Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) is followed by reporters as she arrives for a 'super… (Win McNamee, Getty Images )
Too many pledges
Re "Deficit panel's failure sets up a fight," Nov. 22, and "Super shameful," Editorial, Nov. 22
I am outraged over how dysfunctional our government is. Not only did the congressional deficit committee fail, but now members of Congress are talking about reneging on the automatic budget cuts.
Our Congress suffers from the pledge syndrome. Republicans have pledged never to raise taxes, and many Democrats have pledged not to touch Medicare or Social Security. With those marching orders, progress is impossible.
The only pledge members of Congress should make is to the United States.
Alan B. Ungar
There are three things Congress can do to redeem itself.
First, immediately take a cut in pay. Second, lawmakers should refuse their government-paid healthcare. If they have to enroll in typical insurance plans, they will understand that some morning they may wake up with an illness that could bankrupt them.
Finally, reduce their staffs, which may require them to actually read and understand the bills they are voting on.
Your editorial is itself shameful. You write that Democrats "irresponsibly resisted meaningful cuts in domestic programs" and that "both parties deserve blame for the anti-climactic outcome of the committee's work."
Here are the facts, according to a New York Times editorial of the same day:
"The Democratic offer would have cut $475 billion from Medicare and Medicaid over 10 years, nearly half of which would have come directly from beneficiaries. That's more than the Bowles-Simpson deficit plan proposed, and eight times the level of Medicare cuts offered by President Obama in September."
One wonders what would constitute "responsible" and "meaningful" in the L.A. Times' world.
Less faith, more heart
Re "Faith and tears take center stage," Nov. 20
Somebody should remind the Republican presidential hopefuls that they are not running for evangelist in chief. Article VI of the Constitution states, "No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."
We are not a theocracy. The candidates should not be touting their piety.
Sadly, their professed religiosity has not made them charitable toward the have-nots in this country. Newt Gingrich dismisses the Occupy protesters by saying he would tell them, "Go get a job, right after you take a bath."
One problem: There aren't enough jobs, and not everyone has the political contacts that Gingrich parlays into lucrative consulting contracts.
Rick Santorum takes a rather narrow view of liberty, defining it as "not what you want to do but what you ought to do." My dictionary defines liberty as "freedom from arbitrary or despotic government or control."
What is it that Santorum feels we "ought to do"? Did he have personal discussions on this with the founders?
Russell N. Eagan
Don't believe the polls
Re "Voters back tax hike for schools," USC Dornsife/Times Poll, Nov. 20
The article held no surprises. Californians rarely see a tax or bond "for the children" they don't like.
Unfortunately we know that not all the revenue collected goes for its intended purpose, nor do all Californians share the tax burden for schools; it's the property owners who get stuck with most of that bill.
What we need is fiscal responsibility by school officials, not sticking it to property owners.
Do you really think this one-sided question is a true test of voters sentiment on taxes and education? Why are schools, fire and police often used to test voter sentiment instead of the real spending issues?
Rancho Palos Verdes
Occupy — not
Re "An awakening," Opinion, Nov. 22
Sorry to burst Rebecca Solnit's bubble, but Occupy Wall Street protesters will fade into obscurity if all they do is sit in parks.
Electoral politics is the name of the game in America. Tea partyers understand this. They vote (Republican), and their representatives listen.
Once, maybe, social activists could shame politicians into voting better. Not anymore. Congress today is owned by corporations, and Solnit's American Fall threatens them not at all.
My advice to the students and disaffected: Get thee to the Democratic Party, and sway it left. Otherwise nothing will change.
What's a cult?
Re "Not a cult — and not a problem," Opinion, Nov. 20
I agree that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not a cult today. However, Mormonism was demonized in the 19th century, and an extermination order against it was proclaimed by the governor of Missouri.
Likewise, the Way of Jesus in 1st century Palestine was a cult demonized by religious authorities. Islam was treated as a cult by the dominant tribal power in Mecca, which waged war to eradicate it. If one defines a cult as a group of brainwashed followers of a charismatic leader, early Buddhism was also a cult.