Over the past election cycle I was one of the continuing voices to underscore the need for more revenue to run our government. There is no doubt that more revenue is required for the programs and services that impact the people who use and benefit from them. While Republicans continually stated they only wanted to cut and purge spending, many Democrats were talking about the need for more revenue.
It has long been a sore point with me that too many think taxes should only always go down, and additional revenues are never to be found or increased to maintain our services which allow our society to function. While there is always room to debate the merits of a tax increase versus a fee increase I am still pleased with the direction a state transportation commission has taken, one that is making bold headlines today.
The commission is asking lawmakers and Gov. Scott Walker to adopt a 5-cent hike in the state gas tax, an increase in annual vehicle registration fees based on miles driven, and a big jump in heavy truck registration fees.
The need to raise revenue for Wisconsin’s transportation needs should not be controversial. We might debate the way to raise the funds but there is no doubt that without increased amounts of money, or new ways to fund our systems the state’s infrastructure will falter, and our economy will be placed in a further long-term pinch.
The harsh ideological wing of the Republican Party will have to bend and compromise to allow for the fees to be placed into the budget, and then show some spine and cast a vote for passage. But at the end of the day it should not be a rough vote to take. If common sense and the facts of our transportation needs are front-and-center then the political way forward will be easy. I say this as I know good policy is also good politics.
No credible elected official can truly think that revenue sources should not be found or increased to make our state roads continue to be a source of competitive commerce. No licensed driver can believe they do not have a stake in maintaining the roads they use, or insuring new ones are built to support the added growth we will needed as the economy expands.
No one else may say it today, but I will.
I think it took guts and forethought for the Transportation Finance and Policy Commission to make the recommendations it did. It is easy to skirt an issue, or propose only ideas that meet everyone’s desire. But to squarely define the problems the state confronts with our transportation needs, and then find a route forward should be applauded.
We should all desire more men and women in Washington such as those who made up this bi-partisan commission in Wisconsin. This group worked to find solutions for our revenue shortfalls, and did not fall short of their mission due to some political taboos. They seem to understand that government is best when it works and functions for the people.
Governor Walker and other Republicans often throw a political barb at Washington for the lack of getting ‘anything done’. Now might be the time for the GOP in this state to demonstrate for others that they know how to fund the highways, harbors, airports, and bicycle transportation projects the people use and want.
Note to Senator Ron Johnson–the role of the United States government is not to continue the narrative of the Republican Party.
It is worth your time to watch Secretary of State Hillary Clinton dismantle Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson. With no hesitation Clinton takes an exception to Johnson’s pointed inquiry into the State Department’s initial report that the attack had been mounted spontaneously as a reaction to an anti-Islam YouTube video.
“Honestly, I will do my best to answer your questions about this, but the fact is people were trying their best in real-time to get to the best information.”
No one has ever accused Johnson of being over-prepared with facts. With what seems to me to have been nothing more than a series of talking points prepared by FAUX News the conservative senator makes a fool of himself on national television.
It would seem to me that at such a critical hearing the opposition might comport themselves with a higher calling rather than the usual ‘gotcha’ politics that seems to be their natural default. It was a blunder of huge proportions when the electorate allowed Johnson to use his money to buy a senate seat. Today we see that money can buy an election, but not the intelligence to govern.
There has never been a time since the creation of Israel that the United States did not have a stake in the Middle East. Beyond the economic need for oil, or the larger international power plays during the Cold War there has always been the close bond between the two countries.
It is hard to say if there is any more reason this week than last for hope at gaining at securing a two state solution between Israel and the Palestinians. The just concluded election in Israel might have opened a door, as slim as that might be, given the limited views of Yair Lapid regarding international politics, and his seeming frustration with Arabs.
Lapid was the star of this election cycle, and while he is moderate on social and economic issues has all but stated that peace with Arabs is mostly a concern so that Israel can look good in the eyes of the West. Not exactly the high-minded thinking one hopes from a politician, but one takes what one can get.
The new coalition government will be formed, but the key will be in the details as to how Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu can fashion the slim numbers he can play with into something that can actually govern.
Which leads me to President Obama.
While his administration has spent time and energy on Asia, and can correctly make a strong case as to why our future economic and military ties are essential in that region of the world there is no getting around the fact that nothing matches the needs of the Middle East. While it is true that decades of Middle East diplomatic activity does not seem to add up to diplomatic piles of success there is another truth about the region. If the United States does not pay attention to the needs of the region, the headlines created in our absence will draw us back again.
The only thing that works in the Middle East is international pressure, led by the United States. Without some strong guidance, leverage, and arm-twisting no one thinks that Netanyahu will be able to see his way to a negotiating table. The essential ingredient in the always heated and fragile mix of Middle East politics and diplomacy is an American president willing to roll up his sleeves, spend some political capital, and get down to business.
It is easy to be frustrated with the Middle East, angry at Israel, and confused by the needs of the Palestinians, But that thinking can only be allowed in coffee shops where newspaper readers gather to solve the world’s problems. In the places of power there needs to be a re-commitment to the a two state solution, and perhaps now with Netanyahu in a less comfortable political position he might be more willing to play ball.
