August 20, 2008


They get you coming and going. If you're a hunter, you pay a 10 percent federal tax on the purchase of your gun and an 11 percent federal tax on ammunition. Your hunting license includes fees for conservation and habitat. Even that tank of gas to drive into the mountains has federal tax on it. Now, after all of that, you get to your hunting spot and, surprise, surprise, you see a fee area sign. Or it's fishing season, you spend money on equipment, licensing and transportation, and you're rewarde… Continue Reading

August 13, 2008


Every August, Idahoans attend or participate in county, regional and state fairs. In some ways, the fair has come a long way from its ancient beginnings-Romans held fairs to encourage trade with conquered provinces, and medieval European fairs were held in conjunction with religious festivals. Fairs were eventually replaced by markets, but the purpose of a fair-showcasing goods, livestock and crafts-remains alive and well in communities nationwide today, thousands of years beyond the heyday of t… Continue Reading

August 06, 2008


Habits are safer than rules; you don't have to watch them. And you don't have to keep them either. They keep you. -Frank Crane The deficit is back-with a vengeance. Like a bad habit, federal spending feels too good for Congress to quit. And, to borrow from Crane, the habit is "keeping" Congress-keeping it from its responsibility to be a wise and frugal caretaker of taxpayer dollars. On July 28, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) estimated a Fiscal Year (FY) 2009 deficit of $48… Continue Reading

July 23, 2008


After the snow we had last winter, fires that have ravaged northeastern Washington and the few we've seen in Idaho to date seem somewhat improbable. Unfortunately, even the record-breaking winter we just had isn't a guarantee against wildland fires; in some cases, underbrush growth encouraged by a wet winter can exacerbate troublesome fire conditions. History has demonstrated clearly that, for Westerners, wildfire, like cyclical drought, is a fact of life for which we must be prepared. Curren… Continue Reading

July 16, 2008


Millions rely on Medicare to access our healthcare system. They should have exceptional care and cutting edge treatments available to them. Reimbursing doctors so that they can serve these patients is critical-for this reason, I have consistently advocated for timely and adequate physician compensation. Systemic reform is also crucial. The Medicare system needs the strengths inherent in the market-healthy competition that provides choice, flexibility and affordability The Medicare Modernization … Continue Reading

July 03, 2008


In January 2007, a gallon of gas cost an average of $2.21. At the end of June 2008, 18 months later, the average cost was $4.15. More than any other factor, the basic principles of supply and demand for this global commodity-oil-have put steady upward pressure on prices. The plausible solution to the problem of high fuel costs is to take policy steps that affect supply and demand factors. Frankly, had Congress passed progressive energy legislation five or ten years ago, we'd likely be better off… Continue Reading

June 25, 2008


"Please listen to the less vocal majority who are pleading for drastically decreasing the restrictions and regulations on drilling and refining our domestic oil." "Who is going to pay back the tax payers when this [global warming] is proven to be a political sham?" "Instead of the U.S. depending on foreign oil, why not make the rest of the world dependent on U.S. company patents for whatever ultimately replaces petroleum as the leading energy technology?" "Our problems as usual are the … Continue Reading

June 17, 2008


Hummus, a dip made from cooked pureed chickpeas, garlic, lemon juice and salt, has become a popular deli item in many grocery stores. East Indian food and restaurants have grown in popularity as well, and two main ingredients used in these dishes are lentils and chickpeas. Worldwide, dried peas and beans are a nutrition staple. Barley is vital for the livestock industry-over half of the barley consumed domestically is used for animal feed. Forty-four percent is used for malt production. And the … Continue Reading

June 11, 2008


Allegiance n. 1. loyalty (to a person or a cause, etc.). 2. the duty of a subject to his or her government. -Oxford American Desk Dictionary To whom or what do we claim or owe allegiance? Under the first definition, we might list some of the following: God, family, country, social, ethnic, community or even employment group. But the second definition suggests something different, carving out a specific niche for national allegiance. First of all, it dares to use the word "duty," which, in… Continue Reading

June 04, 2008


It's coming. In less than the time it takes to get a bachelor's degree, serve a military tour or complete high school, taxpayers earning $30,000 to $80,000 will see increases in their tax liability from $1,600 to $2,300. At the end of 2010, the tax relief enacted in 2001 and 2003 will expire, absent changes to current tax policy by Congress. The writing is on the wall - those tax cuts will very likely not be made permanent next year or the following. Some taxpayers are already starting to prepar… Continue Reading

