Subscribe to Opinion RSS feed

Opinion

County’s rush to approve speed humps called into question

Brad Main’s speed hump declarations published on March 21 in West Hawaii Today raise many concerns about the county’s enforcement of speed limits and other procedures. Speed enforcement is the responsibility of the police, and they should be held accountable to report how they are meeting this responsibility islandwide. If police manpower is short, then hire speed monitors to measure speeds and document licenses of speeding cars, sending the evidence to the traffic court for prosecution.

Wacko birds nesting in U.S. Senate

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama got it two-thirds right when he said that the delayed confirmation of his attorney general nominee, Loretta Lynch, is owing to Senate dysfunction and Republican stubbornness.

‘Doc fix’ fixed?

The House of Representatives passed Thursday a major piece of Medicare legislation with strong support from the leadership and rank and file of both parties. Yes, you read that right: The House voted on a package that permanently eliminates the expensive annual budgetary charade known as the “doc fix,” while enacting tens of billions of dollars worth of structural reforms to the massive program for seniors — and providing a two-year, $5.6 billion dollop of funding to an important children’s health care program to boot. For their labors in moving this bill to passage, we’d pat House Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, and Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, Calif., on the back — if they weren’t already doing so themselves.

Who says economics is hard?

WASHINGTON — Every day the Chinese go to work, Americans get a raise: Chinese workers, many earning each day about what Americans spend on a Starbucks latte, produce apparel, appliances and other stuff cheaply, thereby enlarging Americans’ disposable income. Americans similarly get a raise when they shop at the stores that made Sam Walton a billionaire.

Staying in Afghanistan

President Barack Obama on Tuesday announced a much-needed adjustment in his plans for drawing down U.S. forces in Afghanistan, telling visiting President Ashraf Ghani that a scheduled halving of the 9,800 currently deployed troops by the end of this year would be set aside, and the force maintained into next year. This was a sensible response by Obama to a range of developments, including Ghani’s impressive efforts to improve relations with Washington. But the adjustment still falls short of what will be needed to give the new Afghan government a reasonable chance of success.

A boost for defense

Two pieces of good news about U.S. defense spending: Both President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans have recognized that cuts imposed by the 2011 “sequester” scheme are unacceptable, and both have moved to restore tens of billions of dollars in funding for next year’s budget. Two pieces of bad news: The proposed increases still face thorny political challenges — and even the revised spending plan remains far from adequate at a time when the United States has returned to war in the Middle East and faces mounting threats elsewhere.

Presidential debates should include 3-party candidates

Most Americans want a third party, which probably explains why leaders of the Democratic and Republican parties have conspired for the past three decades to exclude third-party candidates from the presidential debates. Never mind how unlikely a third- party victory may be, they say. Keep those interlopers away from the cameras!

How to block a bad deal with Iran

WASHINGTON — It is the common temptation of Republicans and Democrats to support a strong executive when it does things they like, and to condemn it when it does things they don’t. There is, however, a group of committed institutionalists that has gathered around the Bipartisan Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, now scheduled for a vote of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on April 14.

Contests and Promotions

WHT-promo-generic_125x130.jpg
Subscribe
Click Here

The exercise of religious freedom

Michael Helms’ recent letter — “Keep religion out of government” in West Hawaii Today March 8 — suggests that a permitted nonpermanent display of an informational kiosk of religious tracts at the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is an unconstitutional governmental endorsement of the message being conveyed. I respectfully disagree.

Fiscal phonies

Here’s the United States’ fiscal predicament in a nutshell: Under current law, the publicly held debt of the federal government will increase by 4.5 percent of gross domestic product over the next decade, to a historically anomalous 78.7 percent of GDP. Thereafter, the debt will grow steadily, exceeding 100 percent of GDP in 2039, due chiefly to medical and retirement programs for an aging population, plus interest payments. The Congressional Budget Office, which produced these forecasts, says this scenario would have “significant negative consequences for both the economy and the federal budget.” It’s a future in which entitlements and interest gradually squeeze out core functions of the national government such as defense, law enforcement, national parks and basic research.

Kasich waits in the wings

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ideas fly from Gov. John Kasich like sparks from a flint. While explaining his prison reforms, he interrupts himself midsentence — his sentences, like some E.E. Cummings poems, are unpunctuated — to praise a Delaware church that buys prom dresses for low-income high school girls. His spirit would add spice and his policies would add substance to the Republican presidential contest.

A costly farm bill

Remember how backers of the 2014 farm bill promised that it would reform costly and wasteful agriculture subsidies and save taxpayers money? And remember how the critics of the bill said it was basically a scheme to repackage and perpetuate the old system, potentially at a higher cost? Well, it turns out that the critics were right, according to the first comprehensive estimate of the bill’s impact.