The Baltimore Sun

Investing in rail is right stimulus

Much of the discussion regarding the stimulus plan appears to focus on the size of tax cuts and the speed with which money will flow into the economy. But I would urge our senators and representatives to closely read Frank Luntz's column on American priorities ("Rebuilding effort," Commentary, Jan. 26).

According to Mr. Luntz, more than 80 percent of Americans want more investment in our infrastructure, and more than 80 percent are willing to pay 1 percent more taxes to pay for that, including 74 percent of Republicans.

And although Mr. Luntz did not mention rail infrastructure in his surveys, I believe many people are looking for fast, reliable and environmentally friendly alternatives for commuting and for intercity travel.

Well-developed plans for intercity rail projects around the country have been "on the shelf" for years, waiting for funding.

The October 2008 Amtrak reauthorization bill moves some of these plans forward incrementally, but more and faster funding could rapidly advance the programs.

I urge President Barack Obama and Congress to listen to what the American people want, and invest the stimulus in America's future with solid infrastructure investments.

Deborah Matherly, Columbia

The writer is a transportation planner of an architectural and engineering consulting firm.

Send stimulus money right to laid-off workers

As the nation's workers grapple with massive layoffs ("Troubling signs," Jan. 27) and Congress prepares legislation to stimulate the economy, why not connect the dots: Make laid-off workers the recipients of the federal money to be earmarked for the economic stimulus.

In other words, if you're laid off, you would still get the same paycheck.

That way, mortgages and car payments get paid, families avoid trauma, people can still shop and no one has to face the economic hardship that leads to child and spousal abuse, drug or alcohol use and homelessness.

Heck, let's throw in universal health care, too.

And as for businesses and banks? Well, as Republicans like to say, a rising tide lifts all boats.

Joe Surkiewicz, Baltimore

Smaller government can be key to recovery

With massive layoffs taking place in the private sector ("Troubling signs," Jan. 27), I would like to know why Gov. Martin O'Malley has not cut the size of state government substantially ("Budget cuts held as state awaits stimulus," Jan. 27).

The way out of this recession is lower taxes and less government.

The governor should lead by example.

Georgie Feldman, Cambridge

Obama abortion order only adds to carnage

In his inaugural address, our new president attempted to speak eloquently about fairness and freedom. He then hurried to sign an executive order lifting the ban on U.S. support to aid groups that provide abortion services ("Obama reverses abortion funds ban," Jan. 24).

So countless more babies will be killed, and we will pay for the carnage.

What about freedom and fairness for the unborn?

Stanley A. Smith, Millers

Israel's enemies scorn Arab peace proposal

In response to the letter urging the United States to use economic pressure on Israel to accept the Arab peace initiative offer put forth by Saudi King Abdullah at the Beirut summit in 2002 ("Push Israel to accept Arab peace initiative," Jan. 25), I would note that on the day that plan was issued, the armed wing of Hamas launched a suicide bomber in Netanya, killing 20 Jewish people and injuring 170.

This suicide bomber detonated his bomb full of nails, bolts and screws to inflict maximum damage to anyone caught in its way. This attack occurred as these hotel guests were sitting down to enjoy their Seder meal and celebrate the first night of Passover.

Neither Iran nor its proxies, Hamas and Hezbollah, has ever endorsed the Saudi peace plan. Those groups have only endorsed the total annihilation of Israel.

Middle East peace will only be achieved when the moderate Arab states take back their religion from the radicals and convince their population that their lives and the lives of their children are more important than killing Jews.

Gary Stein, Reisterstown

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