New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - January 27, 1983, New Braunfels, Texas
4 New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung Thursday, January 27,1983OpinionsHerald-Zeitung
Dave Kramer, General Manager Robert Johnson, Editor
James J. KilpatrickCan Nakasone make headway in Tokyo?
“Nakasone Wows Washington,” read a recent headline in The Washington Post, and the headline accurately conveyed the news. Japan's Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone took this town like the Redskins took the Cowboys. He charmed the president, he charmed the press, he charmed congressional birds right out of their trees.
Now he’s gone home, and perhaps a small skeptical voice may be raised: Wowing ’em here is one thing. Wowing ’em in Tokyo is something else entirely. Let us hold the applause, if you please, until Japan makes changes in its trade policies that are substantive and not merely cosmetic. We haven’t seen any such changes lately.
This business of our trade im
balance with Japan presents a deeply troubling conflict between theory and reality. The theory of ‘‘free trade” is wonderful. The reality is that no nation adheres to the theory, and Japan adheres least of ail. Last year the imbalance amounted to a stunning $20 billion. The charming Nakasone spread cheerful reassurances all around town: He would go back to Tokyo and seek “fundamental and important reforms.” Our trade negotiators have heard such sweet talk before from the Japanese. That’s what they all say.
Well, let us wish the gentleman luck, because protectionist sentiment is growing on Capitol Hill, and it is growing not only on the Hill but in the country at large. Nobody seems to be
mad at the Europeans, but thousands of unemployed workers are furious at the Japanese. Down in easygoing Miami, a traveler sees an angry bumper sticker: Remember Pearl Harbor! In the Midwest, fund-raising campaigns have taken a novel twist: One dollar buys three swings with a sledgehammer at a Toyota sedan.
This resentment boiled over in the House on Dec. 15. By a vote of 215 to 18, the House passed a “domestic content” bill that was aimed squarely at Japan. The idea — a very bad idea — was to compel foreign automobile manufacturers to spend up to 90 percent of their production costs on parts and labor procured in the United States. The bill died in the House, but we may be certain it will return in the
98th Congress now getting underway.
Proponents of the bill spelled out their persuasive case in the House report that came with the measure. Between 1977 and 1980, sales of Japanese cars and trucks in the United States rose by 57 percent. Roughly 80 percent of all foreign cars sold in the United States were produced by Japanese makers. Our own domestic companies buy about $2 billion worth of Japanese parts every year; in 1981 the Japanese purchased only $100 million in parts from us.
A few years ago the Japanese ceremoniously abolished their tariff on imported automobiles. The overt tariffs were at once replaced by a complicated maze of non-tariff requirements for processing, licensing, inspection and transportation.
The effect, said the committee report, is to double the price at which a Ford or a Chevy might otherwise be sold in Japan.
If he is to achieve his “fundamental and important reforms,” Mr. Nakasone will have to win over the whole interlocking network of business, industry and banking that controls the Japanese economy. By every assessment, he is an able politician; he has served for 25 years in the Japanese Diet, and perhaps he can convince his fellow legislators that the time for significant concessions is truly at hand. But special interests are everywhere alike. The prime minister has a hard row to hoe.
The most inspired political slogan of this generation came from George
Wallace of Alabama: “Send ’em a message!” Mr. Nakasone’s task is to bring ’em a message that Congress is dangerously close to a blunder of colossal dimensions. Nothing good can be said of the domestic content bill. It would not create, net, any measurable number of new jobs. It would raise auto prices to domestic purchasers. It would invite retaliatory measures around the world, and thus play hob with our own exporters. This bill is a bad bill in every particular way.
But when tempers are inflamed, men do rash deeds. Mr. Nakasone should not be misled by friendly headlines. He wowed everybody a week ago, but Washington won’t stay wowed for long.
Washington TodayReagan's new menu may leave bad taste
By JAMES GERSTENZANG Associated Press
WASHINGTON - By his own aides’ accounts, President Reagan wanted to use the State of the Union speech to pull himself out of the political doldrums that have enveloped his administration for the past several months.
Instead, he gave the nation a menu of programs from which Congress will pick and choose and gave his supporters little around which to rally.
