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Michael Barone - Just 2 WWII vets left in CongressFOR FRIDAY 6-7

Over the last seven decades, 115 veterans of World War II have served in the United States Senate. This week, the last of them, Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, died.
Two World War II veterans still serve in the House — Ralph Hall of Texas, who was a Navy pilot, and John Dingell, who joined the Army at 18 and was scheduled to take part in the planned invasion of Japan. There aren't likely to be any more members of what Tom Brokaw labeled the Greatest Generation to serve in Congress. All surviving World War II veterans (except a few who lied about their age) are at least 85 years old.
In the 68 years since World War II ended, veterans of the conflict have played an outsized role in American politics — more than veterans of any other conflict since the Civil War.
Not much notice was paid when the last Spanish-American War veteran in Congress, Barratt O'Hara, died in 1969.
Nor was much attention directed at the retirement from Congress in the 1970s of the last two World War I veterans — Sen. Mike Mansfield of Montana (who lied about his age to enlist) and Sen. John Sparkman of Alabama (who served in the Students Army Training Corps).
In contrast, World War II veterans made a big splash in politics starting shortly after the war ended. Dozens of young veterans were elected to Congress in 1946, including future Presidents John Kennedy and Richard Nixon. The two had offices near each other and, as Christopher Matthews chronicled in his 1996 book "Kennedy and Nixon," were on friendly terms until they became political rivals.
When they ran for president in 1960, they were both in their 40s — a vivid contrast with the much older presidents of the previous two decades.
From Kennedy's victory that year until George H.W. Bush's defeat in 1992, a period of 32 years, every president served in the military during World War II, although Lyndon Johnson's service was brief and Jimmy Carter did not graduate from the Naval Academy until after the war was over.
Many other members of the Greatest Generation entered politics early and made a mark. Lloyd Bentsen, first elected to Congress in 1948, and George McGovern, first elected in 1956, were both bomber pilots — extremely hazardous duty. Three future senators — Philip Hart of Michigan, Daniel Inouye of Hawaii and Bob Dole of Kansas — first met in a rehabilitation center in Battle Creek, Mich., recovering from serious wounds.
More than 400,000 American servicemen died in World War II — 100 times the American death toll in Iraq — and the lives of millions were disrupted. But wartime service also opened up opportunities for many.
One of them was Frank Lautenberg. His prospects seemed dim. His father died when he was a teenager, and his mother ran a sandwich shop. But thanks to the G.I. Bill of Rights, he was able to attend Columbia University.
Most big corporations in those days did not hire Jews for management positions. But Lautenberg was able to get in on the ground floor of a startup company called Automatic Payrolls Inc. It filled a niche created by the wartime institution of income tax withholding. Businesses needed someone to do the paperwork, and Lautenberg was hired as a salesman by the firm's founders.
Soon he became head of the renamed Automatic Data Processing (ADP), and under his leadership it processed paychecks for about 10 percent of the national workforce. With the fortune he made, Lautenberg was able to pay for his first Senate campaign in 1982.
Like many but by no means all World War II veterans, Lautenberg was a liberal Democrat, a fighter unafraid of navigating the sometimes troubled waters of New Jersey politics.
He retired from the Senate in 2000 but was happy to be called back by Democratic politicos to replace his scandal-struck colleague Bob Torricelli, with whom he had a stormy relationship, on the 2002 ballot.
The Greatest Generation has had a long and sometimes stormy run in American politics. Lyndon Johnson was tripped up by Vietnam, and Richard Nixon by Watergate.
Ronald Reagan did much to restore the faith in institutions that seemed so strong in what his generation always called The War.
Now, with just two World War II veterans in the House, the Greatest Generation is finally passing on into history.
(Syndicated columnist Michael Barone is senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner, is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and co-author of The Almanac of American Politics.)

Last Updated on Thursday, 06 June 2013 09:40

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Sen. Andrew Hosmer - N.H. can't wait; expanding Medicaid helps taxpayers, businesses & our hospitals

