Well it seems Democratic Rep. Peter DeFazio thinks our fuel prices are too low, so he and some of his buddies in the House think we need to add another 10 cents a gallon to the federal fuel tax. What a great idea just when everyone has so much more money in their budgets. These folks need to get a grip. It's time for DeFazio to go away. — Pete Updike, Medford

Thank you for Thursday's front-page article about Connie Buchanan and friends who are meeting a real need for some of our troops in Iraq.

It was a treat to read about their initiative and help for so many military people. With predominantly negative reporting about the war, it is refreshing to learn about positive and helpful local efforts.

Summer in the Rogue Valley seems cool compared with the temperatures listed for Tikrit, Iraq. — Joanne Wilcox, Central Point

I read with interest your article regarding Gordon Smith whining about Jeff Merkley's TV ads — calling them illegal.

Why isn't Smith worrying about the nine notices of noncompliance and nine enforcement actions that the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has taken against his frozen foods factory in Pendleton? Most violations are for illegal discharge of polluted water, but he even has been cited for illegal open burning. Now that's illegal.

Maybe Smith should spend more time tending to his business instead of being a Bush clone in Washington. — Tom Dimitre, Ashland

Food and oil prices are increasing because of demand by countries with a growing middle class in Asia. Wages are falling behind inflation. During this slump, employment for men is concentrated in the two weakest sectors of the economy — manufacturing and construction.

Since 2001 the economic recovery has been weak during this time, 40 percent of the new jobs have been in housing. Housing prices are down, foreclosures are up. Housing price increases were used to supplement consumption by families before the slump.

Candidates are promising lots of costly programs and tax cuts that will cost money we don't have. Remember the federal debt is around $10 trillion and private debt $37 trillion.

Federal tax revenue has been around 19.5 percent of gross domestic product. To get more revenue you need to grow the GDP. To raise the tax rates you would reduce the GDP and reduce federal revenue.

We are spending around 21 percent of GDP. How are we going to pay for all this plus a trade deficit of $500-700 billion a year. The dollar is very weak too. Something to think about. — Art Gerds Jr., Yreka, Calif.

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