The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida on September 5, 1985 · Page 16
Get access to this page with a Free Trial

A Publisher Extra Newspaper

The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida · Page 16

West Palm Beach, Florida
Issue Date:
Thursday, September 5, 1985
Page 16
Start Free Trial

I "IT" '' 11 ' " 9 The Post, Thursday, September 5, 1985 A17 Congress Rewriting Tax Code Behind Closed Doors Even some of the strongest advocates of public sessions agree. "It's a real dilemma for liberal reformers," says Jeff Drumtra, director of the Tax Reform Research Group, an arm of Ralph Nader's Public Citizen organization. "When you look at recent tax bills, the best ones have come out of closed sessions. You take what you can get and hope someday you can get a good bill at an open meeting." Gradison said it would be almost impossible to send a bill to the House floor by Oct. 15, as the committee plans, if members feel obliged to make public speeches on each of the hundreds of controversial decisions they will have to make. Traditionally, the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee is one of the most heavily lobbied committees in Congress. And hordes of special interest groups have a stake in whatever the committee does as it considers President Reagan's plan to eliminate or restrict numerous tax advantages and reduce tax rates. Since most tax bills come to the House floor under a procedure that allows no By Pamela Fessler Congrtnlonal Quarterly WASHINGTON - The first decision the House Ways and Means Committee is expected to make on reforming the nation's tax system will be to meet behind closed doors. Routinely over the past two years the committee has drafted legislation in private and there is little doubt panel members will again vote to do so when work on the tax bill begins the week of Sept. 16. Tax committee members argue that their legislative chores are so complex and controversial they would never get anything done in public. And, surprisingly, they have received few complaints from lobbyists, constituents or the press, despite House rules designed to encourage open meetings. "I feel the committee produces a better bill (behind closed doors)," said Rep. Bill Gradison (R-Ohio) echoing the sentiments of most of the panel's 36 members. "There is less posturing, less playing to the audiences. We are able to move much more quickly and I think, in the end, we do a better job." amendments, the bill that emerges from the closed-door sessions is likely to be the one passed by the House, if and when it acts. One of the few committee members who consistently has opposed closed sessions is former newspaper editor Don Pease (D-Ohio) who argues that members should do their work out in the open. "We're elected to make decisions and we ought to be willing to look the lobbyists in the eyes and make those decisions right out there in public," he said. But Pease acknowledges that legislation produced behind the committee's closed doors can prove superior to bills written in front of several hundred lobbyists and reporters. Most congressional committee meetings have been open to the public since the early 1970s when liberal groups pushed for so-called "sunshine" laws at all levels of government. House committees have been required since 1973 to hold open sessions unless a majority of members vote publicly to close them. When Ways and Means shuts its doors, any record votes are made public and staffers brief the press and others afterward. turbed by the Ways and Means trend and protested when the committee began closing its doors after the new open-meeting rules were adopted, according to spokesman Randy Huwa. But some of the group's allies, such as Public Citizen, find they like the kind of tax bills emerging from the back rooms. In 1981, the Ways and Means Committee wrote the Economic Recovery Tax Act in public, and the legislation has been criticized" widely for granting massive tax breaks to the rich and for grossly complicating the tax system. In 1983 and 1984, the panel drafted in private two deficit-reduction bills that generally have been praised for attempting to close tax loopholes and clamp down on tax-payer cheating. Harold Scoggins, Jr., lobbyist for the Inde-5 pendent Petroleum Association of America,1 says that while it is frustrating to stand outside the committee room trying to guess' what is going on inside, he thinks everyone benefits in the long run. 'It's a real dilemma for liberal reformers,' a member of one watchdog group says. 'When you look at recent tax bills, the best ones have come out of closed sessions. You take what you can get and hope someday you can get a good bill at an open meeting.' Each Senate committee adopts its own meeting rules, but most sessions, including those of the tax-writing Senate Finance Committee, are open except when issues of national security or personnel matters are discussed. Common Cause, a self -described public interest group that actively fought for open congressional meetings in the 1970s, is dis William F. Buckley Jr. Inside a Nuclear Submarine fSIP HOW CAN AW0N6 ! every movement is not readily trace- able. The enemy knows where our land-based missiles are, and their ra-' dar will tell them when our bombers' approach. But not yet the subma-. rines. "And if it came to that," Riffer , adds, "the enemy would know that-even if the submarine has to wait toj fire, wait a day, maybe two, three days, it will eventually execute its orders, and fire." And if the enemy! knows that that is likely to happen,-the enemy behaves: to the extent that it can ever be said about the Soviet Union that it behaves. But we have' been 40 years without nuclear war,. 