Arrow-right Camera
News >  Column

Smart Bombs: See the difference

We’ve all heard the tired refrain from the terminally jaded: “It doesn’t matter who you vote for. They’re all the same. Won’t make any difference.”

Hope they’ve been paying attention to the headlines since President Barack Obama has taken office, because he’s been a very busy man.

Among other things, he reversed the “global gag rule,” which banned U.S. funding to international organizations that perform abortions, promote the right to an abortion or provide counseling on ending pregnancies. He ordered federal agencies to make public records more accessible. He called for the closing of the Guantanamo Bay detention center, which has been the center of human rights controversies, and outlawed the CIA’s use of torture, prisoner renditions and secret overseas jails. And he directed the Environmental Protection Agency to reconsider the waivers sought by states that want to hold automakers to a higher standard on tailpipe emissions.

Other than that, it hasn’t really mattered that we’ve changed presidents.

Patience, please. Undaunted by the cavernous budget hole and the enormously expensive basic education legislation, proponents of paid family leave are back with a proposal to finance a law that was adopted in 2007. The original bill had no funding source. This bill provides one: a 2-cents-an-hour tax on employees. For that, workers could get $250 a week for up to five weeks to care for a spouse, child, domestic partner, parent or themselves.

Such a tax increase would have to go on the November ballot for voter approval.

Now, I’m sympathetic to family leave issues – as is the governor – but it doesn’t take a political genius to see the awful timing here. The idealists pushing this bill risk ruining the issue for good if it gets crushed at the ballot box. And it would.

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.