It's time for America? to take care of its own

As we race to the "fiscal cliff" and cuts to education, national defense and the safety net for fellow Americans, we are reminded of this need because of the enormous debt the country has built up. The nation is reminded that it is not financially equipped to meet the needs of suffering Americans after Sandy and Katrina or the hordes of homeless, hungry and unemployed people. Our infrastructure is crumbling as well, and we are told that there is no money to repair it.

Fast forward to the recent Israeli-Gaza fighting. Apparently the needs at home are quickly forgotten, as the media report that billions will be available to bolster the Israeli Iron Dome" defense system.

Where are these dollars coming from – an increase to the national debt, which is pushing us to the "fiscal cliff"? At a time when the programs to keep America strong and help the people are being cut, it is ironic that we can find the funds to give away while Americans are left homeless, hungry, protected with a diminished national defense and our veterans are left in a void. We are told to suffer because the nation cannot help its own anymore. Maybe it's time for the nation to work on the problems at home before we so eagerly pay to help others while Americans, who foot the bill, are left to suffer.

Ron Koczaja



Obama, Congress have ?a duty to work together

The pundits on both sides of the political spectrum would have you believe that the politicians they support in Washington received "a mandate" during the recent election to impose, or oppose, a plan to avoid the fiscal cliff by either raising tax rates, or not; or cutting federal entitlement programs, or not.

The truth is both the president and the Republican-controlled House have an obligation, as required by the balance of powers incorporated in the Constitution, to reach a compromise solution. We don't elect presidents as dictators, any more so than Congress. Suggesting otherwise by claiming "a mandate" ignores the reality of the eloquently designed system of checks and balances that the Founders bequeathed to us, and only serves to perpetuate the divisiveness that pervades the public debate.

A messy, yet workable, compromise solution that leaves both sides less than happy will be the outcome that best serves the interests of the country as a whole.

Bob Coffey



Health care entitlements? are bankrupting country

A recent letter writer complained of her Medicare Advantage premium going up $36 per month and implied that Obamacare was supposed to lower her premiums. I wonder where she got this information. Obamacare was not designed to help people on Medicare or Medicaid – it was designed to provide health insurance to those who would otherwise go without: people without employer-sponsored health insurance, the unemployed or those who cannot afford health care coverage. People on Medicare or Medicaid are already covered.

As for the Medicare Advantage premium going up, the letter writer should look to her fellow seniors for an answer. They are the ones who smoked, drank, ate too much and exercised too little. It is their unhealthy living habits that have likely fueled the increase. If the increased costs are not passed on to the current beneficiaries, who will pay for them? Taxpayers who are less than 65 years of age (i.e. the "makers") who are already paying for the benefits of the current seniors?

In case you haven't heard, the country is going broke, partially due to health care entitlements – Medicare and Medicaid. When the Republicans in Congress talk about entitlement reform, please understand that they are talking about cutting your entitlements – this includes both Medicare and Medicaid.

Carol Syposs

Orchard Park


Big money is king ?in today's campaigns

A former president of the Erie County Bar ran into me the other day. Knowing of my recent retirement, he asked if I was (at least) "active politically." That simple, polite question, as often nowadays, prompted reminiscence.

In the old days (1930s to 1960s) candidates for local offices like city council seats and county supervisor seats visited local taverns (one on every corner, it seemed) to get votes. The hope, frankly, was to not find many customers when visiting. Then, we would simply leave a $20 bill or so with the bartender/owner, whom, we trusted, and ask him to "buy a drink for whomever he chose" along with a good word to vote for the person.

One candidate, Danny Weber of Cheektowaga, thought otherwise. He would hope for and find crowded taverns. Then he would grandly announce "drinks for all" and even more grandly leave $40 or $50 to the bartender/owner to "not forget those not here yet."

I recently noted that Rep.-elect Chris Collins "loaned" $650,000 to his campaign and that he has had and will have fundraisers to "pay that debt." Really? What if he collects more, as is likely? Does he return the excess? Some of it? None?

Weber versus Collins – drinks for all, and $50 or so more, versus a $650,000 personal loan. Which is greater?

Thomas Santa Lucia



Community must act? to reduce crime rate

Recently, Buffalo was ranked 10th on the most dangerous cities in our nation. When I heard this, I couldn't help but wonder what has happened to our once beautiful city. This area has been home my entire life, and it worries me that at one point I may have to leave here because it's too dangerous. It seems that the stories of fights, DWIs, drug possession and even murders are becoming more and more common. Where has all of the pride for our city gone?

Now, instead of being known for our chicken wings and Niagara Falls, we'll be known as a dangerous place. How will that affect our businesses? Will tourists still want to come here? And will people want to stay? I'm a young mother, and I would like nothing more than to have my daughter grow up and experience her childhood where I experienced mine. But I'm afraid that won't be possible unless the community as a whole comes together to stop this downward spiral.

Buffalo has so much potential to shine, the way it once was the City of Light. This is our home. Why are we destroying it?

Emma Ann Meer