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This week: Dems Too Moderate, More on Student Loans, and Help Kids Eat

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Thursday, November 04, 2010

Dems Too Moderate

It has become very common, especially among conservatives, to say that the Democrats have lost popularity because their policies have gone too far to the left. In fact, I believe the opposite is true: the Democrats lost millions of votes and supporters precisely because they were too moderate. They tried to please everyone and ended up pleasing no one.

The most important law passed in the last two years—the health care reform—succeeded in angering conservatives while providing absolutely nothing for progressives to be excited about. It is more market-oriented and involves less government intervention than anything supported by mainstream right-wing parties anywhere else in the developed world. In fact, it is even less progressive than a health reform proposal once made by the Nixon administration. Not only that, but most provisions of the new law don't come into effect until after the midterm elections. Further, if the Democrats were going to bail out the banks anyway, they could have done it by buying up all the foreclosed homes and letting their occupants stay there. Giving money directly to the banks was obscene and wasteful.

To deal with the record levels of unemployment, the Democrats could have started a massive government jobs program like in the New Deal. The government could have employed people to build public transport networks, which are sorely needed in this country. Or there could have been a jobs boom in health care if they actually created a public option.

To pay for it all, they could have raised taxes on the wealthy. Contrary to popular belief, taxes have recently been going down, not up. The top marginal income tax rate—the tax rate paid by the richest Americans—was 63 percent during Franklin D. Roosevelt's first term, 79 percent during his second term, 91 percent under Eisenhower, 70 percent under Nixon, and 50 percent under Ronald Reagan. It is 35 percent under Obama. Don't tell me that taxes are too high. They are at their second lowest point in almost 80 years.

On all the key issues, the Democrats were too far to the right; they could have secured more votes by going further left. For example, does anyone really believe that the American people would have been opposed to the government inflicting severe punishment on Wall Street? If the Democrats had taken a more left-wing stance against the banks, they would have won more popular support, not less. Or if Obama had created a single-payer health system, is there any doubt that he would have earned the eternal support—and votes—of the tens of millions of uninsured, and the other tens of millions of people with bad insurance, high deductibles or co-pays, or pre-existing conditions? And if the Democrats had created a government jobs program that put millions of people back to work, isn't it clear that all those people would have voted for them this November?

Michael Tudoreanu
Amherst

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More on Student Loans

America preaches for us to go to college, to make something of ourselves. If you don't go to college, you can't get a good paying job. However, now thousands upon thousands of young people are trapped in loan debt with absurdly high interest rates ["Killer Loans," October 14, 2010]. We are putting money into something that won't go down. My loan has gone up $10,000 in interest alone in a matter of two years. They make me pay $630 a month when at the same time they are charging that amount for interest monthly. I feel like my money is just being thrown in the trash. The loans should be going down, not up.

Can someone please tell me how this is legal and even moral? There are people who can never buy a house, rent an apartment, have kids, get married, live their dreams, work in the trade they studied for.

I went to Emerson College. I am the first of my family to go. My parents co-signed for me as we didn't have any money to just give me to go to school. I was so proud to get into the college of my dreams after having failed to get in the first time around.

I finally moved to NYC a year ago to make my dreams come true. Finally I thought things were slowly beginning to turn in my favor. Then a month ago everything went to shit for me. I lost my job, I have no money and I owe $1,800 worth of bills a month. Now I have to move back to Stoughton, Mass. and find a full-time job. At this rate I'm probably going to end up having three jobs just to pay my bills. I will have to set aside acting/directing, the only thing I have ever wanted to do with my life.

If I had known what college loans were going to end up doing to me, I would never have gone to college. Unless a miracle happens, I am going to be chained to this debt for the rest of my life.

Jocelyn Padilla
via Internet

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Ms. Levy's letter is quite incredible [Letters, October 21, 2010]. You chose to go to an expensive private college and now you expect to not pay back your loans?

You should have chosen a lower-cost public institution where you would not now be saddled with $150k of debt. Word to anyone that takes out a loan: the people loaning you the money are not your friends. They are loaning you the money to make a profit. I have about as much sympathy with Ms. Levy as I do with people that bought expensive mcmansions and now can't pay back the mortage.

Mickey Nowak
via Internet

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Help Kids Eat

Everyone who wants to do something about childhood hunger and the health of America's children should know about important legislation currently stalled in Congress that would improve kids' nutrition.

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (Senate 3307) would strengthen for another five years the Child Nutrition Reauthorization, dramatically improving food nutrition and access in public schools. This legislation represents a critical step towards preventing hunger and childhood obesity, a disease that affects over 20 percent of our state's population. Millions of children in America rely on up to two meals and a snack provided by their school five days a week.

Residents of Western Massachusetts can contact their representatives and urge them to support Senate bill 3307. Lending your voice is an important step to preventing hunger and safeguarding the health of our children. The House and Senate both passed competing versions of the Child Nutrition Reauthorization this year. With only a couple of months left in the lame duck session of Congress, now is the best chance we may have to strengthen child nutrition in our schools for years to come.

We believe the Senate version, although weaker, has the only chance of getting passed, since the White House is supporting the Senate version and the House version fails to specify how to pay for funding increases under Congressional "pay as you go" rules. Regrettably, the Senate version would pay for its $4.5 billion investment in part by cutting SNAP (Food Stamp) benefits beginning in 2013, effectively reducing by $59 per month, on average, the grocery budgets of millions of families who rely on assistance to make ends meet.

The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts is allying with Feeding America—the national association of food banks—and other national anti-hunger organizations to get a firm commitment from the White House to rescind the SNAP cuts at a later date. However troubled we are by the fact that the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act is paid for in part by a reduction in SNAP benefits, we know that America's children can't wait any longer for robust child nutrition improvements at school.

We urge our representatives to pass Senate bill 3307 immediately when Congress returns in November. At the same time, it is imperative that other timely action is taken to address the SNAP cut triggered by this bill and to ensure that SNAP is vigorously safeguarded from further cuts. For more information on how to contact your representatives, visit the "Take Action" page of foodbankwma.org and click on "Advocacy," or call the Food Bank at 413-247-9738.

Andrew Morehouse
Executive Director
The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts

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