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Cruz is all about that base

Now that Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has thrown his cowboy hat into the ring for president, it’s time to start handicapping the candidates, even if some of us may wish that we had more choices.

Between paychecks

Payday lending is capitalism at its unloveliest. It’s a business that wouldn’t even exist if the market were providing everyone with enough income to meet their needs — yet 12 million adults, the vast majority of them low-income, resorted to short-term, high-interest loans to cover cash shortages in 2010. According to the Pew Charitable Trusts, a typical borrower takes out eight payday loans a year totaling $3,000, paying about $520 in interest. Not infrequently, borrowers pay off old payday loans with new ones, creating a pyramid of debt that ends in default.

The end of the White House’s insularity?

WASHINGTON — In the early days of the Obama administration, my Washington Post colleague Shailagh Murray and I used to trade tales of the arrogance of White House officials more interested in their insular club and the prestige of their positions than in the responsibility they had.

Fight poverty, not savings, by fixing welfare asset rules

Some welfare programs exclude people who have financial assets, and for good reason. If the goal is to help people who are living in poverty, the program shouldn’t waste resources on people who aren’t actually poor. If you lose your job but have enough money in the bank to tide you over comfortably, you don’t need food stamps, disability payments or other forms of public support as much as people with no savings do.

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.

Remembrance of Clintons past

WASHINGTON — An abscess of anger seems to gnaw at Hillary Clinton, but the reasons for her resentments remain unclear. The world’s oldest party, which governed the nation during two world wars and is the primary architect of America’s regulatory and redistributive state, is eager to give her its presidential nomination, in recognition of … what?

What’s the Afghanistan endgame?

President Barack Obama’s announcement this past week that he will delay the withdrawal of some 4,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan is an acceptable course correction. Keeping troop levels at their current strength will allow the United States to continue training Afghan forces while also helping with counter-terrorism efforts, officials said. If those efforts help stabilize the country and prepare it for the moment when the U.S. withdraws for good, that’s fine with us.

‘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.

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.

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Anger at bankers doesn’t make finance industry any safer

The 2008 crash and its consequences proved beyond a doubt the need for stronger and smarter regulation of banking and finance. Getting this right remains a challenge, but there’s been progress. One worsening obstacle to intelligent rule-making, though, should be cleared away before it becomes a bigger nuisance than it is already — and that’s a lazy, ill-founded prejudice against the finance industry and its workers.

Republicans fumble their chance to focus attention on an Iran deal

Congressional Republicans are trying to obstruct President Barack Obama from concluding a nuclear agreement with Iran, but the only tangible result of their efforts has been to impede serious debate about the legitimate issues arising from the potential deal. The latest GOP gambit, an open letter to Iran’s leaders disparaging any accord not approved by Congress, prompted predictable blasts of rhetoric from the White House, the Senate caucuses and even the Iranian foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, but not a word of discussion about what the Republicans say worries them: whether the terms being offered to Iran by the Obama administration are in the United States’ interest.

The Export-Import Bank’s grip

Conservatives’ next disappointment will at least be a validation. The coming reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank will confirm their warnings about the difficulty of prying the government’s tentacles off what should be society’s private sphere.

Congress can improve Obama war plan against Islamic State

On Wednesday, Congress will finally get a chance to take responsibility for its part in the global war against Islamic extremism. Or, to put it another way: On Wednesday, Congress will no longer be able to avoid responsibility for its part in the global war against Islamic extremism. It cannot afford to waste the opportunity.

Viewpoint: End impediments, injurious opposition to public sports shooting complex

Dedicated Hawaiian sportsmen (On Target Inc.) have been working tirelessly to promote and develop a much-needed safe public sports shooting complex on the Big Island. Over two decades of untold hours have been devoted to seeking range approval despite objections and roadblocks asserted by a small hotel-oriented contingent of selfishly motivated detractors and opponents — namely, the Kohala Coast Resort Association which has orchestrated a campaign of intentional delay. The apparent goal is to derail this much-needed public endeavor; despite the project receiving state agency approval and preliminary budgeting.