Public financing helps purify politics The Sun's...


August 27, 2006

Public financing helps purify politics

The Sun's article "Donation limits bypassed" (Aug. 20) details how candidates are able to use loopholes in campaign finance laws to evade contribution limits.

President Lyndon Johnson observed more than 40 years ago that campaign finance laws are more loophole than law. And as one loophole is closed, others are found.

That is why we need a new system that will really reform campaign finance law, not constant tinkering with the current system. That new system is public funding of campaigns.

Legislation to create such a system for candidates for the General Assembly passed the House of Delegates this year but was never acted on by the state Senate.

Under the bill that passed the House, candidates would opt to participate in the public financing system; those who do not could raise and spend private money as they do today.

Candidates who opt to take part in the public funding system would have to demonstrate public support by collecting a large number of small donations and to agree to specified spending limits.

Support for public funding is increasing in the General Assembly and momentum grows with each loophole uncovered.

Our campaign financing system is broken. Public funding can fix it.

Kay Terry


The writer is a member of the board of the League of Women Voters of Maryland.

Wiretaps protect the nation's liberty

In my more than 40 years as a practicing attorney, I have had the immense pleasure of supporting, nurturing and defending the constitutions of Maryland and the United States and, most significantly, defending the Fourth Amendment of our U.S. Constitution.

I have protected the rights of criminal defendants to be free from the oppression of overzealous city, state and federal authorities, even as I have also had the opportunity to be responsible for the conviction and incarceration of many criminals.

But when I read The Sun's editorial "Snooping rebuked" (Aug. 21) it sickened me to see how irreverent, disrespectful it was to our commander-in-chief, especially since his only reason for promoting this "snooping" is to protect us from the tyranny and terror tactics of those who would destroy the freedoms of our nation.

Federal District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor's ruling will ultimately be reversed.

Will The Sun's editors then retract their views on the president and our civil rights?

I think not.

Robert E. Donadio


A surreal visit to a city in ruins

After reading "Bush to mark anniversary of Katrina in New Orleans" (Aug. 23) one might conclude that the Bush administration has gone from being merely disappointing into a world of the surreal and bizarre.

How else can we explain President Bush's return to New Orleans for the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina?

Is he unaware of his administration's inept response to this disaster and that, a year later, little has changed?

Yes, billions of federal dollars have been flowing into the city.

But they have been so grossly mismanaged that it might have been more effective to rebuild the levies with bags of cash.

Doug Ebbert

Bel Air

Outcome of Iraq war becomes very clear

Steve Chapman's column "Nation pays high price for president's Iraq delusions" (Opinion

Commentary, Aug. 23) is right on the mark except for one thing: We are not losing this war, we have lost it.

And the sooner we get out, the better off we'll all be.

Eric D. Smith


Consumer spending is now likely to lag

I generally agree with the premise of Jay Hancock's column "Economic slowdown, yes, but no recession" (Aug. 20).

However, Mr. Hancock all too easily dismisses the impact of the negative savings rate on consumer spending: "The `negative savings rate' you hear about doesn't count hundreds of billions of dollars in pension income, capital gains and inheritances. How anybody can draw conclusions about household savings without including them is beyond me."

But what Mr. Hancock did not take into consideration is consumers' willingness or ability to tap those resources.

When faced with spending decisions, can one draw upon a pension plan without substantial penalty, sell a stock at a gain or count on a well-timed windfall from the death of relative?

The resources Mr. Hancock mentioned may keep households financially afloat but are unlikely to support an increase in consumer activity in the near-term.

Over the last five years, rising home prices and falling interest rates enabled homeowners to extract equity from their property and those dollars enabled consumer spending to grow at a pace well above the growth in wages.

With flat to falling home prices and higher interest rates, the well of equity extraction is running dry. As a result, consumer spending will decline and economic growth will slow.

But as Mr. Hancock rightly points out, moderating growth is not a recession.

James M. Dugan


The writer is president and chief investment officer of Cavanaugh Capital Management.

Israel can choose the path of peace

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