- The Washington Times - Monday, October 21, 2002

Consolation prize for Clinton

Former President Bill Clinton's induction into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame as an honorary member ("Inside Politics," Nation, Friday) should do much to assuage the injury he suffered when the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize, which he probably expected and felt he deserved, was awarded to another former president, Jimmy Carter.
No doubt, Mr. Clinton feels that perhaps just one or two more apologies on behalf of the people of the United States to just about anybody, anywhere might have gotten the medal he could hang either in his presidential library or Harlem office. The regret won't be quite so bad, now.
He can be encouraged, too, by the fact that since the Nobel awards committee reached as far back as 1977 past former President Ronald Reagan to find someone it felt worthy of the award, it just might do it again, someday. But I'm sure Mr. Clinton would like to receive that award while he is still a young man and will appreciate having time to make the most of it.
But the committee had better hurry it along. While the Nobel awards in physics, medicine, literature and the other disciplines are holding up pretty well, the honor associated with the award for peace is descending to that of an Olympic gold medal in ice dancing. Now who can deny that Mr. Clinton deserves that?
Here's something interesting: According to the World Almanac and Book of Facts, the "Carter administration efforts finally resulted in the release of the hostages on Inauguration Day, 1981, just after Reagan officially became president."

Virginia Beach

Wrong on 'Rangel-ing'

Despite the clever title of Wednesday's editorial, "Rangel-ing over deductions," the real wrangling over the Ways and Means Committee-passed tax provisions occurred among Republicans. The day of the editorial, the Republican leadership declined to take action on the so-called common-sense bills and left town for a month.
The Washington Times attempts to refute my assertion that the benefits of these tax provisions go to the wealthy by citing statistics on the numbers of workers with 401(k) plans and individual retirement accounts (IRAs). However, changing the treatment of capital losses as you advocate does nothing for them. The capital loss provision would help only taxpayers who sell stocks outside these accounts, and 82 percent of this stock is owned by the wealthiest 10 percent of households.
The Times is also incorrect that the deduction has not changed since 1978. In fact, only 50 percent of the first $3,000 in capital losses used to be deductible, and now 100 percent is deductible.
Regarding the provision to increase the 401(k) contribution limit, which The Times favors, very few people reach the current maximum amount. In fact, the General Accounting Office says increasing the limit would directly benefit only about 3 percent of participants.
Finally, the provision to increase the age at which we require IRA and 401(k) withdrawals helps only people who do not need the money immediately. It does not help hard-pressed, modest-income retirees.
The Times and I do agree on one thing, though. We both wanted the House to take action to boost our economy. I guess the Republican leaders do not listen to either one of us.

Representative (D.-N.Y.)
House Ways and Means Committee

Missing link in Times story

Thursday's Page One article "Ohio schools to teach evolution 'controversy'" repeated an oft-stated falsehood about the "No Child Left Behind" education act.
According to the article, the act states: "Where topics are taught that may generate controversy (such as biological evolution), the curriculum should help students to understand the full range of scientific views that exist [and] why such topics may generate controversy."
In reality, the act says no such thing. The language referred to was, in fact, struck from the bill before final passage. It did not appear in the bill presented to President Bush for his signature, and it does not appear in Public Law 107-110, the "No Child Left Behind Act."
The language cited in the article is simply not part of the act. It is found only in the report of the conference committee, which means that it was not contained in the final version of the bill passed by Congress.
The claim to the contrary is factually incorrect and does a disservice to the readers of The Washington Times.

Professor of biology
Brown University
Providence, R.I.

It is irresponsible to gamble on slots on Maryland

Shame on Rep. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., Maryland Republican and gubernatorial candidate, for trying to draw attention away from the real issue regarding slot machines fiscal irresponsibility by framing it as a "moral" issue ("Gambling line already crossed," Metropolitan, Friday).
Claiming that the lottery is equally as addictive as slots is equating marijuana to crack cocaine. Slots are far more addictive. According to the National Gambling Impact Study Commission (NGISC), addiction rates double within 50 miles of a facility. So Mr. Ehrlich is willing to addict even more Marylanders by bringing slots here?
Mr. Ehrlich must prove that slots will generate $800 million for the state. Going by Delaware's cut (35 percent), and knowing that each machine generates $109,500 per year, it would take well over 20,000 slot machines to generate $800 million. A friend asked me, "Is he lying about the revenue or about how many slot machines he's planning?" Good question.
His conjecture that slots aren't like a casino is ludicrous. Delaware's budget shows "revenue from casinos" and they have slots at the tracks.
According to the NGISC, "earmarking" revenue is a great way to "sell" the idea of gambling to the public, but it cannot be done. Don't be fooled by claims that slots will pay for education remember, that's how we were "sold" on the lottery proposal.
Saying he'll fund addiction treatment is another ploy to "sell" this addictive product. According to the Montana Legislature, it would cost $10.28 for every person to fund outpatient care for their pathologic gamblers. Does Mr. Ehrlich really propose spending a minimum of $55 million for treatment each year?
Ultraconservative figures from the universities of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign) and the University of Georgia show that the social cost associated with casinos is $1.90 for each $1 in revenue. So, as stated before, slots are fiscally irresponsible. Now that Mr. Ehrlich admits that he wants to bring in an "addictive product," he's just opened up the state to lawsuits. The bodies are stacking up all over the country, and gambling establishments and the governments that sponsor them are being sued just like the tobacco industry was.

Glen Burnie

No to Virginia tax referendum

Right on. Virginians should not be saddled with more and higher taxes to pay for the needed traffic improvements ("Traffic congestion and taxes," Editorial, Friday). Delegates admit the entire tax structure is based on a long-gone agrarian society but have taken no action to update the system. Unless, of course, you consider endless studies action.
The 22-mile morning backups on eastbound Interstate 66 are largely caused by the reduction in lanes inside the Beltway. As the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA) has already given each local jurisdiction veto power over any project, Arlington would probably veto a project to increase the number of lanes inside the Beltway.
Of course, there is nothing to stop NVTA from withdrawing the local-jurisdiction veto authority should the referendum pass.

Falls Church

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