Kansas voters can send a message
With the upcoming election to fill the vacant U.S. House seat of Mike Pompeo, the people of Kansas have the chance to make history. They can send a message to the new president that we did not elect a king.
Even if the current Congress doesn’t have the courage to rein in President Trump, we can. By leading the way, we can ever so slightly change the direction of this nation.
This is not about what is right for Democrats or Republicans but what is right for our country. Putting a Democrat in this seat would send shock waves throughout the new administration.
Though many Republicans reviled Trump when he was a candidate, the Republican Congress overwhelmingly fell in line and supported the least-qualified Cabinet nominees in history. The loss of this seat, and possibly more in the midterm elections, should cause the the current Republicans in Congress to do their jobs and protect our nation from this would-be dictator.
It’s time for someone to do what is best for this country, and Kansans will be the first voters to have the opportunity to do just that. Please elect Democrat James Thompson to this seat and let Kansas voters be both seen and heard. This is our time to lead.
Mike Ozbun, Haysville
A shell game
Gov. Sam Brownback’s business tax cuts may have found another sugar daddy: The Trump administration wants to rebuild aging infrastructure.
Because Kansas has raided its transportation budget for the past six years, we are in an ideal situation to ask for money. Go figure.
I’m a proud Democrat with lots of good Republican friends. I have always thought that Kansas’ Republican values were based on practical needs. Also, a good Republican value is to maintain a strong separation between the state and the federal government. This has been true in years gone by and something I can support.
Brownback is a Republican managing money like a Democrat (a bad Democrat, I would say). He wants many Kansas businesses to pay no state income tax, and he wants the federal government to make up the difference, conveniently hidden in road projects. It’s a shell game.
Apparently the governor would like the federal government to support Kansas business in the march to zero income taxes. Maybe I need to become a business this year so I can minimize my state taxes.
Where are my Republican friends to rein in Brownback?
Steve Johnson, Wichita
Don’t weaken rules
By encouraging work, Kansas’ welfare programs have broken the cycle of poverty for thousands of Kansans. Unfortunately, these successful efforts to provide hope and opportunity to those struggling to make ends meet are under attack in the Legislature.
The Kansas HOPE Act incentivizes work and prevents fraud. Since 2012, about 13,000 fewer Kansas kids are living in poverty. From 2007 to 2016, there has been a 227 percent increase in the work participation rate for Kansans on welfare. Meanwhile, more than 40,000 new employments among welfare recipients were reported from January 2011 through 2016.
Within a year of work requirements being implemented, the wages of those receiving food assistance more than doubled, increasing by 127 percent on average. Kansans who previously had to rely on government assistance are now finding a way out of poverty altogether.
The Legislature has been debating how much to weaken work requirements for welfare recipients. The proposed SOAR Act expects taxpayers to foot the bill for able-bodied adults without dependent children, between 18 and 49, to receive free food assistance with no obligation to work, attend school or receive work training. The proposal eliminates accountability measures.
This is an approach that pushes lifetime reliance on government aid instead of promoting upward economic mobility, and it’s unacceptable.
Phyllis Gilmore, Olathe
Secretary, Kansas Department for Children and Families
NATO on notice
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has placed NATO members on notice: Meet your defense spending commitments, or America may “moderate its commitment to the alliance.”
NATO has had free-rider and burden-sharing issues since its inception. For example, despite the fact that NATO has 28 members, the U.S. covers 22 percent of NATO’s annual operating budget and accounts for a whopping 72 percent of annual defense spending (the more meaningful measure).
Throughout his campaign, President Trump questioned the value of NATO and implied it was a bad deal for the United States.
While diplomats may question his methods, the president effectively laid the groundwork to make progress on the decades-long refrain that our NATO allies must contribute their “fair share.”
With Europe increasingly threatened by Russia, in both the cyber and physical domains, NATO members will either meet their commitments or this critical alliance, which Mattis described as “a fundamental bedrock for the United States,” will become obsolete.
For, as Mattis also warned the other NATO countries, “Americans cannot care more for your children’s future security than you do.”
Scott Bishop, Wichita
Decades ago, my family escaped as refugees from communism, and today I can proudly say I’m an American by choice.
The country we left, ruled by a totalitarian government, claimed to be benevolent liberators following World War II. Before long, things began to change, as the new ruling party began to assert itself.
Using the “salami method,” minor edicts were issued a “slice” at a time, placing limits on people and eroding freedom. None of these seemed to cause major alarm by themselves, but over time, this evolves into a full-fledged dictatorship.
It took total control in a predictable manner – by usurping authority, relieving officials of their posts, installing new puppets and muzzling the media, leaving a propaganda minister as the sole source of information. Outlandish claims were served up as facts. Anyone voicing any opposition was intimidated or silenced on trumped-up charges.
Religious leaders were seen as threats because they represented people with a voice louder than any single dissenter. They were also intimidated, placed under house arrest or imprisoned.
I take comfort that our government has checks and balances and laws to prevent history from repeating itself.
George Varga, Wichita
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