The Seattle Times: Congress should extend the sales-tax deduction
Year after year, Washington state taxpayers are forced to play Congress’ aggravating game of fantasy role-playing. Alas, there are no elixirs or elves, although there are a few ogres.
In this game, Congress pretends it will magically transform into a body capable of passing a comprehensive tax bill. Such a bill would almost assuredly include a permanent federal income-tax deduction for state and local sales taxes, on par with the existing permanent deduction for state income taxes. This matters because some states, such as Washington, have the former, but not the latter.
Instead, every year since 2004, Congress has passed a temporary extension of the sales-tax deduction. Next year, fantastical thinking goes, will be the big fix for the tax code.
Washington’s delegation, led for years by U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, has tried to pop this absurdity. So too this year, with Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., hammering away. President Obama is on board, recommending a permanent sales-tax deduction.
But the U.S. House left town on Friday for the year without so much as another temporary extension, effectively ending the deduction beginning in 2014.
The fantasy game likely will resume on Jan. 6: Congress could pass a retroactive exemption, allowing deductions for the full 2014 calendar year.
They could even pretend it had never expired, and, with a sprinkle of pixie dust, wipe clean the memory that the 113th U.S. Congress was the least productive in the history of the country, passing just 56 bills as of Friday.
Congress should end this game. Pass a permanent sales-tax deduction.
The Seattle Times: Congress should extend the sales-tax deduction
St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Why poverty across the world matters to Americans
A child starving in South Sudan should matter to Americans. That was the message delivered last week by Nancy Lindborg, whose job at the U.S. Agency for International Development is to lead a federal bureau spreading democracy and humanitarian assistance across the world.
That world has reached a critical danger zone, with three high-level crises combining military conflict with humanitarian catastrophes affecting millions of innocents in Syria, the South Sudan and the Central African Republic.
But back to that child.
Government leadership complicit in overfilling prisons
One of the thorniest problems facing any society is the question of what to do with transgressors. Obviously, the more complicated a culture becomes, the more factors come into play in trying to figure out what to do with those who choose not to “play by the rules.”
My best days are ones normal people take for granted
It is a weekend for working around the house. My fiancee, Erin, and I have the baby’s room to paint and some IKEA furniture to assemble. I roll out of bed early — 10:30 — and get into my wheelchair. Erin is already making coffee in the kitchen.
“I started the first wall,” she says. “I love that gray.” Erin never bugs me about sleeping late. For a few months after I was injured in the Boston Marathon bombings, I often slept 15 hours a day. The doctors said my body needed to heal. It must still be healing because I hardly ever see 8 a.m. anymore.
Instead of mothballing Navy ships, give them to our allies
A bitter debate has raged in the Pentagon for several months about the wisdom of taking the nuclear aircraft carrier George Washington out of service to save money. The Washington, at 24 years old a relatively young vessel, is due for a costly refit, a routine procedure that all of the 11 large carriers in service undergo regularly.
The pessimist’s guide to grizzly bears and Earth Day
This coming Friday, to “celebrate Earth Day,” the Walt Disney Co. will release one of those cutesy, fun-for-all-ages, nature documentaries. “Bears” is about grizzly bears.
The trailer says, “From DisneyNature comes a story that all parents share. About the love, the joy, the struggle and the strength it takes to raise a family.”
Talk about your misguided “Hollywood values.” I previously have acknowledged a morbid, unreasonable fear of grizzly bears, stemming from a youth misspent reading grisly grizzly-attack articles in Readers Digest. This fear is only morbid and unreasonable because I live about 1,500 miles from the nearest wild grizzly bear. Still. ...
Digging out of the CIA-Senate quagmire
Last week, the Senate Intelligence Committee, led by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., voted to declassify parts of its report on the CIA’s rendition, detention and interrogation program. The White House, the CIA and the Senate still have to negotiate which portions of the report will be redacted before it is made public. But this is an important step in resolving the ugly dispute that has erupted between the intelligence committee and the intelligence agency.
The dispute presents two very serious questions. Was the program consistent with American values and did it produce valuable intelligence? And is effective congressional oversight of secret activities possible in our democracy?
Los Angeles Times: Congress extend jobless benefits again
How’s this for irony: Having allowed federal unemployment benefits to run out in December, some lawmakers are balking at a bill to renew them retroactively because it might be hard to figure out who should receive them. Congress made this task far harder than it should have been, but the technical challenges aren’t insurmountable. Lawmakers should restore the benefits now and leave them in place until the unemployment rate reaches a more reasonable level.
Many nations invested in Israel
Former Israeli Ambassador to the United States Yoram Ettinger recently spoke to a gathering at the Chabad Center for Jewish Life and Learning in Oklahoma City. The event began with a presentation by Rabbi Ovadia Goldman, who told the attendee that the upcoming Jewish holiday of Passover was an occasion for them to embrace the children of God, which is all of humanity.
Coming soon: More ways to get to know your doctor
Last week, the federal government released a massive database capable of providing patients with much more information about their doctors.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the government agency that runs Medicare, is posting on its website detailed information about how many visits and procedures individual health professionals billed the program for in 2012, and how much they were paid.
This new trove of data, which covers 880,000 health professionals, adds to a growing body of information available to patients who don’t want to leave choosing a doctor to chance. But to put that information to good use, consumers need to be aware of what is available, what’s missing and how to interpret it.
HEY HINK: Hateful bullies attempt to muffle free speech
Hopefully we agree it should be a fundamental right to voice criticism of any religion you wish. And you should have the right to sing the praises of any religion you choose. If criticism of religion is unjust, feel free to make your best argument to prove it. If criticism is just, don’t be afraid to acknowledge and embrace it. If songs of praise are merited, feel free to join in. If not, feel free to ignore them. But no American should participate in curbing free speech just because expression of religious views makes someone uncomfortable.
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- St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Why poverty across the world matters to Americans