Letters To The Editor


April 01, 2004

Welfare reform lifts children from poverty

The Sun's recent editorial on President Bush's plan to strengthen welfare reform stated that reform "has barely dented poverty since the 1996 legislation" ("Welfare to work," March 29). I guess that depends on your definition of "barely."

The truth is that, because the 1996 welfare reform law encouraged work, millions of children and families previously dependent upon welfare have been lifted out of poverty.

In fact, since 1996, the child poverty rate has fallen from 20.5 percent to 16.7 percent. African-American child poverty has fallen from 39.9 percent to 31.5 percent. And Hispanic child poverty has fallen from 40.3 percent to 28.6 percent.

Those are more than "dents" in poverty. We're talking about children all around the country who, thanks to welfare reform, are being raised in families that have escaped poverty.

Still, we agree the poverty rate is too high.

That's why Mr. Bush has a plan, passed by the U.S. House of Representatives and pending in the Senate, to further encourage full-time work as the surest way out of poverty while providing services to support employment.

By continuing to give people the encouragement and tools they need to achieve self-sufficiency, we can improve the lives of millions more children and families for this generation and generations to come.

Wade F. Horn


The writer is an assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Accept both slots and new state taxes

It is time to put an end to the Maryland budget fight. A compromise is necessary for the future welfare of our state and all of its citizens ("Tax talk swirling both ways," March 30).

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. should agree to accept House Speaker Michael E. Busch's tax program in return for the passage of Mr. Ehrlich's slots proposal.

There is nothing in either proposal that Maryland's taxpayers can't live with. And such a compromise could cure the state's budget problems and give everyone some needed relief by putting a stop to the constant bickering and chaos.

Mr. Ehrlich and Mr. Busch would be respected for their leadership and concern for the welfare of the state.

Walter Boyd


Compromise can aid Md. racing, schools

Schools throughout the state, especially the needy ones, all will be better off if we could just do the following: Approve slot machines in specific locations throughout Maryland other than at racetracks, but allow the racing industry a portion of the proceeds. And increase the state sales tax from 5 percent to 5.5 percent.

That is what is known as a compromise, something at which politicians should excel.

If they make this happen, all members of the General Assembly, Republicans and Democrats alike, as well as the governor could pat themselves on the back for a job well done.

Howard K. Ottenstein


Kerry's tax plan puts money in right hands

Sen. John Kerry's proposed tax reduction for corporations is exactly the kind of common sense solution to job growth we so desperately need ("Kerry offers plan designed to curb outsourced jobs," March 27).

Instead of directing funds to the extremely rich, who would use them for their own materialistic pleasures, let's direct those resources to businesses, which would use the windfall to create good jobs.

We've had plenty of time to see the results of President Bush's economic plan: 2.2 million jobs lost and a surging GDP that in three long years has not - and will not - create many jobs.

The resources are there for a robust economic recovery, but they are being misused and funneled away from the people who need jobs the most.

It's time for a better solution, and Mr. Kerry's pragmatic approach would be a welcome relief.

David A. Chipkin


What does he know about creating jobs?

Sen. John Kerry promises to create 10 million jobs and to end to the export of American jobs ("Kerry offers plan designed to curb outsourced jobs," March 27).

To accomplish this, perhaps he plans to rely upon whatever expertise in this area his wife may have acquired when she inherited the Heinz ketchup fortune.

Barry C. Steel


Atheist has a right to challenge Pledge

The Supreme Court is now considering whether the inclusion of the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance is a form of religious indoctrination ("Justices take up Pledge debate," March 25).

Religious zealots have attacked Dr. Michael Newdow's right to challenge the public school recitation because he is not the "custodial" parent.

But challenging a public ritual in a public school should be the right of any member of the public. It should not depend on parenthood or custodial rights. Schools are funded by taxpayers - parents and nonparents, religious believers and atheists.

And Justice Stephen G. Breyer's statement that the phrase "under God" may refer to a "supreme being," not a particular god, suggests that a reference to a "generic" god is acceptable.

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