40 years with Western Europe and Groton, Conn., still free. Almost every enlisted man aboard is a highly skilled technician. Many officers signed up as students, junior ' year in college. Their college tuition : is paid by the Naval ROTC for twol years, in return for which they pledge ' five years to the submarine fleet, 2 Vk-of these devoted to learning their spe-, cialties. Reenlistment figures have been impressive. It is a quite exacting life. Six hours on duty, 12 off duty; in cramped quarters, without family, without women. Why do they do it? It is hard to recall, in our jaded age, that there is still such a thing as esprit de corps, but nothing other than that could possibly account for life aboard a nuclear submarine: the sense that the work is most awfully important, contributing perhaps the decisive factor in maintaining a free country, to which the, submarine returns from time to time; and maintaining the peace, which all of us, paying so relatively small a1 cost, enjoy. William F. Buckley Jr. is a magazine editor and nationally syndicated columnist. GROTON, Conn. We are brought up on the maxim that eternal vigilance is the price of freedom, but it soon becomes boilerplate, and for the very good reason that most of us are not engaged in exercising such vigilance, except indirectly, via Internal Revenue, to which we dispatch every year 6 percent of the gross national product with the mandate that the money go to our armed services. It is worth it to experience however tangentially what it is that the military do for us. In my own experience, even as a sometime infantry foot soldier, it is hard to rival the hardships of the men who staff our nuclear submarine fleet. The USS Boston is an attack submarine, and if you are a member of its crew, you can expect to be at sea half of the calendar year. To be at sea needs here to be especially explicated: You are not really "at" sea, you are "in" the sea. Cmdr. W.J. Riffer says that he likes it when you surface only to enter and leave your home port. In between, he likes himself and his vessel entirely immersed in water. That way, they don't easily establish where you are. You never help them by sending radio signals. That is what the attack submarine is created to do: to roam the seas, within presti-pulated areas, for two, three months at a time. They measure fuel, in a nuclear vessel, in terms of years' supply, as in, "The USS Boston has a 12-year supply of power." There is only the one limiting factor: food. Food for 118 men, who are served four times a day. That's about 15,000 meals per month. And stored food requires space. Space is very precious aboard a submarine that costs $670 million, so precious that a crew member (nine sailors share what is called a cabin, which would not pass inspection as suitable living quarters at Alcatraz) Richard Reeves Another Approach to Travel is permitted for his personal belongings 2V2 inches of space under his mattress, period. The captain's cabin would fit in a Pullman roomette, with space leftover. What matters, besides the food, is the submarine's ability to carry a mix of very deadly space-consuming weapons: cruise missiles and Mark 48 torpedoes, top-of-the-line stuff, and the propelling nuclear devices that take up two-thirds of the submarine's 360-foot length (the sub displaces 6,900 tons of water, draws 32 feet, and has a beam of 32 feet). After the missiles and the propulsive mechanism there is the computer world. Computers to navigate by, computers to reckon where and when to fire, computers to code and decode. And then, most critically, the sonar room, where virtuosos listen, and, with the aid of the loops and whorls of remote sounds, discern the fingerprints of friend or foe, and act accordingly. "They've been telling you for years," Adm. J.D. Williams, the tough and amiable North Carolinian who commands the submarine group based at Groton, reminds you, "about the transparent ocean. Well, it's not transparent yet." The admiral is reminding us that our submarine fleet is the one member of the triad whose One morning this summer, I woke up to see zebras running alongside my bedroom. I was on a train, of course the sleeper from Nairobi to Mombasa in Kenya. Many of the moments that stick with me over the years involve trains: ordering breakfast on a train through Pakistan, then watching the steward fry my eggs on a wood fire set up between cars. Being served tea in etched glasses inside silver holders on the night train from Moscow to Leningrad. Then watching, on the Leningrad-to-Helsinki run, as Soviet border guards crawled around banging crowbars against the undercarriage of each car to make sure no Russians were hiding there to escape into Finland. And all of that pales before a boyhood memory of my mother selling Pennsylvania Railroad tickets, from New York to Washington, to Eleanor Roosevelt at the old Pennsylvania Station. You might say I'm a romantic about trains. With our rail service, any American taking a train almost has to be a romantic. In many countries, American railroads are discussed, quite seriously, as an example of Third World transportation problems. It's hard to dispute such insults to national honor when you are riding the French TGV - "Train Grande Vitesse" covering the 270 miles from Paris to Lyon in two hours. On that train, someone once asked me why it took more time, much more time, than that to cover the 100 miles from the new Penn Station in Man- times as many passengers as trains. And, now, there is just about one automobile for every two Americans most of them seem to be on the way to wherever it is I'm going. Government policy in the U.S. has followed or led (followed, I believe) those natural inclinations of Americans. While other developed countries, most of them smaller, with major cities only a few hundred miles apart, have heavily subsidized both the construction and operation of railroads, the U.S. put its public money into highways and airports. In Italy and Belgium, for instance, the government underwrites about 80 percent of railroad operating costs. Rail service is considered an essential public service, like police protection. In the U.S. the comparable figure is 42 percent and it is certainly going to drop quickly as pressure multiplies to cut federal spending. My