As the president’s aides worked on the speech, David R. Gergen, his assistant for communications, said “this gives hun a chance to reestablish himself as a central figure and as one who helps to set the agenda for the coming year. ’’
Although the president said a speech before Congress and a live television and radio audience was still something to get nervous about, he didn’t see it as any big deal.
“Since it’s a national institution and an annual institution, I don’t believe any administrations in the past have risen or fallen on the State of the Union address,” he told a group of television network anchormen and bureau chiefs on the afternoon of the speech.
Reagan called in his speech for a bipartisan effort to solve the nation’s deep econonomic woes. But as it turns out, he can’t even count on key members of his own party to back his program.
Even before the president spoke,
the chief Republican tax writers in Congress and the GOP leader in the Senate were grumbling about the standby taxes Reagan proposed.
Beyond that, Senate Majority leader Howard H. Baker Jr., R-Tenn., said Reagan’s proposed slowdown in the Pentagon spending buildup wasn’t enough and that the White House probably would have to settle for double the cuts the administration said were possible.
“There is going to be a ferocious debate,” Baker said.
As for foreign policy, there was little effort to package the president’s remarks at the end of the speech as anything new.
“You’ll find nothing new or novel; no changes or modifications,” said one senior administration official, while also suggesting that no one should be deceived into thinking the president’s resolve in challenging the Soviets was weakening. The official spoke with the condition that he not be identified by name.
Reagan, who rarely shied away from a confrontation with the Democrats during his first two years in office, suggested seven times that a bipartisan approach might work best in the next two years. No wonder. The Democrats have expanded their margin in the House by 26 seats and the Republican allies in the Senate have shown increasing independence from the president.
“Where he can’t do it alone, you’ll see him try for a consensus,” Gergen said.
®*/i963 Tie. Aafcit a
MailbagMentally- impaired recipientsMotorist appreciates aid stranded in federal maze
from Wetz, Engelhardt
The city of New Braunfels is very fortunate to have two citizens who went beyond the definition of a Good Samaritan, eleven Engelhardt and Ron Wetz were my Good Samaritans on the night of January 19. I was en route home alone to Round Rock when my battery died. I had walked to the Exxon .station where the attendant borrowed jumper cables.
Unfortunately, the battery was low and my car, even though operable, did not have any lights. At this tune, Mr. eleven Engelhardt and Mr Ron Wetz walked into the station and, after hearing of my situation, offered to help.
For the next three hours they worked diligently on my car, not only in the constant rain but also with poor lighting. Their good deeds continued far into the evening...they ordered a part by asking the automotive owner to open his closed shop...offered the free use of their own battery and other parts...the repeated trips for additional gauges and testing equipment...the free use of their telephone for my long distance calls.
At this point, they felt my car still was not safe for me to drive home alone, so I called someone to pick me up. I was so grateful for all they had
done, but they were so concerned and apologetic that my car was still not fixed to their satisfaction.
My husband and I could not return until Friday. We then learned Mr. Ron Wetz had spent the previous day working on my car until it was fixed to his satisfaction. He had done all this on his own, as we had no idea. Above and beyond all this, they would not take anu money for all their time and labor. After my constant pressuring, they finally agreed I could only pay for the parts, but only at cost.
Believe me, I have considered a great deal in this letter as to what eleven Engelhardt and Ron Wetz did for me that evening. It could very easily had been an unhappy ending for me if I had not met these two gentlemen. Not only is New Braunfels fortunate to have them, but their families as well.
So please relay my sincere thanks to these two men. A “thank-you” seems to be such little repayment for all that was done to help me, especially in this day and age when so many do not want to take time the tune nor the effort to get involved. It is so reassuring to know that there are Good Samaritans after all.
Mrs. Carl G. Thompson Jr.
In the past two years, 86,000 mentally impaired Americans have lost their Social Security disability benefits and have been cast adrift in a world that is sometimes beyond their cognition.
This is the tragic story of just one of them: Kathleen McGovern. Her
fragile world of TV soap operas and dependence on others began to crumble in August 1981. That’s when she learned that her $297-a-nionth disability payments would be cut off. Social Security Administration bureaucrats had decided she could hold a job and support herself.
