Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

December 23, 2003

Financing law closes loopholes aiding the rich

Our courts have upheld the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law, but Steve Chapman's column "Outlawing political speech" (Opinion

Commentary, Dec. 16) perpetuates myths about it.

The act doesn't prohibit the American Civil Liberties Union from producing an ad that criticizes House Speaker Dennis Hastert. It doesn't prohibit anyone from criticizing anyone.

As Mr. Chapman admits (in his 12th paragraph), all it requires is that the ACLU form a political action committee and reveal whose money it is using for the ads. Countless political groups, of all stripes, do that.

The McCain-Feingold law is a very limited reform that lets the public know who's really putting on ads, so we can intelligently decide whether to believe them.

For years, big-money givers have used "issue ads" and "soft money" to give campaigns bigger gifts than the law allows. Candidates, once elected, feel obliged to repay those favors.

To close those loopholes, we should welcome McCain-Feingold, then move on to other reforms that allow politicians to compete without depending on the super-rich.

Matthew A. Feigin

Baltimore

After-school music adds to achievement

The city school board's decision to close the Baltimore Talent Education Center was a terrible one that will deeply impact the achievement of Baltimore public school students ("Finale for music program," Dec. 18).

I applaud Mayor Martin O'Malley for asking city schools CEO Bonnie S. Copeland to consider saving the after-school music program; I urge him to go a step further and demand an accounting of names and job descriptions of all the school employees who were fired.

As a city taxpayer and public school parent, I strongly favor cutting unnecessary bloat in the school system. However, I suspect that out of the 700-plus school employees laid off, the majority are teachers and teacher aides working directly with our children.

Only through full disclosure by Ms. Copeland will we know the truth.

Sujata Massey

Baltimore

Slots could become governor's sad legacy

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. has apparently found a rationale for breaking a promise not to introduce slots legislation without the support of House Speaker Michael E. Busch ("Ehrlich reverses slots stance, to push bill regardless of Busch," Dec. 18).

The governor would be better advised to reverse a much more imprudent pledge: not to raise taxes under any circumstances.

Wise fiscal policy requires that the budget deficit be addressed with a combination of reduction of expenditures and an increase in revenue through fair, selective tax increases.

When the economy improves and tax revenues increase, it will be much easier for the General Assembly to adjust tax rates and spending accordingly than it will be to rid the state of slots and their attendant social costs.

Maybe it is too soon for our young governor to consider his historical legacy. But if slots are approved, we will be living with that burden long after the governor leaves office.

Eric F. Waller

Baltimore

Dean isn't hiding from war in Iraq

The Sun's Dec. 17 editorial cartoon depicting Howard Dean down a spider hole deserves several hyphenates: mean-spirited, ill-conceived, but especially off-base.

Rather than hiding himself from the news of Saddam Hussein's capture, Dr. Dean's response was swift and on-target: He argued that we should use this breakthrough as an opportunity to get back on course with the true legacy of America's foreign policy - multilateral international cooperation for a common end.

From the beginning, Dr. Dean has contended that U.S. power and influence lie not in the posture of invasion, pre-emption and brinkmanship, but in the desire of the world to emulate the freedoms and peace afforded by a compassionate, democratic way of life.

President Bush bragged that the capture of Mr. Hussein came without the firing of a single shot.

The families of more than 400 dead American soldiers and thousands of Iraqi civilians would take issue with that claim.

Ann Burdette

Ellicott City

Let's declare victory, bring troops home

There are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Its oppressive, dangerous governing apparatus has been demolished. Saddam Hussein is in custody.

The United States has carried out all of President Bush's goals. Every further death is unnecessary.

For everyone's sake, let's declare victory and depart.

Grenville B. Whitman

Baltimore

Insurance fees cause crisis in health care

The Sun's article "Feeling the pinch" (Dec. 12) documented a national crisis in our health care system.

According to the American Medical Association, doctors in at least 19 states, including Maryland, have been forced to quit performing high-risk procedures or give up their medical practices completely because the financial and liability risks are too high.

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