Inside Opinion

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Tag: Nancy Pelosi


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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Threats that target America itself

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Few Americans need reminding that violence has no place in politics. The alleged death threat against U.S. Sen. Patty Murray is a good occasion to talk about why.

A physical attack on an elected leader – be it Ronald Reagan, John F. Kennedy, Gerald Ford or former Seattle Mayor Paul Schell – has a criminal dimension beyond ordinary assault or murder. Violence is done against the human being, but violence is also done against democracy itself.

The assassination of an elected leader overturns the election that put him or her in office. In a broad sense, that’s treason – not treason against the leader in question, but betrayal of a constitutional system that guarantees a government founded on the will of the people as expressed in elections, not angry rallies. In America, elections are sacred. The alternatives are not pretty: coups, civil wars, revolutions and thugocracy.

Assaults on public figures may also be a form of terrorism – attacks on the innocent to achieve political or religious ends.

“Mere” threats of violence serve much the same purpose as outright attacks. In both cases, the goal is to intimidate political opponents or decapitate their leadership. Murray has plenty of company on the receiving end of intimidation. Several other members of Congress – including Rep. Eric Cantor, a Republican – have been so threatened. On Wednesday, the FBI arrested a San Francisco man in connection with threats he’d reportedly made against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
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A flawed bill, but far better than none

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

The so-called Obamacare package now before the U.S. House of Representatives is neither socialism nor – by itself – a solution for what’s wrong with health care in America. We’d prefer to order a different bill, but this is the only one on the menu.

The claim that President Obama and Congress are enacting something like socialized medicine isn’t serious. Britain has socialized medicine: The system is owned by the state, and doctors are government employees.

Canada’s semi-socialized “single-payer” is a hybrid: The government is the insurer, but many doctors remain in private practice. Most liberal Democrats probably wanted something like Canada’s system, but they didn’t get it and they didn’t get even the consolation prize of a government-run “public option.”

The new “reconciliation” bill the House will vote on shortly would leave America’s private insurance industry in place, but with new regulations designed to cover the nation’s uninsured and help the insured keep their coverage. It’s not a conservative, market-oriented plan, but the American health care system has been a creature of heavy regulation for many decades.
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Missteps toward health care reform

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

This country needs health care reform. Medical coverage must be extended to the tens of millions of Americans who don’t have it. But the details matter, and so does the way Congress makes the key decisions.

It’s a bad sign that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is talking about using a procedural gimmick that would let House Democrats vote to pass a bill while pretending that they didn’t vote to pass it.

The scheme arises from the fact that Democrats in the House and Senate weren’t able to agree on the particulars of a reform package while the Democrats still held a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.
Now the House must approve the Senate bill in its entirety in order to fast-track the issue to “reconciliation,” a process the Democrats want to use to produce a compromise bill not subject to filibuster.

Since so many Democrats don’t want their fingerprints on the Senate bill, Pelosi says she may smuggle it (our words, not hers) through a floor vote with a measure stating that it is “deemed” to have passed. The word – normally used more honestly – would presumably let lawmakers claim that deeming isn’t approving and they aren’t necessarily the ones who did the deeming.
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A brutal lesson for Democratic leaders

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

To paraphrase George W. Bush, the Democrats took a thumpin’ Tuesday in Massachusetts.
It hard to imagine how a single state election could have served up more grief for President Obama and the Democratic leaders in Congress.

Massachusetts was, and probably still is, the bluest state in the Union. It had not sent a Republican to the U.S. Senate since 1972.

The election pitted Scott Brown, a flea on an underdog’s belly, against Martha Coakley, who’d won statewide election as attorney general. At stake was the Senate seat occupied by uber-Democrat Ted Kennedy for close to half a century.

Brown campaigned against the Democratic plans for national health care reform – the signature issue of Barack Obama and Kennedy himself. The Republican’s campaign took off when he began billing himself as the crucial 41st vote to block the legislation in the Senate. And, he won decisively. However inept a campaign Coakley ran, someone like Brown could not have upset a Massachusetts Democrat with a pulse unless the national winds were blowing hurricane-hard against Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and their agendas.

Cause and effect: Within hours of Brown’s election, Obama was signaling his interest in a compromise health reform bill. Sen. Mark Pryor, an Arkansas Democrat, said, “Republicans have a lot of good ideas.” That’s likely to become a common theme – on a lot of issues – in coming months.
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The window narrows for health care reform

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

Health care reform wasn’t on Tuesday’s ballot, but it might as well have been.

The decisive Republican victories in the New Jersey and Virginia governors races have spooked at least some congressional Democrats recently elected from red districts. That may mean that the window for action on health care reform is beginning to close – and that the window may already be too narrow for the most controversial measures to squeeze through.

Yet House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and fellow congressional leaders continue to obsess about the single most controversial provision: the “public option,” a new government-run insurance plan that would compete with private insurers.

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