Inside Opinion

What's on the minds of Tacoma News Tribune editorial writers

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Archives: 2012

Dec.
25th

Will the Republican House please join this government?

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

In Congress, America needs a rational, functional Republican Party. As the fiscal cliff dispute is demonstrating, it doesn’t have one.

For years now, the bickering over the nation’s dangerous deficits has revolved around whether to keep Bush-era tax cuts in place for everyone – the official Republican position – or let them expire only for the wealthiest Americans, as most Democrats favor.

Marginal tax rates for the rich are only part of the nation’s overall deficit problem, but you’d never know it from the noise emanating from the capital. House Republicans and President Obama can’t agree on that question, so they haven’t been able to move on to other necessary action – including averting the “fiscal cliff” that threatens the economy if a slew of tax breaks all expire at once.

Many economists believe America’s increasingly healthy economy would be thrown into recession without at least a short-term budget deal. One number illustrates the threat: According to the respected Tax Policy Center, middle-class households with incomes running from $50,000 to $75,000 would see their taxes jump $2,399 next year, a severe loss of spending power.

Under sequestration – the mutual-assured-destruction pact Republicans and Democrats signed last year – the economy will also be slammed by a barrage of harsh spending cuts. The theory behind sequestration was that the cuts would be so intolerable to everyone, Congress would be forced to do something.

The Republican House majority has now done something. It has collapsed.

A deal appeared in the offing earlier this month. Obama had offered to let the tax cuts expire for Americans with incomes exceeding $400,000 a year (the earlier Democratic talking point had called for $250,000). Majority Leader Boehner countered with an offer to allow the increase to fall on people with incomes exceeding $1 million.

Both positions were drenched with partisan maneuvering and cynical calculation. But they were offers, and thus might have led to counter-offers.
Read more »

Dec.
22nd

Gregoire’s DOA budget plan offers roadmap of possible routes

This editorial will appear in Sunday’s print edition.

Entering her last few weeks as governor, Chris Gregoire tied up one of her constitutionally mandated duties Tuesday. She presented a 2013-2015 budget that makes cuts, raises taxes and is, almost certainly, dead on arrival.

But there’s value in this $34 billion lame-duck proposal, if only to frame the huge challenge before incoming governor Jay Inslee, the Democratic House and the closely divided Senate as they try to reach consensus on a budget.

As in years past, they’ll face a deficit (just under $1 billion), a still-shaky economy and a voter-approved initiative that limits their ability to raise taxes. Add to that the directive in January from the Washington Supreme Court to make progress on addressing a serious shortfall in funding for K-12 education.

The urgency of doing that was reinforced Thursday when the court ruled that the Legislature is moving too slowly in finding more money for education. Although the state has until 2018 to solve its education shortfall problem under the McCleary lawsuit decision, the court wants to see more steady progress than it’s seen so far.
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Dec.
22nd

Parents plead for journalist son’s release

On Sunday we’re running a piece about missing journalist Austin Tice, written by Washington Post executive editor Marcus Brauchli and Anders Gyllenhaal, vice president for news at McClatchy Newspapers. Tice’s parents have written this open letter to their son’s captors.

By Marc Tice and Debra Tice

HOUSTON — Our family is longing for the safe return of our cherished son and beloved brother Austin, who was taken captive while working as a journalist in Syria.

So many things have happened in the more than 18 weeks he has been missing. We missed him terribly at the family gathering for the feast of Thanksgiving. We are a close-knit family, sharing so many memories and traditions. Now, as we prepare for the joyful celebration of Christmas, we desperately want our family to be whole. Our hearts are heavy to think his chair may once again be empty at our family table; we dread missing his great storytelling and contagious laugh. Read more »

Dec.
21st

To the NRA, more guns is the solution to violence

This editorial will appear in the Monday print edition.

So this is the National Rifle Association’s idea of a “meaningful” way to address the kind of gun violence that killed 20 children and six school staff in Newtown, Conn.? To station armed police in every school in America?

“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” said NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre in a Friday news conference one week to the day after the Newtown massacre.

As we have made clear many times before, we support the Second Amendment and the right of individual Americans to own guns to protect their homes, for sport shooting and for hunting. We also support reasonable restrictions, the kind that might keep that “bad guy” from getting his hands on a gun in the first place, such as universal background checks designed to prevent criminals and mentally disturbed individuals from buying weapons.

But the NRA has vigorously fought closing the loophole that allows private-party sales without  background checks. It has also opposed other proposed restrictions such as a ban on high-capacity magazines and microstamping of bullets that would allow law enforcement to better track firearm use. Read more »

Dec.
20th

Apocalypse now? And miss out on the fiscal cliff?

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

So far, so good.

If you’re reading this on Friday, it means the Mayan Apocalypse has not come to pass – yet. But the day is young. There’s still time for the Earth’s magnetic field to flip, a supervolcano to erupt or the hitherto invisible planet Nibiru to collide with ours.

We’re going out on a limb and assume that if nothing’s happened by now, we’re likely home-free.

Most people undoubtedly will be glad that this isn’t their last day. But we suspect some are starting to get a little antsy about now, like the guy who figured he didn’t have to go Christmas shopping with the world ending and all, or the woman who maxxed out all her credit cards because she’d never have to pay them off, right? Welcome to your low, low credit rating, ma’am.
Read more »

Dec.
19th

South Sound would reap few benefits from more coal trains

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

At first glance, a proposal to ship millions of more tons of coal through a Whatcom County terminal might not sound like something that should concern South Sound residents all that much. After all, trains already transport coal through Pierce County for shipment out of Seattle.

But the Whatcom County proposal would mean up to 18 additional trains per day rumbling through Western Washington, transporting coal from Montana and Wyoming for shipment to Asia. Those trains would add traffic to the rails that hug Puget Sound and create additional waits for motorists

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Dec.
18th

Can’t we agree to some limits on the firepower?

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

As the traumatized people of Newtown, Conn., bury their dead, a growing chorus of
Americans can be heard saying, “Enough.”

After Columbine. After Virginia Tech. After Tucson. After Aurora. Something has changed. Call it a tipping point. Even many gun-rights advocates are so sickened by the slaughter of 20 little children and six educators that they are willing to seek common ground with gun-control supporters.

Here’s where we think the conversation could start.
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Dec.
17th

We all have a stake in getting soot out of our air – and our lungs

This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.

When a burn ban notice appears on the front page of The News Tribune (under Today’s Weather), consider yourself warned. It’s not a polite suggestion; violation could mean a hefty fine – up to $1,000.

People once could routinely get away with violating burn bans. There wasn’t enough enforcement, or even much of a compelling reason to go after violators. If detected, they’d often just get a warning and told not to do it again.

But times have changed, and local governments have a big stake in locating those who are contributing to the single greatest source of air pollution in this region: wood burners. They’re cooperating with the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency to augment its corps of 12 inspectors; now about 60 people are available to target burn-ban violations in the Tacoma-Pierce County Smoke Reduction Zone.

That zone – which extends south and east from Tacoma to encompass Lakewood, University Place, Steilacoom, Spanaway, Puyallup and Edgewood – is out of compliance with federal air-quality standards during winter months when people are more likely to build fires.
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