As we approach a new year, one of the best presents the State of South Carolina could receive from the General Assembly would be a comprehensive tort reform measure that would make the state's business climate friendlier and would spur economic stability. Texas has been a leader in tort reform, and Gov. Rick Perry is pushing a new proposal that would take that state a step further.
Three situations worth watching:
• We're happy to see Rep. Laurie Slade Funderburk selected by her peers to serve as chair of the S.C. General Assembly Women's Caucus. We'll agree with Funderburk when she decries the fact that South Carolina is last in the nation in female elected officials, and we'd like to see more women elected to serve not only in Columbia but throughout the state. We're confident she'll do a great job leading the Women's Caucus at the State House.
Voters in Kershaw County and nationwide have been bombarded with news during the past few days regarding the compromise between the Obama administration and Congressional Republicans on tax policy. Democrats in Washington, who for nearly two years have been accusing the GOP of obstructionism, are the people in this instance who are throwing up roadblocks. To listen to them tell it, lower-income Americans are being saddled with a lion's share of the American tax burden while upper-income citizens walk away on April 15 scot-free. So here are a few facts:
Kershaw County voters, like their counterparts throughout the county, should take heart in the fact that Democrats and Republicans finally came together in Washington Monday to forge what looks to be a workable compromise on economic matters. They came up with a measure that will keep income rates at their current pace for another two years and will also extend unemployment taxes; the measure will also reduce the payroll tax on Social Security, instantly putting money into the pockets of working Americans as the country tries to pull out of its long economic tailspin.
• We're glad to see that the U.S. Congress has passed a bill which will prohibit television networks from jacking up the volume when commercials are shown. For decades, viewers have been forced to reach for the remote control device when the sound spurted during ad pitches. We also propose a tongue-in-cheek amendment to the new law: that whenever politicians appear on TV with too much blathering, the volume gets automatically cut down to zero.
With all the scent of change in the air in Washington, D.C., there's still an unpleasant aroma of business as usual in the nation's capital. Despite all the talk about cutting spending and the profligacy of earmarks, the U. S. Senate refused last week to outlaw them. We don't pretend to say banning earmarks would solve the country's deficit problems, but it would be a symbolic first step; Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma has referred to them as "the gateway drug to spending addiction."
Backers of a Kershaw County local-option sales tax which was rejected by voters earlier this month say they aren't giving up and that they will again pursue efforts to get the penny tax passed, perhaps in a scaled-down version. Voters turned the proposal down by a significant margin during the general election, sending officials a message that this isn't the right time to be raising taxes.
* With professional football playoffs set to begin soon, along with college bowl games, there's one statistic that tells the tale as far as how many advertisements and dead time there are during TV game telecasts. A recent examination of one NFL game that took more than four hours to play revealed that the ball was in play less than 11 minutes. That's a lot of time to eat and sip. Watch those calories!
We had hoped, as no doubt all Kershaw County residents had, that the economy during this Thanksgiving season would be more vigorous than it actually is -- that fewer people would be unemployed, that the housing market would have rebounded, that small businesses would be prospering more than they are and that the stress caused by economic turmoil would have eased. But even under present circumstances, we have much to be thankful for.
Today, during the peak of the holiday traveling season, workers employed by the Transportation Security Administration, the agency charged with trying to keep terrorists off airplanes, will endure a great deal of criticism and short tempers from Americans who don't like the new measures effected by the TSA, including full body scanners and pat-down searches for passengers who don't want to be scanned.
• Poor Charles Rangel. Though the 20-term Congressman was found guilty of breaching 11 different ethics rule in the U. S. House of Representatives, including failing to pay taxes on a vacation villa for 17 years, and despite the fact that he will receive a rare U.S. House of Representatives censure, he said last Monday that he wasn't a crooked politician and he wanted to restore his reputation. Rangel is like the other politicians who get caught with their hands in the cookie jar in that he's contrite only after being caught.
It didn't come as a surprise to many people in Kershaw County when former County Administrator Bobby Boland and current Utilities Director Russell Wright filed a federal wrongful arrest lawsuit recently against Kershaw County Sheriff's Office Capt. David Thomley. The resolution of the suit -- whatever that might be -- will bring to an end an unfortunate chapter in Kershaw County politics and law enforcement.
Earlier this month, Americans provided one of the most resounding no-confidence-in-government votes in history, turning out the majority party in nearly unprecedented fashion. Voters in the 5th District, which includes Kershaw County, sent home Rep. John Spratt, a Washington fixture who portrayed himself as a fiscal conservative but was a part of the big-spending Washington culture. Only a few days later, the Bipartisan Commission on Deficit Reduction floated some of its proposals to lower the murderous deficit that both Republicans and Democrats have run up in the past few years. No sooner were the recommendations made public that members of ...
• Former President George Bush was refreshingly candid in last week's interviews with NBC and other media outlets; he was doing a series of drop-ins to promote his new book, "Decision Points." Even those who thought Bush didn't do a great job in the Oval Office will have to admit that he's exhibited good character by refusing to criticize his successor, Barack Obama. Unlike Jimmy Carter, who seems to make a habit of spouting his opinions and denigrating presidents, Bush has displayed an admirable restraint.
No couple in America stirs emotions like Bill and Hillary Clinton, so when she showed up at an Iowa political festival acting more and more like a presidential candidate, it caused quite a flap among those who have begun such movements as "Ready For Hillary," and also among those who'd rather see anybody than her become president. But it proved one thing: that even after decades in the spotlight of the political arena, she still commands attention.
It was another black eye for South Carolina last week when Rep. Bobby Harrell, speaker of the House of Representatives, was indicted by a Richland County grand jury on nine counts, including illegally using campaign money for personal expenses, filing false campaign disclosures and misconduct in office. Harrell suspended himself -- how's that for an oddity? -- and will now face his government accusers. South Carolina certainly doesn't have a monopoly on political malfeasance but the Palmetto State has had more than its share of governmental scandal. We say that fully recognizing that Harrell is innocent until proven guilty.
• What a boon the S.C. Equine Park has been for Camden and Kershaw County! And now, with word that a second, larger covered arena will be built -- possibly as soon as this winter -- the park should ultimately bring even more people to the area than it already does. Think on this: even with the arena already in place, the equine park has been booked an average of 30 weekends each year, with an economic impact of $4 million. Imagine if, with the second arena, the park could be booked 45 or even 50 weekends each year. How much would ...
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