- The Washington Times - Monday, June 25, 2001

Change of mind

Child psychologist Wade F. Horn, nominated for a top administration post on children and families, says he no longer thinks it´s a good idea to give married couples preference over single parents in some welfare services — a position that had aroused the wrath of liberal groups.

The Senate Finance Committee last week held a hearing for five White House nominees, including Mr. Horn.

Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV, West Virginia Democrat, introduced Mr. Horn, president of the National Fatherhood Initiative, as a "highly credentialed" and "vastly experienced" candidate about whose commitment to children and family "there is no doubt whatsoever."

Mr. Rockefeller, however, wanted to know more about Mr. Horn´s recommendation a few years ago that state officials encourage marriage by giving preference to married couples over single parents in some welfare services.

That recommendation is one reason the National Organization for Women and other liberal groups oppose Mr. Horn´s nomination.

"I have listened thoughtfully to critics of that particular recommendation over the years, and have come to the conclusion that it is neither a viable nor helpful recommendation, and that it is, in fact, a divisive recommendation and one that I no longer hold to," Mr. Horn told the Senate panel.

In fact, when the Hudson Institute recently reprinted its report, Mr. Horn said, he made sure the offending recommendation was deleted.

"I´ve now come to the conclusion," he said, "that the far better way of supporting marriage is to help couples who choose marriage for themselves [get] the skills and knowledge" to form stable, healthy marriages.

Mr. Horn´s nomination to be assistant secretary for family support at the Department of Health and Human Services was subsequently cleared for a Senate floor vote.


Trade-vote strategy

U.S. Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick is cautiously optimistic the Bush administration will get congressional approval of fast-track legislation that would allow the president to negotiate trade agreements that Congress could reject but not amend.

Mr. Zoellick was asked about the measure´s prospects in an interview Saturday on CNN´s "Evans, Novak, Hunt & Shields."

"Good, but it´s going to take a lot of hard work," Mr. Zoellick replied.

He added: "This is an issue that has broken down differently in the Senate than the House. The Senate support is usually stronger, both Democrats and Republicans, because they represent broader constituencies, see the benefits of trade.

"In the House, it´s been harder. And frankly on the Democratic side, it´s been the hardest. Even President Clinton in ´97, when he last really tried at this, probably only could get about 40 members out of over 200 in his own party to support him on the issue," Mr. Zoellick said.

But the trade representative made it clear he does not believe the outlook for what is now called trade promotion authority is even bleaker today, given that there is now a Republican president in the White House.

Mr. Zoellick described the 40 House Democrats who supported fast-track authority four years ago as people who were "pretty committed to trade."

"So, frankly, we expect to pick up more Republican votes with a Republican president and try to hold as many of those Democratic votes as possible," he said.


Targeting Jeb

Florida Democrats at a fund-raising dinner took in $750,000 Saturday night for the state party in an effort to challenge incumbent Republican Gov. Jeb Bush, and among those who spoke to the crowd was former Attorney General Janet Reno.

Attendance at the annual Jefferson Jackson dinner in Miami Beach doubled this year to 1,500, enabling the party to triple the $200,000 it collected in 2000, Gary Barron, a longtime Democratic fund-raiser, told Reuters news agency.

"It has a lot to do with November," Mr. Barron said yesterday. "There´s still widespread outrage that the [presidential] election was taken from a popular-elected candidate."

In addition to Connecticut senator and former vice presidential candidate Joseph I. Lieberman, six potential Democratic gubernatorial candidates addressed the crowd, most notably Miss Reno.

The others were Tampa lawyer Bill McBride; Tallahassee Mayor Scott Maddox; state Sen. Daryl Jones of Miami, Lois Frankel, the House minority leader in West Palm Beach, and U.S. Rep. Jim Davis of Tampa.

Only Mr. Jones officially announced his candidacy.

Miss Reno, who had announced in late May she would consider a bid for governor, said: "The voices of every single Floridian should be heard, not just the voices of the rich and well-connected."


Lott´s answer

Senate Republican leader Trent Lott said yesterday he was open to a "reasonable" increase in the gasoline mileage of cars and light trucks required by the federal government.

"I´m open to reasonable increases that hopefully won´t have too much of an adverse effect on the working family," said Mr. Lott, a Mississippi Republican, on NBC´s "Meet the Press," saying he wanted to "take a look" at the issue.

As part of its new national energy plan, the Bush administration is waiting for next month´s release of a study by the National Academy of Sciences before deciding whether to raise the fuel standards set by Congress in 1975 after the Arab oil embargo.

The current standards require passenger cars to get an average 27.5 miles per gallon and light trucks 20.7 miles. Light trucks were given lower standard because at the time they were used mostly by farmers and businesses.

But today the category includes gas-guzzling sport utility vehicles (SUVs), pickups and minivans that account for about half the vehicles sold in the United States.

"The American people with large families are opting for these SUVs or vans," Mr. Lott said. "I think that we should encourage conservation and perhaps that percentage per mile, per gallon can be raised without, you know, difficulty for the working family in America."


Quayle for governor?

"Talk to any Dan Quayle loyalist — yes, they´re out there — and you always hear how young he is at 54. But minus a short bid for the presidency in 2000, there hasn´t been much follow-through on the political teases about the former vice president´s future. Until now," Paul Bedard writes in U.S. News & World Report´s "Washington Whispers" column.

"Arizona GOP sources tell Whispers that they´ve been urging the much maligned conservative to run for governor in 2002. And we hear that the transplanted former Indiana congressman and senator, now a banker and consultant, is 'seriously considering it.´ A decision is only weeks off," Mr. Bedard said.

"He was goosed by a new poll showing he was the pick of registered Republicans over the likely front-runner, former Rep. Matt Salmon. Quayle is considering several hurdles: the image of him misspelling 'potato´ and spending a year introducing himself to Arizona. Insiders say his election could 'put Arizona on the political map´ because of Quayle´s experience and name, good or bad. And it could also set him on the return path to — you guessed it — the White House."


The top 10

The liberal magazine Mother Jones has issued its annual list of the nation´s 400 top political contributors, and the top 10 names on the list "are all Democrats — except for Cincinnati mogul Carl Lindner, who gives to both parties," United Press International reports in its "Capital Comment" column.

"Others in the top ten include former Slim-Fast Chairman S. Daniel Abraham (1), Loral CEO Bernard Schwartz (2), Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos (7), and Haim Saban, CEO of Fox Family and the man who brought the Power Rangers to America (5)."

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