Cartoon to the editor

Letters to the editor: Aug. 25

August 25, 2013 

Barr attacked in press for helping Kentuckians A New York Times article about Kentucky congressman Andy Barr was reprinted in the Herald-Leader Aug. 11, extending the reach of a journalist who appears to have edited his research for this piece to obscure essential facts.

Those who elected Barr need the rest of the story, because it demonstrates that he's representing us with a level of diligence seldom seen in our capital.

Few Kentuckians would consider irrelevant what the Times reporter learned in an hour of interviews with Kentuckians — and chose to omit. Barr has spent more time with Kentucky's bankers, their board members and customers than any previous Kentucky congressman on the Financial Services Committee.

He learned firsthand how misguided and badly written regulation is blighting this state's economy and job growth — not just for banking but for all fuel-related industries.

He learned how the regulation has harmed the consumers it was supposed to help. He learned all that from Kentuckians struggling to survive, not from lobbyists in Washington.

What he did learn in Washington is that these regulations are also blighting the economies of every state. His common-sense solutions are garnering broad financial industry support because they address problems at the heart of our common economic malaise.

The reporter received powerful illustrations of that fact. He ignored them. His story was written before his investigation began. Its purpose was to impede the work of our congressman, a man doing exactly what Kentuckians elected him to do, and doing it well.

Ballard W. Cassady Jr.

President & CEO, Kentucky Bankers Association


A man of the people

The Herald-Leader editorial board is at it again, shamelessly spewing biased, liberal attacks on Kentucky leaders.

Congressman Andy Barr is not a creature of Washington; he does the people's business and then returns to Kentucky, where he is readily available to listen to the concerns of his constituents.

While home, he is traveling the 6th District attending community events and sitting down for coffee with his constituents. Once a month, Barr meets with a group of Kentucky veterans to discuss ways to serve and support our men and women in uniform by making their transition home a little easier.

While the Herald-Leader is desperate to suggest otherwise, Barr doesn't defend special interests. He defends the interests of our community.

Barr has quickly proven he is willing to fight back against President Barack Obama's war on coal and Obamacare — policies that threaten the livelihood of hard-working Kentuckians.

He is a strong voice for Kentucky families, veterans and businesses. Despite whatever baseless, liberal propaganda the Herald-Leader spews, I will continue to support Barr just as he has supported our community.

Claude Shaw


Barr fighting Dodd-Frank

I read your recent publication of The New York Times article on the fact that members of Congress raise money. How condescending to suggest that Kentuckians could not possibly have an interest in a successful financial-services industry.

As a Realtor and homebuilder for over 30 years, I am too keenly aware of how new regulations from the Dodd-Frank legislation have frozen bankers' ability to lend.

In particular, a rule called "qualified mortgages" has taken authority away from our community bankers — practically reducing mortgage decisions to paperwork for Washington bureaucrats.

This rule has stifled homebuyers — creating more paperwork, longer closing times and higher costs.

In April, Charles Vice, Kentucky's commissioner of financial institutions, testified before congressman Andy Barr and his colleagues on the Financial Services Committee. Kentucky's top banking regulator suggested that banks should be able to meet the "qualified mortgage" standard if they would stand behind their lending decisions by keeping a mortgage loan on their own books.

While the big-city reporter falsely suggests that the idea for Barr's legislation originated from outside our commonwealth, it was actually suggested by Kentucky's top banking regulator. Was the Herald-Leader too infatuated with the big-city paper to evaluate the accuracy of its reporting?

We are blessed to have a smart, involved representative like Barr, who is living up to his commitment to protect Kentucky jobs by listening to Kentuckians and fighting to reduce Washington's thoughtless regulations.

Shirley Wiseman


Unbalanced scrutiny

Why does it seem as though the editorial board is only interested in campaign contributions when the candidate in question is a Republican? Where was the outrage when Gov. Steve Beshear received $130,560 from the banking industry? Why not talk about the $2.5 million that President Barack Obama received from Goldmann Sachs, J.P. Morgan and Citigroup? Where is the outcry from the editorial board about these campaign contributions?

Eric Lane


Barr beholden to lobbyists

When the 6th District replaced a lawyer from a prominent Kentucky family with a lawyer from a prominent Kentucky family, Congress' already dim firmament did not brighten. At least Ben Chandler wasn't a lobbyist.

