New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - December 13, 1995, New Braunfels, Texas
4 A Ll Herald-Zeitung 3 Wednesday, December 13,1995
■ To talk with Managing Editor Doug Loveday about the Opinion page, call 625-9144, ext. 21
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“I don’t think, despite the common impression out there, that reporters are terribly politcal • cee But they’re great gossips. They have opinions on every subject imaginable.”
— Frank Aukofer journalist, 1994Flat tax supported by Americans
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Lawmakers don’t have to worry about doing without during their retirement
Have you wondered why so many senators and representatives are bailing out of Congress, announcing they won’t be seeking reelection?
For some, the reason is simple retirement (so they tell us).
Others are leaving because of the “sacrifices” they must endure as lawmakers in Washington, spending time away from their homes and families.
Others, though they won’t admit it, are probably feeling the heat of the budget debate and are not willing to be in office when the difficult decisions are made to cut federal spending (a move that will bring howls of protest from many sectors of this nation).
But one thing these lawmakers won’t reveal as a reason for retiring is the healthy pensions they’ll soon collect after leaving the capital.
First year pensions for some of our departing leaders include $96,462 for Mark Hatfield (R-Ore.), $81,432 for Bennett Johnston (D-La.) and, get this, $88,922 for Bob Packwood (R-Ore.), who resigned from office recently following sexual harassment charges by former staffers.
A former representative who’s facing criminal charges soon, Dan Rostenkowski (D-Ill.), is drawing $96,000 a year in pension dollars and will continue to do so, even if convicted.
While yearly figures like those above are hard to swallow for many of us, just look at one of the expected lifetime pension amount one Congressional retiree will collect until she passes on to the big capitol building in the sky.
Pat Schroeder (D-Colo.), who’s retiring at the age of 55, will be eligible for $4.2 million in lifetime benefits. And the list goes on and on...
Besides the inflated pension amounts received by retired lawmakers, what’s really troubling is that convicted lawmakers and those who left office under a cloud of wrongdoing or ethics violations continue to collect money from taxpayers.
; Congress should pass legislation banning retirement benefits to law-:makers convicted of crimes, and they should rein in benefits to more closely resemble those received by their constituents.
If they don’t, we'll continue paying lawmakers like Jim Wright (D-Texas) $137,274 a year.
(Today s editorial was written by Managing Editor Doug Loveday.)
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Several weeks ago I included a list of questions in this column, asking readers’ opinions about issues currently before Congress. I want to thank the newspapers which publish this column for allowing me to communicate with you this way.
My staff and I reviewed every answer we received, and I thought you would enjoy hearing what Texan think about matters these questions addressed.
Please keep in mind that the results of this questionnaire are what statisticians refer to as a “selfselected” poll. In other words, this is not a scientific sample, but rather answers submitted by people who are highly motivated and have definite opinions on the issues at hand. Since not everyone who returned the questionnaire voted on all the issues, what follows is a summary, rather than a vote count. Here’s how you voted:
1) Many more of you indicated that you support reforming the federal tax system by implementing a flat tax on income than voted for a national sales tax to provide federal revenues, or who voted for a tax on consumption. Winner: flat tax.
2) The second question dealt with ways of balancing the federal budget. Your preference was to do
this by slowing the growth of Medicaid, although there was a surprising support for achieving a balanced budget by slowing the growth of Social Security, and, to a lesser degree, slowing the growth of Medicare. Winner: Slow growth of Medicaid.
3) When it comes to agricultural policy, an overwhelming number of you indicated you believe Congress should impose a cap on agricultural subsidies, and almost as many think that Congress should set up a means test for those who receive such subsidies. Winner: Subsidy caps and means testing.
4) Twice as many of you indicated that you believe defense spending is adequate,
versus the number who said they believe it is too high. But it was almost a toss-up between those of you who believe defense spending is adequate and those who believe it is too low. Winner: Defense spending is
5) Of those who voted, slightly more of you said there is no need for a national commitment to encourage American culture through the arts than believe there is such a need. There was a similar near-tie between those who support federal funding for the arts if such funds were to go only to legitimate arts groups, but slightly more of you voted against this dedication of funds than voted for it Winner. No need for government to encourage arts; no to federal subsidies for the arts.
6) And I am sad to report that slightly more of you believe Congress is NOT taking significant steps toward making itself more accountable to the American people than think that it is becoming more accountable. There is no winner here. I sincerely hope that the next time I send out such a questionnaire, the answer to this question is a different one.
Thanks to all who participated. Meanwhile, please continue to write my office on matters of particular interest to you, so that my staff and I can stay informed about your thoughts on issues that affect all of us.
(Kay Bailey Hutchison is a U.S. senator for Texas.)
Clinton in balancing act on two fronts
By TOM RAUM
Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Clinton is finding, as President Bush did before him, that sending U.S. troops into combat is one of the most time-consuming and exacting endeavors a president can undertake.
For a leader who once demonstrated little interest in foreign policy, Clinton is seeing more and more of his time consumed with details of his plan to send 20,000 U.S. troops to Bosnia.
It’s a difficult balancing act, dividing time between a foreign crisis and a domestic one.
He was leaving tonight for Pans for Thursday’s signing of the Bosnia peace treaty that his administration helped orchestrate. Then he turns around and flies right back — to be in town Friday for the latest negotiating deadline for a budget deal.
