Personally, I thought the time for political conventions had passed.
On Sept. 5, the Star Tribune informed us, in the short item "Food stamp use climbs to a record," that 46.7 million Americans used food stamps in June. Turning the page, I saw a large photo from the Democratic National Convention -- dozens of folks holding signs reading "FORWARD" and "NOT BACK."
On the next page was the headline "National debt tops $16 trillion."
Forward? Forward to where? Over the cliff and into the abyss? Not back?
I ceased believing in hope and change when in December 2010 the president's own blue-ribbon commission (often called Simpson-Bowles), submitted a bipartisan and feasible solution to improve the sustainability of entitlement programs (Medicare/Medicaid, Social Security), to get federal spending under control, to move toward a more balanced budget and to provide economic stimulus. The president did urge Congress to stop shooting down deficit proposals, but he didn't fight for the ideas his commission proposed.
A figure not in the paper that day, but one we all should know, is the U6 unemployment number. U6 is rarely written about. It represents total unemployed as a percent of the civilian work force. As of July, it was 15 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Since 2009, it has not dropped below 14 percent, and it was nearly 18 percent the last quarter of that year. (A new monthly jobs report will be out today.)
GEORGE MINNS, STILLWATER
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I used to think I could vote for the right Republican candidate; specifically, John McCain, until he picked Sarah Palin as his running mate. The story was that she was a good pick because she was just a soccer mom and just like us (not that I agree with that logic). So what is the story now with Mitt Romney? He is about the farthest from "just like us" as one could be.
Voting for the person is problematic; voting for a Republican means you are voting for the party's platform. The question I need asked and answered in the upcoming debates is: Why do we want to return to a Republican platform of no new taxes and trickle-down economics when it destroyed the middle class and brought America to a near-collapse at the end of President George W. Bush's eight years?
BECKY CARPENTER, MINNEAPOLIS
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Personally, I thought the time for political conventions had passed. Certainly nothing happened at the Republican National Convention to change my mind, and though a Democrat, I was pretty certain the same would be true of the DNC. My mind started to change with the terrific speech by Elizabeth Warren -- and then William Clinton took the podium. The man is an absolute genius who knows the pulse of this country and what we need to hear and feel.
With devastating specifics, he dismantled every single argument that was touted against President Obama at the RNC, then he told exactly how much, how and why we are very much better off than when Obama took office. Finally, he compared the plans of Romney and Obama, and again, with what he said the Republicans routinely neglect -- arithmetic -- he demonstrated masterfully why Obama's plans were far superior to the "doubling down on trickle down" offered by Romney and Paul Ryan.
One of the most telling bits of arithmetic dealt with a contrast of job growth during, I believe, 28 years of Republican control of the White House and 24 of Democratic control. In four fewer years, Democrats created nearly three times the number of actual jobs.
GREG VAN HEE, PERHAM, MINN.
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I think all Americans can agree that for the sake of our children, and our children's children, we cannot continue with the pattern of our government spending more than it collects. So I agree with Mr. Clinton's assessment regarding "simple arithmetic."
It is indeed simple. The Democrats want to balance the budget by raising taxes to meet the spending undertaken by the government. The Republicans, on the other hand, would attack the other side of the equation, holding steady the taxation of the American public while cutting back on spending of the federal government.
So, America, you decide. Do we want to continue with a government that will balance the budget by increasing taxes to support its spending? Or do we want to reign in the spending of a government that already claims a large percentage of our incomes to support programs and policies that are often wasteful and ineffective? Whatever your opinion, please vote in November and make your voice heard.
PAUL JOHNSON, EDEN PRAIRIE
Two of the biggest issues right now are voter ID and the Affordable Care Act. Many who are for the ACA are against voter ID. My question is this: If we believe it good and right and completely within the government's ability to manage health care for the poor, downtrodden and disenfranchised, why is it simultaneously beyond the power of our government to get ID cards to those same people and ensure our elections?
If it is true that voter ID will prevent many from exercising their right to vote, we should be downright fearful about whether the government will have the ethical correctness, logistical ability and benevolence to handle the far greater task of managing health care for a nation. Which one is it?
STEVE MONSON, RICHFIELD