Medicare is an earned benefit

Some in Washington would rather cut Medicare benefits than solve the real issue driving the rising cost of Medicare: the skyrocketing cost of health care. This is like a doctor treating only symptoms of an illness instead of the root cause.

It is very troubling that some members of Congress would raise the eligibility age or propose cuts in benefits rather than address the inflated costs, waste and lack of coordinated care in fee-for-service medicine.

Medicare is an earned benefit. We pay into it our entire working lives and we continue to pay premiums, co-pays and deductibles toward our care. If Congress took meaningful action to control systemwide health care costs and to build on the savings gained through health care reform, the nation's finances and Medicare would be in better shape.

Pete Spencer

Richmond Spencer is a member of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare.

Appoint Martinez to the council seat

For the past few years, news about Richmond has reflected the many positives Richmond has to offer.

We've had a great city manager, City Council, police chief and so on. People actually are beginning to brag about living in Richmond.

With the loss of Councilman Jeff Ritterman, I worry that the childish, pointless behavior of Councilman Corky Booze will define the new council. Richmond is big business and needs educated leaders.

Since Gary Bell is unable to sit on the City Council, it makes sense to appoint the next highest vote-getter in November's election -- Eduardo Martinez. He reached out to the voters.

Please don't spend our precious dollars on an election. Imagine the many ways that money could benefit programs.

Mildred Dornan

Richmond

Brown must reveal details

Gov. Jerry Brown is flying high after his championed Proposition 30 passed and his proposed "balanced" budget has been embraced by the media. However, it's time he publicly reveals more details on what lies ahead.

The numbers in Brown's budget are no more than optimal guesses. There's also the continuing uncertainty of what will happen in Washington. Brown's budget projections didn't take into account the expiration of the payroll tax cuts, meaning sales tax revenues may fall short of expectations.

If the stock market trembles, the income from capital gains might also take a revenue hit.

However, the real threat isn't a current budget, but California's long-term obligations. Due to the raiding of special funds to cover other spending, California has accrued $28 billion in existing debt. Add health care pledges to the elderly and unfunded pension liabilities, estimated at $181 billion, and there's a massive amount of waiting debt. California is also facing a growing elderly population, falling birthrate and declining population, none of which help stem our state's debt trend.

It's time Brown gives us the whole story. And, don't forget the high-speed rail project and its impact on future debt obligations.

Mike Callahan

Clayton

Advocate legal immigration

Your Jan. 20 editorial contains a lie.

Many Republicans, including me, advocate large-scale legal immigration (I am the grandson of immigrants). We oppose welcoming and subsidizing illegal immigrants who drain our resources, mock our laws and flaunt their arrogance at those who do stand in line and obey the rules.

The issue is neither racial nor ethnic, and twisting it as such misses the point.

Mike Levine

Moraga