- The Washington Times - Monday, January 31, 2000

Hey, big spender

When congressional Republicans passed legislation last year that would have cut taxes by an average of $79 billion a year, President Clinton denounced it as "reckless."
However, Mr. Clinton, in his State of the Union address last week, proposed new spending that would total $125.8 billion a year, according to a study by the National Taxpayers Union Foundation.
When you add in the $14.6 billion in targeted tax breaks proposed by Mr. Clinton, the total comes to $140.4 billion a year.
The NTUF said Mr. Clinton called for an additional $1.6 billion in new federal initiatives for every minute of his 89-minute speech.

Snow job

"Let's concede that everyone hates Washington, but Vice President Al Gore's attack on our snow-handling ability was low," Paul Bedard writes in U.S. News & World Report.
" 'In Washington, you get one flake and forget it,' the Washingtonian sneered in New Hampshire. Really? When's the last time he shoveled snow?" Mr. Bedard wondered.
"To see, we hobbled out to ice-covered Wisconsin Avenue and put $1.10 in a Metrobus fare box for a ride to Gore's government pad on the Naval Observatory grounds. There, we saw that federal workers had cleared the driveway, running path and walkway and had limos ready for Gore's beck and call. Why, we don't know, since he helicoptered home overhead as we shivered outside.
"And he's a bad neighbor. His people didn't clear away the snow and ice at the bus stop just outside the entrance to the observatory."

PETA protests

The tight script of New Hampshire campaigning received a jolt yesterday as police removed a person dressed as a pig from an event for Texas Gov. George W. Bush.
Toward the end of a rally at Alvine High School in Hudson the pig entered and jumped on a companion's shoulders. The pig waved a sign saying "Tax meat" until town police officers and Bush security personnel hustled the pair out the front door.
"They're not going to get arrested unless they do something silly," an officer explained as the brightly dressed pig was escorted to the parking lot.
A pair of costumed pigs have been a fixture at political rallies in Iowa and New Hampshire this year. Sent by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, they drive around the state in a convertible.

To tell the truth

"It's not fair that Bill Bradley should have to single-handedly keep Al Gore honest," the Weekly Standard's "Scrapbook" column says. "That's too much work for any man along."
The magazine noted Mr. Gore's, er, misrepresentation of his abortion record denying that he took pro-life positions years ago as a young congressman. But the "most egregious" whopper was "Gore's preposterous claim that 'the Clinton-Gore administration has ended the deepest recession since the 1930s.' This is fiction through and through.
"As Lawrence Lindsey pointed out in an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal last week, the infamous recession of 1991-92 in fact lasted only two successive quarters, 'the shortest period that meets the definition of recession.' And that short recession was not nearly so severe as those of say, 1974 and 1982, which Al Gore presumably should remember."

Danger for Bush

"GOP doubts about Mr. McCain concern his barely Republican agenda. Doubts about Mr. Bush concern his toughness and agility," writes Wall Street Journal columnist Paul Gigot.
"The danger for Mr. Bush now is that Republican voters who've watched the Gore machine roll over Mr. Bradley might begin to wonder if the likable Texas governor is tough enough to win. Al Gore isn't the Ann Richards he defeated in Texas in 1994," Mr. Gigot said.
"The lesson of the Bradley campaign is that Americans don't want a leader who wants to 'change politics.' They have to be given a reason to use politics to change their leaders."

Of church and state

"One thing is clear: The era of strict separation is over," legal analyst Jeffrey Rosen writes, referring to the supposed wall between church and state.
"For a surprisingly brief period, from the early 1970s to the late 1980s, strict separationism commanded the support of a majority of Supreme Court justices. During the separationist era, even after-school prayer disappeared from public schools, as did creches from City Hall Christmas displays unless they were accompanied by plastic animals," Mr. Rosen noted in the New York Times Magazine.
"Religious conservatives complained that the courts had banished religion from American public life and were enforcing a rigidly secular ideology that prohibited the faithful from expressing their beliefs except behind closed doors. But thanks to a paradigm shift in the courts that religious conservatives have been slow to acknowledge, traditional defenders of church-state separation are increasingly on the defensive, legally and politically.
"The Supreme Court is on the verge of replacing the principle of strict separation with a very different constitutional principle that demands equal treatment for religion. And far from threatening public life, or for that matter religious liberty, the revived cooperation between church and state may be an inevitable and perhaps even healthy result of treating religion as just another aspect of identity politics in a multicultural age."

Poor California

"In presidential politics, California gets treated like Charlie Brown. Whenever Charlie runs up to kick the football, Lucy yanks it out from his foot. Here, boot the ball. Splat."
So writes Los Angeles Times columnist George Skelton.
"The last two presidential elections, this behemoth state has run up to kick the ball, moving its primary from June to March. Surely this time, California assumes, it will exert 'clout' in the nominating process. But, again, Iowa and New Hampshire yank away the football," Mr. Skelton said.
In 1996, the state moved up its primary to March 26. But so many other states moved up their own primaries that it didn't matter. Bob Dole already had sewn up the nomination.
"Next time we'll show ya, California thought. It moved the primary up again, by three additional weeks. Then a crowd gathered. And on March 7, there will be 15 states holding primaries or caucuses, including New York. This is called 'front-loading' the system. And nearly everybody is complaining."

Funeral costs

Florida legislators billed the state nearly $20,000 for the cost of attending the funeral of Gov. Lawton Chiles in 1998, the Florida Times-Union reported yesterday.
Fifty-three legislators spent up to three days traveling to Tallahassee for the Democratic governor's funeral, billing the state for hotel stays, meals and rental cars, the newspaper said, citing public records.
"That would strike many constituents as … perhaps not a good use of their dollars," said Pete Sepp, spokesman for the Washington-based National Taxpayers Union.
But some legislators who attended the funeral were upset anyone would question the expense, the Associated Press reports.
Edie Ousley, spokeswoman for Republican state Senate President Toni Jennings, called the issue "nitpicking." She said legislators were compelled to attend the governor's funeral on behalf of constituents.
Lawmakers are routinely reimbursed for expenses deemed "official business."
Mr. Chiles died of heart disease on Dec. 12, 1998.

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