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The Public Pulse: Stuffed with federal pork; Ricketts' wrong priorities

The Public Pulse: Stuffed with federal pork; Ricketts' wrong priorities

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Mar.03 -- As the U.S. Senate debates President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion Covid relief package, lawmakers are turning their attention to $200 billion earmarked to aid state governments dealing with budget shortfalls. Bloomberg Government’s Emily Wilkins has more on “Bloomberg Surveillance.”

Stuffed with pork

On March 9 The World-Herald published an Associated Press article about “what’s in the COVID relief bill.” In reading the article, one would wonder why there was such controversy and resistance to this bill. It seems that it would do a lot of good for a lot of people. Unfortunately, the items listed in the article that actually deal with COVID account for about 10% of the $2 trillion to be spent. The remaining $1.8 trillion goes to special interests such as bailing out states (not Nebraska), and congressional pet projects that could not get passed on their own. A small example:

$1 billion to Airlines Recycle and Save program.

$25 billion for transit infrastructure.

$3 billion to upgrade the IT department at the VA.

$350 million to State Department diplomatic programs.

$500 million to museum and libraries.

$720 million to Social Security, but only $200 million is to help people.

$492 million to Amtrak.

$526 million for grants to Amtrak to “remain available” in addition to the above.

$13 million to Howard University.

I have no doubt that the AP listed only the popular provisions of the bill to sway public opinion against those members of Congress who were against the bill because of the excessive non-COVID expenditures. It is a shame that no media organization attempts to give the public the whole story, as they once did.

Frank Blank, Omaha

Wrong priorities

Unsurprisingly, Gov. Pete Ricketts thinks he made best decisions regarding the pandemic that they had at time. And that he had no clue that more than 2,000 Nebraskans would die in the next year. And that nobody knew this was going to last over a year. There is plenty of evidence to the contrary.

This is what you get when you put politicians in charge of public health.

Ricketts’ first goal: preserve hospital capacity for respirators.

The first goal of public health is prevention:

Primary: Massive public health education in all languages of community, providing masks, information on hand-washing and social distancing — so people don’t need to go on respirators.

Secondary: Quarantine exposures, contact tracing, mass testing.

Tertiary: Machines do not run themselves. You must provide adequate highly trained staff and PPE to take care of these extremely complicated cases 24/7 for case surges and their relief.

And the most egregious act, keeping packing plants open, because Nebraskans would “riot in the street.” Where is that belief in the resilience and grit of Nebraskans he likes to rely on when it suits him? What about the Nebraskans working in the plants without any safeguards in place? Or all the front-line “essential workers” who are not paid a living wage? Over 2,000 lives lost, many of the deaths preventable. Many poor and minority.

His actions were for business, not people; for profit, not lives. I would like to know, just who is this economy for, if not the people?

Rachel Dowd, Omaha

Sticks, stones, words

After reading all the comments about Coach Greg McDermott, I find it just verifies what I have thought for years. People are far too sensitive about their race and too quick to say someone is a racist. Greg McDermott said some words he should not have said. Haven’t we all! He is not a racist, nor even close to being a racist. The slang word for a white person is “honky.” If a black friend called me a honky, I can assure you we would still be friends and not let such a trivial thing bother us. I remember the childhood saying, “Sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me.”

Donald F. Sutton, Omaha

The need for integrity

The Republicans that want Ben Sasse to resign — is it because he shows integrity, a value sorely missed in Washington, D.C.? A value that needs a major comeback to fix our country and make our country great again, not only in the eyes of its citizens but to the world.

Don Sloter II, Ralston

Better redistricting

In regard to redistricting in Nebraska, rather than the party with the current majority dictating how districts are drawn, why not try something new and novel — try drawing districts that are fair and based on data, not partisan politics?

Currently Nebraska is controlled by Republicans, but that may not always be the case. You’d want to know your vote was counted and mattered, even if you weren’t in the current majority.

I’m sure there are people out there who can figure this out. It shouldn’t always be whoever is in control gets whatever they want and everyone else gets nothing.

Sandra Kent, Bennington

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