Tobacco tax proposal (copy)

Is the tax bill fair?

Two of our state senators traveled the state last weekend to gain support for Legislative Bill 289, which is supposed to help with our high property taxes.

They are eyeing amendments to their bill in hopes of gaining the support of the Omaha, Millard and Lincoln school districts. Hope they check with some of their constituents and other Nebraskans to see what they think of the bill.

They want to raise the sales tax by a half-cent and the cigarette tax by 36 cents a pack (those poor smokers). They would also impose new taxes on several home repair services and also tax pop, candy and bottled water. One state senator said people don’t need to buy a bottle of water each day. We should let our senators know what we think of this bill, especially smokers or someone who needs a bottle of water each day.

D. Mark O’Neill, Omaha

Raise cigarette tax even more

The Nebraska Legislature is considering increasing the state’s cigarette tax. I say, great idea. By increasing taxes on cigarettes by $1.50 per pack, our state could save lives, reduce health care costs and generate much-needed revenue.

While lawmakers look for revenue, they should keep in mind that cigarette taxes are one of the most predictable sources of revenue that states receive, even with the projected reductions in smoking due to a tax increase. Taxpayers would also benefit from reductions in smoking-caused health care spending by the government and private sector.

My fellow American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network volunteers and I are asking the Legislature to raise the tax by a $1.50 per pack as a proven incentive to help adults quit and prevent kids from ever starting a deadly addiction.

It’s up to our Legislature to pass this lifesaving measure.

Theresa Baack, Kearney, Neb.

Medicare-for-More?

“Medicare-for-All,” as proposed by Bernie Sanders, would abolish private health insurance. It is an unbelievably disruptive and catastrophic idea.

President Donald Trump will likely defeat any Democrat who supports Medicare for All. Here is why. Americans cannot afford the program’s unsustainable $32 trillion cost. This is the projected amount for the first 10 years only. In addition, Trump can accurately point out that countries with universal health care have problems with long delays for medical services and with the need to ration health care.

Who would vote for candidates who support such a program? Certainly not the 500,000 people employed by private health insurance companies. And certainly not the millions of Americans whose retirement savings are invested in private medical insurance stocks.

Let’s make a smaller, less disruptive step toward improving health care for millions of Americans. Let’s provide a public option for people between the ages of 62 and 65 who do not have employer health care coverage. Not only would this help assess the viability of a public option for all Americans, but it would provide coverage for the age group that needs it the most. Medical insurance coverage is so important that these issues must be thoughtfully and responsibly managed.

What action on health care should be taken now? Congress must act to save the preexisting conditions mandate in case the Affordable Care Act is declared unconstitutional. Members of Congress who vote against protecting preexisting conditions must plan for hobbies to pursue in their forced retirement from Congress.

David and Barb Daughton, Omaha

U.S. giving and the Global Fund

President Donald Trump’s supporters rally to the call “Make America great again.” One of the best ways to do that is to support the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

Since 2002, the Global Fund has helped save 27 million lives. In past funding cycles, the United States has provided one-third of the financial resources for the Global Fund. Yet Canada and Norway have each given more per capita than we have. When America shows our greatness by giving generously, we win friends around the world, and other nations follow our lead.

In order to save 16 million more lives by 2023, the Global Fund needs $14 billion for the next three-year cycle. The Global Fund supports only accountable and effective programs. It helps recipient nations to strengthen their own medical systems, so that they become self-supporting and reduce the global threat of diseases that can easily spread around the world.

It’s time for our president and Congress to lead again by offering at least one-third of total needed for the Global Fund.

Lauren Wells, Omaha

Trump laughs off comment

Recently President Donald Trump held another one of his rah-rah-rah rallies in Florida. Much of his rhetoric, of course, centered on the “border crisis.”

When he asked “What can we do about it?” someone in the crowd yelled, “Shoot them!” Instead of decrying this provocative and insane method of controlling the entry of migrants, the president laughed it off.

Let that sink in, America. The president of the United States laughs off the suggestion that desperate migrants at the gates of America seeking refuge ought to be shot and killed at the hands of vigilantes. This is the man who implemented the family separation policy as a means of controlling refugees at the border.

These overt calls to insanity and cruelty ought to remind all of us that America should stand for something more noble than to revert to the draconian lawlessness of the Old West and dictatorial societies.

Ben Salazar, Omaha

Remembering Jim Fowler

While working for Mutual of Omaha in 1984, I had the good fortune to interview Jim Fowler of “Wild Kingdom” fame. I was in awe of a childhood hero.

I noticed an 8-inch scar on Jim’s forearm and asked him about it. He said that on a trip to Africa, he and a local guide had a cheetah cornered. According to Jim, the guide yelled, “Hey, Jim, I’ve got the tail, you grab the front!”

His smile downplayed the dangerous side of the job. God bless, Jim Fowler — a great interview, true legend and man of grace.

John Sullivan, Omaha

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