Barr: Replace sequester with responsible cuts
On March 1, the across-the-board spending cuts President Barack Obama proposed — called sequestration — will automatically take effect. These indiscriminate cuts could have a negative impact in our Sixth Congressional District.
For example, the Blue Grass Army Depot could lose the funding necessary to keep its chemical weapons disposal program on track, and civilian employees of that facility have already received furlough notices.
As I wrote in my letter to House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Congress should replace sequestration with a more intelligent setting of priorities.
But it remains critically necessary to reduce federal spending by an equal or greater amount as sequestration, which represents only two percent of annual spending.
Washington's failure to address the $16.6 trillion national debt continues to block the economic recovery necessary to put Kentuckians back to work.
While Obama continues to propose tax hikes as a magic cure, the federal government never dedicates tax increases to deficit reduction. In fact, the government has already spent December's $62 billion tax increase.
Recently, I joined a bipartisan group of over 30 freshman members of Congress in declaring that Washington has a spending problem, and that our constituents elected us to address it.
We wrote letters to Obama and House leaders articulating our principles of spending reform, and we agreed to meet regularly and discuss ideas and solutions.
Particularly when the president and some congressional leaders deny Washington has a spending problem, our bipartisan dialogue constitutes an important first step.
U.S. Rep. Andy Barr
Balance the cuts
On March 1, core government functions such as biomedical research funding, education, public safety and air traffic control will experience deep cuts.
If lawmakers can't put politics aside to avoid it, these cuts will compromise our health, national security, global competitiveness and economic growth as millions of American jobs are lost.
Teachers will be taken out of our classrooms, airports will close and cutting-edge research on cures for cancer will be stifled.
Experts agree these essential jobs and services are not the drivers of our nation's debt, and they have already done more than their part to reduce the deficit — cut to levels not seen since the Eisenhower presidency.
I urge Sen. Mitch McConnell and Rep. Andy Barr to work with their colleagues in Congress to find a balanced approach to reduce the deficit. Only through balance can we avoid these devastating cuts and put our nation on a sustainable fiscal path.
Michael G. Fried
Why work hard?
The fiscal cliff bill recently enacted means taxes increase for all working Americans. There were no real spending cuts and the year-end deadline was used to divide America into classes.
The president talks about fairness, but his policies penalize profit and investment, and that hurts those trying to make it more than those who have already made it.
The question is how hard does one want to work when facing federal marginal tax rates over 46 percent that include the Medicare tax and partial loss of itemized deductions?
In addition, state and local taxes push the tax rate to over 54 percent. How much is enough?
Shirley W. Southworth
Try Obama's ideas
Of the bill that included the sequester, House Speaker John Boehner said: "I got 98 percent of what I wanted."
Now he and the GOP want to lie and say that the remaining two percent makes this the Obama sequester.
When the Republicans and Tea Party members allow this to happen, they will have done more damage to our economy than any terrorist attack ever. Al-Qaida could only pray it had the ability to hurt the United States as badly.
Republicans are doing so because they are angry with President Barack Obama for proposing Democratic solutions and plans to our problems and not Republican ones. They claim the president hasn't offered a credible play and refuse to compromise and govern (which is their job).
Stop voting for people who refuse to govern. The will of the nation is with the president on nearly every issue. Let's try those ideas. We owe it to ourselves to try.
We've tried "trickle-down" since the 1980s and that's not worked at all.
Last year during the Bloomberg Mayoral Challenge, I proposed an American Standard of Living Plan: Raise the minimum wage $1/year until it equals the living wage in the county in which you live. End working poverty in Kentucky.
Jerry M. Chaney II
Unneeded police buildup
Your article about Lexington police expanding its training facility and spending millions of dollars failed to ask the most important questions:
Why are the police on a major hiring binge? Is there a crime wave that we don't know about? Why do police forces keep expanding as crime is shrinking?
The government keeps squandering our tax dollars on a law-enforcement spending spree that cannot be justified by the crime rate, or the money government has.
Our state and local governments are nearly bankrupt because they cannot pay the costs of police retirement, yet they keep hiring more and more cops.
It seems that every day we are treated to an article about new recruiting classes that shows the typical picture of a cop with his foot on a man's neck while twisting his arm behind his back.
Every extra cop we hire increases petty levels of enforcement and arrests, encourages a police state and adds to our court costs, jail and prison costs, public defenders, drug testing, probation. More spending for cops increases the level of spending across the board.
Where are the Tea Party and conservatives who want smaller government? Why don't they speak out about this government hiring binge? If they favor a jobs program that consists of a massive level of police they are for bigger government and more spending.
Lets' put an end to the crazed levels of police spending.
Thank you for the recent articles on the vagaries of our highway system and its lack of upkeep.
Though the articles didn't mention the role of local politicians in the process of securing support for new roads, the Bluegrass has a stellar example of the lobbying they have done, and continue to do, in favor of the proposed Interstate 75 connector between Nicholasville and I-75 in Madison County.
The near half-billion dollars that boondoggle is estimated to cost would go a long way to addressing some of Kentucky's real highway problems
(Jessamine County homeowner)