Let states pay for Sandy damage

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan told a Senate subcommittee that he didn't know how much the administration would be requesting to pay for the Sandy recovery in New York and New Jersey, but that the request should be voted on promptly, without touching spending in other programs ("Aides: $50B sought for recovery," Thursday). The justification seems to be the president's desire not to leave these states to fend for themselves.

In a very few words, Donovan has explained why our country is facing a fiscal cliff. He is asking for a commitment to approve an undetermined amount of money without letting it affect any other programs. The solution, once again, is to simply borrow more money and go deeper into debt.

Is it really necessary that the federal government foot this bill? Shouldn't property owners and state governments have a responsibility in this regard? Should Congress continue to recklessly add to our deficit? Most individuals have to adjust their spending when faced with unforeseen circumstances. Shouldn't our grossly indebted government have to apply the same logic and discipline? The administration's attitude shows that falling off the fiscal cliff is inevitable - if not this year, soon.

Michael E. Bail, Norristown

Kinney columns will be missed

As soon as I read the headline of Monica Yant Kinney's column Sunday ("11 years, 1,061 columns later, a farewell"), I felt like I was about to lose a friend. Although I only wrote to her once, maybe twice, I was a devoted reader from the beginning. Not that I always agreed with her view, but I loved her writing, her passion.

The articles over the years about Philadelphia City Council were by far my favorites. I guess times have changed, and if she must leave, I wish her much success at Penn (my alma mater, and my husband's). Future colleagues and associates of hers are lucky to have this opportunity.

Mallary Hatch, Dresher

SEPTA should run bike-share

In reading Paul Nussbaum's article Saturday, "Money sought for bike sharing," I could not help but notice that the timelines for implementing the proposed bike-share program and the proposed SEPTA smart-card system are very similar. I strongly urge SEPTA to be among the bidders to run the bike-share program.

SEPTA smart-cards can have value added to them by people of all means and not be restricted to those who own a bank card. Additionally, because SEPTA already possesses immense knowledge about this city's transit needs, it would be uniquely positioned to integrate a bike-share program with other regional transportation options.

Finally, SEPTA has made great strides in recent years to be a leader in sustainable mass-transit systems. This program would fit in seamlessly with those efforts.

James Cutler, Philadelphia, jamespcutler@gmail.com

Bush didn't budget the wars

A letter Sunday, "Crumbs or huge tax increase?," criticizes President Obama's proposed expiration of the Bush tax cuts and, in partial justification, states that "the budget was almost balanced in 2007."

What that writer avoids mentioning, as does everyone who makes that statement, is that President George W. Bush kept the Iraq and Afghanistan wars off-budget. Had Bush put those wars in his budgets, the 2007 budget would have been nowhere near balanced. As a step toward fiscal honesty, Obama put both wars in the budget.

Virginia Klipstein, Glenside

Don't need second coronation

We are a nation that reveres its history and traditions, but does that always make sense?

President Obama, elected in 2008, was duly inaugurated with the appropriate (and traditional) pomp and circumstance in January 2009. He has been our president for four years, and upon his recent reelection, he still is. Why do we need a second coronation when nothing has changed with his remaining in the White House for another term so he can continue his reign?

While much of the tens of millions in expenses associated with yet another inauguration may come out of the pockets of donors (lobbyists), the taxpayer stills foots the bill for many more millions by funding security, the ceremony at the Capitol, and a luncheon.

We should forgo a second inaugural for the same president, especially in economically stressed times such as the one we're living in.

Hans Bombeck, Philadelphia

Roll the dice on Syria

Trudy Rubin ("U.S. still refusing to aid rebels," Sunday) provides a perceptive analysis of the Syrian crisis. The United States has two options, neither risk-free. One, continue to seek a political solution while Qatar and Saudi Arabia determine the probable outcome by supplying arms to Islamist militants opposed to Western interests. Two, take the lead in military intervention, running the risk of unintended consequences.

Rubin favors the second option - taking our chances that we could could unseat Bashar al-Assad and install pro-West successors with minimal collateral damage, as opposed to the certainty that Islamist victors would be a major thorn in our side. If one concedes that foreign policy is a roll of the dice, it seems best to join the fight.

James Miles, Collingdale, jxxphilly@gmail.com

State should run our lottery

Gov. Corbett, without any legislative hearings, is attempting to sell the lottery system to a foreign company that has set up an office in Delaware to avoid paying taxes in Pennsylvania.

The lottery system provides many benefits to the seniors of Pennsylvania at no cost to the taxpayer, and none of the revenue accrued by the lottery is put into the general fund. Seniors should be demanding to know why there is a need to privatize this asset when last year it had its highest profits ever. Corbett is ready to sell off our seniors to a company that would eliminate more than 200 jobs and, in the end, reduce benefits to our seniors.

We should be flooding the governor's office with calls demanding answers. You can also go to www.protectourlottery.com to join our coalition.

Tom Tosti, director, AFSCME District Council 88, Plymouth Meeting

Attend school where you live

Why is it so difficult for people to understand that the law says their children have to attend school in the district where they live, not wherever they choose to send them? Our family skimped and sacrificed to pay the additional taxes necessary for our kids to attend good schools, and I take offense when someone who lives in a different district illegally sends her children to better schools. All children should have a good education, but until the system is changed, the law is the law.

Mike Krakovitz, Drexel Hill, mike@mksremodeling.com