- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 12, 2006

‘Hands off’

Russian President Vladimir Putin lashed out at Vice President Dick Cheney, making fun of his recent hunting mishap, and accused Western leaders ahead of this weekend’s G-8 summit of interfering in Russia’s internal affairs, according to TV interviews reported by the Associated Press.

Mr. Cheney, in a May speech in the ex-Soviet republic of Lithuania, accused Russia of cracking down on religious and political rights and of using its energy reserves as “tools of intimidation or blackmail.” Asked about Mr. Cheney’s remarks, Mr. Putin told NBC: “I think the statements of your vice president of this sort are the same as an unsuccessful hunting shot.”

Western leaders are expected to raise concerns at the Group of Eight summit, beginning Saturday in St. Petersburg, about Russian moves that are seen as anti-democratic, including a new law placing restrictions on non-governmental organizations, tightening state control of news media, and making the upper chamber of parliament an appointed body instead of an elected one.

In a separate interview with Canada’s CTV, Mr. Putin criticized Western officials’ attendance at a pre-summit conference organized by opposition forces, called the “Other Russia” meeting.

The opposition “is doing this (conference) in the run-up to State Duma elections at the end of 2007. And if officials of other countries support this undertaking, it simply means they are trying to influence the internal political arrangement of Russia a little bit,” he said, according to a Kremlin transcript.

In a hurry

Texas Republicans want a federal appeals court to quickly resolve a dispute over whether former U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay should remain on the November ballot, saying they are running out of time for replacing Mr. DeLay with another nominee.

Republicans said in filings sent Tuesday to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans that there are deadlines in late August for replacing Mr. DeLay’s name. Attorney Jim Bopp asked for an expedited hearing.

Mr. DeLay won the Republican primary in March but resigned from Congress in June and said he has moved to Virginia. Republican leaders want to replace the former House majority leader on the ballot and say state election law allows them to select a new candidate because Mr. DeLay moved out of Texas.

Democrats sued to block them. The party hopes to win his former seat in the 22nd congressional district, where Democrat Nick Lampson is running.

A federal judge in Austin determined last week that Mr. DeLay’s name had to remain on the ballot, saying he was not convinced that Mr. DeLay would not return to Texas, despite his current Virginia residency.

Tribe sues

A Texas Indian tribe filed a federal lawsuit yesterday purporting that ex-lobbyist Jack Abramoff, former Christian Coalition leader Ralph Reed and their associates engaged in fraud and racketeering to shut down the tribe’s casino.

The Alabama-Coushatta tribe of Livingston, Texas, claim that the defendants defrauded the tribe, the people of Texas and the Legislature to benefit another of Abramoff’s clients — the Louisiana-Coushatta tribe — and “line their pockets with money.”

“Ultimately, the defendants’ greed and corruption led to the Alabama-Coushatta tribe permanently shutting its casino. The funding for economic programs evaporated, over 300 jobs were lost in Polk County and the Alabama-Coushatta tribe has spent years struggling to recover and revitalize its economy through other means,” the tribe said in its lawsuit, which the Associated Press obtained.

The lawsuit also names Abramoff’s ex-business partner Michael Scanlon, a former aide to former Rep. Tom DeLay, Texas Republican; Neil Volz, a former aide to Rep. Bob Ney, Ohio Republican; and Jon Van Horne, Abramoff’s former colleague at his law and lobbying firm, Greenberg Traurig.

Blocked again

The same federal judge who threw out Georgia’s voter photo identification law last year issued a ruling yesterday that blocks the state from enforcing a revised law during this year’s elections.

The federal ruling came down less than an hour and a half after the Georgia Supreme Court denied the state’s emergency request to overrule a state court order that blocked enforcement of the new photo ID law during next week’s primary elections and any runoffs.

U.S. District Judge Harold Murphy’s ruling was much broader, also including the Nov. 7 general elections and any runoffs.

If the rulings stand, Georgia voters will not have to show a government-issued photo ID to cast a ballot this year. The state’s primary elections are scheduled for Tuesday. Judge Murphy said the state’s latest attempt at requiring voter photo IDs was discriminatory toward people who don’t have driver’s licenses, passports or other government IDs., the Associated Press reports.

Credit tax cuts

“[Tuesday’s] political flurry over the falling budget deficit shows that even Washington can’t avoid the obvious forever: to wit, the gusher of revenues flowing into the Treasury in the wake of the 2003 tax cuts,” the Wall Street Journal says in an editorial.

“The trend has been obvious for more than a year, but now it’s so large that Republicans are trying to take credit while Democrats explain it away,” the newspaper said.

“The real news, and where the policy credit belongs, is with the 2003 tax cuts. They’ve succeeded even beyond Art Laffer’s dreams, if that’s possible. In the nine quarters preceding that cut on dividend and capital gains rates and in marginal income-tax rates, economic growth averaged an annual 1.1 percent. In the 12 quarters — three full years — since the tax cut passed, growth has averaged a remarkable 4 percent. Monetary policy has also fueled this expansion, but the tax cuts were perfectly targeted to improve the incentives to take risks among businesses shell-shocked by the dot-com collapse, 9/11 and Sarbanes-Oxley.

“This growth in turn has produced a record flood of tax revenues, just as the most ebullient supply-siders predicted.”

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes.com.

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