If Israel really wants to look good for the West lets give them another opportunity.
President Obama needs to place Middle East peace near the top of his agenda.
Between Benjamin Netanyahu overplaying his hand with Mitt Romney in America’s election, he also missed the best hand when dealing with his own nation’s electorate.
I am very pleased at the results starting to come in from the just concluded Israeli election. Not only do the results lift my hopes for the region, but also allow me assurance that the people of Israel will not all be lumped into the right-wing definition that often gets used when talking about their politics. Even though there is a very deep moderate element to Israeli politics, there are too many times when the hard-edged element of the Israeli government makes headlines that shame the whole nation.
Therefore the election returns are not only surprising, but hopeful.
While there were rumblings for weeks in the election coverage that something powerful might happen, no one truly predicted the moderate face that Benjamin Netanyahu must now show the world.
As polls closed at 10 p.m., Israeli news channels reported that Mr. Netanyahu’s rightist Likud-Beiteinu list would win 30 or 31 of Parliament’s 120 seats, and the new centrist party, There is a Future, would take 18, followed by left-leaning Labor, with 17. More important, the polls showed a significant tightening between the bloc of right-wing and religious parties, with a razor-thin majority of 61, and 59 for the center-left factions.
“Israelis are asking for a moderate coalition,” said Marcus Sheff, executive director of The Israel Project, an advocacy group. “Israel’s middle class wasn’t asleep as people assumed. The embers of the social protest are still strong.”
The exit polls, which are preliminary, suggested that Mr. Netanyahu’s challengers had a far stronger showing than the prime minister and his aides had anticipated. Two hours before the polls closed, Mr. Netanyahu made an urgent appeal for support from Israelis who had not yet voted.
“The Likud leadership is in danger,” Mr. Netanyahu wrote on his Facebook page around 8 p.m. “I ask you to leave everything and go out now to vote,” he added. “This is very important to guarantee the future of the state of Israel.”
While Mr. Netanyahu’s joint campaign list with the ultranationalist Yisrael Beiteinu faction was still expected to win more of Parliament’s seats than the next-largest party, making him the likeliest candidate to lead the next government, a relatively weak showing and a surge for centrist and left-leaning parties could force him to moderate his policies and leave him with a fragile coalition of competing interests.
Zoom in on a photograph of the ceremony for a who’s who of attendees.
Most of us have read and heard much about the tone and style of President Obama’s second inaugural address. ( I loved it.) But I think the analysis from Politico makes for the best summation.
(I might also add the line I loved so much from Doris Kearns Goodwin yesterday. “There is no question that Lincoln’s beauty of language is something that everybody reaches for. But the more important thing for an Inaugural is for the words to create action.”)
There was nothing defensive about it . He clearly believes that the 2012 election, for all its snarling and divisive tone, served a useful purpose. By his reckoning, it demonstrated that there are more people on his side – immigrants, minorities, liberal-minded young people and women, beneficiaries of big government – than there are on the other side – older whites, cultural traditionalists, wealthy and upper-middle-class earners … [W]ith a series of direct and implicit references to the Declaration of Independence, Lincoln’s second inaugural address, Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal and the social movements of the 1960s, he sought to rebuff efforts by conservatives to brand his politics as alien and exotic and instead tie liberalism to a long American tradition. In that sense, he seemed to want to use his second inaugural not simply to ratify his reelection, but to ratify a turn in the cycles of American politics. He did not want to talk primarily about process and democratic procedure – the ritual calls from several recent inaugurals, including his first, for more civility and goodwill. There was a nod to that this time, but his preoccupation was not with how the nation conducts its politics but to the substantive ends: Who will benefit from government power? In so doing, he highlighted a turn in the cycles of his own career. A traditional liberal in Illinois politics, Obama began his ascent to national power in 2004 with a famous speech at the Democratic National Convention in Boston that downplayed the relevance of ideology. … In much of his first term, meanwhile, he and his aides rebuffed efforts to place him on a philosophical spectrum – was he a Clinton-style centrist or a Ted Kennedy-style activist? – by insisting that ideological arguments bored him and that ‘pragmatism’ was his guiding light.
“Monday’s address will vindicate the patience of liberals – environmentalists who wanted more, supporters of single-payer health care who viewed the Affordable Care Act as an unsatisfying consolation prize – who always believed Obama was more on their side than he was letting on. It will also vindicate the fury of conservatives, who can now say they correctly had Obama’s true measure while refusing to believe his appeals to bipartisanship or find common ground with him in the first term. … Obama made no mention of transforming the political and governing process in his speech. He seems to have decided it’s either not possible or that he can’t bring such change while also advancing the policy goals he plainly now views as paramount.”
This is just pure excitement.
A new asteroid-mining company will unveil itself to the world today and is expected to present an ambitious plan to exploit the resources of deep space.
Deep Space seeks to launch “the world’s first fleet of commercial asteroid-prospecting spacecraft,” according to a press advisory the company sent to reporters. “Deep Space is pursuing an aggressive schedule and plans on prospecting, harvesting and processing asteroids for use in space and to benefit Earth.”