Inside Opinion

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

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Tag: john boehner

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 »

Nov.
6th

Here’s to four more years of Barack Obama

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

We’ll let the partisans cheer and groan; it’s time to settle down to the challenges the president will face in his hard-won second term.

Elected along with Obama is another Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives. Its leaders should be sobered by the return of their political nemesis to the White House – and by the defeat of hyper-conservative Republican candidates for the Senate.

The GOP brand is becoming a harder sell in the United States. That’s partly because its primary voters have purged some of its most appealing mainstream conservatives, partly because the entire party is letting itself be marginalized as an old guard of whites in a nation of expanding ethnic minorities.

Yet the Republicans are not going away, and conservatism is far from a spent force in American politics. There’s still that House majority, led by Speaker John Boehner, for Obama to reckon with.

We’d like to think that the election will clarify things. Republicans can no longer dream of denying the president a second term. Obama knows that the House stands athwart any legislative plans he’d like to pursue in his second term.

They’ll have to live with each other, and deal with each other, if they want to accomplish anything worthwhile for the American people.

America’s overriding problem – to which most other problems attach – is its financial health. The federal government’s immense deficits and the stunning national debt are grave threats to the country. Only Obama, Boehner and the people behind them can do something about it.
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Aug.
6th

Helping lawmakers get re-elected isn’t Army’s mission

This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.

Many members of Congress stumping for re-election back in their districts decry government spending and those awful earmarks. Except (wink, wink) our earmarks, that is.

That’s as good an explanation as any for why the House more than tripled funding for a 70-ton tank the Army doesn’t need or want – and added hundreds of millions more for other items the Pentagon didn’t request, including an anti-drug program that duplicates one performed by the Drug Enforcement Administration.

It’s all about jobs that lawmakers can brag about preserving in their districts. If it means the Army gets more tanks that have little use in the kinds of war it’s been fighting in the 21st century, so be it.

Read more »

July
22nd

Tax transparency good for Romney – and Congress, too

This editorial will appear in Monday’s print edition.

Congressional leaders are right to call on Mitt Romney to release more than two years of tax returns. But their entreaties would be far more credible if those lawmakers were equally as transparent about their own finances.

They say Romney’s refusal to release more tax records suggests he has something to hide. If that’s the case, doesn’t it suggest the same thing when only 17 of 535 members of Congress agree to release their most recent tax returns in response to a request by McClatchy Newspapers?

None of the top Senate or House leaders – Democrats Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid and Republicans John Boehner and Mitch McConnell – agreed to the disclosure, nor did any members of Washington state’s congressional delegation. In fact, none of them even replied to the request one way or another.
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May
19th

Congressional hard-liners paving the road to Athens

This editorial will appear in Sunday’s print edition.

It’s still only May, and the nation’s economic interests have already taken a back seat to the November elections.

House Speaker John Boehner is dropping dark hints about forcing another debt-limit showdown, the first of which – last summer – shook the financial markets and led to a downgrade of America’s credit rating.

After a testy exchange Wednesday with President Barack Obama, Boehner had an aide tell the public that the House wouldn’t approve any increase in the debt limit “without doing something about the debt.”

Obama’s press secretary countered with a presidential vow to reject “an approach that asks the middle class and senior citizens to make sacrifices without asking for anything more from millionaires and billionaires.”

That’s pretty much sums up the competing political pitches of Republicans and Democrats: For public consumption at least, Republicans insist America’s $15.7 trillion national debt can be handled with spending cuts alone.
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Sep.
3rd

Economic crisis is a poor time for political pettiness

This editorial will appear in Sunday’s print edition.

Last week, U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner and other Republican leaders devoted themselves to quarreling with the White House about the timing of a presidential address to Congress.

The monumental question: Wednesday? Or Thursday?

Closer to home, the Tacoma Education Association continued its campaign to exaggerate the size of the school district’s rainy day fund and grab as much of it as possible.

Some people apparently have more pressing concerns than the economic hurricane that may be bearing down on the nation, the state and local governments – including the Tacoma School District.

Given the darkening skies, politicians, unions, employers ought to be collaborating anxiously on plans to survive the next couple of years. Not perpetuating old disputes that strike most people as petty and self-serving. Read more »

Aug.
2nd

A dubious debt deal, a big victory for the tea party

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

Every time House Speaker John Boehner walked into a room to talk debt limits with Barack Obama, he was followed by an invisible crowd with cocked hats and manic smiles.

The tea pot brigade.

“Just between us,” Boehner could say, “I know it makes sense to include some new revenue in the deal. But I’ve got these crazy members who wouldn’t want the richest man in American to kick in an extra dime toward a balanced budget.

“You don’t know what it’s like caucusing with these nuts. There’s no dealing with them. Hell, some of them would squeeze me out of leadership in a heartbeat if they could, and then who would you be dealing with?

“Some of them really would let America go into default rather than raise taxes. And there’s even crazier guys back in their home districts talking about running against them if they cut me any slack.

“I’d love to play ball with you, Mr. President, but that’s the world I have to live in.” Read more »