Disagreements about economic package threaten bipartisanship

Posted: Thursday, October 25, 2001

The mood of bipartisan good feeling in Washington may change soon if congressional leaders can't show some restraint in putting together an economic stimulus package. ...

The nation's democratic institutions and traditions are strong enough to withstand the assaults of those who hate freedom.

Still, there's a danger that members of Congress will try to use the events of Sept. 11 to advance pet ideas and programs that could not withstand scrutiny under ordinary circumstances.

A bad proposal is still a bad proposal; bipartisan goodwill cannot erase the consequences of flawed programs. ...

The president and Democratic and Republican leaders in Congress agree that some combination of tax cuts and new spending is needed to keep the economy from falling into a prolonged recession. Already the president has listened to the appeals of Democrats and substantially increased spending packages to aid New York City and the struggling airline industry.

These measures were defensible, but the president should adamantly resist, even to the point of using his veto authority, the developing drive by Senate Democrats for massive additional spending.

Bush has offered a stimulus plan that appropriately emphasizes short-term tax relief, in the form of rebates for lower-income taxpayers, and other tax cuts that would give the economy a needed boost.

House Republicans have come up with proposals aimed at spurring job-creating business investment. In terms of tax policy, it makes sense to balance business investment incentives with consumer confidence measures.

But it does not make sense to launch a major program of so-called infrastructure spending. ...

-- The Paducah (Ky.) Sun

Oct. 13

Oct. 19

St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press, on anti-abortion terrorists:

Taking on terror at home should start with anti-abortion criminals. ...

Violence and threats of violence against Americans engaged in the delivery of health care to women, including abortions as allowed under law, have been tolerated for years. ...

Among the thousands of recipients of anthrax threats were at least 170 clinics that provide reproductive health care for women, including abortions. This was not a random incident by a new manifestation of kook. The mass mailings of letters containing threats and white powder were professionally addressed and many were in envelopes bearing return addresses of the U.S. Marshal's Service and the Secret Service. The senders were obviously old hands, taking advantage of the moment to reinforce their terrorism. ...

For decades, women's health care providers have experienced as a fact of life what other segments of society are experiencing with horror. The National Abortion Rights Action League, an advocacy organization with a self-evident mission, is among groups that track violence perpetrated by religiously motivated militant anti-abortion criminals. Since 1993, NARAL says, three doctors, two clinic employees, an escort worker and a security guard have been killed. There have been 16 attempted murders. ...

Many of the criminals have been prosecuted. But certainly more would have been and this whole cult of violence would have been contained much more effectively if the whole anti-abortion community had taken ownership of the violence at its fringes and helped bring the law down on the criminals. And certainly, had law enforcement had as much political will behind it before as it does now to investigate and prosecute those who make terroristic threats, the long, sustained crime wave against women's clinics would have been less severe. ...

Oct. 23

San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News, on the failure of security agencies to predict Sept. 11 attacks:

Congress is dithering over whether and how to investigate the failure of U.S. intelligence to predict and prevent the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

How to conduct an inquiry is worthy of debate. But whether to do it -- why is this even a question?

There were hints of what was coming before Sept. 11. We know, for example, that one of those teach-me-to-steer-but-not-to-land aviators was behind bars on immigration charges last summer. How different things would be today if somebody had picked up on his bizarre story and checked flight schools for others like him.

What else was overlooked, and by whom?

Congress has passed new laws giving the government far more investigative power and reducing individuals' civil liberties. What assurance do we have that government agencies given these new powers will use them appropriately? Before Sept. 11, neither the FBI nor the CIA was considered an exemplary agency. They were known not to share information sufficiently. The FBI was particularly discredited, fresh from the Wen Ho Lee debacle and the failure to detect master spy Robert Hanssen in its midst. ...

Sept. 11 changed so much -- but it did not magically empower dysfunctional organizations to suddenly become brilliant. Americans need to understand what failed before they can be confident that new tactics will work.

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