Military Feature: Senate panel endorses military raise

By Sharna Johnson: Freedom Newspapers An endorsement from a Senate panel Tuesday could mean a 3.5 percent pay raise for military members and civilian Department of Defense employees. The pay raise exceeds the 3 percent recommended by President Bush. “It’s a very good pay raise considering the circumstances and what’s happening right now,” military spouse […]

Government racks up hefty travel bill

By Freedom Newspapers As big and costly as the federal government is, we wouldn’t expect that its travel budget would be a pittance. But last year’s total of more than $14 billion is still a shocker. Perhaps we can take solace in the fact that it’s lower than the 2005 bill by $1.3 billion. But […]

Ethanol boom raises intriguing questions

By Robert Hagevoort: Ag Sense The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Renewable Fuel Standard requires U.S. fuel production to include a minimum amount of renewable fuels, starting at 4 billion gallons in 2006, and reaching 7.5 billion gallons in 2012. In addition, starting in 2013, the renewable fuels must include a minimum of 250 million gallons […]

Congress needs fresh approach to Real ID act

By Freedom Newspapers The homeland security and counterterrorism legislation currently being debated in the U.S. Senate is being held up by two marginally related issues: efforts to unionize airport screeners and implementation of Real ID. It wouldn’t necessarily be a tragedy if the legislation were held up forever, given that the bill is more pork […]

Division might cure federal budget busting

By Freedom Newspapers We’re about to find out whether divided government really means more prudent spending by the government, as some of us have hoped. President Bush’s $2.9 trillion budget spending proposal, delivered Monday, offers a small dollop of hope. Whether the newly empowered Democratic majority in Congress shreds it by insisting on higher domestic […]

Defense bill includes payday loan limitations

By CNJ Staff WASHINGTON — With a long list of caveats, President Bush signed a bill Tuesday authorizing $532.8 billion in defense spending, including a 2.2 percent pay raise for members of the military. The measure, for the 2007 fiscal year that began Oct. 1, authorizes $70 billion in supplemental funding to support the war […]

Readers not shy about talking back

By Ned Cantwell: State columnist One of the perks of writing a state column is so many readers are most generous with their advice. It is only minimally disconcerting that oft times such advice has to do with anatomical direction, pinpointing that area where I might “stick it.” Some of the advice, though, is so […]

Space program innovation needs privatization

Freedom Newspapers The space shuttle Discovery made a safe re-entry landing Monday in only the second shuttle mission since the 2003 destruction during re-entry of the shuttle Columbia. The successful landing is a good time to discuss the independence of future space missions from government control and the federal treasury. Current Bush administration plans are […]

FEMA failures show D.C.’s inefficiencies

Freedom Newspapers The news about the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s response to last year’s Hurricane Katrina just keeps getting more and more shocking. As Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins put it, “The blatant fraud, the audacity of the schemes, the scale of the waste — it is just breathtaking.” A survey by the New York […]

Ag Sense: Dairy industry leads state’s agricultural activity

By Victor E. Cabrera: Guest columnist New Mexico residents not directly involved in the state’s growing dairy industry may not realize the dairy business is now the leading agricultural activity in the state and a top contributor to the national milk market. In fact, New Mexico is the seventh-largest milk-producing state, providing 7.1 (4 percent) […]

Gates’ philanthropy raises bar for us all

Leonard Pitts : Syndicated Columnist In the first place, I never knew Bill Gates was a Spider-Man fan. But his stated reason for transitioning out of day-to-day responsibilities at Microsoft two years from now to devote his energies to charity work (“… with great wealth comes great responsibility…”) comes suspiciously close to the creed by […]

Shift in funding could relieve pressure

By Tom Philpott: Military Update The Joint Chiefs support a sharp rise in TRICARE fees for under-65 retirees and their families, they say, because retiree health costs are soaking up dollars needed to buy new weapons and sustain force readiness. The problem they describe is real but their solution is flawed, says Dov S. Zakheim, […]

Book exposes federal spending on pork projects

Freedom Newspapers Get ready for some squealing. The “Congressional Pig Book,” an annual exposé of some of the worst pork barrel projects conceived by Congress, is due out this week. The report’s release is never a happy occasion inside the Beltway, but this year it’s even less so, given the spotlight that lobbying scandals have […]

Congress should oppose proposed extra spending

Freedom Newspapers President Bush played Jekyll and Hyde in his State of the Union speech Tuesday. For each small-government conservative idea — making tax cuts permanent, for example — he offered at least one awful statist proposal — new subsidies for alternative-energy research. The pattern was no more apparent than in what he called his […]

Big business destroying Mom and Pop

By Leonard Pitts Jr. I don’t expect you to shed any tears because Aron’s is gone. Unless you grew up in L.A. as I did, you’ve probably never even heard of it. Aron’s was this used record and CD store that I discovered 30 years ago. It was a quirky place, an audiophile heaven where […]

Drugstore chain says it will buy Albertson’s Inc.

Staff and wire reports MINNEAPOLIS — An investment group led by grocer Supervalu Inc. and drugstore chain CVS Corp. said Monday it will buy Albertson’s Inc., the nation’s second-biggest traditional grocery store chain, for $9.7 billion in cash and stock. Albertson’s stockholders will get $26.29 per share in cash and Supervalu stock. The investment group […]

Savings under health plan overestimated

By Tom Philpott: Military Update At least a few Pentagon analysts believe the Bush administration will face a new credibility challenge if TRICARE officials tell Congress, as they have the Joint Chiefs, that plans to raise TRICARE fees and deductibles for under-age 65 retirees and their families will save $25 billion over nine years. “Somebody […]

Hurricane falsehoods leading to waste

By Mona Charen: Syndicated Columnist Reviewing the falsehoods, myths and misrepresentations spun by the press, politicians and pundits following Hurricane Katrina, one is reminded of Nora Ephron’s bon mot: “No matter how cynical I get, I can’t seem to keep up.” Most recently, we have word from the National Hurricane Center that Katrina was not […]

Failed spending cuts signal loss of realism

Freedom Newspapers The fading dream that this Congress might ever rise to a level of modest responsibility on spending took a big hit Thursday. House leaders were forced to pull a budget reconciliation bill that would have cut spending over the next five years by about $53.9 billion — a drop in the fiscal bucket. […]

To revitalize Gulf Coast, suspend rules, regulations

CNJ Editorial The hurricanes that lashed Louisiana and parts of Texas unleashed not only misery but an outpouring of generosity and tangible help from people all over the country. There is little question that most of what has been destroyed will be rebuilt, including New Orleans. The question is: Who will do the rebuilding, and […]