Presidential campaign comes into focus


We now have a real contest. The sides are clear. We know what we have with Obama-Biden, and now we can put together a profile of what defines a Romney-Ryan team.

Both Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are firm advocates for cutting taxes and for revamping social programs, including Social Security and Medicare. Some of what is in the Ryan budget plan reflects the hard choices that the country should consider.

But both the Ryan plan and Romney's campaign lean so heavily toward benefiting the wealthy, burdening the middle class and bashing the poor that I can only think of them as the Mean Team. All four candidates are decent, smart, patriotic men. They stand on opposite sides of the court.

Game on.


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I suppose if I had been born a few months earlier, I might feel a bit differently about the Ryan budget. For my entire life, I have paid into a system that transfers money from a working generation to one that is no longer working.

My parents and grandparents were the beneficiaries of this system. It allowed them to have a retirement that covered their health costs. The Ryan budget brings that plan to an end.

Of course, it would be political suicide to tell an entire generation that it's out of luck, so the Ryan plan draws a line between our country as it has been for the past 50 years and the way it will be going forward.

If you are under 55, the program expires and you will receive coupons that will pay an increasingly smaller amount of your insurance as you get older. Maybe for someone who is 25 today and can avoid paying for people like myself as we go forward into retirement, that might be a good deal.

Time will tell. But for the 40 million people who lose health care coverage with the elimination of Obamacare and for those of us who are 40 to 55, it is a real bad deal. We pay twice -- once for our parents and now for ourselves.


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After more than a day of reading and listening to political pundits' opinions about Romney selecting Ryan as his running mate, I find the degree of ignorance about Ryan and his budget proposals striking.

Apparently, many people do not understand how large a portion of federal spending is devoted to entitlement programs, and therefore do not understand that it is impossible to get the budget crisis under control without some reforms in these programs.

The difference between Ryan and many other politicians is that he seems willing to put his political career on the line by telling us the truth, and putting his proposals in writing.


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My father died in 1958 when I was 3; my brother was an infant. Our family was lifted up by Social Security survivor's benefits. I am eternally grateful for this hand up, and I have done all that I could to repay our country during my career. Similarly, when Rep. Paul Ryan was 16, his father passed away. Ryan was able to save his survivor's benefits to pay for attending Miami University of Ohio.

I didn't build my career by myself; nor did Ryan.


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Actually, there's much to envy about the U.K.


So the average Briton is ignorant when it comes to their belief that the NHS is the envy of the world ("Unenviably meager medicine," Aug. 10)? After living in England for several years and now finding myself back in the United States, I envy the Brits and their NHS every day.

If average Brits really understood the risks and the costs of the U.S. health care system, they would treasure their NHS even more. From my experience of both systems, the NHS provides the peace of mind that comes from knowing that if you are hurt or ill, you will be taken care of quickly, completely and competently.

People and institutions profiting from the U.S. system want us to believe that health care in the U.K. is unfairly rationed. People in the U.K. love their NHS because it ensures that every citizen has a right to adequate health care. Just like in the U.S., if one wants additional care or a specific service, private health insurance is available.

Unlike Americans, Brits don't need to choose between food and medicine. They don't have to wonder which services are covered under their plan during a medical emergency. They don't need to fear medical bankruptcy.

Our system forces people to gamble with their health and make choices that can have devastating consequences. The fact that in our first-world country any citizen can find that he or she is one health care crisis away from financial devastation is absurd. Why do we tolerate it?


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Happy without them, thank you very much


In response to a recent letter noting the absence of campaign lawn signs this year: I personally see them as nothing more than visual eye pollution. They have no bearing on who I vote for, and I can't wait for them to come down. It has nothing to do with support this person or that person. It's really quite simple. Let me reiterate -- eye pollution. I'm sure there are some who agree.


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Attitudes show why our waters are doomed


Weekend letters shone a bright light on the attitudes that make the infestation of all accessible Minnesota lakes by invasive species an inevitability. One writer stated that, for all he knows, larvae-laden wildlife "might be the primary reason" for the spread of zebra mussels. A quick review of scientific literature available on the Internet reveals this excuse for inaction as nonsense.

A second writer believes that labeling ecosystem destroying non-native organisms as "invasive" is a fear tactic employed by power hungry bureaucrats intent on violating his constitutional rights. Unless these attitudes change, the future of our lakes is every bit as predictable as that of a person who has unprotected sex with hundreds of partners a year -- and it's a grim future indeed.