As the politicians debate how to “solve” the fiscal cliff, it seems that we are missing the big picture. Both President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner are proposing roughly $2 trillion in cuts over 10 years. This averages about $200 billion per year even though some of the savings are back-loaded. Both parties are resisting parts of this potential compromise agreement. Yet, with a deficit over $1 trillion annually, this “solution” only solves 20 percent of the deficit and does nothing to start repaying the $16 trillion in accumulated deficits.

I support the president’s tax rate plan. Below are other sensible changes that we liberals should agree to:

Social Security is currently not a problem as the trust fund has sufficient treasury bonds to cover the next 20 years or so. Going to the chained CPI and raising the age requirements (both early and full retirement age) for Social Security seem reasonable to get funding for the program on a sound basis.

Medicare is a different problem. The contribution rate for the program has remained virtually unchanged for years, the ratio of contributors to beneficiaries has dropped, and the cost of medicine has skyrocketed in this time.

There is already competition in the private insurance sector but it has not controlled costs. Congress gave Medicare Advantage plans 15 percent more money per recipient than standard Medicare. As a Medicare Advantage enrollee, this is a great deal for me. I do not have to buy supplemental insurance, my drug coverage is included, and it is saving me about $150 per month over the cost of standard Medicare. I will take advantage of this benefit, but honestly, some of the costs associated with Medicare Advantage plans should be transferred to the recipients.

Other parts of a solution would be to allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices with Big Pharma. Imports should be allowed if the countries have good controls on their drug distribution systems. It is ridiculous that we pay more for a drug in the U.S. than what they sell for in other developed countries.

Doctors also need to establish treatment protocols. This will ensure that we get good medical treatment and would help to insulate doctors from medical malpractice. We require that airplane pilots go over a checklist before flying, why not have the same kind of checklist procedure for a doctor?

Edwin Upton

Akron

Why Ohio must ?expand Medicaid

I am a child and adolescent psychiatrist practicing in Akron, and a member of the National Alliance on Mental Illness-Ohio Board. I also have a family member who struggles daily to recover from severe mental illness.

Personally and professionally, I feel that it is critically important that Ohio expand Medicaid coverage to all Ohioans with incomes under 138 percent of the federal poverty level.

Without that, a large number of individuals (especially childless young adults) with severe mental illness, who are trying to establish themselves as productive, taxpaying citizens of Ohio, will remain uninsured. Thus deprived of essential, effective treatment, it will be difficult if not impossible for them to reach their goal to be self-supporting.

Steve Jewell

Richfield

By the books

I go to the Akron Public Library at least once a week, and have noticed an armed Akron police officer at every one. They must be there to protect the books.

Joseph C. Gardner

Akron

Not in the middle

It is sad that the Beacon Journal editorial page editor has taken it upon himself to try to make state Sen. Frank LaRose “the man in the middle” (Dec. 23, “Middle man at the Statehouse”).

LaRose claims to have only supported Senate Bill 5 after changes that protected workers were put in place. Those changes were insignificant, and when it was pointed out to him in a meeting, he was unable to grasp the concept he voted for a bad law. He was unable to stand up for the people who elected him.

He remains the ideologue who supported a state budget that has done irreparable harm to our public schools and to cities and towns all over Ohio. He continues to promote the lie that Ohio had an $8 billion deficit when it was actually closer to $6 billion. He has failed to be a leader on the budget, or for public schools or local communities.

He has supported Gov. John Kasich’s failed money policies to promote jobs, and he has voted for two bills that he was warned were unconstitutional, violating what he swore to protect. In the future, when writing columns to make an unreasonable person seem reasonable, please look at the bulk of the person’s work and not things that only seem reasonable because the Republican Party is so extreme.

Marvin Conner

Akron

Assault weapons for ?military use only

I was in construction for over 50 years. From time to time, you get hurt and yell,“Oww.” But those who have been there know when you get hurt badly, you can’t yell; the pain is too intense. That’s what the tragedy in Newtown, Conn., is like. The pain is so great and horrific you can’t fathom the senselessness that occurred.

I was a U.S. Marine, a hunter and a member of the NRA, and I cannot rationalize any reason, other than macho egotism, to own an assault weapon for public or personal use.

I believe in the right to bear arms for hunting and target shooting. I also realize that once the government finds a way to remove automatic weapons, it won’t stop there. Next would be rifles or shotguns for hunting and weapons for personal safety and protection.

But somewhere along a line of gun control, there has to be a compromise. Even gun advocates and gun haters know that it is people who pull the trigger and aim the weapon. So unless this country is in imminent danger of a foreign power invading our shores and is assigning civilian agencies the duty or obligation to assemble and protect this nation, then assault rifles do not belong in our households. Our armies, Marines and other branches of the military are trained and ready for this task.

To the NRA and other such groups: How many beautiful, innocent lives must be extinguished before you and our government find a compromise that stops the senseless slaughter of our priceless children? How can there be any hesitation about action that will help prevent these unspeakable acts of violence?

If there is any consolation to the events of Sandy Hook Elementary School it would be that our Father in Heaven is holding each of these beautiful children and adults to himself and loving them forever. Enough is enough, and besides, I thought my country was against having weapons of mass destruction.

Les Johnson

Akron

Symbolic solutions ?to gun violence

Predictably, following an unthinkably horrible shooting incident, there is a call for restricting the availability to the law-abiding public of the implement used. Many will say that no one needs one of the so-called assault rifles, neglecting the fact that tens of thousands of people have felt that they needed one enough to pay as much as $1,000 or more to own one — legally and harmlessly.

The thought that fewer guns lead to increased safety ignores the fact that the number of guns in the hands of the public has increased astronomically in the past decade or two, while the rate of violent crime has steadily decreased. Is it just a coincidence that most of these mass shootings have occurred in supposedly gun-free locations — schools, theaters and malls — where the shooter has minimal risk of encountering resistance?

Almost certainly the Sandy Hook shooting will result in some sort of ban on the sale of the military look-alike rifles. With millions of guns in the hands of the public, the would-be murderer will always be able to come up with some tool of destruction.

The pity is that a ban will be just a symbolic solution to mass shootings with no real benefit in increased safety to the public.

Robert Dessent

Tallmadge

Amazed by ?the NRA

I am in awe. Not only has the NRA resolved the nation’s problem with violence in the schools, but it has also, in one fell swoop, pointed the way out of our economic doldrums. The employment boost from placing thousands of armed security guards in schools will cut the unemployment rate and provide business opportunities for companies that train security guards and also the companies that equip them.

And I imagine that the voters can’t wait to provide funding for this increased safety for our children.

Another boon is that there is now fabric to provide bulletproof clothing for our children and also bulletproof backpacks!

I have a son retired from the Highway Patrol. I must call him and see if he has a used bulletproof vest that he could lend me.

Jean Fleming

Canton