Last week, the New Hampshire Senate Finance Committee rejected expanding Medicaid in New Hampshire and instead opted to delay and study.  This politically motivated decision is fiscally short-sighted and will hurt our health care system and our entire economy.
The Medicaid program is a partnership between the federal government and the states. It primarily covers poor children, senior citizens, expecting mothers, and people with disabilities. Today, New Hampshire covers about 132,000 people, and the costs are split 50-50 between the state and the feds.
However, under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), states now have the option to extend Medicaid to working adults with annual incomes up to $15,856. And instead of splitting the costs evenly for this new group, the federal government will pay 100 percent from 2014-2016, and then after 2020 it will pay 90 percent.
According to non-partisan studies from the Lewin Group and New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute, the economic impact of this extended coverage is overwhelmingly positive.  It’s estimated that over the next seven years, New Hampshire will receive $2.5 billion in federal funds, New Hampshire’s hospitals will save $400 million, and the economic spinoff will create upwards of 5,000 jobs and $2.8 billion in gross state product.  
And how much will this cost New Hampshire? Zero, once managed care in Medicaid is implemented in the coming year.  
So where’s the opposition coming from?  Despite the huge benefits, some have argued that there is still a risk for New Hampshire, since the federal government might somehow renege on its promise.  The history of Medicaid is contrary to this fear, as the federal government has never failed to fully fund Medicaid in more than 45 years.  Also, if they ever do, New Hampshire can pull out at any time.
Others say that it makes financial sense to stop and study for a year.  This is unnecessary as expansion has been studied by non-partisan groups and their conclusions are quite similar. In fact, delaying a year costs us $340 million, drives up costs for businesses, and leaves tens of thousands of people in New Hampshire without coverage.
Putting politics aside and even beyond the clear economic and fiscal benefits, extending Medicaid coverage is important for our entire health care system.  Our current system, with skyrocketing insurance costs, increasing demands for charity care, declining Medicaid reimbursement rates and an inadequate understanding of mental health issues, is broken and in need of immediate, substantive reform.  Expanding Medicaid, regardless of how one feels about the ACA, is an opportunity to address and begin reforming our health care system.
Even fiscally conservative governors from across the country, including Chris Christie (R-NJ), Jan Brewer (R-AR), John Kasich (R–OH) and Rick Scott (R-FL), support Medicaid expansion, because it just makes so much sense for their states, and they are willing to look past the short-term politics.  If New Hampshire doesn’t take advantage of expansion, our hard earned tax dollars will go to subsidizing health care in these other states.  How ironic that N.H.’s healthcare system is struggling, yet Granite Staters will be paying for other states’ health care.  If this happens, New Hampshire will be 50th out of 50 states in the return of federal tax dollars to the state — the biggest “donor state” in the whole country.
The human cost is also staggering.   Medicaid expansion would cover 58,000 hard-working New Hampshire tax-payers (including 1500 veterans and 800 of their spouses).  These people are our neighbors, people we see at church, ball games and the grocery store — people who work multiple jobs trying to keep a roof over their head and food on the table.  
When I campaigned for the State Senate I remember well how many people told me they were tired of hyper-partisan politics.  I promised that I would remember those conversations and put them into action when elected.  This doesn’t have to be a partisan issue: we have a genuine opportunity to work together as pragmatic problem solvers.  It’s rare that a real, genuine solution is open to us.  Let’s grab it. Let’s put Granite Staters first and do what’s best for our healthcare providers, our business community, our economy and the hard working taxpayers of New Hampshire.
(Democrat Andrew Hosmer of Laconia represents District 7 in the N.H. Senate)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 05 June 2013 08:58

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Jim Hightower - IRS should outlaw all 'social welfare' political fronts — left & right

