Virginia senators were elected to lead, not follow

I am concerned about the fiscal health of our country.Today's actions will have a major impact on future generations.Decades in the making, recent policy, legislation and executive decisions have accelerated our fiscal problem.

But the Senate leadership continues to go to the media blaming Republicans, while failing to offer any substantive solutions.In a disgraceful example of leadership, President Obama used the national stage to vilify Republicans, dodge failed policyand grandstand.

Virginians elected Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine to lead us out of this fiscal chaos, not acquiesce to failed policy. I understand the significant party pressure that my two senators are under. However, as an independent, I can acknowledge that our current problems are a result of spending.

If raising taxes is the solution, then they should not chain their actions to failed presidential leadership, but work with those who disagree.In other words, be a leader, represent Virginians, and develop solutions that work for the country -- not just the major population areas that voted Obama back into office.

Robert Schmidt


Charter schools are new form of segregation

Re: "Councilman should welcome new charter schools," Local Editorial, Feb. 14

Parents haven't enthusiastically embraced charter schools. Rather, they were pushed into sending their children to charter schools by such tactics as reducing funds and resources to the black public schools and closing them.

The result is the rapidly developing segregated school system with underfunded charter schools for black children and well-funded and highly innovative public schools for white children.

D.C. Councilmember David Catania is correct in trying to stop this vile situation from proceeding.

Charles M. Bagenstose

Upper Marlboro

Transit benefit worthless unless you have a job

In January it was fear of the fiscal cliff. Now it's sequestration. While much of the reasoning behind budget reductions is undeniably being politically spun in both directions, the underlying realities of tough budget constraints have been heavily reported on these and other pages.

This month, as difficult, often personally life-changing decisions are being made regarding furloughs and reductions in force, a costly employee benefit slid through. For the last two years, many federal employees who use public transportation to commute in the D.C. area have paid a significant portion of their commuting costs. The federal subsidy was just that, only a subsidy.

With the subsidy increased to cover many employees' full commuting costs, the personal fiscal pressure has been reduced. Considering that there are over 302,000 federal employees in the commuting area, multiplied by what possibly could be a $200 increase for each, this federal employee benefit could cost taxpayers as much as $60 million.

While the gesture is greatly appreciated, it just seems awkward that it has been extended at this time. It's even more awkward that Congress made the decision to spend this money as part of fiscal cliff avoidance discussions.

For me personally, this change means that my transportation costs will be fully paid for in the future. However my reason for commuting -- my job -- may not exist much longer.

Jeff Wright