May 28, 2008


The Internet is the centerpiece of our Information Age. It brings the world to our fingertips and takes us thousands of miles away at the click of a mouse. It has fundamentally altered research on any topic, and has increased interpersonal communication to a degree unimagined a generation ago. From facilitating medical outreach to rural areas to creating an entirely new form of global commerce that gives consumers instantaneous access to just about any product in the world, the Internet is, in s… Continue Reading

May 21, 2008


"Let no wanton foot tread rudely on such hallowed grounds. Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of time testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic."               - General John A. Logan, Commander-in-Chief, Grand Army of the Republic, from General Orders No.11, WASHINGTON, D.C., May 5, 1868, which establish… Continue Reading

May 14, 2008


A devastating cyclone in Burma; a major earthquake across Sichuan Province, China; a volcanic eruption in Chile; powerful deadly tornados in Missouri, Oklahoma, Georgia and Virginia: It's been a spring rife with natural disasters at home and abroad. The world is mobilizing to assist those in need and, while we help those who are suffering, we must be prepared for disaster ourselves, whether it be earthquake, fire, flood or even an act of terrorism. It's important to utilize federal, state and lo… Continue Reading

May 07, 2008


 "It's a war that may never end, but for centuries, men and women, have readily and willingly put themselves in harm's way, right here at home, to keep the peace."                         -David Kerr, Author   The year 2007 was a particularly deadly year for United States law enforcement officers. The 181 officers killed in the line of duty last year is nearly a 20 percent increase over the previous year. In total, 358 officers were added to the National Law Enforcement … Continue Reading

April 30, 2008


This year, April 20 marked the day that the average Idahoan had worked long enough to pay their federal, state and local taxes for the year. That's more than three and a half months just to pay your entire tax bill; 74 of those days were spent working to pay federal taxes alone. Add to that more than a day spent compiling information and hundreds of dollars to complete the filing process. For reference, the instructions for IRS Form 1040 have grown from four pages in 1945 to 155 pages last year.… Continue Reading

April 23, 2008


In April, researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health and the University of Washington released a 40-year life expectancy study. Among other things, the study found that "four percent of the male population and 19 percent of the female population experienced either decline or stagnation in mortality beginning in the 1980s."  The affected population was located in regions outside of Idaho, but the trend indicates an ongoing need to address preventive care and promote healthier living. The … Continue Reading

April 16, 2008


 "Conservation is the application of common sense to the common problems for the common good."              -- Gifford Pinchot April 22 is Earth Day, the annual effort by organizations, communities and governments to promote efforts to reduce pollution and increase conservation of our natural resources and environment. As I've often said, no federal policy contributes more to improve our environment than the Farm Bill. The Farm Bill conservation title is a prime example of the fede… Continue Reading

April 09, 2008


Trade issues typically get less media than hot button issues like immigration, mortgage industry challenges and energy prices. However, regulating trade between the United States and other nations is a Constitutional obligation of Congress.  In 2007, the U.S. recorded $1.6 trillion in exports, representing scores of American jobs. Exports account for a larger percentage of U.S. GDP than ever before, and jobs supported by goods exports pay wages 13 to 18 percent higher than the national average. … Continue Reading

April 02, 2008


Since taxes come due in April, it tends to be a time that people think more often about their personal finances-savings, investments, income and expenditures. The annual focus on our finances is exacerbated this year by high fuel prices, concerns in the housing market and some resulting upward pressure on the prices of goods. Unfortunately, personal savings rates in the United States are at historic lows, declining and in the negative now for over three years. In April 2007, a personal finance s… Continue Reading

March 26, 2008


Hidden among the granite and steel canyons of the Wall Street financial district of Lower Manhattan in New York City sits a building invisible from more than a few blocks away in any direction. Comparatively diminutive in appearance, its granite columns and ornate architecture call to mind a different age-memories of the birth of our nation. In fact, this building, known as Federal Hall, housed the 1st Congress of the United States of America from March 4, 1789, to March 3, 1791. Nearly 220 year… Continue Reading

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