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Brewing up debt

A lot of the TEA (Taxed Enough Already) partiers complained about the federal deficit and with good reason. It is at a record high, and like Sly Stone the government wants to take it higher. Spending is certainly a problem, but only part of it.

Back in 2000, when the feds ran a surplus, there was an immediate call to cut taxes. The surplus was treated as an indicator that the government had taken too much of the people’s money. The short-lived surplus came on the heels of annual deficits dating to 1969. That accumulated debt wasn’t wiped out. In fact, interest on the debt remains one of the largest slices of the federal budget pie. It overwhelms pork, which remains a favorite talking point of the allegedly frugal.

Had the Bush administration and Congress found surpluses to be acceptable, we could’ve applied them to the debt. But, no, government cut taxes instead, and now those are at historic lows while debt mounts. This is like asking to work fewer hours on the very first day you bring in more than you spend. Never mind those credit cards.

Sprouting Marxists? At the Olympia rally, state Sen. Janea Holmquist, R-Moses Lake, said, “Being a little bit socialist is like being a little bit pregnant … pretty soon you give birth to a full-blown Marxist.”

So the farmers kept afloat by the annual $25 billion in government subsidies wear those overalls to hide the fact that they’re “showing”? According to the Environmental Working Group’s database, $68.4 million was spread like fertilizer among Washington state farmers in 2007. The top five recipient counties were Whitman, Lincoln, Adams, Walla Walla and Grant, where Holmquist resides.

When biofuels were all the rage, it was Holmquist who took the lead to get government to adopt mandates to create a market for farmers. As always, one person’s “socialism” is another person’s “investment.”

Can’t afford justice. Due in part to its “spartanly” budget, the city attorney’s office declined to prosecute fired Spokane County sheriff’s Sgt. Pete Bunch for resisting arrest and declining to obey officers’ commands, though it had a factual basis to do so. Back when that office would file aggressive countersuits against citizens who lodged complaints against the Spokane Police Department, the city’s budget was also cited for why it would pull out the stops to avoid payouts.

If the city doesn’t have enough money to allow for justice to be pursued, then local leaders ought to make an issue of that. As is, it looks as if money drives decisions to back off on prosecutions or to forestall legitimate lawsuits aimed at official wrongdoing. After much resistance, the city is finally coughing up $200,000 a year for a police ombudsman’s office, but if the city attorney’s office can’t pursue cases in which it predicts that defendants will file appeals, then that’s a problem, too.

It raises the specter of a lenient justice system for the “haves” and a tougher one for the “have-nots.”

Smart Bombs is written by Associate Editor Gary Crooks and appears Wednesdays and Sundays on the Opinion page. Crooks can be reached at or at (509) 459-5026.


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Editorial: Washington state lawmakers scramble to keep public in the dark

State lawmakers want to create a legislative loophole in Washington’s Public Records Act. While it’s nice to see Democrats and Republicans working together for once, it’s just too bad that their agreement is that the public is the enemy. As The Spokesman-Review’s Olympia reporter Jim Camden explained Feb. 22, lawmakers could vote on a bill today responding to a court order that the people of Washington are entitled to review legislative records.