April 24, 2014

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Opinion
Letter to the Editor
Written by Information submitted   
Saturday, October 26, 2013 12:00 AM

DEAR EDITOR,

I am writing as a supporter of the Mental Health & Recovery Services Board levy that will be on the ballot on November 5th. As a psychiatric nurse in our community I have first-hand knowledge of the success that results from treatment for mental health disorders. Our community has worked diligently to have passionate knowledgeable professionals, successful programs, and support systems in place for those with mental illness and also for their families.

Statistics show that one in four people experience some type of mental health issue such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia in any given year. While that sounds staggering we also know that treatment works and people do recover.

Our local Mental Health & Recovery Services Board has been committed to funding needed services to help keep our local residents and their families healthy. Prevention services, treatment, and supportive services help to prevent many from being homeless, hospitalized, or incarcerated.

Please “Help Us Care” by voting YES on Nov. 5!

 

Mary Jane Mullenhour

 
Preventing the coming debt crisis
Written by U.S. Senator Rob Portman   
Saturday, October 26, 2013 12:00 AM

BY US SENATOR ROB PORTMAN

 

Over the last thirty years, a debt limit debate has been a time for sober reflection for members of both parties. Raising the debt limit is, by definition, a sign of failure. It means that our government is spending more money than it brings in.

That’s where we are today. The federal government borrows roughly twenty cents for every dollar it spends. Hitting the debt limit is the equivalent of maxing out on our nation’s credit card, and without an extension, we aren’t able to pay our bills. It’s no secret how we got here—the greatest act of bipartisanship over the last few decades has been Republicans and Democrats alike overpromising and overspending.

To keep our nation from going into default, the Congress passed and the President signed a short-term debt limit increase this week that will allow our government to borrow enough money to pay our bills through early February. But how to deal with the debt limit in the long-term remains a thorny issue.

There are some who are calling for so-called “clean” debt ceiling increases. They want to raise the debt ceiling, put it on autopilot, and be done with it. Only in Washington would that make sense. A business in Cleveland that spends too much money can’t simply take out another loan. A Cincinnati family whose teenager maxes out the credit card doesn’t just ask the company for a higher limit. Instead, they sit down and take a hard look at the spending that got them in the situation, and they do something about it. Washington, D.C. could learn a lot from the people of Ohio.

What drives America’s deficits? Mandatory spending, the part of the budget that includes vital, but currently unsustainable programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Mandatory spending already makes up two-thirds of the federal budget, and it is rapidly growing. With 10,000 baby boomers retiring every day, Obamacare—a new entitlement—coming online now, and health care costs continuing to rise, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) warns us that spending on health care entitlements will more than double over the next ten years. In fact, CBO projects entitlement programs will be responsible for 100% of growth in future deficits. If we are going to avoid a coming fiscal catastrophe for our children and grandchildren—with higher unemployment, higher taxes, and higher interest rates—we need to act now.

History shows us the way. Over the last 30 years, the debt ceiling has inspired Republican and Democratic presidents alike to engage in negotiations, working with Congress in order to come to a bipartisan consensus on how to allow the government to continue to borrow while addressing the underlying problem of overspending. In fact, in the past three decades it is the only thing that has worked: the debate over raising the debt limit has been the only time Congress and the president have reduced spending in any meaningful way—whether it was the Gramm-Rudman cuts in 1985, the Andrews Air Force Base Agreement in 1990, the 1997 Balanced Budget Act, PAYGO rules, or the Budget Control Act of only two years ago.

Those negotiations need to begin anew, and they need to begin now so we have plenty of time before the debt limit is hit again in February. It’s time to deal with the underlying problem of overspending. It’s this overspending that caused us to reach the debt limit in the first place. It’s overspending that will cause us to reach it again next year, and no amount of extraordinary measures or financial imagination at Treasury can stop that from happening.

Over the past two weeks, the President and Senate Democratic leadership have repeatedly promised that if we raised the debt ceiling, they would negotiate on spending. The ball is now in the President’s court. Now it’s time for the President to finally engage. It’s time for him to come to the table, to meet with us in good faith.

A good place to start would be the mandatory spending reforms President Obama has already agreed to in his budget, savings that add up to more than $600 billion over the next decade. We need to engage in pro-growth tax reform that gets this economy growing again and gets Americans back in a job.

The president says he doesn’t want to be held hostage over the debt limit. He’s not; he’s being given an opportunity to lead, using his own proposals.

Reaching consensus on these issues will take tough negotiations, and Republicans and Democrats won’t agree on everything. But the American people sent us here to get things done. Using President Obama’s own proposals, let’s take the first steps toward entitlement reform and onto some common ground to break the gridlock in DC and finally do something about our unsustainable spending.

 

 
Fixing the Obamacare mistake
Written by U.S. Senator Rob Portman   
Saturday, October 19, 2013 12:26 AM

Congress is known to make mistakes. And when it does, it is the duty of those senators and members of Congress who come after to try and fix those mistakes. In the last decade, no mistake has been greater than the one that gave us Obamacare.

It was a mistake born of the same kind of blanket partisanship that the American people have come to deplore about Washington. This trillion-dollar program and 1,000-page bill was rammed through Congress without being read, analyzed or fully debated. It did not receive a single Republican vote in either the House or the Senate, a rare and remarkable thing even in today’s politically charged environment.

