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Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017 12:20 am

Letters to the Editor 1/26/17



As Barack Obama’s presidency came to an end, there was a lot of talk about how his tenure impacted police officers. In the last few years there have been several high-profile tragedies where police officers were targeted and killed in ambush attacks. Obama’s detractors contend that his words and actions contributed to an atmosphere where such attacks are more likely. Are attacks on police officers, in fact, more likely?

Last July, after the tragic murder of five police officers in Dallas, William Johnson, the executive director of the National Association of Police Organizations, cast blame on President Obama stating, “It’s a war on cops, and the Obama Administration is the Neville Chamberlain of this war.” Jeff Roorda, author of the book The War on Police, tweeted a photo of bloody hands with the caption, “THIS BLOOD IS ON YOUR HANDS, MR. PRESIDENT.”

In the last week of 2016, several news outlets wrote of the spike in police officers gunned down in 2016. Fox News reported, “Nearly 140 law enforcement officers died in the line of duty this year, up from 130 in 2015, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page, a nonprofit group founded and run by active and retired law enforcement officials.” CBS News reported, “Fatal shootings of police officers skyrocketed in 2016.”

Did President Obama oversee a period of “war on police” where their lives were more at risk than in previous years?

According to the Officer Down Memorial Page, the answer is no. While the final total for all police officer deaths in 2016 reached 140, which was 10 more than the 130 in 2015, the general trend for police officer deaths during Obama’s term continued a decades-long downward trend. During Obama’s eight years an average of 147 police officers per year died in the line of duty, with 65 of those deaths being murders. This is a 20 percent decrease in police murders, compared to an average 82 police officers murdered annually during the eight years George W. Bush was president. Compared with further into the past, today’s decline is even greater. During the Reagan years, when the U.S. population was substantially smaller, an average of 103 police officers were murdered each year, 58 percent more than the 65 during Obama’s term.

Bill Passalacqua

Obamacare is a bill with more than 20,000 pages of regulations and more than 20 new taxes. The bill has been continually changed by Barack Obama and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services without going through the legislative process since it was passed in 2010. Obamacare greatly reduces choice and has greatly increased premiums, deductibles and copays for hundreds of millions of Americans while helping a small percentage of people, certainly less than 20 million.

One of the provisions in the bill that Barack Obama and others brag about is that there are no lifetime limits and no annual limits. That is actually one of the worst provisions in the bill. How can small- and medium-sized insurance companies handle unlimited risk? How can large companies handle unlimited risk without raising prices? This provision was obviously going to raise costs, yet Obama and others continually lied by saying premiums would go down and the deficit would go down.

Then there is the provision in the law that insurers aren’t allowed to look at preexisting conditions. Maybe home insurance companies shouldn’t be allowed to charge extra if a home is in an earthquake zone, flood zone or hurricane zone.

In September 2009, Barack Obama said there were 30 million Americans who couldn’t get insurance. This was one of many obvious lies used to pass the law. Many people could have bought insurance if they wanted it and could have had many low-cost or higher-cost options. Those low-cost options have disappeared because of all the mandates and free stuff in the law.

The solution is to repeal the law and give the truly small percentage of uninsurables greater access to high-risk pools. Medicaid also could be expanded from what it was previous to the law. People again would have many options. They could choose catastrophic insurance, could choose high-cost plans or choose to self-insure.

The true political risk to Republicans and Trump is leaving the existing law on the books.

Jack Hellner


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