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Good Afternoon

Letter: Debt dates to Bush administration

Regarding "Tea party wants fiscal responsibility" [Letters, Oct. 18], the writer states, "Conservatives want spending slowed to shrink the deficit." I am sure that he will be pleased to know that the federal deficit will come in at about $642 billion this fiscal year, about the average deficit during the Bush administration, when the national debt increased $4.9 trillion. Where was the outrage when President George W. Bush was handed a budget with a surplus and then over eight years raised the national debt by 87 percent?

To better focus "outrage" over the $6 trillion increase in the last five years, it might help everyone to know what that's made up of: $5.1 trillion of that is due to Bush policies, including $1.8 trillion in tax cuts, nearly $900 billion for the unfunded wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, $1.2 trillion of spending on defense programs initiated by the Bush administration, $224 billion for the Troubled Asset Relief Program bailout of financial institutions, and $180 billion for the Part D Medicare Drug Plan.

Alexander J. Kelly, Smithtown

Political games twisting health plan

There are announcements now that Obamacare isn't ready for implementation ["Sign-up for health care extended," News, Oct. 29]. Chief executives of big insurance companies have been to the White House and said that garbled and incorrect data are being sent to them from the website. Users are getting wrong insurance rate quotes.

Now nine Democratic senators are working on a bill to delay the individual mandate. And for this, they insisted it was ready and closed the government for 16 days! All for political reasons. Sicker people are going to sign up right away, and healthy people are going to delay signing up and not pay until they have to, causing another unfunded mandate.

This is just shameful and a train wreck.

Dr. Edward Stroh, Rockville Centre

Preventing suicide on Long Island

Very quietly, the Office of Mental Health released a report last month, "Suicide as a Never Event in New York State," indicating that among people receiving mental health care in 2012, Long Island had higher rates of suicide than anywhere else in the state. In our region between 2009 and 2012, the rate of completed suicides actually rose by 45 percent. It's an astounding statistic.

Yet with much fanfare, the agency released its plan for Regional Centers of Excellence that for Long Island means the elimination of all inpatient beds at Sagamore Children's Psychiatric Center ["Defending Sagamore," News, Aug. 28]. Odd, since the report on suicide explains that people in inpatient services committing suicide have declined by 18 percent, while suicides in outpatient programs have increased by 28 percent. Wouldn't it make sense to keep the inpatient beds open if we want to prevent suicide? Sagamore has not had a suicide in any of its programs for more than 30 years.

The agency says it wants to "right size" the system. The right size for children's inpatient beds on Long Island is not zero. Let's not confuse the "right sizing" of the state budget with the "right sizing" of services for the mentally ill.

Dennis Dubey, Port Jefferson

Editor's note: The writer is the former executive director of the Sagamore Children's Psychiatric Center in Dix Hills.