It should surprise no one that we are discovering new problems with the law, seemingly every day. As then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi infamously said: “ We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what’s in it.” And find out we have – what’s in it kills jobs, raises the cost of health care, and limits choice when it comes to what insurance Americans can buy and what doctors they can visit.

Obamacare was sold to our nation under false pretenses. We were told that Obamacare would bring down premiums. They are going up. We were told Americans would be able to keep their insurance and their doctors. Millions are losing them. We were told that Obamacare would help create jobs. Instead, millions of Americans have given up looking for work and many of the jobs that are available are part-time. And the implementation of this massive new law has become, in the words of one of my Democratic colleagues, “a train wreck.”

Because Obamacare imposes significant costs on businesses that hire full-time workers – defined as more than 30 hours a week – we are already seeing employers cut back substantially on the hours their staff can work. The University of Akron, for instance, recently announced it would be restricting faculty hours because of Obamacare. They followed in the footsteps of Youngstown State, Stark State College and others in Ohio are that being forced to choose between having fewer full-time employees or bearing the burden of massive new costs. It’s a story that is being repeated across the country, in businesses large and small.

And it’s not just unemployment that is expected to rise because of Obamacare. The cost of health care is likely to go up, as well. The Wall Street Journal reported that premiums could increase by as much as 436 percent in Columbus. And according to the Ohio Department of Insurance, Ohioans can generally expect to see health insurance premiums in the individual market increase at an average of 41 percent in our state next year.

Meanwhile, we are watching the implementation of Obamacare unravel before our very eyes. The health care exchanges that are at the heart of Obamacare are in trouble. In August, I sent a letter to the administration, warning that the technology simply wasn’t there to handle the overload of information the exchanges would need to process. I never received a response, but now we know that some of the exchanges, supposed to go online Oct. 1, are delayed because of unacceptably high failure rates. Recently, Health and Human Services announced that key components of the Small Business Health Options Program – or SHOP Exchange – will also be delayed until 2015. And another part of the legislation that was meant to insure long-term care – the CLASS Act – has been abandoned altogether because it was financially unsustainable.

If a commercial product had as many defects as Obamacare, it would have been yanked from the shelves long ago as dangerous to the public.

For some companies at least, the White House has taken steps to alleviate these problems. Earlier this year, the administration announced – in the face of dire warnings from the business community – that the employer mandate would be delayed for a year. Meanwhile, thousands of corporations and some labor unions have received exemptions altogether from the health care law.

And yet the individual mandate, the part of Obamacare that’s going to hit the average American, still looms over us all. There’s no relief for the American people.

Some people point out that Obamacare is the law and ask why I continue to fight to repeal and replace it with better reforms.

The answer is simple. The people of Ohio sent me to Washington to support policies that are good for Ohio and America and oppose those policies that hurt our state and our country. Obamacare is bad for Ohio’s economy and bad for Ohio family’s health care. This is why I support repealing the law and replacing it with a better way to lower health care costs, increase health care choices and improve the quality of care.

And that is a cause worth fighting for.

 

 
Letter to the Editor
Written by Information submitted   
Saturday, October 12, 2013 12:35 AM

DEAR EDITOR:

Vote Yes for the EMS.

Putnam County EMS is placing a tax levy on the November ballot to help hire additional full-time EMTs and paramedics. Why, you ask? Because volunteer squads have all but gone away. Up until 1998, PCEMS was 100 percent volunteer. Recent changes in the economy and the aging of our volunteers has made it necessary to employ additional full-time EMTs and paramedics. PCEMS has been self-sufficient for many years and has never gone to the voters for operating monies, until now. The state requires hours and hours of continuing education which in turn puts a time crunch on the volunteer who tries to maintain a full-time job, family and social life.

Fifteen years ago, Putnam County EMS took a “leap of faith” and created the Medic 300 program. In 1998, Steve Odenweller, PCEMS Coordinator, was looking to the future for the improvement of emergency care for the people of Putnam County and he continues to enhance that idea every year since. I trust that Mr. Odenweller once again has the best interest of Putnam County when he asks the voters for money. Do yourself, your family and your friends a favor by voting YES for the EMS on Nov. 5.

Joann Gerdeman, The Original Medic 300

 
Letter to the Editor
Written by Information submitted   
Saturday, October 12, 2013 12:35 AM

DEAR EDITOR:

Putnam County:

Please vote YES for the Putnam County EMS levy. On Feb. 6, 2011, I became a survivor thanks in large part to Putnam County EMS. While passing through Columbus Grove, I experienced a sudden onset of cardiac arrest. My husband stopped at a local business where bystanders began CPR while Columbus Grove EMS rapidly responded to provide advance life support. All of these people played a part in the “Chain of Survival” that saved my life. If any one of those links would not have been there or been delayed in responding, my story would have a drastically different ending.

Unfortunately, not every cardiac arrest, stroke or accident can have a positive outcome like mine did. But we can make sure all the necessary tools are in place so more of those good outcomes are possible. The rapid response and trained bystanders were critical to my survival. Voting YES on the levy will help in both of those areas by: increasing EMS volunteer interest by giving a $2/hour raise for those on runs, hiring more full-time EMTs to help the volunteers and provide money for CPR and First Aid classes.

I spent several years as a member of Ottawa EMS working with caring EMTs all over Putnam County, but it wasn’t until my incident that I realized what an impact this wonderful EMS system can have in the lives of the residents in our county.

Please help keep Putnam County EMS strong by voting YES on Nov. 5.

Linda Llewellyn

Ottawa

 

 
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