If you're covered in political stink, it might be prudent to avoid yelling "dirty politics" at others.
Lately, a mess of right-wing tea party groups have been wailing nonstop that they have been targeted, harassed and denied their civic rights by partisan, out-of-control, Obamanistic IRS thugs (no adjective too extreme when assailing Obama or the IRS). The groups certainly are right that it's abhorrent for a powerful agency to run a repressive witch hunt against any group of citizens just because of their political views. After all, liberals have frequently felt the lash of such official repression by assorted McCarthyite-Nixonite-Cheneyite forces over the years, and it must be condemned, no matter who the victims.
In this case, however, the right-wing groups were not targeted by government snoops and political operatives, but tagged by their own applications to be designated by the IRS as 501(c)(4) "social welfare" groups. This privileged status would allow them to take unlimited bags of corporate cash without ever revealing to voters the names of the corporations putting up the money. The caveat is that 501(c)(4)s are supposed to do actual social welfare work and cannot be attached to any candidate or party, nor can politics be their primary purpose.
Forget what the rule says, though. Such notorious political players as Karl Rove and the Koch brothers have cynically set up their own pretend-welfare groups, openly using them as fronts to run secret-money election campaigns. Suddenly, hundreds of wannabe outfits were demanding that they be given the special hide-the-money designation, too, brazenly lying about their overt political purpose. Some even asserted that they were engaged in no political activity, when their own websites bragged that they were.
It was these groups' stupidity and audacity that prompted the IRS inquiries, and their current hissy fit about the agency is really just a PR effort to let them continue their "social welfare" fraud.
I think of a "social welfare charity" as being an altruistic enterprise, like The Little Sisters of the Poor — not the avaricious Little Koch Brothers of the Plutocracy.
Yet the brothers have created their very own 501(c)(4) charity, which they used last year as a political front group for funneling $39 million into campaigns against Democrats. Interesting, since, the law bans these tax-exempt entities from spending more than 49 percent of their funding on political efforts to promote their "issues."
Yet, there they are — hoards of political (c)(4)s, mostly right-wing, operating primarily as political pipelines for secretly gushing corporate money into raw, partisan campaigns. Their hocus-pocus lawyers and congressional consiglieres have badgered the IRS into handing them the (c)(4) get-out-of-jail-free card, then defied the agency to stop them as they dump millions of corrupt dollars into our elections.
For example, American Action Network, a "charity" created by Wall Street lobbyists, has spent two-thirds of its revenue on elections, including putting up $745,000 from secret donors to elect Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin. How ironic, then, that Johnson is now one of the tea party mad dogs howling at IRS officials.
It's scandalous, Johnson shrieks, that some tea party groups have not been given (c)(4) status, because IRS agents have had the temerity to question whether the groups actually are charitable enterprises — or just rank political outfits fraudulently posing as charities.
While tea party groups should not be singled out for IRS scrutiny, neither should they be allowed to cheat in elections by shamefully masquerading as Little Sisters of the Poor. That's the real IRS scandal.
(Jim Hightower has been called American's most popular populist. The radio commentator and former Texas Commissioner of Agriculture is author of seven books, including "There's Nothing In the Middle of Road but Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos" and his new work, "Swim Against the Current: Even Dead Fish Can Go With The Flow".)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 05 June 2013 08:55

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Pat Buchanan - Abolish the corporate income tax

Sen. Carl Levin was aghast. Before his committee sat, unapologetic and uncontrite, Apple CEO Tim Cook, whose company had paid no U.S. corporate income taxes on the $74 billion it had earned abroad in recent years.
"Apple has sought the Holy Grail of tax avoidance," said Levin. "Apple has exploited an absurdity."
Actually, Apple had done nothing wrong, except hire some crack accountants who chose Ireland's County Cork as the headquarters of their international division. Thus Apple paid on profits earned outside the U.S.A. nothing but a 2 percent tax imposed by the Irish government. Far from being condemned, Apple's CPAs ought to be inducted into the Accountants Hall of Fame.
It is no more immoral for Apple to move its headquarters for foreign sales to Ireland than for Big Apple residents to move to Florida to escape the 12 percent combined state and city income tax.
Among the reasons the Sun Belt is booming at the expense of the Rust Belt is not just the weather. Southern states strive to keep income and estate taxes low or nonexistent. They want companies and families to relocate and live there, and to spend their money there.
The problem here is not with Apple, it is with Sen. Levin & Co.
In a press release, "Avoiding Their Fair Share of Taxes," the AFL-CIO hails Levin and bewails the fact that though the U.S. corporate tax rate is 35 percent, highest in the world, corporate income tax revenue has fallen to well below 10 percent of federal tax revenue. "Cash tax payments by non-financial companies in the S&P 500 Index fell ... to $222 billion in 2010," moaned the AFL-CIO. "Another corporate tax avoidance strategy is to move overseas to a corporate tax haven like Bermuda. By reincorporating offshore, companies avoid paying federal income taxes on profits earned outside the United States."
Yes, they do. But instead of bewailing this, perhaps we should start thinking and acting as our forebears did. In the same Wall Street Journal that reported on Cook's defense of Apple, former Sen. Phil Gramm described that earlier America: "Over the late 19th century, real GDP and employment doubled, annual average real earnings rose by over 60 percent and wholesale prices fell by 75 percent, thanks to marked improvement in productivity."
Astonishing. And what is the difference between that age and ours? A 35 percent income tax rate on individuals and corporations that did not exist then, and would have been regarded by Americans of the Gilded Age as the satanic work of Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx.
From the Civil War to World War I, our economy grew from one-half the size of Great Britain's to twice Britain's. American companies were capturing markets abroad. Today's U.S. companies are looking for ways to relocate abroad.
Herewith, a modest proposal to turn this around.
Since the U.S. corporate income tax now produces less than 10 percent of federal revenue and less than 2 percent of gross domestic product, abolish it. Get rid of it.
Think of it. A continent-wide nation that doesn't tax business.
Assume this would cost the Treasury $250 billion in lost revenue. How to make it up? Put a 10 percent tariff on imports entering the United States, which last year added up to $2.7 trillion.
This tax reform would thus be revenue neutral.
And what would a corporate income tax rate of zero, with a 10 percent tariff on goods entering the U.S.A. from abroad, accomplish?
First, every U.S. corporation that had moved abroad in search of lower taxes in recent years would start thinking about coming home and bringing its production and its jobs back to America.
Second, that $2 trillion in income U.S. companies have stashed abroad would come roaring back into U.S. institutions.
Third, foreign companies would begin to relocate and produce here in America, both to get around the tariff and pay no taxes.
Fourth, U.S. producers would see sales soar inside the $17 trillion U.S. market, at the expense of foreigners who would pay a 10-percent admission fee to get into this market, a fraction of what they used to pay in the 19th century.
While this would cause a surge in unemployment among IRS agents and accountants, hundreds of millions of man hours could be redirected away from filling out tax forms and into productive work.
"Since 1980, the U.S. has run trade deficits in every year totaling about $9 trillion," writes columnist Robert Samuelson.
That is 9 thousand billion dollars in trade deficits!
It is what unmade America as a self-reliant republic and made China a manufacturing marvel. And those trade deficits are how America became a dependent nation in hock to the world.
From 1865 to 1914, America had 10 Republican presidents. All believed in financing government by taxing imports, not the incomes of U.S. citizens or the U.S. companies that employed them.
And this was how the miracle Sen. Gramm details came about.
(Syndicated columnist Pat Buchanan has been a senior advisor to three presidents, twice a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination and the presidential nominee of the Reform Party in 2000. He won the New Hampshire Republican Primary in 1996.)

