Pondering the President's Words

"By the President of the United States of America: A Proclamation," Nov. 26, is a thinly veiled political device. And how hypocritical for a president who has done almost nothing for the lower classes to declare: "In this great Nation, we have a special obligation to care for the ill and the destitute as if the president has no power on the national level to help the poor and needy. True, individual help is needed - and always has been given - but the president should do his best to implement the wishes of the people, a people already committed to helping the poor. Andrew S. Blander, Beaverton, Ore.

President Bush calls upon the American people to give thanks that "we were spared the terrible consequences of a long and protracted struggle" in the Persian Gulf war. For this we should be thankful. However, for the people of Iraq the war continues. An estimated 170,000 Iraqi children will die this year from malnutrition. How can we give thanks for a war, no matter how short, that has brought poverty, hunger, and despair to hundreds of thousands of innocent people - even if they are not American? I chal lenge the president to devise a plan to help the people of Iraq who have not been "spared the terrible consequences" of the war, and not just be thankful for those who have. Jennifer Hickey, North Adams, Mass.

Unemployment benefits and the budget Regarding the opinion-page article "Unemployment Benefits Debacle," Nov. 19: The president was right to try to prevent the additional payments from unraveling the budget agreement. Charging the costs over into next year's budget may pressure the big spenders into holding the line a bit. Under the circumstances, the government needed to take steps to tide the unemployed over. But when will Congress learn that we need to reduce the cost of government, live within our means, and bring our deficit and national debt down to zero? Rose Addy, West Palm Beach, Fla.

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