Ric on Ric

While I appreciate Orlando Weekly's efforts to let Central Floridians know "What's up with Ric?™" `Happytown™, Feb. 9`, you missed the mark in your recent column on student aid.

The Deficit Reduction Act that I voted for last week saves billions of dollars for American taxpayers, but not one penny will come from money to help needy students go to college. In fact, the bill will strengthen student loan programs for years to come.

Since I was elected in 2000, I've led the fight to increase Pell Grant funding from $7.6 billion to $13.2 billion. The maximum grant has gone from $3,300 to $4,050 today. The number of students receiving Pell Grants has increased from 3.9 million in 2000 to 5.5 million today. On student loan interest rates, the Deficit Reduction Act allows current law to take effect, preventing rising interest rates from going above 6.8 percent. In other words, there will be no increase in the interest rates for student loans. The 6.8 percent rate was something that was agreed to in 2002 by student groups, Republican congressmen and Democratic congressmen. The bill drops the fee on students who open a new loan from 4 percent to 1 percent, letting students keep more of what they borrow. The bill achieves much of its education-related savings not by taking money away from students, but by cutting back on excess subsidies to the flourishing student lender business. Accordingly, some bankers may have something to complain about, but not students.

The simple truth is that not one student will lose a penny under this bill. By reducing the deficit and reforming outdated programs, we've improved student aid and helped increase college access.

Ric Keller, Orlando

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In your review of protest groups published on Feb. 9 `Happytown™`, you forgot a key group in your ratings. This group is commonly known as the "do-nothing-and-sit-on-your-ass-and-bitch" group. This group has a huge membership and is superceded only by the membership of "morons-that-still-have-Bush/Cheney ‘04-bumper-stickers-on-their-cars" group.

While the review stated that the protest groups were not up to par, I believe their efforts were far more productive than the "inactions" of the groups mentioned above. I believe that anyone who tries to make a difference and protest this anal-retentive, right-wing, coalition-of-the-Christian, moral-majority, axis-of-evil, ban-gay-marriage, pro-life-yet-pro-war, lie-believing country we live in deserves credit for their efforts. The "do-nothing-and-sit-on-your-ass-and-bitch" group is the one that deserves the F-.

L. Klein, Longwood

Owen, Clive Owen

I could not agree with you more re: Clive Owen `Film, Feb. 9`. He's as close to Sean Connery as it gets, and not casting him as 007 (assuming he would accept the role if offered) is a crying shame. C'est la vie.

Ray Bradley, via the Internet

Hey, fat asses

The studies published this week indicating that a low-fat diet has negligible effect on the risk of chronic diseases validate what leading health authorities have been saying for the past decade: It's not just fat — it's the saturated fat in meat, eggs and dairy products. The studies found that women who cut down on saturated fat had a lower risk of heart disease, stroke and colon cancer.

The national nutritional consensus has been simple, direct and unwavering: vegetables, fruits, whole grains, unsaturated fats — good; saturated fats and cholesterol (present only in animal products), trans fats, sugar, salt — bad.

Oscar Velez, Orlando


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