Last Updated on Tuesday, 04 June 2013 08:27

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Froma Harrop - Are India's child brides America's problem?

The practice of marrying young girls to older men persists in Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa and elsewhere. It is a concern. But need it be America's concern and, more to the point, America's business to stop?
The answer is yes, according to a new Council on Foreign Relations report. Ending child marriage, author Rachel B. Vogelstein states, "is a strategic imperative that will further critical U.S. foreign policy interests."
Is it? Do we need a global crusade to end a custom already in decline and generally limited to impoverished rural areas? Perhaps it is more in our interests to stay out of the business of telling foreigners how they should regulate marriage.
Americans have a long history of trying to make everyone just like us. In the 1820s, New England missionaries sought to save Hawaiian souls by banning the hula. In the 2000s, America embarked on war to bestow democracy's blessings on Iraq. These ventures, usually done in the name of the national interest, rarely work out as planned.
The reauthorized Violence Against Women Act orders the secretary of state to "establish and implement a multi-year, multi-sectoral strategy to prevent child marriage" and so on. Here we go.
Now Vogelstein makes some compelling arguments. Child marriage slows a country's economic development by stunting girls' education. There's the serious question of human rights: Girls should have the power to direct their own future.
But then there's her iffier claim that the "success of U.S. efforts to foster development, prosperity and stability will grow if this persistent practice comes to an end." Even if valid, achieving these good results should be things the countries themselves want.
Which brings us to India. India is home to nearly half the world's child brides, a product of the tradition's roots in South Asia and India's huge population.
India is also a surging world economic power, full of highly educated women, some of whom run the country. In 2006, it passed a Prohibition of Child Marriage Act. And the incidence of child marriage there has already fallen sharply from 26 percent in 1999 to 18 percent in 2011.
Recent hideous rape cases have brought massive protests to India's streets. The people there seem perfectly capable of addressing aspects of their culture they don't like.
Despite the progress, Vogelstein complains that "some Indian laws continue to establish the age of majority at 14," rather than at 18. So, should the State Department be lecturing other countries on how to define a minor?
Let's turn the mirror around, shall we? Let's count the number of young American teens — some age 15 and under — now having babies, and without the marriage part.
Last month, a 5-year-old boy in Kentucky shot and killed his 2-year-old sister with a rifle given him as a present. Putting real guns in the hands of little kids is apparently common in some parts of this land.
"It's a normal way of life, and it's not just in Kentucky, it's rural America," a Cumberland County judge explained to a baffled world media.
That same week, an 8-year-old in Alaska killed his 5-year-old sister with a gun. Did America's leaders launch a campaign to change the custom of arming children? It did not, as much as it should have.
The point is, the United States should carefully pick and choose the moral imperatives it wants to push on others. We're rather advanced on dignity-of-women issues. But where's the urgency for us to "fix" old cultures not our own?
Let others catch up. Changing their ways on child marriage may benefit them. It's not for us to tell them to.
(A member of the Providence Journal editorial board, Froma Harrop writes a nationally syndicated column from that city. She has written for such diverse publications as The New York Times, Harper's Bazaar and Institutional Investor.)

Last Updated on Monday, 03 June 2013 11:03

Hits: 265

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