Yet, despite his keen interest in domestic issues, Clinton is spending more and more time on the Bosnia peacekeeping mission and less on the budget.
“I think when a president sends Amencans to war, with any possibility of dying, that becomes the dominant factor in his life,” said Marlin Fitzwater, who was press secretary to both Presidents Bush and Reagan.
“The White House continues to operate. Staff people who have specific responsibilities continue to work on the budget, environmental laws, whatever. But the president’s mind never gets very far from the boys and girls, the men and women, he’s sending intoToday In History
By The Associated Press
Today is Wednesday, Dec. 13, the 347th day of 1995. There are 18 days left in the year.
Today’s Highlight in History:
On Dec. 13, 1944, dunng World War ll, the U.S. cruiser Nashville, the flagship of an invasion fleet headed for Mindoro Island in the Philippines, was badly damaged in a Japanese “kamikaze” suicide attack which claimed 138 lives.
On this date:
In 1577, Sir Francis Drake of England set out with five ships on a nearly three-year journey that would take him around the world.
In 1642, Dutch navigator Abel Tasman arrived in present-day New Zealand.
In 1769, Dartmouth College, in New Hampshire, received its charter.
In 1835, Phillips Brooks, the American Episcopal bishop who wrote the words to “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” was bom in Boston.Analysis
harm’s way,” Fitzwater added.
In his new book “Call the Briefing,” Fitzwater described Bush’s time-consuming sessions on both the Panama invasion and the Persian Gulfwar “models of decision-making in most respects.”
Bush’s activist view of America’s role in world affairs “stands in stark contrast” to Clinton’s earlier, more indirect approach, he wrote.
But, in an interview, Fitzwater gave Clinton high marks for his recent performance.
“I think he’s doing pretty well. It seems his message has been clear, his appearances have been planned and have direction. I would judge last month to be the best of his presidency,” Fitzwater said.
Clinton, whose fascination and immersion in budget details once drove senior staff members to distraction, is putting some of the same attention to detail into Bosnia, his chief spokesman, Mike McCurry, said.
“He’s focused on the U.S. forces overseas. He asks very specific questions on deployment,” McCurry said.
Clinton has delegated most of the budget negotiations with the GOP-led Congress to his chief of staff, Leon Panetta, suitably positioned by virtue of having been chairman of the House Budget Committee.
By contrast, Bush chief of staff 'John Sununu had lit-
In 1862, Union forces suffered a major defeat at the
hands of the Confederates at the Battle of Fredericksburg.
In 1918, President Wilson arrived in France, becoming the first chief executive to visit a European country while in office.
In 1928, George Gershwin’s musical work “An American in Paris” had its premiere at Carnegie Hall in New York.
In 1964, in El Paso, Texas, President Johnson and Mexican President Gustavo Diaz Ordaz set off an explosion that diverted the Rio Grande, reshaping the U.S.-Mexican border and ending a century-old dispute.
In 1978, the Philadelphia Mint began stamping the Susan B. Anthony dollar, which went into circulation the following July.
In 1980, Christian Democrat Jose Napoleon Duarte was named the president of El Salvador’s new government.
In 1981, authorities in Poland imposed martial law in a crackdown on the Solidarity labor movement. (Major provisions of the decree were lifted a
tie experience in negotiating with Congress and wound up alienating congressional budget writers of both
Clinton begins most days with a briefing from his national security adviser, Anthony Lake.
He’s rearranged his time to leave afternoons free from appointments or public appearances and now spends most afternoons on the phone, “75 percent to 85 percent devoted to Bosnia,” McCurry said “He also has regular meetings with Panetta and Lake and makes time available to talk to (Secretary of State Warren) Christopher as needed.”
“I think his mind is concentrated very heavily on the fact that he is sending people into harm’s way. The budget follies look less important,” the spokesman said.
Bush, whom Clinton criticized in the campaign for spending too much time on international policy, could empathize with that, Fitzwater suggested.
“It’s the most personal bond between a president and the people of his country. Mothers and fathers entrust the lives of their sons and daughters to the president — and he feels it,” Bush’s former spokesman said.
Clinton’s decision is not without political danger. Even though he’s won the support of Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole and former Presidents Bush and Carter, Americans remain deeply skeptical.
Conservative GOP candidates Phil Gramm and Pat Buchanan are daily beating up on both Clinton and Dole for the move.
year later; martial law formally ended in 1983.)
Ten years ago: Investigators were probing the crash of an Arrow Air DC-8 charta in Gander, Newfoundland, that had claimed the lives of 248 U.S. servicemen and eight American crew members the day before.
Five years ago: A final evacuation flight from Iraq arrived in Germany, carrying the U.S. ambassador to Kuwait and his staff, who had endured a 110-day Iraqi siege of their embassy.
One year ago: An American Eagle commuter plane carrying 20 people crashed short of Raleigh-Durham International Airport in North Carolina, killing 15.
Today's Birthdays: Former Secretary of State George P. Shultz is 75. Actor-comedian Dick Van Dyke is 70. Actor Christopher Plummer is 68. Singer John Davidson is 54. Singer Ted Nugent is 47.
Thought for Today: “Good judgment comes from experience; and experience, well, that comes from ted judgment.” — Anonymous.