The debate must go on

Wednesday’s evening news included John McCain’s choice not to engage in a debate with Barack Obama this Friday. He asserts he does not want to divert attention from the task of Congress to create some program to end our economic problems. Regrettably, Mr. McCain’s logic and judgment is lacking.

While President Bush gave us his message Wednesday night, what is clear is that either Mr. McCain or Mr. Obama will be the president when the impact of this legislation begins to be felt. President Bush can speak his words with virtual impunity. He will not be in Washington in six months, in six years or whenever the true measure of any “solution” comes home to roost.

The American people should see their candidates debate these issues face to face. Neither of them will have all the answers, but certainly we have the absolute right, perhaps the absolute duty, to hear them explain how their presidency would deal with these issues, how they will contend with the massive increase in our national debt, how they will begin to restore our economy and, in many ways, our future.

To decline to debate sends a wrong message to the American people. It suggests that Mr. McCain has no confidence that the American people will be interested and will understand. It suggests the American people are not able to listen to a debate while following other news. It suggests Mr. McCain has no confidence that his suggestions will withstand public scrutiny. Instead of debating, he retreats to the back rooms of Congress, where he is insulated, and where he does not have to reconcile his actions with his political rhetoric.

Paul Chaiken



Say ‘No’ to bailout

The word anger is insufficient to the moment. This bailout proposed by the Bush administration is beyond the pale. The people they are “rescuing” can make more in a day than I have made in my whole life.

After the Great Depression, safeguards were put in place to prevent another 1929-style meltdown. But Washington has made sure there are ways around any fussy rules protecting the middle class from rapacious financial pirates.

Some would blame homeowners themselves for buying houses beyond their means. But the sales pitches were relentless, and people were sold a bill of goods about how much they really could afford. We were told by the former Federal Reserve chairman that “there is no housing bubble.” But it was a bubble, and it popped.

And now people who get up in the morning early and go to work every day of the week, will have to foot the bill for their greedy miscalculations.

I say no! I will not do this! I urge everyone to call our Maine congressional delegation and say no to this despicable maneuver.

Let these crooks fail and pay for their failure themselves. This nation already is almost a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Chinese government. How much more do you want to borrow from them to ease the path for these financial snake oil salesmen? How much of your paycheck do you want to send to Washington to buy the monetary equivalent of toxic waste?

Harold B. Dowse



Bail out Main Street

Big government is doing a great job at working to bail out Wall Street and big business. When is big government going to work to help bailout Main Street people when it comes to everyday gas prices and oil to heat our homes? Why can’t the Feds give $700 billion to the citizens of this great country in order to help pay for gas and heat? Instead, they ask us to pay for the greed of big business.

Here’s a suggestion: Take the profits from Exxon Mobil and others and bail out other sectors of business instead of putting more burden on the average citizen. Government should also stop price gouging at the pump. Suggestion: $1.50 per gallon flat rate for gas; ration gas by allowing people to fill their vehicles up on certain days of the week to cut back on consumption.

More money in our pocket, less consumption of gas.

Erich Simpson



Railways, not highways

If the governors and premiers are indeed proposing a better and cleaner transportation for the region, then it is finally time to dump the antiquated “East-West Highway” concept. Born of thinking from a time when everyone liked Ike, tail fins were king, transport fuel was 25 cents a gallon and the environment was merely a substrate to be paved over, this mythical “build-it-and-they-will-come” link has inspired an army of small town chambers of commerce and contractors for decades. Today, most will agree that the cost of fuel has made trucking marginal, asphalt costs are astronomical, and air quality and natural resources are not something to be squandered for short-term gain.

A much better option is to use the east-west (and north-south) highways we have: the rail system. Maine’s existing rail lines and rights-of-way can be upgraded at a fraction of the cost of a new superhighway. Rail is a far more fuel-efficient (and cleaner) method of moving cargo. Environmental damage would be limited because corridors already exist. Intermodal connections can offer the best of both worlds as long distance shipping costs will be lowered while still offering the convenience and efficiency of truck delivery. And our overburdened state highways will be safer and last longer.

Greg Rossel



Allen supports tax relief

I was shocked to see a reputable organization like the National Federation of Independent Business’ misleading and incorrect full-page ad in the Bangor Daily News about Rep. Tom Allen’s tax record. To the contrary, as a small business and farm owner in northern Maine, I know that Rep. Allen has long supported middle class tax relief. What Tom has been against is President Bush’s tax plan that gave unfair large breaks to big corporations and the wealthiest Americans.

Let’s get to some facts because Maine people deserve the truth: Tom has supported middle-class tax relief for a long time, including the elimination of the marriage penalty tax, increasing the child tax credit and extending the research and development tax credit for businesses. In 2007 Rep. Allen voted for over a billion dollars in small business tax breaks, including a one-year extension of increased limits for expensing business-related purchases and extended credit for hiring disadvantaged employees. His current plan to help small businesses and families offers a $2,000 home heating oil tax credit, doubles the child tax credit, creates an education tax credit and provides property tax relief.

Finally, Rep. Allen has repeatedly supported estate tax reform measures in Congress to protect small businesses and family farms. As a family farm owner himself, I know Tom is very sensitive to this issue. All one has to do is check the facts on Rep. Allen’s record to know that he has worked tirelessly to bring tax relief to Maine’s small businesses and working families.

Ginny Manuel