How will Trump pay for big plans?

There is a saying: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn't. President Trump's address to a joint session of Congress serves as an example ("A call to action," Wednesday).

In the speech, Trump promised massive increases in spending for the military, veterans' benefits, infrastructure, and tax cuts. He never once offered a realistic picture of how this largesse will be paid for.

Others in his administration talk of how a combination of tax and regulation cuts will drive a new dynamism in our economy, increasing the growth rate and generating torrents of new jobs and revenue. This theory has been touted by the Republican economists before, but it has never been validated in the real economy. It remains largely a pipe dream - likely too good to be true.

Without unleashing this economic growth, Trump's agenda will unleash a deluge of new national debt - a debt the Republican Party has railed against for years. It will be fascinating to watch the gyrations of the Republicans in Congress as they try to reconcile Trump's budget-busting proposals with their long-held conservative ideology.

|Ken Derow, Swarthmore

Voted for the right candidate

I'm a Democrat, and President Trump's speech to Congress only reinforced my conviction that I made the right choice to vote for him in November.

New York Sen. Charles Schumer's gang and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's snowflakes looked pathetic. Their behavior and self-righteous attitude certainly did not endear many voters to the Democratic Party.

|Al Zvarik, Collegeville

Little faith in Trump's generals

Unlike Trudy Rubin ("Worlds apart at White House," Sunday), I am only marginally encouraged that a military general who supported and successfully executed a failed strategy of tank warfare in what became a guerilla operation, for the first Gulf War, or another who successfully executed Gen. David Petraeus' failed strategy of counterinsurgency - both of which lacked a component of meaningful democracy, meaningful local payback, or ethnic and religious fairness for Iraq's or Afghanistan's hodgepodge of European colonial borders - would beat out an alt-right military and diplomatic ignoramus (who cares nothing for history or democracy, in America or elsewhere) for leadership of the National Security Council.

|Ben Burrows, Elkins Park

Wrong decision for Pinelands

The New Jersey Pinelands Commission voted Friday to allow the South Jersey Gas Co. to build a pipeline through 10 miles of protected forest ("A raucous vote," Saturday). This is in clear violation of the commission's rules against this type of destruction to streams, wetlands, and the underlying aquifer. It is also in violation of the Pinelands Act.

The stated purpose of the 22-mile natural gas pipeline is to repower the obsolete B.L. England power plant, which the state Board of Public Utilities' study determined to be unneeded. And, of course, the cliché of job creation was thrown around by supporters. So, the tradeoff is potential catastrophic damage to the 17 trillion-gallon aquifer in favor of a few temporary construction jobs. This endangered source of clean water is one of the largest on the East Coast.

Gov. Christie ensured this vote by peppering the commission with his shills, in addition to his puppet for executive director. His apparent goal is a gift to his fossil fuel backers.

This pipeline in the environmentally sensitive forest management area is not allowed, based on the Pinelands Management Plan, and a deviation from that plan sets a bad precedent for future projects in the protected Pinelands.

|Lee Snyder, Medford

Back bill to end gerrymandering

All citizens should be concerned that Pennsylvania has been carved up to suit politicians in ways that negates voter power. The U.S. Census sparks a once-every-10-years partisan exercise in politicians picking their voters. Elected officials get to decide who their voters will be. No other democracy allows this conflict of interest.

Communities have been carved up to diminish representation and undercut accountable government. When politicians draw maps, they shape elections before votes are cast. People feel their voice isn't heard, so they don't bother to vote, and politicians are less likely to listen to constituents.

We have a chance to change business as usual for 2021 with state Senate Bill 22, which would amend the constitution to establish an independent citizens' commission to draw the state's congressional and legislative district maps. The Senate reconvenes March 20. Contact your senator and encourage him or her to support S.B. 22.

|Connie Nour Hinkle, Pottstown

Airline staffing on the cheap

As a pilot for a major airline, I was disappointed your story did not mention why Norwegian Air International's expansion approval for transatlantic routes between three Northeast airports and Europe is protested by U.S. airlines ("Super-cheap over the Atlantic," Friday).

Norwegian is an Irish-registered airline operating under a flag of convenience. This leads to lax standards, like in the maritime industry. Norwegian hires no airline crews but fills that need by using a staffing company based in Asia. Crew members sign short-term contracts with the staffing company. Norwegian can then skirt U.S. and European Union labor laws and residency requirements. Crews based in New York or Rhode Island might not be U.S. or EU citizens or subject to work permit requirements of either.

The short-term nature of the airline's employment might mean a culture of safety is nonexistent. This is done not to get the best crews but the cheapest. Action like this decimated the U.S. maritime industry. Neither my family nor I will fly on an airline like this.

|Michael Bryant, West Chester