- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 16, 1999

The highway lobby is a frustrated bunch

Your editorial favoring a ban on government grants to any group that lobbies or litigates took the highway lobby’s latest campaign spin hook, line and sinker (” Smart growth’ and shady methods,” Dec. 6).
Just to be clear, Environmental Protection Agency funding has enabled the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) to engage in several cooperative programs with business and government agencies. This support has allowed us to do work we otherwise would not have been able to undertake for example, promoting tax policies beneficial to those who use mass transit or ride sharing or promoting mass transit commuting. As a part of that funding, EDF is audited annually and always has met federal auditing standards and laws, including those prohibiting use of such funding for litigation or lobbying.
On the other hand, road builders get more than 100 billion taxpayer dollars annually in federal support funding that often results in more sprawl, traffic congestion and air pollution. In non-EPA-funded litigation, we challenged the road builders’ ability to duck environmental laws, by insisting that such money be spent in ways that comply with the Clean Air Act. The courts agreed, stating clearly that new roads should fit within a community’s efforts to clean up its air. Simply put, that decision has frustrated the highway lobby. Perhaps that is why the road builders are going after groups such as EDF.
We would urge them, and you, to work instead for policies that help create livable communities with transportation choices. That’s the best way to make sure these taxpayer dollars are used wisely and well.
MICHAEL REPLOGLE
Federal transportation director
Environmental Defense Fund
Washington

Times' story distorts group's critique of Bush tax plan

I was dismayed to discover in the Dec. 12 article, “Pro-family groups back Bush on tax cut,” that the Family Research Council (FRC) and myself were painted as enthusiastic supporters of Texas Gov. George W. Bush’s proposed tax plan. The story misrepresents our position by selectively omitting several substantial criticisms of the Bush proposal I provided to your reporter during the interview.
The point I stressed most emphatically to The Washington Times was that Mr. Bush’s tax plan does not satisfactorily address the marriage penalty. As I told your reporter, Mr. Bush should have endorsed the consensus marriage-penalty relief package that pro-family groups and legislators already have been promoting.
The Times failed to report my stated opposition to Mr. Bush’s provision that would give up to a $3,000 exemption to dual-income families at the expense of single-income families. Anyone who knows the FRC knows we would never support a policy that is biased against single-income families with stay-at-home parents.
The reporter also omitted my point that the FRC advocates tripling the $500 per-child tax credit, not just doubling it, as in Mr. Bush’s proposal. The FRC also is on record as favoring much more fundamental tax reduction and reform than Mr. Bush provides for in his plan.
Mr. Bush’s plan has cons, as well as pros. Your reporter’s simplistic “for” or “against” approach did justice neither to the reader’s understanding of the Bush tax proposal, nor to my critique of it.
THOMAS C. ATWOOD
Vice president of policy and programs
Family Research Council
Washington

'Tis the season to give Maryland residents a tax cut

With an anticipated record budget surplus of nearly $1 billion (yes, $1 billion), Maryland taxpayers are still waiting for a much needed tax cut.
In this post-big government era, Maryland’s big government is still spending itself right into obesity. One shouldn’t expect anything less, however, considering the history of tax cuts in Maryland.
One must question how states that are larger and more populated can give tax cuts to their residents, but in these unprecedented times of economic prosperity, Maryland continues to suffer under such a heavy tax burden. The answer is that the tax-and-spend liberal establishment controls the state.
Maryland is essentially a one-party system, and the liberal Democrats who control the state do not feel any pressure to comply with constituent requests. The Dec. 1 Gaithersburg Gazette reported the word coming from lawmakers is the surplus is already tagged for increased spending on programs. No one is talking about tax cuts. The last thing Maryland needs is more spending on programs.
The priority should not be using the surplus to fund every program on Gov. Parris N. Glendening’s and the Democrats’ wish list. Instead, the priority should be rewarding those who are responsible for the budget surplus the hardworking and overtaxed Maryland residents.
If a tax cut is not implemented, the exodus of residents and businesses to neighboring states that offer tax cuts will only continue, and in even greater numbers.
Mr. Glendening, now that the season of giving is approaching, why not give Maryland residents the greatest gift of all a tax cut?
CHRISTOPHER B. SUMMERS
Gaithersburg

More to 'organized anarchy' than columnist discusses

Balint Vazsonyi blatantly misses the most egregious example of “Organized anarchy” (Commentary, Dec. 7) present in today’s world. Anarchy is advanced most by those who oppose any form of global governance. Almost daily there are more examples in the world where an absence of the rule of law governing international affairs permits, even encourages, blatant crimes against humanity ranging from genocide to terrorism.
National governments can murder their own people by the tens of thousands, terrorists can hide in sovereign states and corrupt political regimes can siphon billions of dollars to offshore accounts. There may be some anarchy in our courts, as Mr. Vazsonyi states, but the absence of any permanent international criminal court to deal with the organized anarchy of governments is one of the world’s greatest problems. The continuance of this anarchic situation is an organized objective of some government officials around the world. One hundred twenty nations, including all of our allies, did sign the treaty establishing such a court; the United States did not.
According to a study by Gregory Stanton, an expert on genocide, more than 22 million men, women and children have been killed by their own governments in 140 instances of genocide since the world said “never again” after the Nuremberg trials in Germany following World War II. The creation of a United Nations was intended to prevent international conflict, but did not address the conflicts within nations that violate the basic human rights of sovereign people. Those who oppose a reform of the United Nations to make it more democratic and give it the power to prevent global chaos are the ones most responsible for organized global anarchy.
Now, the World Trade Organization (WTO) comes along without democratic representation, operating behind closed doors and having no affiliation with the United Nations or its noble goals and expects law abiding citizens of every democratic and non-democratic nation to accept the economic and environmental anarchy that its policies bring to their lives. Destroying the WTO is not the answer. Reforming it by making it accountable to the people of the world through more democratic processes and open information on its deliberations is the solution.
Mr. Vazsonyi might agree that the “rule of law” (made and enforced by democratically elected governments, equally applied to all people and based on certain inalienable human rights) is the greatest weapon we have against anarchy. It seems obvious that Mr. Vazsonyi should be working for it on the global level rather than looking for scapegoats on whom to blame the world’s current problems.
STEVE DAMOURS
Montgomery Village

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