Keep transit on track
I'd like to respond to the editorial on the National Capital Transportation Amendments Act (H.R. 401) ("The stench on the Hill," Tuesday).
As a member of the Appropriations committee, I know the difference between an earmark and an authorization. This legislation is no earmark. It's an authorization bill to keep up and running the transit system bringing many of your readers to and from work and serving millions of visitors to our nation's capital. It is a system falling apart due to a lack of funding — funding this legislation seeks to boost.
On the issue of reform, H.R. 401 provides federal oversight, adding two federally appointed members to the Metro board that oversees the system. The bill also increases scrutiny by federal inspector generals, including mechanisms to improve accountability.
Your editorial also asks: What about fare increases? As any regular Metro rider will tell you, passengers have endured substantial fare increases. In January, Metro raised rush-hour boarding charges by 30 percent, increased parking fees $1.15 per day and hiked bus fares 10 cents per trip. It now costs $4.50 to ride from Vienna to downtown during rush hour.
Finally, you take Virginia and Maryland to task for failing to plan for Metro's needs. In fact, they have planned. Both states, including the District, agreed to step up and provide 50-50 matching funding for Metro, the agreement reached in this legislation.
H.R. 401 seeks to get Metro back on sound footing, a system we cannot afford to let fall into disrepair. It deserves your support, not contempt.
REP. JIM MORAN
House of Representatives
Refuting O'Malley's rhetoric
In the editorial "Gov. O'Malley is shirking his oath" (Monday), you state that Gov. Martin O'Malley opposes the death penalty. You are mistaken: He only opposes the death penalty for convicted murderers.
Each year he willingly recommends in his budget $1.5 million to finance the deaths of approximately 4,000 unborn babies. In 2007, none of these state-funded deaths met the federal requirement of being performed to save the life of the mother. Unlike those on death row, these babies have no due process, no appeals and not even an opportunity for adoption.
State legislators who vote for Medicaid-funded abortions, many of whom also "oppose" the death penalty, bear some responsibility. In Maryland, however, the governor alone proposes the budget. Legislators cannot add new items to the budget. So, the governor's opposition to the death penalty rings hollow indeed.
ELLA E. ENNIS
Port Republic, Md.
Message to McCain: push drilling
James C. Capretta's sober analysis ("It's the economy stupid," Op-Ed, Tuesday) of possible economic fixes Republican presidential nominee John McCain should consider for repairing our national economy doesn't go far enough by limiting the discussion to tax policies.
With oil approaching $120 a barrel, Congress, led by a Democratic majority, has consistently voted against opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) for oil exploration and drilling. Our current federal energy policy needs to be revised to reflect current economic realities that are threatening our economy and national security.
The perceived threat to the environment that oil drilling allegedly represents has been the largest obstacle in this debate. In fact, only 1.5 million acres, or 8 percent, of the northern coast of ANWR would be considered for oil exploration. The remaining 17.5 million acres would remain permanently closed to any kind of development. Should oil be discovered, less than 2,000 acres of the Coastal Plain would be affected. That is less than half of 1 percent of ANWR that would be affected by production activity.
It has been demonstrated that oil and gas development can coexist successfully with wildlife in the Alaskan Arctic. It has been estimated that the central Arctic caribou herd, which migrates through Prudhoe Bay, has grown from 3,000 animals in the 1970s to its current level of 32,000 animals.
One cannot complain about the depreciation of the dollar against foreign currencies without understanding the consequences of the following fact: the United States continues to import an average of 60 percent of it's domestic oil supply. That equates to sending more than $330 billion to Middle Eastern countries.
Additional benefits would be the anticipated jobs and tax revenues from opening ANWR to oil exploration and drilling. It has been estimated that between 250,000 and 735,000 ANWR jobs would be created by the development of the Coastal Plain.
The Congressional Research Service has also released a review of potential ANWR tax-revenue estimates stating that due to the increased price of oil, the 10-02 Area of ANWR could be worth $94.8 billion in federal income taxes and $42.8 billion in royalties totaling a $138 billion.
If Mr. McCain wants to truly distinguish himself politically while igniting our economy from its current slumber, he needs to incorporate the revision of our current federal energy policy to permit oil exploration and drilling in ANWR.
MICHAEL P. MULHALL
Rockville Centre, N.Y.
Good-faith is good governance
Michael O'Hanlon demonstrates a profound misunderstanding of the Iran issue that is all too pervasive in Washington today ("Hawkish talks with Iran?" Commentary, Monday). His support for direct negotiations with Iran to be used not as a good-faith attempt to resolve one of the most significant foreign-policy challenges of our time, but rather as a precursor to open hostility and military conflict is duplicitous warmongering.
As the drums continue to beat for war with Iran, reality indicates that few options could be more disastrous for the United States and the region. What Mr. O'Hanlon overlooks in his enthusiasm for conflict is that the only prescription for stability in Iraq requires a good-faith engagement with Iran, including negotiations. This, in turn, requires the United States to pacify rather than increase its belligerence toward the Iranian government.
The specter of American-led regime change only strengthens the hand of the hard-liners and encourages a cycle of uncompromising and interventionist foreign policy.
National Iranian American Council
Funding refugees is a moral imperative
Tulin Daloglu quite accurately reveals a major stumbling block of the Iraqi refugee crisis not enough attention has been focused on the humanitarian calamity unfolding in the region ("A moral imperative," Op-Ed, Tuesday). While there is plenty of fiery partisan rhetoric by Congress, the administration and presidential candidates over the war, the conditions of Iraqi refugees continue to deteriorate. This increased deterioration is becoming a recipe for disaster.
I have introduced comprehensive legislation and written to President Bush, requesting an additional $1.5 billion in funding to the fiscal 2009 budget as well as to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice calling on her to lay out a long-term plan to address this crisis. This alone will not solve the problem.
Before this situation further implodes, Congress and the administration must work to implement feasible solutions, including support from Europe and Gulf Arab states. The United States has a moral obligation, but can't go it alone.
REP. ALCEE L. HASTINGS
Commission on Security and
Cooperation in Europe