Inside Opinion

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

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Obama must step up his game on health reform

This editorial will appear in Monday’s print edition.

There is no way to spin the White House’s retreat on the employer mandate as a good omen for the Affordable Care Act.

The mandate – a requirement that companies offer health benefits if they employ 50 or more full-time workers – was supposed to be one of the easier parts of health care reform. It was just a matter of the Treasury Department and Department of Health and Human Services writing regulations and companies providing payroll information.

But employers have been complaining loudly about confusion and costs – and threatening to

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Immigration, drug cartels and a Lakewood murder

This editorial will appear in Sunday’s print edition.

Still need a reason to look kindly on immigration reform? Would a defeat for Mexican drug cartels do the trick?

Some Americans might still have the perception that Mexico’s depraved drug lords are pretty much preoccupied with fighting each other and their government, with some thuggery spilling over into Arizona and other border states.

If only. Cartel operatives and contractors have thoroughly penetrated the United States, and many of them are Mexican criminals who camouflage themselves as ordinary Mexicans who crossed the border for jobs. The fact that so many of the

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Health takes a hit with Parkland fluoride decision

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

How can a public utility buck a national trend in health care? Unfortunately, folks served by Parkland Light & Water are about to find out as that system moves toward no longer fluoridating its water supply.

Prevention is the focus in health care now as a way of keeping health care costs at least somewhat under control. That makes sense: Spending a little up front to prevent ailments can often prevent having to spend much more later to treat those conditions.

Fluoridation of public water supplies is one of the most important preventive steps that can be taken; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ranks it as one of the 10 most Read more »


The America they wanted; the America they got

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

Eleven score and 17 years ago, some of the world’s greatest minds brought forth what became the world’s greatest nation.

Dare we wonder what they would think of us today?

Let’s survey the guys enshrined in our wallets: Benjamin Franklin of the $100 bill, Alexander Hamilton of the $10, Thomas Jefferson of the elusive $2 and George Washington, whose $1 note is worth less but gets around more.

So what’s their take on July 4, 2013?

Franklin’s the guy who’d feel right at home if transported to 21st-century America.

High-tech-drenched world? No

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THA offers a broader vision of subsidized housing

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

Housing authorities rarely make headlines. When they do, it’s rarely in a good way.

The Tacoma Housing Authority is proving itself the exception.

In recent years, the THA has been reinventing subsidized housing — radically reinventing it, compared with the standard entitlement model.

Federally funded housing authorities have traditionally passed out subsidies like the old welfare system, which had the perverse effect of subsidizing dependency among adults capable of working.

Starting with the welfare reforms of 1996, most heads of families were given a lifetime maximum of five years on public assistance. While on welfare, they were expected to actively seek work or train for jobs.

In contrast, the strings normally attached to federal housing funds have required local housing authorities to increase a family’s subsidies if its income goes down and cut if its income went up. As long as the household fits the formula, the subsidies don’t stop.

But housing authorities have a problem that federal welfare doesn’t: There is never enough money to help every family that can’t afford a decent place to live. The THA has a long line of applicants who commonly wait four or five years for housing assistance.
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Tragedy reflects potential danger from any kind of fire

This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.

The horrible news from Arizona that 19 members of an elite firefighting crew were killed by a fast-moving wall of flame should be a cautionary tale.

The lesson is that any fire, however it is caused, can have tragic consequences.

The Yarnell Hill wildfire — the deadliest in 80 years – reportedly was caused by lightning. But it could just as easily have been caused by an unattended campfire, a cigarette flipped out a car window, a criminal firebug or kids playing with fireworks. When potential fuel is dry, all it takes

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Remove some mystery from secret FISA court

This editorial will appear in Monday’s print edition.

The Obama administration is reportedly exploring ways to declassify some documents related to the controversial, secret FISA court.

That’s a welcome move, one that should cast light on the little-known work of the FISA judges charged with oversight responsibilities under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

The best outcome of declassifying the documents would be to help demystify the court, which was created by Congress in 1978 as a reaction to unauthorized domestic spying by the government in the 1960s and ’70s. Under FISA, a judge must approve a warrant for the

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A surprisingly good budget from a divided Legislature

This editorial will appear in Sunday’s print edition.

The 2013 Legislature can’t be judged a success because it failed to approve the major highway improvements needed to keep Washington’s economy growing.

That said, lawmakers deserve praise for pulling together a surprisingly good operating budget last week in the face of deadline pressure.

For months, the Legislature was locked in the kind of partisan gridlock that has all but paralyzed the budget-writing process in Congress.

The Democrats who run the state House of Representatives were pushing to preserve the social safety net by ending a collection of tax breaks and

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