Jewish World Review May 22, 2003 / 20 Iyar, 5763

Peter Roff

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Capital Comment


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | A tax of gas...

The up-to-now internal House GOP debate over an increase in the federal gasoline tax is reportedly getting rather heated. In one corner is powerful U.S. Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, the chairman of the equally powerful House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. In the other is freshman U.S. Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, R-Colo., who is trying to organize her GOP colleagues into opposing a tax increase.

The two met on the House floor Monday night in an exchange that some observers described as heated. Neither office cared to characterize the tone of the encounter that at least one source described as a yelling, screaming, finger-waving tirade in which Young threatened to bombard Musgrave's district with news releases.

The exchange ended, says the source, with Musgrave extending her hand while Young walked away, refusing to take it.

Stave Hansen, a spokesman for the Transportation Committee, said the two members had talked about the Musgrave-inspired letter opposing the gas tax increase sent to House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill. Young's point to his freshman colleague, Hansen said, was that she and other members of the House had come before the committee and asked for billions in transportation spending but were unwilling to pay for it by raising the gas tax. "You can't have it both ways," Hansen reported Young as saying.

Guy Short, speaking for Musgrave, explained that Young had shared his feelings with Musgrave about her letter and, while acknowledging that she had requested some significant spending for projects in her district, that she believed they could be funded without increasing the gas tax. "It looks hypocritical," Short said, "for the GOP to be pushing a tax cut that the Democrats say benefits the wealthiest Americans while at the same time raising the gasoline tax, which hurts poor and middle class Americans the most."

The ties that bind...

Two Princeton University researchers have found that young, unmarried Mexican men with male relatives or close family friends already living in the United States are "more than twice as likely to migrate than men without connections." Their findings appear in the May issue of the journal Demography.

According to a study conducted by Sara Curran and Estela Rivero-Fuentes of the university's Office of Population Research, such ties are even more important to Mexican women. "The odds that a young unmarried Mexican woman with a female contact in the United States will cross the border are almost four times higher than those of a similar young woman without contacts in the United States," the duo says.

Curran and Rivero analyzed the characteristics and migration patterns of 6,000 17-to-25-year-old single Mexicans. Based on interviews from 52 Mexican villages between 1982 and 1997, they conclude that almost 60 percent of the household heads surveyed had a personal tie to an immigrant living in the United States.

The researchers focused on the unmarried adult children in the households to ensure that the migration was for economic reasons and not the result of family reunification. "Historically, Mexican men were encouraged to migrate to the United States for work, but women were discouraged," according to a release. The article, Engendering Migrant Networks: The Case of Mexican Migration, can be found on the Internet at prb.org.

Guess who's coming to dinner...

The White House has not played host to many glittering state dinners since George W. Bush was sworn in to office in January 2001, so the one Monday night for Philippine President Gloria Arroyo was in itself notable.

Equally notable, however, was the presence of eBay Chief Executive Officer Meg Whitman and her husband on the guest list. A past contributor to the GOP, Whitman had just days before been named as one of three prominent Silicon Valley Republicans endorsing Democrat U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer's 2004 re-election bid.

In the May 1 San Jose Mercury News, reporter Anne Marimow writes Boxer "unveiled an A-list of Silicon Valley leaders" supporting Boxer, including "eBay president and chief executive Meg Whitman and Cisco chief executive John Chambers, who six years ago backed Boxer's Republican opponent, Matt Fong."

Whether Boxer is vulnerable is beside the point as some GOP strategists, including some affiliated with the National Republican Senatorial Committee, think the Republicans have an outside chance of winning her seat in the next election. True or not, there are folks who are wondering how Whitman managed to get through the White House vetting process as the dinner's guest list was assembled.

Other Silicon Valley luminaries signing on to Boxer's 2004 re-election bid, Marimow writes, are 3Com and Palm Chairman Eric A. Benhamou; venture capitalists Brook Byers and John Doerr; Macromedia co-founder Bud Colligan; Handspring chief executive Donna L. Dubinsky; Bay Partners general partner John Freidenrich; Adobe co-founder Chuck Geschke and his wife, Nan; investment bankers Bill Hambrecht, Nancy E. Pfund and John W. Thompson; Laura and Gary Lauder of Lauder Partners; Genentech Chairman Arthur D. Levinson; consulting-firm chairman Regis McKenna; and Marimba chair Kim Polese.

If you find work, write...

Candidates for federal office would no longer be able to draw salaries from their campaigns if U.S. Rep. Phil English, R-Pa., has his way. English has introduced two bills to ban the practice of paying salaries to candidates and their immediate family members from their campaign war chests.

"Allowing candidates running for Congress to pay themselves and their immediate families out of campaign funds is contrary to the spirit of campaign finance reform so proudly touted in Washington," English says of his legislation designed to close a loophole created when Congress passed the McCain-Feingold-Shays-Meehan

"The FEC's decision to overturn the longstanding prohibition barring candidates from pocketing campaign contributions is outrageous," English says, adding that the practice is "unethical and illegal for elected members, so why should federal candidates be permitted to do it?"

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