- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 5, 2001

A window closes
Social Security reform appears to be dead for now, USA Today reports.
"Not long ago, the stars seemed to be moving into alignment for a fundamental change in Social Security that would add individual investment accounts to the system a step that proponents argue would help finance the retirement of the baby-boom generation," reporter Susan Page writes.
"President Bush campaigned for the idea. The public proved receptive. Federal budget deficits became surpluses that could finance the change. And peace and prosperity meant policy-makers could focus on the issue.
"That was then.
"Now, things have soured. The Social Security commission that President Bush appointed in the spring still will release its final report later this month, a report that was supposed to propel the initiative forward.
"But the panel, even though it was handpicked to include only supporters of individual accounts, hasn't been able to agree on a particular plan. And the political and economic climate has changed so much that even advocates acknowledge that action will be years away.
"A window of opportunity has closed, at least for now, on one of Bush's boldest campaign promises."

'Obnoxious' scofflaw?
"Victoria Wilson of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights apparently wants to be a commissioner for life," John J. Miller and Ramesh Ponnuru write at www.nationalreview.com.
"She recently announced her intention not to resign, even though her six-year term formally expired last week. She was appointed in 2000 to complete the term of the late Leon Higginbotham, but now she argues that she's entitled to a full six-year term rather than the remainder of Higginbotham's. This would keep her in office until 2006. The White House says her time is up; commission chair Mary Frances Berry accepts Wilson's self-serving interpretation of the law," the writers said.
"Berry and Wilson made clear their disdain for the rule of law this summer, when they (and four other liberal commissioners) released a controversial report on the 2000 presidential election in Florida. They suggested that George W. Bush carried the state because of a racist conspiracy to suppress black votes. The only suppression anyone could point to, however, was their own: They defied established practice by refusing to publish a dissent authored by the commission's two GOP-appointed members.
"Wilson's argument makes no sense. It means that presidential appointees in time-limited positions could be 're-appointed' en masse right before the White House changes hands and therefore prevent the next president from shaping the government the way he deserves."
The writers added: "If the Bush administration wants to exercise complete control over the federal government control to which it is fully entitled it will want to make sure Wilson loses her obnoxious challenge."

$92.60 per vote
Media mogul Michael Bloomberg spent $92.60 per vote to become New York's next mayor, eclipsing the U.S. record for self-financed campaigns and following a trend in recent high-stakes campaigns.
Documents filed Monday with the Board of Elections showed Mr. Bloomberg spent $68,968,185 in the race to succeed Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, the Associated Press reports.
In the five weeks leading up to election day, Mr. Bloomberg spent $28 million double the $14 million spent by his Democratic rival, Public Advocate Mark Green, during the entire campaign.
The old spending record for a campaign in New York state was set last year, when Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton and Republican Rick Lazio spent a combined $69.3 million in their U.S. Senate race. Mr. Bloomberg and Mr. Green together spent an estimated $83 million.
Mr. Bloomberg, the owner of a financial-information company that bears his name, paid for the campaign entirely with his own money. He declined to take part in the city's campaign-finance system, which would have provided him public funds with strict spending limits.
Mr. Bloomberg had no immediate comment Monday, but in the past he has made no apologies for his spending.
"If somebody wants to go out and take their own money to try to make the world a better place, I can only tell you my hat is off to them," he said during the campaign.

Conservative conspiracy
"Organized labor's top man says there is a 'conservative conspiracy' against America's working men and women," Marc Morano reports at CNSNews.com.
"AFL-CIO President John Sweeney, addressing the 24th biennial convention in Las Vegas, also referred to the GOP's 'sleaziness,' and he called Republicans' economic policies since the Sept. 11 terrorists attacks 'sickening,'" the reporter said.
"Sweeney told CNSNews.com, 'I think there is a conservative conspiracy going on in the Congress, especially the House of Representatives. We are bailing out the airline industry and bailing out the insurance industry, but we can't provide workers protection?'
"The AFL-CIO is the largest organized labor group in the U.S., representing 13 million workers. The four-day conference is being held at the Paris Casino Hotel."

Greedy politicians
"'Who Wants To Be a Millionaire' may soon be history, but not so the game beloved of New York's pols: 'Who Wants to Milk the Feds for a Billion?'" the New York Post says.
"The New York congressional delegation, led by Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Chuck Schumer and including upstate GOP Rep. John Sweeney, has been pushing the Bush folks for an immediate outlay of $20 billion in 9/11 aid," the newspaper noted in an editorial.
"The administration has asked Congress to OK about $11 billion now, and the rest in a few months.
"Not good enough, say the pols.
"We've gotta have it all now.
"And there seems to be no end to the excuses they come up with to justify their whining.
"Indeed, the wish list now includes an additional $1 billion for the city's mostly profligate hospitals. Hospital workers' union chief Dennis Rivera has joined Ken Raske, the head of the Greater New York Hospital Association, in pleading that the hospitals need hundreds of millions to recover from 9/11 and hundreds of millions on top of that to prepare for bioterrorism.
"Yet while the state passes around the alms jar with one hand, it's boosting its financial obligations with the other," such as an expansion in Medicaid enrollment.

A party tradition
"In their party's great tradition, Democrats in Congress should throw their support behind free trade by backing trade-promotion authority for the Bush administration," writes Jeffrey D. Sachs, a professor of international trade at Harvard.
"The Democratic Party was a veritable engine of globalization in the 20th century from Woodrow Wilson's vision of a peaceful world united under democracy and free trade, to FDR's initiation of trade liberalization in the Great Depression, to Harry Truman's postwar launch of multilateral trade under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, to JFK's call for deep tariff reductions, to Bill Clinton's completion of the Uruguay Round and founding of the World Trade Organization," Mr. Sachs said in an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal.
"To abandon this philosophy now on behalf of narrow special interests would jeopardize the party, the U.S. economy, and global security at a pivotal moment of recession and the war on terrorism."

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