The New York Times and reporter Eric Lipton alerted Central Kentucky that when Barr goes to Washington he begins selling his influence.

According to article, Barr, included in the beginning of his congressional career, entertaining financial services lobbyists, protecting tax breaks for credit unions and introducing legislation that eliminates citizen mortgage protections. In return, he received $150,000 of political action committees in six months.

Barr apparently knew to avoid the reporter's questions but offered his communication director, Catherine Gatewood, for comment. To justify Barr's close relationship with banking lobbyists, Gatewood said, "People support him because they agree with him."

Barr is shrewd. He hedges his available influence by receiving lobbyists from both the Credit Union National Association (whose members are exempt from corporate income taxes) and the American Banker's Association who oppose CUNA's tax-exempt status.

For the financial services industry, Barr and much of his eager and feckless crowd are an easy mark. The path to a return to the heyday of liar's loans, marketing toxic assets and running investment banks as control frauds runs through the 6th District.

Todd Kelly


Unbelievable denials

Reading Maj. Gen. Edward Tonini's comments in the Herald-Leader, denying any criminal activity at the Kentucky Division of Emergency Management, left me dumbfounded.

If the facts in the article are correct, there are clearly violations in the form of altered receipts and vouchers to hide liquor purchases and other improper spending.

For Tonini to gloss over the activity as an administrative problem, and say that "the agency was not intentionally dishonest" is a slap in the face to the people of Kentucky.

Why were the receipts altered if someone was not clearly aware that the purchases in question were illegal and had to be disguised?

While I appreciate the work that the division does for the people of Kentucky, the public has a right to expect that their tax money is spent properly, and the employees act with the utmost integrity.

This does not seem to be the case with the leadership at the Kentucky Division of Emergency Management. I thank Auditor Adam Edelen and staff for their work, and hope Gov. Steve Beshear continues to address the problems identified in the audit.

John Cervenec


UK misleads public again

Mark Twain said: "There are lies, damn lies and statistics." I thought of this when the University of Kentucky Medical Center finally released the mortality rates for its pediatric cardiothoracic program. I'm sure the powers that be at the hospital were hoping that the public is too stupid to know what those statistics implied.

We are not, and the recent column prattling on about how wonderful the hospital is was simply too much to bear.

Here's what I know from personal experience and extensive reading: Let's say in a pediatric heart-surgery program, a doctor commits a grave error and a baby dies. The whispering starts, the nurses know what happened but they cannot question the god-doctor. He justifies, obfuscates and cons his way through the morass. The Mortality and Morbidity Committee convenes; it is concerned but does nothing.

Another child dies, then another. Now the risk-management attorneys get involved. Their concern is with the hospital getting sued. They interview the medical personnel involved, review the records and talk some more. Meanwhile, more babies die.

Finally, the doctor is suspended from surgery privileges and gets a mandatory vacation while continuing to collect his mind-boggling salary. When the truth can no longer be hidden or denied, it is announced that the doctor has resigned and is moving to a different hospital.

Let the lawsuits begin — until the next time. And there will be a next time because the system is broken and all anyone does is stick the bandage of confidential-settlement money on the gushing wounds of hospital error and doctor malpractice.

Debby Vandervoort


Bad logic on wages

The Aug. 18 editorial, "Minimum wage hike overdue," is full of bluster, but it misses out on the most important fact in the minimum wage debate: Minimum wage hikes have been proven to kill jobs.

The economics aren't tough to understand: Businesses that hire entry-level employees who earn the minimum wage — think restaurants or grocery stores — keep two or three cents in profit from each sales dollar and can't just absorb the cost of a mandated wage hike.

Raising prices typically isn't an option, because higher prices mean fewer sales. Employers are thus forced to do more with less — as in more customer self-service and fewer job opportunities for inexperienced employees, like teens looking for their first summer job.

The evidence overwhelmingly backs up this intuition: According to one study, 85 percent of the economic research on the minimum wage from the last two decades points to job losses following a wage hike.

Michael Saltsman

Research Director

Employment Policies Institute

Washington, D.C.

NRA proven wrong

Regarding the incident in which the school bookkeeper talked a mentally unstable man out of shooting up a Georgia elementary school: Apparently it does not take a good guy with a gun. Apparently it takes a good woman without one.

Tracey Goodlett

Lebanon Junction

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