicare coverage” and “future generations will have better choices for their health care as they grow older.” The ad was paid for by the 60 Plus Association, a group that opposes stances taken by AARP. 

It’s time our congresswoman schedule some town hall meetings in Pacific County, as her predecessor Brian Baird did on a regular basis. She’s clearly not in tune with the needs and concerns of the majority.  

Tim Roth 

Long Beach 

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