It’s the Democrats who want to define the GOP. They think they know us best. On National Public Radio, I heard how the GOP is “the party of white people.”
“It’s not simply a question of disparate or diverse racial and ethnic groups the party’s having trouble connecting with,” writer Sam Tanenhaus told NPR. “It’s also an idea, an approach to governance itself.”
Is that really a surprise? I don’t think it has anything to do with ethnicity or your diversity. I believe the GOP and Democrats have a very different view of governance, and that is what defines them.
One party has you believe in a plan of dependence on programs we cannot afford to pay for anymore. The party’s president is playing the same old cards — if we keep asking for “just a little more” from the top, we can keep spending more to fix your problems.
It’s like a kid with too many credit cards. The real problem? A monster deficit and interest payments that are hard to wrap your mind around.
Democrats are the party that thinks that minimum wage was intended to “lift” you out of poverty, and if we raise it, all problems are solved. Forget that your friend cannot get hired or that you can only work 29 hours a week, so the employer avoids paying for a costly heath-care plan.
The real threat to our economy and foreign policy is our inability to deal with the deficit. Isn’t that what the GOP campaigned on a few months ago? The GOP wants to make it easier for employers to hire and increase people’s pay and benefits, not harder.
Putting the government in charge of health care will lead to the same kind of problems as are being experienced by the post office, which is closing on Saturdays. It is an inefficient bureaucracy, and it’s broke.
The Obamacare plan that is so bogged down in fine print and regulations that no one really knows what is going to happen when it kicks in.
And it’s an issue for all of us. It’s an issue for both parties, for the elderly on Medicare, for retirees on Social Security and for kids who need a free breakfast.
Cuts to these programs are not taboo, and they must be faced. It’s also an issue for the military. We must be strong and help countries in conflict, and respond to natural disasters, but within reason. Our true strength in the world’s eyes will come from how we deal with the debt. This is a two-party issue.
So at risk of the Republican Party alienating large segments of the population, I beg to say these issues are not ones of ethnicity or diversity. They affect all of us,
Catholic Church and its principles
With its male-dominated hierarchy, the Catholic Church makes an easy target. A change in the papacy always provides fodder for the church’s critics, as evidenced by the recent cartoon and accompanying editorial (“Choices at the Vatican,” Feb. 13).
Critics see the church’s refusal to embrace “modernity” as its biggest weakness. In fact, the church’s refusal to abandon its core principles is its greatest strength.
It must truly gall the liberal elite to see the church survive, year after year, decade after decade, despite self-inflicted wounds like the sin of the priest pedophile scandal and despite the onslaught of secularism.
Sure, the membership numbers are down, and they might never climb back. But the mission — evangelization and providing education, health care and other material needs to impoverished peoples worldwide — continues unabated.
Trickle down from the governor
Gov. Kasich wants to lower the individual state income tax rate 20 percent over the next three years, reducing the top rate from its current 5.92 percent on income above $204,200 a year to 4.74 percent, while proposing to broaden the base of the state sales tax on services that were previously not taxed.
The reason for this plan is to boost job creation. In other words, this is the same old failed Republican trickle-down, supply-side economics that only benefits those at the top of the economic ladder, while those in the middle and bottom see little or none of the benefits.
There is empirical evidence for over the past three decades that providing more tax cuts for the wealthy and large corporations not only doesn’t create long-term job growth, but also increases income inequality, which further slows economic growth by keeping wages stagnant, reducing purchasing power.
The governor clings to the conservative belief that corporations and small businesses are job creators, not recognizing the true job creators are members of the working public whose wages drive the demand for goods and services. Any economist learned this is in their first Macroeconomics 101 class.
Therefore, any tax plan should be designed so that those at the bottom and middle of the economic scale benefit the most, recognizing that a broadening of the state sales tax will have a negative economic effect on those individuals, causing them to use more of their income to pay for products and services than those at the top of the income scale.
Kasich’s plan would reduce state revenues by $884 billion over the next two years, at a time when the educational system is cash-strapped and laying off teachers and cities are making budget cuts, laying off police officers and firefighters and reducing essential services to citizens. That is wrong.
Richard M. Thompson
Risks in a higher severance tax
The Feb. 13 editorial “Effective rate” pointed to a 2012 Ernst & Young study as evidence for why increasing the severance tax on Utica shale oil and gas production makes sense for Ohio. I would caution anyone not to put too much stock in the Ohio Business Roundtable-commissioned study, which was based on numerous flawed assumptions and numbers.
The study drastically underestimated the cost incurred in developing a horizontal well. The cost of an average horizontal well in Ohio is between $8 million and $12 million, not the $4 million per well quoted in the study. It also overestimated the amount of natural gas the average Ohio well will produce in the initial year of operation.
What the Ernst & Young study and many proponents of the severance-tax increase also fail to consider are the finer points of how the severance tax is implemented in other oil- and gas-producing states.
For example, while the face value of the severance tax in Texas is 7 percent, the state offers steep tax incentives to encourage shale drilling.
With only 236 wells drilled and 65 producing, the Utica shale play is in the very early stages of development. Right now, oil and gas companies are investing billions in lease agreements and exploratory wells with no guarantee of a return on their investment.
Adding an additional tax burden at this time could severely diminish future capital investment, economic development and job creation in the state.
While the Utica shale holds great potential, it’s competing with other shale plays in the U.S. and abroad. The uncertainly surrounding the viability of the Utica shale compounded with the possibility of a tax increase could result in some companies choosing to take their business elsewhere.
Thomas E. Stewart
Executive vice president
Ohio Oil and Gas Association
Meaning of religious freedom
I am writing in response to the Feb. 13 letter, “Free exercise of religion.” I am baffled as to how the writers cannot see the contradiction inherent in their statement that promoting a particular religion somehow can be justified by a “freedom of religion” argument.
There are no local, state or federal laws prohibiting them, you or me from practicing our particular form of Islam, Christianity, Judaism, mysticism, or any other religion, or from being an atheist.
This is true if you are a congregation of one or if you happen to belong to the largest congregation in the world.
But to say that our Founding Fathers started a Christian nation because most of them happened to be Christian is not only absurd, it diminishes their wisdom and denigrates a cornerstone of our country.
So enjoy this most precious of freedoms, and use it to celebrate your faith, or, if you choose, your lack of it.
If you are a teacher, teach your belief in Sunday school. If you are a choir director, lead the faithful in songs of exultation. If you are employed by some branch of government or an elected official, be guided by your faith and ethics as you perform your duties.
But don’t inject your religious symbolism into my kids’ lives or insist on mounting your commandments on a courthouse or ask me to say your prayers at an event that we all pay for with our tax dollars.
I like my freedom to worship my way and you probably do, too. Let’s keep it that way,