Letter to the Editor

Your view: Editorial response

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Your recent editorial revealing some of the Senate Democrats' skullduggery was very enlightening. It seems the Republicans were so interested in the tort reform debate that they left the chamber. Democrats, figuring that the day's business was over, moved to adjourn and, since no Republican was there to object, the motion passed. (Now that is shenanigans of the highest order.)

Let's not forget that the Republican tort reform bill is not a packaged designed primarily to protect doctors and their rising malpractice premiums, but rather one meant to protect big corporations and insurance companies. The Republican leadership had already vetoed any insurance reform that would limit malpractice premium increases.

Why, though, did you not pen an editorial when the Missouri House, led by its Republican leadership, voted to reduce Medicaid benefits for the working poor? Why nothing when Jason Crowell, one of Cape Girardeau's elected officials who wants to be our next state senator, reportedly made "siren" noises and "flatulence" sounds during a speech by a Democrat against this move? Didn't we used to scold kids for that? Or is it just easier to scold the poor for not making more money?

Readers may have been interested in your opinion when the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Kansas City Star both disclosed that many of the House Republicans who voted to eliminate those benefits for the working poor were also the recipients of thousands of dollars in taxpayer-supported health insurance for their part-time jobs as our representatives. How many people do you know have part-time jobs with employer-sponsored health insurance? The Post-Dispatch and the Kansas City Star made the point that these legislators were asking the poor to make a sacrifice that they themselves were not willing to make. Your editorial page was once again silent when the reaction of Richard Byrd, a Republican, was to introduce legislation subjecting only the Post-Dispatch and the Kansas City Star to sales tax, but maintaining the exemption for every other paper in Missouri.

Refusing to raise taxes on the tobacco or gambling industries to benefit education, the Republican leadership took less than a week to come up with a plan to squelch freedom of speech. Apparently the "no new taxes" pledge only goes so far, especially when it comes to taxing anyone who dares to criticize.

With almost a month to go before adjournment, I am reassured that as publisher, you'll be watching the proceedings in the Missouri Legislature very closely and that you will continue to comment on those proceedings in a fair and balanced manner that enlightens us.

Phil Barkett Jr.

Publisher's note: While out raising money for Gov. Holden's re-election, you've apparently been somewhat remiss on your daily scrutiny of our editorial pages. So let me enlighten you. On the question of Medicaid reductions, perhaps you missed the editorial where we strongly opposed changes in the MC Plus program. But raising Dollars for Bob is time consuming, so we understand.

Your portrayal of the Democratic shenanigans on early adjournment cuts an interesting path. Perhaps if you would spend a day or two outside of Holden's office and instead view the actions of the Legislature you might realize that quite often the chamber is virtually vacant, especially in light of a Democratic filibuster over tort reform.

And speaking of tort reform, it was not the big corporations testifying on the impact of this proposed legislation, it was doctors who are facing reductions in their practices because of the massive increases in their malpractice premiums. And as far as Jason Crowell's light-hearted antics are concerned, you're right Phil, he should be scolded. So Jason, quit that!

And Phil, the newspaper sales tax plan has about as much chance of passage as the tort reform bill has of gaining your governor's signature. So worry over those issues that are real.

And rest assured counselor, there will be ample to digest as the legislature comes to a close. Just keep reading on your daily commutes. It will offer a refreshing pause from listening to Rush.

P.S.: Phil, someone else is already using "fair and balanced". Listen to Al Franken for more creative language. Oops, Franken is not available in "fly over country."

P.P.S.: And one more item. You mentioned the additional taxes on casinos as a source of revenue. I'm sure you were referring to our Sunday editorial in favor of Gov. Holden's idea to eliminate the loss limit and thereby generate additional state revenue. Unfortunately some people wouldn't know "fair and balanced" if it hit them in the head.