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Republicans in Washington turn blind eye to Great Lakes

A NASA image of the Great Lakes.

Preserving, protecting and improving the quality of the “Great Lakes” is an ecological and societal imperative. It’s very disconcerting that the Trump administration, his EPA leader Scott Pruitt and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke are hostile to conservation efforts in marine and terrestrial habitats and opt to appease marauders, polluters and other destructive special interests.

These “leaders” are even opposed to safeguarding endangered species. 2018 might be the most important election year ever in reference to protecting vital nature havens and it’s very obvious that Washington Democrats are more sympathetic to environmental conservation than Washington Republicans are.

Brien Comerford, Glenview

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Intelligence community gets blank check

The new budget law keeping the government open for the next three weeks causes deep concern because it includes a provision which permits the transfer and spending of intelligence funds during a period without congressional authorization or approval.

The language is troublesome because it allows the intelligence community to spend funds ‘notwithstanding’ the law that requires prior authorization by the Senate Intelligence Committee or by the House Intelligence Committee. In effect, the intelligence community could expend funds as it sees fit without an authorization bill in place.

By neutering the committees, oversight is eliminated. Let’s not return to the times when Senator Frank Church called the CIA a “rogue elephant rampaging out of control.”

Appropriations Committee chairman Senator Thad Cochran included the controversial language exactly as requested by the administration, and, with his support, the budget measure was enacted into law. Hence, for the next three weeks, the House and Senate Intelligence Committees will be unable to exercise those oversight responsibilities.

This is fundamentally wrong and needs to be fixed.

Scott G. Burgh, Albany Park

No doubt, tariffs will hurt

As if it were a great “scoop,” an article in the Sun-Times proclaimed that tariffs might hurt consumers (Trump applies tariffs to solar panels, washing machines – Jan. 22). They definitely will.

A government mandated wealth transfer is bad enough but the full effect of tariffs and trade restraints is more insidious than that. As the government eliminates or diminishes the benefits of comparative advantage, the whole nation is beggared to some degree.

There is a veritable boatload of evidence to prove the antithetical result of tariffs. For starters, careful economists and historians have long known and said that tariffs exacerbated and extended the Great Depression.

Nobel laureate Milton Friedman used to explain to his students that the single most effective and efficient way to improve competition, and reap the benefits thereof, was to get rid of tariffs and the like. Apparently Trump and his advisors never took that class.

William Gottschalk, Lake Forest