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UPI's Capital Comment for Jan. 6, 2003

By United Press International

WASHINGTON, Jan. 6 (UPI) -- Capital Comment -- Daily news notes, political rumors, and important events that shape politics and public policy in Washington and the world from United Press International.

Tom Paine and the $10,000 reward...

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TomPaine.com is considering who if anyone should get the $10,000 "reward" it offered for the identity of the "Eli Lilly Bandit" who inserted two controversial paragraphs into the Homeland Security Bill last November, Editor-in-Chief John Moyers told United Press International Monday. He disputed a Capital Comment item Friday that said the Web site is "refusing to pay up" after former House Speaker Dick Armey, R-Texas, identified himself as the "bandit."

Armey said he added the provision to the bill -- preventing lawsuits against Lilly by parents who claim vaccines caused their children to develop autism -- and that he is proud of it. Armey reportedly asked the organization to donate the money to a Washington inner-city school that the former congressman has supported.

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In an online clarification after "lots of readers" contacted the Web site identifying Armey as the "bandit," TomPaine.com says: "We know that. It's easy for Dick Armey to say he did it -- he's a lame duck with no accountability" who allowed the amendment to proceed. What TomPaine.com says they are "looking for is the person who ASKED Armey to allow it to happen."

"We're weighing all the information we have received from a variety of sources purporting to identify the 'Eli Lilly Bandit,'" Moyers said. "We haven't refused or agreed to pay anybody anything."


Persistence pays dividends...

In 1992, U.S. Rep. C. Christopher Cox introduced legislation to end what he called the unfair double taxation of dividends. Now, almost 11 years later, the Cox plan may form the cornerstone of the tax reduction plan President George W. Bush is expected to put forward Tuesday.

The original legislation gave individual shareholders a credit for federal income tax already paid on any dividends they receive. Earnings distributed as dividends are taxed twice: once at the corporate level, and a second time at the individual level, leading to an effective rate that, according to one estimate cited by his office, "routinely exceeds 60 percent."

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Cox's office says, "Individuals whose total income is less than $28,000 lose more than half of their dividends to federal tax," citing a new report from the Heritage Foundation's Center for Data Analysis. Cox says the report "shows that, not only is taxing dividends twice unfair, but it is reducing the prosperity of all Americans."

The conservative think tank estimates that his new legislation, scheduled to be reintroduced when Congress returns, "would increase the size of the economy by an average of at least $32 billion per year between 2003 and 2012." Treatment of dividends along the lines of Cox's proposal would also create at least 325,000 additional jobs over the same period and increase capital stock in the U.S. economy, making it "at least $174 billion higher in 2012," according to the center's report.


Kindness for chickens...

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has launched an attack on KFC, the fast-food franchise made famous by its founder, the late Col. Harlan Saunders. PETA says that, in their natural surroundings (as opposed to factory farms), chickens "form friendships and social hierarchies, recognize one another, love their young, and enjoy a full life, dust bathing, making nests, roosting in trees, and more."

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Chickens raised for eventual sale at KFC restaurants do not get to enjoy any of those experiences, PETA claims. Instead, "They routinely suffer broken bones from being bred to be top heavy" among other indignities too graphic to repeat. The animal rights' group claims Yum! Brands Inc. the parent company of KFC, promised in May 2001 that it would "raise the bar" and ensure better treatment of the chickens but, PETA says, has done nothing to address egregious animal cruelty in the chicken industry.

A KFC spokesman denies PETA's allegations. On its Web site, Yum! Brands says it "is committed to ensuring the humane treatment of animals" and has established a system to ensure that the very best conditions are maintained and appropriate procedures are followed at suppliers' facilities, even though Yum! does not "own, raise, or transport animals."

Through its spokesman, the company says it has taken a leadership role through its trade associations to improve the way chickens are treated. "As a major purchaser of food products, we have the opportunity, and responsibility to influence the way animals are treated. We take that responsibility very seriously, and are working with our suppliers on an ongoing basis to make sure the most humane procedures for caring for and handling animals are in place.

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"As a consequence, we only deal with suppliers who maintain the very highest standards and share our commitment to animal welfare," the company says in a statement posted at KFC.com. PETA says the best thing that anyone can do to help the KFC chickens and other animals "is to stop eating them altogether."


Right moves...

Mississippi Republicans have added one more to their number in the state senate as Terry C. Burton, a Democrat representing a district around the city of Newton, Miss., crossed the aisle.

Burton, former mayor of Newton, announced his switch on the City Hall steps as 2002 came to an end. "I'm officially changing my party affiliation to join those who share a similar political philosophy with me and those I represent," Burton said. "The Mississippi Republican Party values my opinion. I'm moving where I'm welcome to join the ranks of those who believe as most Mississippians do."

U.S. Rep. Chip Pickering, Lt. Gov. Amy Tuck and other state Republican officials stood up with Burton as he announced he would seek re-election on the GOP line in the state legislative elections set for November 2003. The partisan division in the chamber now stands at 31 Democrats, 21 Republicans, meaning a net gain of just five seats would give the GOP a majority for the first time in the modern era.

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