- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 24, 2001

Needy bureaucrats

Good grief. Wait until you read what constitutes a "lower-income employee" of the federal government.

In 1999, Congress authorized agencies of the federal government to use their own funds to help their "lower-income employees" offset the costs of child care. Since then, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission gathered and reviewed information relating to child-care assistance programs implemented by other federal agencies and, based on that guidance, plans to implement its own program in 2002.

That said, Inside the Beltway has obtained a six-page policy-issue paper on the NRC proposal, presented to each of the agency's commissioners for final approval. The policy issue includes a "definition" of a low-income employee:

"Any full-time permanent NRC employee, headquarters and regional, who has a child in a qualifying facility or licensed child care home and whose Total Family Income does not exceed $65,000 would be eligible to apply for assistance under the program."

Observes one NRC insider: "This program is not limited to the greater Washington area, but is nationwide. Hence, it would apply to NRC 'low-income' employees working in lower cost-of-living areas."

As for the NRC's definition of low income, the insider adds, it "seems extremely generous."

Taxing question

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are among the eager Americans rushing to bank teller lines to cash tax-rebate checks under President Bush's $1.35 trillion tax-cut package — even the congressmen who opposed the president's generous gesture in the first place.

A collective $38 billion is being returned to Americans, and as for the politicians' take, CQ.com has uncovered what certain members of Congress plan to do with their cash:

• Sen. Ted Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat: "I, like many people in my part of the country, am going to have to use it to pay our energy bills."

• Rep. Judy Biggert, Illinois Republican: "My daughter is getting married. I think I will use my rebate to buy the wedding cake."

• Sen. Rick Santorum, Pennsylvania Republican: "With the start of the school year just around the corner, there are lots of books and supplies that I need to buy my kids."

• Sen. Debbie Stabenow, Michigan Democrat: "I'm in the middle of moving into a new home, so I will probably use it to pay for moving costs and home improvements. But being from Michigan, I would love for people to put their money toward buying a new automobile."

• Sen. Bill Nelson, Florida Democrat: "Americans need to increase their savings. I am putting my rebate into my savings."

• Rep. Christopher Shays, Connecticut Republican: "I don't know what I will do with the rebate check. But you can be sure that I will spend it so that the American economy can benefit from it."

Mr. Shays had better hurry.

House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt hinted over the weekend that tax increases are a very real possibility if Democrats gain control of the House in 2002.

Balanced estate

R. Emmett Tyrrell, chairman of the board of the American Alternative Foundation, says it's been nearly a year since the foundation sold the feisty American Spectator magazine to Gilder Publishing.

"At that time, we changed the name of our foundation and adopted a new mission: scholarships for college student journalists and writers who espouse traditional American values," says Mr. Tyrrell, who has just awarded the first group of scholarships to 28 students for the coming 2001-02 academic year.

"Many are editors and/or founders of campus newspapers that are alternatives to the 'politically correct' official student newspapers," he says.

Ans where does one find such renegade free-thinkers?

"Our scholars come from 19 states and attend everything from Ivy League and large state universities to tiny — 800 students — Wabash College," says Mr. Tyrrell. "Nearly all are headed for careers in journalism, so this should help in the effort to bring more balance to the craft."

The cursor, please

The fifth annual Webby Awards — the "Oscars of the Internet" — were just handed out in San Francisco, and Washington's Center for Responsive Politics captured Best Politics Web Site with its OpenSecrets.org.

Accepting the award on CRP's behalf was Sheila Krumholz, the center's research director. Her acceptance speech, in accordance the Webby Awards' famous five-words-or-less speech limit, was "Spy on Washington. It's fun."

Good point

We'd quoted House Democratic leader Richard A. Gephardt yesterday as saying that, "If you had a 2-1 pupil-teacher ratio in every grade school in this country, I think you'd, over time, not have many people going to prison."

Adds reader Jeff Leach: "And if you had a 2-1 ratio of parents to child, then you wouldn't have many people going to prison, either."

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