passion is a luxury. We are not only a mobile people; we are not much interested in what is in between the places we want to be. But, still, it's nice to know there are other people who feel the same way my wife and I do. When the Amtrak statistics were released, I saw a quote from a man named Derek Van Loan, who was traveling with his wife by Amtrak between New Orleans and New York. "We've decided," he said, "to deal with the problems of the 20th century by retreating to the 19th century." Exactly. Richard Reeves is a Los Angeles-based syndicated columnist. hattan to Bridgehampton on Long Island. The answer, as in many places in the United States, is that the roadbed is so bad (and dangerous) that Long Island Railroad trains often have to slow to 10 miles per hour. In spite of all that, more Americans have been riding the trains this summer than have done so in a long time. Amtrak officials, fighting proposals for reduced federal subsidies of passenger fares, have released statistics showing passenger loads have increased 7 to 20 percent over last July and August. For the year, it is projected, Amtrak will carry 20.7 million passengers, an increase of 4.5 percent over 1984. Is something happening? Alas, probably not. Americans, addicted to "using" time and the freedom of individual travel, long ago opted for airplanes and automobiles. The country's rail mileage actually peaked 70 years ago, in 1916. Now, domestically, commercial airlines carry almost 20 TAKE A NEW DIRECTION FOR FALL RELAXED SPORTSWEAR FOR MR. J. From Tourage S.S.E., an oversized herringbone shirt atop a loosely fitted pant which tapers toward the ankle. Woven shirt in a muted combination of ecru, tobacco, magenta and navy, sizes S-M-L, $32. Poplin pant, ecru, spruce or navy, 29-36 sizes, $36. Both in 100 cotton. A Bitter Coal Miners Strike For the UMW, the Massey strike presents a certain dilemma. A key goal is to protect union jobs in an industry suffering from overcapacity, production inefficiencies and competition from cheaper foreign coal. More than one-third of the UMW's 160,000 members currently are unemployed. But the length of the Massey walkout, especially if it is unsuccessful, could hamper future organizing efforts. Dozens of drivers of trucks carrying the company's coal have been injured when windshields were smashed by rocks or gunfire. Massey, meanwhile, has moved to protect its property with armed security guards, attack dogs, video surveillance cameras and armored personnel carriers. It has also brought in an armor-plated locomotive, stirring memories of the similarly equipped "Bull Moose Special" that was used by coal operators in their strikebreaking campaigns of the 1920s. For the UMW, the Massey strike presents a certain dilemma. A key By Richard L. Worsnop Editorial Rasaarch Rtportj WASHINGTON - Television viewers who watched Even the Heavens Weep: The West Virginia Mine Wars on Labor Day may have felt the issues raised in the documentary were settled many years ago. Such an impression would be mistaken. Even now, the United Mine Workers union (UMW) and one of the nation's major coal companies are locked in bitter combat in southern West Virginia. ' For nearly a year, the UMW. has been on strike against the A.T. Mas-sey Coal Co., the nation's sixth-largest coal producer. At issue is the union's insistence that Massey deal with it as a single employer. The company's mining subsidiaries traditionally have signed separate contracts with the UMW. ' Ironically, the Massey impasse developed as the UMW and the Bituminous Coal Operators' Association were concluding the first strike-free coal settlement in 20 years. The 40-month contract, which took effect last Oct. 1, was hailed by both sides as mutually beneficial. . Massey, however, refused to sign the national contract as a common employer, and the UMW strike action followed. Although the UMW's long-established policy was to call industrywide walkouts, UMW President Richard Trumka had sought and won authority to call a selective strike against one company. He also had built a strike fund of more than $40 million, from which each Massey striker is being paid $200 a week. As the Massey strike nears its first anniversary, frustration has flared into violence, often directed at workers' hired to fill the" strikers' jobs. goal is to protect union jobs in an industry suffering from overcapacity, production inefficiencies and competition from cheaper foreign coal. More than one-third of the UMW's 160,000 members currently are unemployed. But the length of the Massey walkout, especially if it is unsuccessful, could hamper future organizing efforts. Meanwhile, the strike's effects on the local economy "are not apparent to the layman," according to Mark Francis, a staff writer for the Williamson (W.V a.) Daily News, a paper published on the West Virginia-Kentucky border in the heart of the strike country. In fact, Williamson gives every appearance of being in a boom, he said, with new retail businesses opening up and existing ones expanding. The current situation vaguely echoes that of the early 1920s, Francis said, in that it has been many years since a coal company in the region has put up so much resistance to a labor dispute. But much has changed as well. The miners of half a century ago had no unemployment insurance or union strike benefits to fall back on in time of hardship. It would have been inconceivable then that a mine walkout nild last nearly a year. Jacobsons OAKBROOK SQUARE. PGA BLVD. AT U.S. 1. NORTH PALM BEACH SHOP MONDAY-WEDNESDAY & SATURDAY 9:30AM TO 5:30PM. THURSDAY & FRIDAY TIL 9PM. !'f bdkMa4ftdlMBknfRM

What members have found on this page

Get access to

  • The largest online newspaper archive
  • 10,400+ newspapers from the 1700s–2000s
  • Millions of additional pages added every month

Publisher Extra Newspapers

  • Exclusive licensed content from premium publishers like the The Palm Beach Post
  • Archives through last month
  • Continually updated

Try it free