Letters to the editor
Your Oct. 9 editorial, “Cuts Hit Wrong Target,” was factually incorrect and misleading. City Manager Tom Bonfield did not conclude there was no need for more money for warrant control. In fact, he and I both proposed a scaled down budget that recognized the continuing need for joint funding for warrant control. His council, however, eliminated funding during one of their final budget hearings, an action he did not anticipate.
County Chairman Fred Foster Jr. correctly characterized where we were left by this surprise decision: “We have to be very judicious about the dollars we’re spending, and I’d rather have them in-house on things we need.” What were we to do? Reduce services to children, the elderly, the disabled, veterans or the poor? Or perhaps you would argue that we should have bumped the tax rate more than the 2 cents we recommended for debt to cover the increase. Our board correctly decided to limit the reduction discussion to other joint City-County budgets. The planning budget receives $2 million from the City and the County. It’s hard to believe that you would argue a budget that large could not sustain an $84,758 reduction.
Finally, there will be no major delays to the department’s annual work program due to the reduction. The only delay will be for development review. I have suggested for several years that developers should pay the full cost for the time we spend reviewing their projects. Perhaps, Mr. Editor, that’s where the solution lies!
Durham county manager
A healthcare compromise
President Obama says he’s open to suggestions for making the Affordable Care Act work better. A major point of contention is the individual mandate that imposes a fine for not having insurance. Critics argue that people could pay the fine, then postpone getting insurance until they get sick, knowing Obamacare says they can’t be denied for a pre-existing condition.
Instead of a government penalty, why not require people to pay an additional 10 percent of the medical expense they incur each year they delay getting insurance? If they delay three years, they would pay 30 percent; if they delay five years, they would pay 50 percent. Anyone who waited 10 years to get insurance would be responsible for 100 percent of their medical bills from a pre-existing condition.
If a person did not fully understand the requirement, they would have time to educate themselves about the law. But the longer they wait, the more the penalty would be if they need insurance for an unforeseen health problem. The penalty could be substantial for waiting three or more years but would not be financially ruinous unless a person willfully refused to comply.
Insurance companies would benefit by paying less for people who delay buying insurance. Under the existing mandate, no matter how long an insured avoids paying premiums, the insurer is responsible for the full cost of their medical bills. Eliminating or reducing the government penalty could be a way for both sides to “declare victory” and end the government shutdown.
In search of sanity
As a retired federal employee who had to tell employees they were not essential, I find this current state of affairs is frustrating. You would have thought we would learn. Everyone says employees are our greatest asset, but clearly to Congress and the President they are not. Many are ordered to work, but next week they will receive six days of pay. And after that, they have to wait. Most are hard-working people who simply will not be able to pay their bills. And if they receive lower credit scores, who cares?
But as critical as this is, the debt ceiling debate is more so. It affects every American. You see a myriad of reports saying it will or will not affect the economy. Who wants to take the chance? Do you want to go through Great Recession 2?
Both sides have valid positions, but to provide military and sports analogies which equate the current discussions to war or a game are simply irresponsible. And the finger-pointing is simply counterproductive. Leadership takes courage. It takes doing the right thing. It does not take the legislative and executive branches acting like grown-up children. Let’s put the sanity back in government and have folks act with common sense and courage.