- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 28, 2002

New Jersey taxman
New Jersey Gov. James E. McGreevey, who won election in November after pledging not to raise taxes, yesterday proposed higher cigarette and corporate taxes.
After taking office, Mr. McGreevey said his vow extended only to the sales tax and income tax.
Mr. McGreevey's proposed budget included increases in taxes on tobacco products, casino services and fees for state services. It also would eliminate the deduction on taxes paid in New Jersey by Pennsylvania residents, the Associated Press reports.
Mr. McGreevey said the increases were justified because New Jersey's expected budget shortfall is "the biggest of any state in the nation, and perhaps the biggest in national history." Treasury Department officials said comparison of state budgets is difficult because each calculates its debt differently.
Mr. McGreevey said state revenues would grow modestly under his plan. He offered few specifics, however.
The biggest proposed increase is in taxes collected from corporations. Changes in the tax code will generate $1.9 billion, an increase of 66 percent.
"No employer can absorb millions of dollars in extra taxes without hurting the middle-class taxpayers that the governor said he wouldn't hurt," said Philip Kirschner, executive vice president of the New Jersey Business and Industry Association. "People are going to lose their jobs because of this."

A thick skin
After a little more than a year on the job, Office of Management and Budget Director Mitchell E. Daniels Jr. may be the administration official that members of Congress love to pick on the most.
But Mr. Daniels, a former congressional staffer, president of the Hudson Institute think tank and senior vice president at Eli Lilly and Co., told a U.S. Chamber of Commerce breakfast yesterday that the criticism comes with the territory.
"This job is not quite like being Miss America," he said. "You can either do your duty or be universally popular, but not both."
He hasn't helped his relationship with Congress through some of his comments, including his suggestion of a motto for legislators: "Don't just stand there. Spend something."
But as the conduit for this administration's tough line on domestic spending, Mr. Daniels acknowledged he is the natural target for congressional appropriators from both parties: "There have been … occasional barbs, if you count as barbs descriptions like 'thugs,' 'idiots,' 'bureaucratic imbeciles' I could go on to say some of the things our adversaries have said, but I'll just stop with what our friends say."

First Amendment foes
"We in the press like to pose as great champions of the First Amendment but remember, if you will, that virtually all of the press supported these new campaign-finance restrictions, which severely hamper political speech (the kind of speech the Bill of Rights was written to protect)," Jay Nordlinger writes at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).
"Of course, McCain-Feingold greatly enhances the prestige and power of the press, given that regular citizens have to shut their mouths for a month or two before an election. In the McCainized world, only the press gets to talk (and, in view of the senator's treatment by the press, why should he object to that, other than on principle?)," Mr. Nordlinger said.
"If journalists want to support new and unconstitutional limits on speech, that's their business, of course. I just hope that the rest of you will be less patient than ever with lectures from them on the First Amendment. They like freedom of the press, they like Mapplethorpe, they like Annie Sprinkle but 'To Hell with Reno' (or 'Jeb') is something else.
"I was particularly tickled by something Sen. Feingold said: He averred that he didn't think many Republicans would want to join a suit against the new law because 'what they'd be doing is saying that their own president has signed into law something that is unconstitutional, which is kind of an odd thing to do to your own president.'
"Sort of touching and very revealing that Feingold would find it alien to oppose a president of one's own party: to call a spade a spade. Certainly, the Democrats never said a cross word about Clinton, even as the rest of the Congress was impeaching him. The Democrats were virtually Bolshevik in their unanimity. James Carville called it 'stickin''; I called it cowardice and amorality.
"And do you remember, as I do, how Democrats used to chastise us Republicans when we referred to Clinton as 'their president'? They practically accused us of treason.
"Well … maybe Feingold doesn't remember."

Carving up Wisconsin
Wisconsin Gov. Scott McCallum has signed into law a measure that carves Wisconsin into eight congressional districts instead of its current nine, lopping off one U.S. House seat for Milwaukee, the state's largest city.
McCallum spokesman Tim Roby said yesterday the plan cannot be implemented until a lawsuit brought is dismissed that had asked a panel of federal judges to redraw congressional lines. The lawsuit was brought by prominent Democrats in the state.
Mr. McCallum signed the plan late Tuesday. It was filed with the secretary of state Wednesday.
Wisconsin is losing one district because the state did not grow as fast as others over the last decade. The redistricting plan would end more than 100 years of Milwaukee being represented by at least two members of the U.S. House.
Under the plan, the city of Milwaukee, four surrounding suburbs and a portion of a nearby city would comprise a single congressional district.
The state Senate approved the plan two weeks ago. The state Assembly approved it last month.

9,040 black officials
A new report by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies found 9,040 black elected officials in federal, state, county, municipal, education, judicial and law-enforcement offices as of Jan. 31, 2000.
That's up from 8,936 black elected officials in 1999, and a gain that is consistent with recent years. The number of black officials has been increasing by an average of about 100 per year since 1997, said the center's senior political analyst, David Bositis, who wrote the report.
Mr. Bositis said much of the increase has been due to black-majority voting districts that were created by 1982 amendments to the Voting Rights Act of 1965. However, blacks have also made gains in districts that are not majority-minority.
The report said that almost 70 percent of black elected officials were concentrated in the South a region that also has the nation's largest percentage of blacks, the Associated Press reports.
It also showed that more blacks are winning elections in districts where blacks are not the majority of the voting population. The trend is especially clear among big-city black mayors; almost three in five were elected in cities without black majorities, according to the report.

Shocked, shocked
"Documents released Monday evening by the Energy Department hardly revealed anything extraordinary as they showed Bush administration officials with that department met with representatives of the industry and not any left-wing environmental groups. But The Washington Post, New York Times, CBS News and CNN's Connie Chung, for whom it reminded of Enron, all pounced on the revelation as if it provided some kind of smoking-gun demonstrating underhanded administration policy-making," the Media Research Center's Brent Baker writes at www.mrc.org.


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