Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012: Fighting in Washington, Tax Cuts and Cancer Pain Management

Article excerpt

Fight for me

This country was founded and its Constitution written by men who, although they often vehemently disagreed with each other (think states' rights), were able to work together for the greater and common good.

I think about that each time I read about or hear about how a politician is going to "fight for me in Augusta or Washington." We have high schools graduating students who can't make change for a $10 bill, a health care system that needs a complete overhaul, an obesity epidemic and a national debt that our children's grandchildren will probably be paying off.

I am tired of having politicians "fight for me" because nothing is getting done. Alex Haley wrote, "When you clench your fist, no one can put anything in your hand nor can your hand pick anything up."

Walter N. Plaut Jr.


Allow high-end tax cuts to expire

Mike Tipping's BDN blog, The Tipping Point, recently noted a report by two Maine professors about the devastating effect Paul Ryan's proposed budget would have on the state, including our seniors. But even if the Romney-Ryan ticket isn't elected this fall, we will be facing similarly destructive tax and spending plans by the year's end.

That's when hundreds of billions of dollars worth of across-the- board tax increases and indiscriminate spending cuts are set to kick in unless Congress acts to stop them. That can only happen if the two parties reach a bargain on how intelligently to confront our deficit problem. Democrats have already agreed to a $1 trillion worth of spending reductions over the next decade. Meanwhile, Republicans haven't agreed to a single dime of revenue increases, even from multibillionaires and multinational corporations awash in profits. It seems clear which side needs to give a little.

Our two moderate Republican senators are well qualified to reacquaint their GOP colleagues with the art of compromise. One easy place to start the process is by allowing Bush-era tax cuts on the 2 percent of taxpayers who make more than a quarter of a million dollars a year to expire, generating tens of billions of dollars that can be used to pay down debt and preserve bulwarks of the middle class such as Medicare and student loans.

All Mainers should contact Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins and urge them to allow the high-end tax cuts to expire as part of a balanced budget deal.

James Yerkes


The fight for quality of life

Earlier this month I traveled to Washington, D.C., with cancer survivors and volunteers to call on Congress to support legislation that emphasizes patients' quality of life during treatment for a serious disease such as cancer. Lawmakers have the power to improve the lives of cancer patients by making treatment of their pain and other symptoms standard practice during the course of care.

I joined more than 600 cancer patients and survivors from across the country who volunteer for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network to educate lawmakers about proposals that have the potential to better coordinate patient care and reduce the pain, fear and anxiety that many patients feel during treatment.

When I met with a representative for Sen. Susan Collins, I asked for the senator to make a commitment to patients' quality of life by co-sponsoring legislation that gives patients more control, makes sure that their pain is properly managed and provides better coordination between doctors and medicines so that patients know what to do when they're discharged from the hospital. …