GOP offers no alternative

I am referring to the Oct. 28 letter in the Times by Thomas Nelson of Danville, "Democrats are the real extremists."

Nelson either didn't know or chose to ignore some facts when he asserted the Affordable Care Act was "written by Democratic extremists."

The requirement that citizens purchase health-care insurance originated with the conservative think-tank Heritage Foundation. The notion that people must insure themselves rather than pass the cost of their treatment onto taxpayers and insurance companies is based on conservative principles.

Then-Republican Gov. Mitt Romney signed an almost identical plan into law in Massachusetts.

The ACA was the subject of more than two years of hearings and bipartisan meetings. The single-payer option was never considered; the "public option," as an alternative to private insurance was dropped.

Democrats received more votes in the last congressional election than Republicans. The House majority results from gerrymandering and "safe districts." Romney promised to eliminate the ACA. He lost the election. The only cries for repeal of the ACA are in the right-wing echo chamber.

Finally, there has been no cogent Republican proposal that would provide affordable health care. Unless and until the Republicans come up with a plan that will allow someone making $10 or $15 per hour to afford health care, "repeal and replace" is meaningless and hypocritical.

Linda Burrell

Berkeley

Implement 3 Tier standards

My daughter found affordable housing facing a freeway and never realized until too late for her and my grandson the effects they were to suffer. Both have asthma as a result of toxins from cars. Then I moved to Contra Costa County and developed asthma myself in my 50s.

I think of China and how families can't allow their children to play outside because of air pollution. And this happens right here in Richmond.

The Environmental Protection Agency's proposed Tier 3 air quality standards could save our lives and the lives of the children in our area. The oil industry would try to convince the very citizens its pollution sickens that it can't afford Tier 3 standards -- at 1 cent per gallon of gas -- while their profits are as obscene as the financial industry's.

Tier 3 standards, which could save us all, need to be implemented as soon as possible. Our kids deserve to breathe more than oil companies deserve one penny more profit.

Ria Tanz Kubota

El Sobrante

Strengthen our Social Security

Finally, some are willing to dare to raise taxes.

Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, says "scrap the cap," regarding the current limit on taxable income paying into Social Security. Right now, people are only taxed on the first $113,700 of income. While a majority of workers will never earn that maximum cap, many do.

Last month, Honda and two other Democratic members of Congress, Linda Sanchez and Tom Harkin, introduced H.R. 3118, the Strengthening Social Security Act of 2013.

Our local politicians and elected officials should join a "scrap the cap" movement. I think they will be on the winning side when the dust clears.

I, myself, have signed petitions with similar agendas concerning Social Security.

Syd Hadsell

Hercules

Not a breach of the public trust

Daniel Borenstein's Oct. 25 column in the Times on the BART wage package gives an unbalanced explanation of the settlement terms.

Yet again, Borenstein portrays the BART workers as greedy and damaging the public interest by forcing management to agree to a net wage increase of 11.7 percent over four years. But if we divide the 11.7 percent over four years of the contract, the average annual net wage increase is only 2.9 percent.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, inflation has averaged 2.8 percent over the last three years in the San Francisco area. After compounding, the effective rate of inflation outpaces these wage increases. In other words, this settlement only leaves the BART workers treading water.

This settlement was hardly a breach of the public trust caused by the workers. It was a typical settlement of compromises.

Instead of always pointing the finger at people who are trying to maintain their standard of living, Borenstein might address the question of why it took the death of two workers to bring BART management back to the table to resolve the strike with the kind of a settlement that could have been achieved without a strike.

Hank Gehman

Berkeley

Clayton Valley Charter High

Regarding a recent letter on Clayton Valley Charter High School, Edith O. Valle-Riestra may not know that the school gets $100 more per student because it is a charter. This comes out of the money for other schools in the Mount Diablo School District.

The charter school does not incur the cost to educate students in its attendance area who require expensive special placement and services unless they apply to the school and are accepted. Therefore, the school has more money to spend.

Charters, unlike other schools, can decide how to spend without considering if it would be fair to all schools or what it would cost for all schools in the district. They can also get rid of the students who drag down scores and dump them on the school district.

We don't know whether this is done at Clayton Valley High because the Times is happy to parrot what the school officials say rather than investigate.

Ray Triana

Pleasant Hill

Don't obstruct affordable care

The Affordable Care Act, affectionately known as Obamacare, was the best President Obama and the Democrats could get passed.

It is certainly not perfect, but is desperately needed to improve a broken health care system in this country. If the tea party Republicans truly cared about the citizens of the United States, they would work to improve the law and aid in its implementation instead of working tirelessly to repeal or defund it.

It is disgusting that they've spent so much time and effort to work against a law that has been upheld by the Supreme Court and will be moving forward regardless of their efforts to stop it. Congress is supposed to work together to improve the lives of its citizens, which the GOP has lost sight of.

The Republicans are not afraid of the ACA failing, they are afraid it will work.

The GOP lost the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections and the ACA has been declared legal and is moving forward. Get over it!

Rob Waxman

Richmond