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GOP Contract Opponents Miss Opportunity for Debate

In recent letters responding to the column Ricardo Egozcue '96 wrote ["Contract With America Far from Fascist," April 4], Adam C. Powell IV G and Marlo V. Kemp '96 ["Get More Perspectives on Contract," "GOP Contract Offers No Benefits for Many," April 11] seem to have missed the point.

Hardly anyone, most Republican Congressmen included, would defend every element of the Contract with America. The problem that Egozcue accurately identified is that opponents of the Contract with America have substituted hateful, dishonest, and divisive language for intelligent debate. Holding a rally on the steps of the Student Center in which supporters of the contract are denounced as racists and fascists hardly improves the quality of the dialogue. Neither do wild distortions.

Take for example the alleged Republican "cuts" to school lunch programs. Republicans have called for a 4.1 percent increase per year for five years in the size of the school lunch subsidy, approximately 1 percent per year less than their Democratic counterparts. The Republicans also want to relax federal regulations on how the money can be spent so that states will be able to give more of the subsidy to families that actually need the help. Yet opponents of the contract have accused the Republicans of "taking food out of the mouths of children". A person hearing such language might easily walk away with the impression that the school lunch subsidies are being eliminated entirely.

During the last 100 days, we have witnessed something truly incredible. By honoring their election promises, revoking special congressional exemptions, and cutting their own budget before asking the rest of the American people to sacrifice, Republicans have restored a smidgen of the integrity that the United States government once had. It is therefore shameful that during this same period of time, the opponents of the contract have sunk to spouting the same kind of divisive, hateful language with which the Republicans were once associated.

No one wants to put an end to artistic endeavor or see Americans dying of starvation. No one wants to take food out of the mouths of children or kick the elderly out on the street. But as a nation with a $5 trillion debt and no end to our social problems in sight, we have some difficult choices to make. If opponents of the contract believe that name calling will halt the changes being instituted by the Republican Congress, they are sadly deluded.

It is time for the liberal wing of the Democratic party to start debating the content of the Contract with America and stop playing upon the fears of the American people.

Jason W. Solinsky '95