Gross misrepresentation

I must respond to Jacob Wheeler's gross misrepresentation of the Stupak-Ellsworth-Pitts amendment. Our amendment does not outlaw abortion or abortion coverage in private health insurance plans.

Our amendment is consistent with current federal policy and public opinion. Recent Washington Post-ABC News and CNN polls both found that 61 percent of Americans oppose using public funds to pay for abortion.

Under our amendment, only the public health insurance option and private plans that receive federal subsidies will be prohibited from covering abortion. It does not prevent private plans within the health insurance exchange from offering abortion services and it does not prohibit individuals purchasing plans on the exchange with their own money from choosing a plan that covers abortion.

Nor was this amendment the result of some backroom deal, as Celia Hastings claims. I offered the Stupak amendment in July during committee debate on the health care bill. Democratic House leadership chose to ignore our amendment until they realized they could not pass health care reform without the support of pro-life Democrats. In the end, 41 of the 64 Democrats who voted for our amendment also voted for final passage of H.R. 3962, thus enabling health care reform to pass the House.

Bart Stupak

Member of Congress

Washington

Cratchit, not Scrooge

The Nov. 24 front-page headline, "Debt turning shoppers into Scrooges," should have read ... turns shoppers into Bob Cratchits. This Ayn Rand boondoggle economy for the rich has turned our children into Tiny Tims and many parents into Cratchit, the abused, underpaid, overworked, unappreciated employee who Dickens' money-hoarding character Scrooge created.

Barbara Whitmore

Traverse City

Camp plan praised

In response to John Peck's comments excoriating Congressman Camp's vote against the health bill: Perhaps if Mr. Peck wrote to the Congressman, as I have, he would understand why Camp voted against the bill (a cost in excess of $1 trillion and raises $730 million in new taxes and reduces Medicare funding by $500 million).

In addition, Camp authored HR 4038 as an alternative bill that would immediately implement insurance reforms to drive down costs. The Congressional Budget Office estimates this bill would reduce premiums up to 10 percent, approximately $5,000 less expensive than the cheapest plan offered by the Democrats, plus protect those with pre-existing conditions, reduce the number of uninsured, pool small businesses to purchase health plans and reduce law suits.

Kudos to Congressman Camp for implementing common sense into the debacle going on in Congress.

Rick Vida

Old Mission Peninsula

Let prayers continue

Not long ago I was encouraged by my employer, the State of Michigan, to attend a meeting to learn more about a minority culture. Members of that culture opened the session with a purification ritual. I had a choice. I could leave and look bad to my employer or stand respectfully until the ritual was over. Being open-minded and polite, I chose the latter and saw no need to complain after the fact.

The individual objecting to county commissioners' public prayers suggested they be more sensitive to those who don't share their beliefs. But sensitivity should go both ways. The majority has the right to express their beliefs publicly. To allow the minority to stifle these expressions is to invite oligarchy.

I acknowledge the state has no right to establish a particular religion. However, the mere act of a prayer in a public setting cannot be construed to be establishment of a religion; public officials can engage in religious expression.

I agree people have a right to be free from religion and don't have to hold religious views. However, there is nothing in our Constitution that prohibits expressions of faith either in private or public settings. Let the prayers continue.

Jim Ribby

Rapid City

The game is fixed

The game is fixed, isn't it? In Washington our two political parties dance for dollars provided by their corporate sponsors: big insurance, big oil, big pharmacy, big defense, big banking, big media, etc. The health care reform "debate" in Congress is but one example of a political system corrupted by corporate money.

Although polls consistently show a majority of Americans in favor of universal, publicly funded health care, the big dogs in Congress, funded by corporate dollars and abetted by the corporate media, kept single-payer House bill 676, which covers 100 percent of medical, dental and vision costs, off the table and out of the public discussion.

HB 676 eliminates 30 percent of costs in profits and administrative expenses under the present system and uses the buying power of the entire population to reduce drug costs. We eliminate the middleman and insure ourselves.

The health care bills, promoted by Senate and House leadership, written by corporate lobbyists, do not significantly lower costs. If they become law we can expect health care costs to keep going through the roof.

Better to defeat Obamacare, go back to square one, put everything on the table -- and keep corporate lobbyists out of the room.

Rick Waterman

Rapid City

Controlling the price

While the debate over health care reform and those clowns pushing for concealed weapons on campus are capturing all the headlines, the oil companies noticed the supply has been falling for several months and now are shutting down refineries in different parts of the country and laying off hundreds of people.

I seem to remember during the Bush administration when the Republicans were screaming "not enough refineries, too much regulation!" Alas, it looks like we have plenty of refineries and plenty of soulless people like T. Boone Pickens, who have compressed this entire industry into five major players (you can bet they have each other on their speed dials) that give extreme profits to a few on the backs of the rest of us by controlling the artificially high price by keeping the supply tight.

I don't know how everybody else is doing but here in Grayling we're paying $2.64 for regular. I think they should appoint a special prosecutor and start looking into racketeering, price fixing and collusion, not to mention anti-trust violations.

Louie Neilson

Grayling

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