I feel compelled to respond to the Feb. 25 letter headlined “Follow the law, live the dream” because I know Jose Antonio Vargas. He is a friend whose bravery continues to be an inspiration.
I first met Vargas in October 2008, when he came to Akron to interview me for a Washington Post article about the work I was doing with President Obama’s campaign. Since then, we have kept in touch as Vargas moved from the Post to the Huffington Post and now to the foundation he started — Define American.
However, it was a surprise to me when, in June 2011, Vargas shared his undocumented status and the story of his move to and youth in California in the New York Times Magazine. My first reaction was fear — fear that he would be deported.
But that fear soon turned to great respect for his courage, the courage that it must have taken to put everything that he had worked so hard for on the line to be a voice for the many undocumented Americans in the same position.
I give this background to say that the letter writer should have done some research. What he would have learned is that Vargas didn’t do the “simple things outlined in the U.S. Citizenship Application form” when he came here in 1993 because he was 12 years old.
He got on a plane in the Philippines, leaving his mother for a new life in the America. At 16, he went to get a driver’s license and found out that his papers weren’t authentic. He knew that he had to protect his grandfather, who had risked his own U.S. citizenship to bring him to America.
Vargas is what has been termed a DREAMer. At the time he shared his story with the world, there was no path to citizenship for those who came to the U.S. as children unaware that they didn’t have the proper documents. Many have since become productive members of society.
While there has been some progress for those in the DREAMer category, Vargas wasn’t able to take advantage of those opportunities because he was 31 — one year older than the cutoff of 30.
As the letter writer points out, Vargas was a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist at 28. He has founded Define American with the goal of encouraging a productive conversation about immigration reform.
He is just one of many — people with Ph.D.s, our neighbors, and, believe it or not, members of our military — who love this country as much as those of us who were born here.
We have to remember that immigration is about real people who admit, as Vargas did, that they have made mistakes. I think we should all think about the slate of our own immigration story; after all, we are all immigrants. My slate is not clean. My great, great grandfather came to this country dressed as a nurse because he was AWOL from military service in England. Does this make me less of an American some 100 years later? Of course not.
The same goes for Jose Antonio Vargas’ undocumented status.
Republicans and their tricks
The Republicans are up to their old dirty tricks. George Bush inherited a budget surplus and quickly enacted a tax cut and started two unfunded wars. As a result, we have government policies that inevitably produce a deficit.
President Obama has tried to correct the situation, only to be met with filibuster after filibuster in the Senate. A hugely disproportionate share of filibusters in the two centuries have happened since 2006, when the Republicans became the minority party in the Senate.
Where in the Constitution does it say it shall take 60 votes in the Senate before that body can move to a final vote on proposed legislation?
In the meantime, Republican-controlled state legislatures gerrymander congressional districts to produce a Republican majority in the House even though more voters voted for Democrats than Republicans in the past election.
Bad for business and the poor
A recent poll reported that Gov. Kasich had an approval rating of 51 percent. This poll must have been gerrymandered by the Republican Party. How could the governor’s approval rating be much above zero?
He balanced the Ohio budget on the backs of the cities. Cuts in state support cost teachers, police officers, firefighters and essential city employees their jobs.
Now the governor wants to sock the poor, put onerous clerical responsibilities on virtually all small business with the imposing of a sales tax on nearly everything. (Presumably, children’s lemonade stands will be exempt.)
He would do all this to reward the already too-well-rewarded rich. The excuse for this regressive measure is hat the state will be more attractive to business.
The governor cannot justify his stand that lower income taxes will attract business. The large and broadly based sales tax will surely repel any businesses, especially small ones, from coming to Ohio.
The people of Ohio should demand that the legislature reject this regressive and onerous measure.
C. Richard Weaver
About taxes, growth and jobs
If I believed the constant sound bites about overtaxing the wealthy and the destruction of jobs, I would probably repeat that lie myself. The truth about the highest tax rates in this country is the exact opposite of what the wealthy would have you believe.
In 1936 through 1941, the wealthiest in this country paid a 79 percent to 81 percent rate in taxes. The rates rose to 94 percent in 1944 and 1945. The tax rate then went down to 91 percent from 1950 to 1963. The top tax rate then went down to 78 percent and stayed in the 70 percent range from 1964 through 1980. Then it started to fall in 1981 to the current low of 35 percent, where it has been since 2003.
The highest tax rates from 1936 to 1980 have been at 70 percent or higher. The rates do not appear to have any correlation to job growth, unless you believe there was no job growth from 1936 to 1980.
You also have to wonder why, if low tax rates on the wealthy would create more jobs, we still have stagnant job growth when the stock market is around an all-time high.
I believe the opposite is true. If we would go back to tax rates of 70 percent and above, the wealthy would create more jobs so that they would create more wealth for themselves.
The fact is that 1 percent of Americans now control 40 percent of the nation’s wealth. The real problem is that they are not creating jobs for America, they are just creating more wealth for themselves.
The lie is that low tax rates on the wealthy create jobs. I mean people who make $500,000 and up.
I have voted for Republicans and Democrats in the past. The thing that makes me very sad about this great country is that the vast majority of people believe the sound bites that are fed to us every day by the media and politicians instead of taking the time to find out the truth ourselves.
Now the governor likes federal money
Gov. John Kasich used his State of the State address to pitch many policy changes that have been met with mixed reviews by members of both parties.
He began by describing unemployed Ohioans, struggling to get by. That led to a then-and-now scenario that ends in jobs and prosperity.
The governor also referred to his proposal to extend Medicaid as an “unprecedented opportunity” to bring federal dollars back into Ohio to help poor families.
“My personal faith in the lessons I learned from the Good Book, they, like, run my life,” he continued.
Kasich said he was unwilling to turn his back on “those who live in the shadows of life.”
What a colossal phony. Will someone please tell me, when did the governor have this epiphany?
You may recall that not long after Kasich took office, Ohio was awarded $176 million in federal aid.
This money was earmarked to extend jobless benefits, provide job training, aid children of the unemployed and help victims of domestic abuse.
However, John Kasich , the “great humanitarian,” had no qualms about turning his back on the needy then. He refused the money. His reason? Too much federal involvement.
Like those same struggling unemployed Ohioans that he alluded to earlier, I’m sure there were many that were in dire need of that federal aid. But that was then and this is now.
Kasich is already in full re-election mode. He is not just a colossal phony, but also a shameless liar.
Mark J. Cleland Sr.
Look out above
Instead of cutting money from our military, why don’t we cut 25 percent of the foreign aid to the people who hate us?
Maybe the “Big O” could ask his Hollywood friends to host a telethon.
Sorry, I gotta go.
I think I heard a drone circling over my house.