Eleventh-Hour Tax Decision A Short-Lived ‘Mouse’

A quick, on-deadline look at the year’s-end performance of our so-called national governmental leaders:

There comes to mind the old proverb about the mountain that labored mightily and gave birth to a mouse—in this case a mouse already condemned to die very soon.  In other words, a short-term non-solution which averted disaster but left the really tough—and important—decisions for further discussion—as if there hadn’t already been enough discussion and too little action—early in 2013.

If we are to avoid national governmental bankruptcy by continuing to spend money which we don’t have, running up our national debt in the process, we must make tough, painful decisions which would include general federal income tax increases—yes, including an increase on the so-called middleclass, which is now defined as any family within income of less than $450,000 a year.

A start on the painful but realistic process of bringing the middleclass back into the world of federal income tax reality would be an end to the process of bestowing tax credits on families with children living at home.

Stay tuned.  But don’t count on more realistic tougher decisions from our so-called leaders in Washington.

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For The New Year:
In The U.S., Hope For Less Extremism, More Realism.
Internationally, Choose Our Goals Much More Carefully
Including Very Limited Ties To Iraqis, Afghans

Today the first column of a year that follows 12 months that seemed to multiply the number of unanswered troubling questions on the national and international levels.  Hard to feel optimistic about finding solutions this year.

But better news at the state and Omaha level in 2012 and, I hope, reason to expect—or at least reasonably hope for—continuing positive state and local news in 2013.

But reason to be thankful, again in 2013, for the satisfaction of rewarding relationships within our families and with our friends and to enjoy the satisfaction that comes from being helpful to our less fortunate fellow citizens.

As to the national economic and political outlook:  I hope some reasonable accommodation—temporary at best, I fear—can be reached between a power-hungry White House and a House of Representatives Republican majority which seems unwilling to settle disputes except on its own terms.

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The World Scene?  A Dangerous Mess

The international situation is simply a mess, a very dangerous mess.

Egypt turning towards an Allah-must-be-served Muslim-dominated government is just one of the concerns.

No good prospect at all for peaceful settlement between Arabs and Israelis.  The possibility of a nuclear-armed Iran.  A civil war which has Syrians killing each other.  Sunni majority Muslims blowing up government—controlling Shiite fellow Muslims in Iraq.  A corrupt Afghanistan government unable to control fanatic Taliban forces, even with the continuing support of American troops.

Pakistan unable to control terrorist groups with Al Qaeda ties finding safe haven within or on the borders of Pakistan.  And in North Korea a maniacal young dictator gloating over a successful test of a long-range ballistic missile which, some have said, might be able to reach the United States with a nuclear warhead.

On the international economic front, mixed news.  The Chinese continue to build an economic base—sometimes with help from United States businesses—to a point which may equal or pass the United States in international economic clout.

Good News:  New Less Risky Energy Sources.
In Omaha And Nebraska, Grounds For Optimism

But on the international economic front, also good news for the United States:  the possibility that new sources of energy—including that controversial tar-sand-based petroleum pipeline from Canada to United States refineries—will make us significantly less dependent on mid-East or Venezuelan petroleum imports.

In state and local Omaha matters, generally good news in 2012, including state-aided start towards construction of a cancer research and treatment center on the University of Nebraska Medical Center campus in Omaha and a promising start on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s “Innovation Campus.”

But the year ahead seems to me to be pose this major question among others:  How far can private funds be expected to go in funding all or a major part of continued operation and expansion of government programs or helping finance new government building construction?

UNO Promoting Athletic Arena Or Sports Pub?

In this connection, it appears that private contributions will be required in the order of some $30 million to build an unneeded—as I see it—new hockey/basketball/whatever else arena for the UNO midtown campus.

In regard to that arena, a basic question still hasn’t been answered:  Will it be on the campus, selling beer on university property for the first time—or on private property adjacent to UNO’s south campus?

On the state political scene, I hope Governor Heineman and the Legislature will take a realistic look at the financial needs of state agencies and local school districts.  Cutbacks at this time of relative prosperity in our state certainly does not justify reductions in spending for education.

On the Omaha scene, there was good 2012 news in the agreement on a more reasonable contract with the firemen’s union.  And prospects for 2013 point, it seems to me, to a good choice for mayor.  At this still early stage, I believe that City Councilwoman Jean Stothert or incumbent Mayor Suttle look like the strongest candidates.

As a City Council member, Stothert did a good job of helping steer the new fireman’s union contract to 6-1 Council approval.  For his part, as I see it, Jim Suttle has done a generally good job.

In any case, I think the city would be well served by spirited campaign exchanges between Stothert and Suttle.

Brad Ashford To Be A Factor?

State Senator Brad Ashford, another candidate, has served effectively in the Legislature on most issues but might have lost some appeal to those who would interpret his search for the mayor as something of a “I can’t serve in the Legislature anymore so what will I run for next?” posture.

Ashford, of course, can answer that his experience in the Legislature could serve him well in the mayor’s office.  If he is persuasive with this approach, the contest for the two nominations next April 2nd could be a spirited three-way contest.

The two other announced candidates—former councilman Dan Welch and perpetual political busybody Dave Nabity—will surprise me if they turn out to be serious contenders for one of the two nominations.

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Whatever The News, A Happy 2013 Formula:

Enough about politics.  What each of us can best influence in 2013 are personal relationships.  I believe we all can find satisfaction—indeed work to find satisfaction—in relationships with family (including those who live elsewhere) and friends.  And please take this advice:  In 2013, don’t let a day pass without telling someone that you love them.

Happy New Year!

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