Mrs. McGovern was stunned by the decision. Since 1973, she had been consistently diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic; she had been hospitalized at least eight times thereafter. Deemed unable to work, she became one of hundreds of thousands of mentally impaired individuals receiving Social Security disability benefits.
The agency failed to inform the 40-year-old woman that her appeal should have been handled immediately by a judge. Instead, she was subjected to an improper, seven-month “reconsideration” process.
As the SSA now admits, “Mrs. McGovern’s case was mishandled in terms of recognizing the applicable appeal procedure.”
Worse was to come. Because of a “transcription error,” McGovern’s file incorrectly noted the date on which she had first become eligible for benefits.
Twice during her appeal process — once in an interview with a doctor paid by the Social Security Administration — McGovern gave indications that she was considering suicide because of the cutoff. But the agency did nothing. (Belatedly, the agency conceded that it “should have .secured more information about Mrs. McGovern’s mental condition.”)
In December 1981, the doctor made these diagnostic notations on McGovern’s condition: “Totally
dependent. Unmotivated. Cannot shop for self. Cannot prepare meals except very rudimentary items.”
Despite this clear evidence of McGovern’s helplessness, the government used the doctor’s report as the basis for its conclusion two weeks later that there were “no marked restrictive qualities to her day-to-day living.” (The agency now admits that “in light of the conflicting statements it is clear that further investigation was warranted.”)
Ixist February, Mrs. McGovern lost her appeal. Judged by a perfunctory review of her vocational skills, she was deemed capable of working as a waitress. The evidence that let to this decision included “wage records showing several years’ experience as a waitress, and a description of the job of waitress as it appears” in a government dictionary of job titles.
After the government reaffirmed the denial of her disability benefits, McGovern was hospitalized briefly for depression. On June 2, she was
found dead in her Philadelphia apartment. The coroner ruled her death due to natural causes.
Though it’s too late to help McGovern, the Social Security Administration has modified the procedures it uses in its accelerated eligibility reviews. Some have been denounced by Commissioner John Svahn and again, in a preliminary General Accounting Office investigation requested by Sen. John Heinz, R-Pa.
Also a federal judge in Minnesota, reviewing the Midwest Region’s policy, issued a blistering attack on the bureaucrat’s Dickensian pennypinching procedures, calling them “arbitrary, capricious, irrational and an abuse of discretion.”
Footnote: A Social Security
spokesman told my associate Tony Capaccio that the agency’s internal studies show that its termination decisions have been correct 97 percent of the time. The decision in the McGovern case, now admittedly “mishandled,” was one of those adjudged correct.
Neatness Counts: The En
vironmental Protection Agency has launched a gung-ho program to clean up its own environment in Washington. Ifs called “Clean-up ’83.”
A special team of inspectors has been prowling the agency floor-by-floor, to “identify deficiencies” in the EPA’s office surroundings — such as safety hazards, broken furniture and messy stockpiling of paperwork.
Then a film crew was dispatched to the scene to shoot “before” pictures of the cracked tiles, spilled files and other offensive clutter. The films are being shown to EPA workers for inspiration.
“You will be able to watch each phase of inspection, repair and cleanup, as we are videotaping our progress and will show the tapes on the EPA TV monitors,” a memo explains. The films will have an introductory pep talk by Assistant Administrator John Horton.
Spaced Out: When Rep. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, co-chairman of the Congressional Space Caucus, decided to brighten the holiday season with greetings from the caucus to all members of Congress, it nearly gave stamper’s cramp to his office staff. The message read, “May your holiday season be truly out of this world,” and stapled to each card was a Mars candy bar. Akaka’s minions spent hours preparing the sweet greetings.
Cafeteria Concert: For the last few years, James “Stumpy” Brown, a member of the Rayburn House Office Building staff, has brought in his electric organ during the holidays and played Christmas carols in the cafeteria every lunchtime. For the past few weeks, the self-taught Brown has also been entertaining the lunchers with other numbers from his repertoire. Cafeteria manager Caryn Bennett said she would like Brown to perform “at least once a week.”