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"Defunded" Continued...

Issue: "De-coding Morsi," July 28, 2012

By the numbers

President Barack Obama on July 9 proposed extending Bush-era tax cuts for those making less than $250,000 a year-in exchange for raising taxes in 2013 for everyone above that threshold. Mitt Romney responded: "To add a higher tax on job creators and on small business is about the worst thing I can imagine to do if you want to create jobs."

The people's money

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels announced July 3 that his state ended the 2012 fiscal year with a $500 million budget surplus and more than $2 billion in reserves. The numbers are large enough to trigger an automatic tax refund of at least $100 per person, returning to taxpayers about $300 million when they file this year's tax returns.

When Daniels became Indiana's first Republican governor in 16 years in 2005, the state had a biennial budget process-and the two-year deficit ran to $800 million.

Daniels, Office of Management and Budget (OMB) director under President George W. Bush, set up an OMB for Indiana and gave it real power. Spending slowed, causing Democrats to howl. But Daniels was a bipartisan offender: A temporary tax increase upset fellow Republicans. But results came quickly, and Indiana has repaid more than $750 million to schools, universities, and local governments, and has taken dramatic steps to fund the state's currently unfunded pension liability.

Will the budget bona fides put Daniels on Romney's short list for veep? Unlikely. Daniels is slated to become president of Purdue University when his term as governor expires in January 2013. He told Fox News in May that the vice presidency is "not an office I want to hold, expect to hold, have any plans to hold. If I thought that call was coming I would disconnect the phone."

Abortion? Yes. Spanking? No.

The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) meeting this month approved a resolution calling for "an end to the practice of corporal punishment in homes, schools and child care facilities." Fifty-one percent of the church leaders meeting in Pittsburgh voted for the measure, while 47 percent opposed it. The General Assembly also affirmed and expanded the PCUSA's support of abortion. In 1992 the PCUSA said abortion can be "morally acceptable" under certain circumstances. This year, it said the church supports "full access to reproductive health care for both women and men in both private and public health plans."

Such positions are why churchgoers are fleeing the PCUSA in droves. The church has seen a precipitous decline in attendance-more than 10 percent in the last five years alone. Today the PCUSA has less than 2 million members, down from a high of more than 4 million in the 1970s, and the average PCUSA church has less than 150 in attendance on a Sunday.

Made in Japan

An independent Japanese commission published a remarkably blunt conclusion about the Fukushima nuclear disaster that followed the massive earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011: "It was a profoundly man-made disaster-that could and should have been foreseen and prevented."

The July 5 report by the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission challenged the claims of officials in both the Fukushima plant and the Japanese government. Officials had insisted that the tsunami-not the earthquake-caused the massive damage at Fukushima that led to the worst nuclear disaster in 25 years. The tsunami, officials said, was a once-in-millennium event that no plant could withstand.

The commission rejected that idea, and said the earthquake might have caused the damage. That's significant because it means the plant may not have been as secure against quake damage as officials thought, and that other nuclear plants could be in danger if another major quake hits.

Commission head Kiyoshi Kurokawa wrote that government officials made the disaster worse by interfering with the response. And in a candid rebuke of Japanese society, Kurokawa wrote that the tepid disaster response stemmed from the culture: "our reflexive obedience; our reluctance to question authority; our devotion to 'sticking with the program': our groupism; and our insularity." The author concluded: "This was a disaster 'Made in Japan.'"

'Nothing is left'

Torrential monsoon rains triggered massive flooding in parts of Bangladesh and India, killing some 200 victims and forcing millions from their homes. The floods swept through mostly rural villages during the last week of June and destroyed tens of thousands of acres of crops.

Throngs of hungry and exhausted villagers began trekking back to their communities in early July to survey the damage. Officials estimated the flooding destroyed thousands of homes.


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