Don’t lose focus on poverty statistics

As hard as it is to look away from impeachment drama, I hope Mainers will consider the latest numbers from the U.S. Census, showing that 13 percent of Americans live below the poverty line. In Maine’s 2nd Congressional District, the statistic is worse: nearly 15 percent of the population lives in poverty.

At the same time, economic inequality is the worst it’s been in 50 years. This is in large part due to changes in the tax code that Congress passed in 2017. Business owners and investors have gotten huge payouts while regular working people got minimal benefits.

As Congress considers another tax bill this fall, benefits to businesses should take a backseat to helping working families. I urge Maine’s congressional delegation to champion and increase two tax provisions that have traditionally had support on both sides of the aisle: the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit. The CTC and the EITC give low-wage workers a small but necessary foothold to at least try to escape grinding poverty. It’s time for a tax bill that helps working Americans make ends meet before it dumps more cash in corporate bank accounts.

Alison Hall

Support the Public Servants Protection and Fairness Act

Rep. Richard Neal filed bill H.R. 4540 on Friday, Sept. 27. It is named the “Public Servants Protection and Fairness Act.” If passed into law, this will provide relief for retirees harmed by the Social Security Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) law and create a new, fair benefit formula for future beneficiaries. For those receiving reduced Social Security benefits now because of WEP, the bill would provide a $150 per month relief payment that would be added to their Social Security check within nine months of the bill becoming law. The relief payment is indexed to inflation and will grow over time. Please contact our Senators and Representatives and demand their support for this bill! While H.R. 4540 does not contain relief for those suffering from the Government Pension Offset (GPO), this could be a separate bill in the near future. After 36 years of unfair WEP being implemented in the United States, this is welcome news. Help get bill H.R. 4540 passed in 2019!

Karen E. Holmes

Inappropriate Doonesbury comic

I applaud you for placing the G.B. Trudeau Doonesbury strip on the editorial page of the weekday editions of the BDN. However, the strip continues to appear in the “comics” section in the weekend edition. Trudeau’s strip this past weekend (Sept. 28-29) was particularly inappropriate for the comics. In it his characters not only satirized, but cruelly insulted, all who voted for Trump in the past election and who might be considering voting for him in 2020 by depicting them as clueless, tattooed rubes. Trudeau is entitled to his views, however offensive, but this is not comic strip material. In these times of such strident partisanship, his work broadens the divide.

Ed Linz

Second District voters

A story in the Oct. 2 BDN quotes former Gov. Baldacci as saying — I think correctly — that 2nd District voters are “independent-minded” and, to quote the story, “more interested in ‘what you plan on doing’ in office than pedigrees.” Note that this implies — I think correctly — a different profile for 1st District voters.

Brian Striar