An Open Letter to Senator Patty Murray

[Senator Patty Murray, Senator from Washington since 1992, is the Democratic co-chair of the “SuperCommittee,” the group tasked with reducing the deficit. This letter was sent to her via this comment form on October 2, 2011. I encourage Washington residents to add your own voices.]


Since your appointment as co-chair of the “SuperCommittee,” you’ve probably gotten a lot of mail. No doubt a lot of people are trying to get you to move in one direction or another. After all, the decisions of your committee will likely decide the immediate financial future of this country. I am sure you know the responsibility lying on you. As a longtime supporter, I am writing to you regarding potential spending cuts that your committee may recommend.

It’s become clear that raising taxes is necessary, so long as the taxes are only on those people who actually have money, the richest. But cutting spending will be needed as well, for political purposes as well as practical ones. But what to cut?

Many Americans are calling for cuts to Medicare and Medicaid. Others are advocating cuts for defense spending.

And that puts you in a tight spot, doesn’t it?

Senator, everyone knows that you have worked hard to bring contracts and Federal money home to Washington State, and everyone knows that a lot of what you’ve brought home is defense spending, and everyone knows that you’ve gotten a fair amount of money from Boeing and other major defense contractors. So while as a Democrat you’ve staunchly defended Medicare and Medicaid, you also have a vested interest in supporting Washington’s economy, specifically by bringing home Pentagon contracts.

Let’s consider, though. When we spend money on weapons, what do we get? Death and destruction. Ideally for our enemies, often for unlucky bystanders, occasionally (war being the chaos that it is) for our own. If the weapons are used at all, of course. I think all but the most bloodthirsty and xenophobic will hope and pray that they never will be.

When we spend money on health care, what do we get? Life. People living, working, thriving, and (let’s be direct) voting. And health care is something we definitely will use.

In these times, can we afford to build bombs we hope we’ll never drop, missiles we hope we’ll never launch? In these times, can we afford the luxury of war? Or should we bend our efforts and our treasure to the necessity of life?

The answer is, in part, in your hands.

Your longtime supporter,

Paul Christiansen

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