- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 17, 2002

Wag the dog

"Go on, Mr. President: Wag the dog," New York Post columnist John Podhoretz said yesterday, urging President Bush to start an attack on Iraq before the November elections.

"There's a luscious double trap in starting the war as soon as possible, Mr. President. Your enemies are delirious with excitement about the corporate-greed scandals and the effect they might have on your popularity and the GOP's standing in November," Mr. Podhoretz wrote.

"If you get troops on the ground quickly, they will go berserk. Incautious Democrats and liberal pundits will shriek that you've gone to war solely to protect yourself from the corporate-greed scandal. They will forget the lesson they so quickly learned after September 11, which is that at a time of war, the American people want their political leaders to stand together.

"Your enemies will hurl ugly accusations at you, Mr. President. And at least one of them will be true the accusation that you began the war when you did for political reasons.

"But that won't matter. It won't matter to the American people, and it won't matter as far as history is concerned. History will record that you and the U.S. military brought an end to a barbaric regime on its way to threatening the world."

A growth agenda

President Bush and congressional Republicans should boost the faltering economy by speeding up scheduled tax cuts, the co-chairmen of the conservative Club for Growth said yesterday in the Wall Street Journal.

Richard Gilder and Thomas L. Rhodes said it makes no sense for Congress to discuss free prescription drugs for the elderly while "we're in the worst bear market in 25 years, and the $3 trillion budget surpluses projected last year have morphed into $1 trillion of red ink."

Instead, "Republicans must advance economic-growth policies off the table since the passage of the Bush tax cut in April 2001," the writers said.

They called for making all of the Bush tax-rate cuts effective July 1 of this year, including repeal of the death tax, rather than waiting until 2005. They also urged that the capital-gains tax be cut in half and that Congress allow "universal and unlimited" independent retirement accounts.

"The Democrats will argue that tax cuts are unaffordable. These protests will come from the same lawmakers who want to create a 10-year, $1 trillion new entitlement for prescription drugs," the writers said. "Protecting and creating jobs, reversing the stock-market slide and preserving America's economic security should be a higher priority than a new government entitlement."

Simon's tax woes

William Simon Jr., the Republican candidate for governor of California, finds himself defending a tax shelter challenged by the Internal Revenue Service.

Mr. Simon, a businessman, said the tax shelter was an "investment transaction" suggested by his accountants at KPMG. The IRS did not accuse Mr. Simon of any wrongdoing when it filed court papers last week that named him and others as beneficiaries of a questionable tax shelter, the Los Angeles Times reports.

"We rely on our advisers in terms of the type of investment transactions that they put forward, and that's the bottom line," Mr. Simon told reporters. He would not say how much he saved in state and federal taxes by using the tax shelter.

Mr. Simon has filed a report of his assets and income sources but not how much he has paid in taxes.

"We have provided more than the necessary information for Californians to know all about Bill Simon's financial interests," Mr. Simon said.

Arnold's dream

Arnold Schwarzenegger says he may yet run for governor of California.

Mr. Schwarzenegger, a Republican, spoke Monday to a breakfast meeting of about 15 Republican state governors attending the National Governors Association conference, the Associated Press reports.

The 54-year-old actor said he pondered a challenge against California Democratic Gov. Gray Davis this past year but declined because of his movie contracts.

"It's something that I'm still interested in [for] the future. I think that the greatest thing you can do is serve the people," Mr. Schwarzenegger said. "It gives me the greatest satisfaction much more than going down another red carpet to do a movie premiere to go and create after-school programs, help special Olympians, inspire kids to stay away from drugs and gangs."

Mr. Schwarzenegger said he is filming "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines," "True Lies 2" and another movie.

In a brief meeting with reporters, Mr. Schwarzenegger said he could imagine himself as California's governor, helping millions of people with their personal challenges.

"What a great feeling to go to bed every night and say, 'Look how many people I helped today.' That would be fantastic very satisfying," he said.

Helms goes home

Sen. Jesse Helms, North Carolina Republican, returned home yesterday for the first time since his heart surgery almost three months ago.

Jimmy Broughton, a Helms spokesman, said the 80-year-old senator left a rehabilitation center in Raleigh, N.C., yesterday morning. "He said he was looking forward to being in the same home with Mrs. Helms for the first time in three months," Mr. Broughton said.

Mr. Helms had surgery April 25 to replace a worn-out pig valve that was installed in his heart 10 years ago. The original pig valve replaced Mr. Helms' mitral valve, which guards the opening between the upper and lower chambers of the heart.

He was hospitalized until June 10, when he was moved to a rehabilitation center in Northern Virginia. On June 26, he moved to a rehab center in Raleigh.

While the senator was at the Raleigh center, his wife, Dorothy, had open-heart surgery to replace her mitral valve. Dorothy Helms, 83, returned home July 10, 10 days after her surgery.

Mr. Helms will continue to have physical therapy at home a couple times a week, Mr. Broughton said.

The Senate is in session until Aug. 3, then adjourns for a month. Mr. Broughton said he expected Mr. Helms to return at some point for the fall session.

Mr. Helms announced last year that he would leave the Senate when his fifth term expires in January.

Maloney's run

Rep. Jim Maloney, Connecticut Democrat, made his run for re-election official during seven campaign stops earlier this week in the newly drawn 5th Congressional District.

Owing to reapportionment resulting from the census, Mr. Maloney is facing another incumbent, Republican Rep. Nancy L. Johnson. Vice President Richard B. Cheney was in Connecticut campaigning for Mrs. Johnson when Mr. Maloney made his announcement Monday, the Associated Press reports.

Huckabee sued

The former information chief for Arkansas has filed a federal lawsuit, saying Republican Gov. Mike Huckabee fired him for blowing the whistle on a flawed $50 million-plus state computer network.

Randall Bradford seeks back pay and damages. He says Mr. Huckabee's aides ordered him to stonewall legislators charged with overseeing the computer system. Mr. Huckabee's office had said Mr. Bradford worked for the governor and could be fired at will.

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