- The Washington Times - Friday, April 12, 2002

Hastert's vow

Following a Wednesday hearing in which House members heard that the United States may need to move to a European-style value-added-tax system to avoid international sanctions, House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, Illinois Republican, said he will not allow Europeans to dictate American tax policy.

"My hair bristles on the back of my neck when I have Europeans tell us how to run our government," Mr. Hastert said. "We fought a revolution, you know, several years ago to make sure that we could have some independence, and when they try to manipulate how we run our country and how we tax our people, to give them an economic advantage in the world, I think is unacceptable."

The World Trade Organization's Appellate Panel has ruled that the way the United States taxes extra-territorial income amounts to an illegal subsidy. Thus, the United States is under the gun to come up with new rules to comply.

But Mr. Hastert said those rules will be written on American terms.

The House speaker said he "will stand and fight for our rights," especially against the French, adding that "we are not about to be played around with by the bureaucracy of the European Union."


Multiple games

"Critics say President Bush's Mideast policy looks 'incoherent.' But what's really going on could be that Bush has figured out how to play by the complex bargaining rules of the Mideast bazaar," the New York Post's Deborah Orin writes.

"Yes, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon defied Bush's call to withdraw but so far, it looks like 'U.S.-authorized' defiance, since far from slamming him, the White House keeps saying America is Israel's 'best friend.'

"And Secretary of State Colin Powell's decision to slowly (not swiftly) wend his way to Jerusalem gave Israel more time to conduct major military operations in Jenin and Nablus, which it sees as terror bases," Miss Orin said.

"'The history of the Mideast is that everybody plays multiple games, and we alone have historically just played one game. We're now playing by Mideast rules,' says military analyst Dan Goure.

"Of course, all this hits crunch time soon. At some point say [today] or this weekend Powell's mission will be in big trouble if Israel doesn't make a significant move and shift the onus for action to [Palestinian leader Yasser] Arafat."


'Ambushed'

"This week, conservatives suffered a heartbreaking setback and the media scored a stupendous victory.

"Both of these things happened when Scott Armey, son of the retiring conservative icon Dick Armey, lost his bid to replace his father as a congressman from Texas. That seat will now be held by a fairly liberal Republican by the name of Michael Burgess, a gynecologist by trade," Stephen Moore, president of the Club for Growth, writes at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).

Mr. Moore, whose group supported Mr. Armey, blamed the Texan's defeat on what he called "a furious and quite savage last-minute media blitz by the Dallas Morning News intended to torpedo the Armey candidacy."

The newspaper "simply ambushed Armey," Mr. Moore said.

"One story lambasted Armey for allegedly giving county contracts to his friends when he was on the board of supervisors. (Armey unabashedly denies the truth of the story.) A few days later, another story reported that Armey caused a car crash 10 years ago and that he didn't have insurance. The story alleges that Armey showed a lack of regret for the accident. They portray him as a heartless soul, who was unapologetic to the person who was injured. (Scott, by the way, denies this and he paid all injury and hospital bills.)

"Even Richard Nixon didn't get this kind of shabby and one-sided treatment from the press during the last days of Watergate."


Clinton's new job

Bill Clinton will serve as a senior adviser to a pair of investment funds headed by a former grocery-store magnate who is a friend of the former president.

Some of Mr. Clinton's new duties as counsel to the Yucaipa American Fund and the Yucaipa Corporate Initiatives Fund will include meeting with political leaders and company heads in communities where the funds hope to invest, the Associated Press reports. The funds specialize in lower-income urban and rural communities.

"We are proud that President Clinton will serve as a senior adviser to our firm," said Ron Burkle, managing partner of the Yucaipa Companies.

Mr. Burkle would not disclose how much Mr. Clinton would be compensated for his services, but said his pay would be based on the performance of the funds.


Indiana battle

"Ideological lines are hardening over the bid by former Fort Wayne, Ind., Mayor Paul Helmke to oust incumbent Rep. Mark Souder, Indiana Republican, from his House seat," United Press International reports in its Capital Comment column.

"Souder is a reliably conservative vote, while Helmke is a liberal Republican whose campaign is encouraging Democrats and independents to cross party lines and vote for him in the GOP primary.

"Close to one-third of the district is new to Souder, but it is so solidly Republican that the winner of the primary probably determines the winner of the general election. Washington organizations are closely monitoring how the National Republican Congressional Committee behaves in this race, watching to see if the NRCC, which has a policy of supporting incumbents in primaries, works as hard for Souder as they have for more liberal GOPers who were challenged from the right, like New Jersey Rep. Marge Roukema."


Worried in Wisconsin

Wisconsin Gov. Scott McCallum, still stinging from criticism of his proposal to fix the state budget, and losing ground in polls, has hired a new chief of staff.

Mr. McCallum tapped Gene Kussart, the state's transportation secretary and a veteran of former Gov. Tommy G. Thompson's administration, to help juggle his job as governor and candidate, spokesman Tim Roby said Wednesday.

"When you get to the point of people telling you that you're not the right one for the job of the governor of Wisconsin, you get concerned," Mr. Roby said.

A poll last month found 40 percent of state residents have an unfavorable view of the rookie Republican governor. He came out on the winning side against only two of four Democratic challengers in the November gubernatorial election, the Associated Press reports.

Mr. McCallum spent 14 years as Mr. Thompson's lieutenant governor before taking over the top job when Mr. Thompson became the federal secretary of health and human services last year. Mr. McCallum has drawn fire since revealing a plan to plug a $1.1 billion budget deficit by phasing out state aid to local governments.


Protest on a sofa

A Massachusetts state legislator moved his desk, faded blue sofa and a handful of chairs into a Statehouse hallway to protest an election-reform law that could be funded by an auction of state property.

Rep. Joseph Wagner made his furniture move to protest a suggestion by advocates of Massachusetts' "Clean Elections" law that his office furniture could be sold to contribute to the fund, the Associated Press reports.

"If these small-minded, special-interest folks think selling my desk or anyone else's desk is going to propel that candidacy or any others to new heights, they certainly can have the desk," the Chicopee Democrat said.

Voters overwhelmingly approved the law in 1998 to publicly finance candidates who agree to fund-raising and spending limits. Although a fund to make the payments has grown to $23 million, lawmakers have refused to release the money because of a looming budget deficit of $2 billion next year.

A Supreme Judicial Court judge last week gave "Clean Elections" advocates the power to sell state property to pay for the program.



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