Senate should fix latest flawed defense bill
On May 18, the House of Representatives passed a defense bill for fiscal year 2013 that is out of step with 21st century political and financial realities.
The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) increases spending on weapons systems that, according to Pentagon and Energy Department testimony, are unneeded. Further, it is marred by an undemocratic process that eliminated key amendments designed to fix its flaws. Unless altered by the Senate, this NDAA will have dangerous consequences locally, nationally and internationally.
The Republican majority pledged an open and free debate on the NDAA, but that is not what happened. Instead, procedural sleight of hand was employed to narrow the choices available to members of Congress and to forestall needed debate.
Amendments were submitted to the Rules Committee, which determines which ones can be voted upon. Unfortunately, that committee prevented key NDAA amendments from reaching the floor, preemptively barring members of Congress from voting on them.
A case in point is the amendment to restore nuclear safety requirements that had been gutted in the NDAA. The amendment was offered in a timely manner by three respected Democrats, the Bay Area's Democratic Rep. George Miller and U.S. Reps. Pete Visclosky, D-Ind., and Loretta Sanchez, D- Calif. The amendment would have simply restored core safety standards
It was neither out of order nor duplicative of another amendment offered. Yet, it was disallowed by the Rules Committee.
Similarly, an amendment by our local U.S. Rep. John Garamendi, D-Livermore, on the question of authorizing money this year for a missile defense site on the East Coast was disallowed by the Rules Committee.
And, the Rules Committee refused a straightforward amendment by Reps. Ed Markey, D-Mass., Sanchez and Hank Johnson, D-Ga., to strike the $100 million that was put in the NDAA for a new plutonium bomb plant that the administration had delayed five years on the grounds it was unnecessary and the Republican majority over on the appropriations side of the House had not wanted either.
Senators of both parties now have a solemn obligation to counter these provisions in their NDAA. Let's hope they are up to the challenge.
Livermore staff attorney, Tri-Valley CAREs
Here's a better plan for high speed rail
When High Speed Rail (HSR) costs neared $100 billion, HSR boosters, Caltrain and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission came up with their cheaper "blended system:" Electrify Caltrain ($1.4 billion) and run HSR's many faster trains on its two-track line with 43 grade crossings!
A much better idea: Grade separate Caltrain south from Millbrae and convert it to BART. Run HSR up the East Bay to Oakland and a good trans-Bay BART connection. Ditch the "blended system."
Form a five-county JEPA (Joint Exercise of Powers Agency) to plan BART around the Bay, to the Golden Gate and Carquinez Bridges, to Brentwood and over the Altamont.
Six million people call our five counties home. Let us vote on such a plan and its funding. A better daily commute? An occasional fast train to L. A.?
Robert S. Allen
BART Director (1974-1988) Retired SPRR (Engineering/Operations)
Is what's good for geese good for the ganders?
A letter-writer said he believes Donald Rumsfeld and George W. Bush should be prosecuted for waterboarding, but I would ask if the same should apply to Barack H. Obama for ordering the assassination of Osama Bin Laden without a fair trial.
Californ-omics not a winning formula
California was once the seventh-largest economy in the world -- what happened? We hear new taxes will be proposed to alleviate the ever-burgeoning deficit -- why? Historically, quoting ancient economists and even 20th century politicians (Coolidge, FDR, JFK and Truman, for example) raising taxes has inhibited productivity, thereby increasing fiscal demands on social-welfare projects. Historically (read Jefferson, et al), reducing taxation and government involvement influenced and propagated business development, eventually reducing the government deficit and restoring health to the overall economy. History does repeat itself. We must learn from history and implement its lessons. Unfortunately, our "public forums" are increasingly omnipresent/omnicorporate media outlets. We must learn from history before bowing to the rhetoric of one or the other political ideologies. Be informed -- then vote.
Patrick Terry Adams
Lower taxes on rich haven't trickled down
As the presidential election season gets under way, we'll no doubt be inundated with ideology from both sides about tax policy and job creation.
Those on the right will certainly trot out the usual argument that increasing taxes on the rich is counterproductive since it is the rich who create jobs.
However, in the last 20 years income inequality has gotten ever larger, and the rich in this country have only become richer. If you believe the arguments of the right -- that the rich create jobs -- then the U.S. should be flush with jobs and unemployment should be at record lows. We all know that is not the case.
What is your argument against raising taxes on the rich now, Mr. Romney?
Overtaxed voters should throw bums out
Reading the May 15 front-page article where Gov. Jerry Brown is once again crying poor-mouth over the state's budget and how he will have to slash costs if we, the taxpaying citizens, don't vote to raise our taxes has me really steamed. Talk about sheer audacity!
What Gov. Brown really needs to do is to get our "esteemed" state legislators off their duffs, quit pandering to all of the special interest groups and unions out there and get the legislators to do the jobs they were elected to do, namely make the hard decisions and get this wonderful state of ours back into fiscal order. They have all year to come up with a sound workable budget, yet they never get it done in time.
Voters, clean the house and stop re-electing those "esteemed" people who can't, or won't, do the job. Anything is better then what we have to put up with now.