UPI's Capital Comment for May 12, 2003

May 12, 2003 at 1:04 PM
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WASHINGTON, May 12 (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.

The House repairs a home...

Following the lead of House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., House Republicans are moving ahead to secure funding to complete renovations at Cedar Hill, the national historic site that was once the home of famed abolitionist Frederick Douglass.

With Frederick Douglass IV, the great-great-grandson of the legendary 19th Century African-American statesman, looking on, Hastert announced that the U.S. Congress would provide the National Park Service with nearly $1 million in Fiscal Year 2004 to help complete the renovation of what he called "this national treasure."

"Frederick Douglass said 'Education is the key to freedom.' As a former history teacher," Hastert said, "I am personally pleased to have this opportunity to tour the site and pledge my support -- not just to preserve the walls and artifacts on these grounds -- but to help promote and perpetuate the legacy Mr. Douglass left for all of us to follow."

The historic site is one of only 12 within the 388-unit park system expressly created to preserve and interpret African-American history. Current conditions are so poor that the roof is badly damaged while humidity concerns have required that Douglass' collection of 1,200 books be stored off site.

One mo' time...

Houston Republicans are hoping that the second time will be the charm for Orlando Sanchez. In 2001, Sanchez came within a few thousand votes of defeating incumbent Democrat Lee Brown in the mayoral runoff. At lunchtime Monday, Sanchez, a former city councilman, announced he would again be a candidate for the top job in the nation's fourth-largest city.

"Orlando's job for the next 6 years will not be just a stepping stone to higher office. The next 6 years is going to make or break Houston for decades to come. He wants to be the city's first 21st century mayor and make the city one of the nation's best managed before the end of the decade," Sanchez campaign spokesman Kim Jessup told United Press International. If elected in November, Sanchez would become the first Republican and the first Latino to lead Houston. The term-limited Brown is in his final term.

And the award goes to...

The Republican Main Street Partnership, an organization of moderate and liberal GOP elected officials, will be honoring White House Chief of Staff Andy Card at its annual John Chafee Dinner May 14. Card, a former Massachusetts state legislator who also served in the Bush 41 administration, will receive one of two annual Chafee Awards.

The award, named in honor of the late Republican senator from Rhode Island, is given to public servants who exemplify his legacy of public service and civility. Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., who will be a special master of ceremonies at the event, also will receive a Chafee Award.

Other speakers include Sens. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, and Lincoln Chafee, R-R.I., who now occupies the seat held by his father, the man for whom the dinner is named. Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich and Homeland Security Secretary Tome Ridge are also expected to make remarks.

Marriage penalty...

Married couples file fewer than half of all tax returns yet pay 74 percent of all income taxes, according to The Tax Foundation, a non-profit group based in Washington. The group says that, while most married couples -- "especially those with children and a house in the suburbs" -- consider themselves distinctly middle class, the IRS statistics regard one out of three married couples as "rich." There are 21 million couples "with incomes high enough to put them in the top 20 percent of tax filers," the non-partisan group says, while, "By contrast, just one of every 7 single or non-joint Filers is in the top income group."

"When politicians decry 'tax cuts for the rich,' most Americans think of Donald Trump rather than the folks riding with them on the bus or in the carpool," the Tax Foundation's Scott Hodge says. "The dual-income working family has replaced Ozzie and Harriet. Millions of suburban middle-class couples are now discovering the IRS and the Washington tax-and-spend crowd considers them 'rich' when many of them are just getting by. This is the new marriage penalty."

Brotherly love...

The Club for Growth, a leading free-market political advocacy group, is living up to its reputation for playing hardball. On Friday, the group affirmed its use of President John F. Kennedy's voice and likeness to advocate for job-creating tax cuts, despite protests by Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., and Caroline Kennedy, the late president's daughter.

In a letter to the Club for Growth's Stephen Moore, the Kennedys write, "To equate President Bush's tax proposals with President Kennedy's tax plan is politically irresponsible and grossly inaccurate, and such assertions have no place in honest political discourse."

But Moore responds, "President Kennedy's supply side income tax cuts 40 years ago were a huge economic success for the economy and workers. President Bush wants to use a similar tax cut strategy to re-energize the economy today. The historical parallels are striking."

The ads featuring Kennedy will run in Maine, Nebraska, Ohio, and South Dakota. Recent ads run by the Club in Ohio and Maine against Sens. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, and George Voinovich, R-Ohio, attacked them for failing to support the Bush tax cut plan by comparing their opposition to that expressed by France before the recently concluded Gulf War.

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