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Heavy-Handed Politics

"€œGod willing, with the force of God behind it, we shall soon experience a world
without the United States and Zionism."€ -- Iran President Ahmadi-Nejad

Friday, July 22, 2005

News from the Swamp...

In the House
There's very little noise coming from the Social Security front. Four House Republicans -- Sam Johnson, Paul Ryan, Jim McCrery and Clay Shaw -- will take the limelight next week to push for SS privatization, now dubbed "Grow Accounts." Further, Ways and Means Chairman Bill Thomas, Speaker Denis Hastert and other powerbrokers are fully supportive of the newly-minted Grow Accounts and are prepared to cast the debate in terms of genuine investment in personal-retirement accounts versus continued pork-barrel spending on the Hill.

In the Senate
Further attempts to cut Amtrak loose were derailed again when the Senate Appropriations Committee unanimously approved a reinstatement of the railroad's $1.4-billion operating subsidy. The move rightfully earned an immediate veto threat from the administration, which sought to cut the subsidy and set aside $360 million for emergency funds in case Amtrak goes bankrupt. Amtrak has made only modest improvements in service over the years and has been a continuous black hole of government money. Like all subsidized companies and industries, there is no incentive for the railroad to improve its service or technology in any way, nor is there any incentive to operate in the black.

Elsewhere, in a remarkable change of direction, indications in the Senate suggest that Republicans are coming very close to the 60 votes needed to end the infamous death tax. With tacit support from Demo Senators Mark Pryor and Ben Nelson, and with a compromise being crafted by Demo Sen. Max Baucus -- up for reelection in the very red state of Montana -- the death tax could soon be capped at 15 percent, and only on estates of $5 million and above. The tax would be eliminated entirely for estates under the $5 million threshold.


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