Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

January 22, 2007

Toll in Iraq shows it's time to go home

I am writing in reaction to the United Nations' finding of 34,452 civilian Iraqi deaths from sectarian violence in 2006 ("U.N. puts Iraqi toll at 34,000 civilians," Jan. 17).

This number is appalling by all imaginable standards.

It is an unmistakable reminder that the match struck by the United States four years ago has resulted in a massive conflagration.

Nevertheless, our president plans to douse these flames with what will only serve as more fuel.

It is time for American troops to leave Iraq.

I urge our senators and representatives to stand up to the president and use every shred of constitutional power at their disposal to stop this foolhardy escalation ("Senators set showdown with White House," Jan. 18).

I understand that exercising the power of the purse to stop a war in progress is politically risky. But the president has demonstrated that he is unwilling to change course unless he is forced to do so.

It is time for our elected legislators to say no to more troops in Iraq and yes to supporting an Iraqi-led reconciliation process and to funding Iraqi-controlled reconstruction of crucial civic infrastructure.

I am convinced that this is the best way to begin the process of transition to a peaceful post-occupation Iraq.

This will be expensive, risky and far from anyone's definition of perfect.

But it is clearly preferable to more of the same.

Ira Gooding

Baltimore

What will happen if latest surge fails?

On President Bush's plan to send 21,000 more U.S. troops into this civil war in Iraq, the question not answered is what happens if this "surge" of troops fails - as a similar surge into Baghdad did last summer ("Senators set showdown with White House," Jan. 18).

This question reminds me of the Vietnam War, in which endless escalation brought more than 500,000 U.S. troops into the war and more than 58,000 were killed.

In the end, we left Vietnam, but not before that war helped destroy the presidencies of Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard M. Nixon.

Unless Mr. Bush can give us a credible option for what to do if his newest plan becomes his next disaster, we must demand that Congress stop his bloodletting of our troops.

President Bush's ignorance and arrogance got us into this war we didn't need to fight. I now have zero confidence in Mr. Bush and his plans.

America and our soldiers cannot afford more of Mr. Bush's Vietnam-style catastrophe.

Stephen Kay

Severna Park

Remember the days of budget surplus?

Does anyone remember that one of the central issues during the 2000 presidential campaign was the debate about what to do with the federal budget surplus - and about whether to put it away (as Vice President Al Gore advocated) to alleviate the difficulty of dealing with the looming number of baby boomers who would be retiring ("Bernanke warns of fiscal straits," Jan. 19)?

That debate seems almost quaint now.

Instead, we've given the money to millionaires and oil corporations and set it on fire in Iraq.

Susan Detwiler

Baltimore

O'Malley's budget betrays his rhetoric

I seem to recall that during the gubernatorial campaign, one of Mayor Martin O'Malley's most frequent and vitriolic criticisms of Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. was that he did not fully fund the Thornton education plan.

Despite a vow to do just that as governor, Mr. O'Malley, in his first budget, apparently has found it impossible ("O'Malley to slow spending," Jan. 19).

I suppose it's different when one is making the difficult decisions rather than the easy critiques.

Danette Hare

Forest Hill

No reason to tamper with drug program

Rather than rashly pursuing restrictive policies that threaten to undermine the success of the Medicare prescription drug benefit, the government and private sector should slow down, work together and find practical ways to make a good program even better for older and disabled Americans ("Democrats, go forward, but don't go overboard," Jan. 10).

The Medicare prescription drug program is working well.

Just a few years ago, barely half of America's seniors had comprehensive prescription drug coverage.

Today, more than 90 percent of them do.

Seniors and disabled Americans are seeing real savings on their prescription medicines, and they are able to select from a wide range of plans rather than a one-size-fits-all program.

Seniors are saving, on average, $1,200 a year on their prescription medicines, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

What's more, the program's estimated 10-year costs are now 30 percent - or $189 billion - below initial forecasts, the CMS reports.

Imposing new restrictive policies that could limit patient access to potentially lifesaving medicines is not in the best interest of American patients.

Fundamentally, Medicare Part D is working. Let's give it a chance.

Ken Johnson

Washington

The writer is a vice president of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.

Israel isn't serious about making peace

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