Cal Thomas is a nationally syndicated columnist and author
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For newly empowered congressional Republicans, priority one must be an extension of the Bush tax cuts. There should be enough votes not only from a new Republican majority, but also from some of the decimated and dispirited (and even newly elected) Democrats. If President Obama is smart, he won't veto the bill.
If the tax cuts are allowed to expire, everyone who gets a paycheck and has taxes withheld is going to see less money in the "net" column starting January 1.
Bloomberg.com has published some calculations. It reports that, according to the Tax Institute at H&R Block, "for a married couple earning $80,000 a year, increased taxes would drain $221.48 in withholding from a semi-monthly paycheck. Married individuals earning $240,000 a year" (just under the $250,000 standard President Obama defines as "rich") "would lose $557.78 to withholding in a single semi-monthly paycheck." Double these figures for a month and multiply by 12 and you quickly see the additional drain on the economy at a time of anemic 2 percent growth.
Thirty-six years ago when he first ran for Congress, Lake Jackson, Texas obstetrician Ron Paul rented billboards depicting a seriously obese Uncle Sam with the caption: "Put Big Government on a Diet."
Most Americans, with the possible exception of those addicted to government benefits, would probably be happy to return to the 1975 federal debt level of a paltry $84 billion. Today, the national debt is $13 trillion and rising.
While Republican congressional candidates and many GOP incumbents are promising smaller and less costly government, the new British coalition government has decided to begin a serious restructuring of its entitlement state.
Researchers announced Monday they had injected embryonic stem cells into a patient suffering from a spinal cord injury. It marked the world's first human clinical trial of a procedure developed from such a source. The procedure took place at Shepherd Center, a spinal cord injury facility in Atlanta. The use of embryonic stem cells for such purposes had been banned under the Bush administration, but allowed under the Obama administration.
The question is why?
I was preparing to applaud the Obama administration and specifically Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano for announcing the deportation of a record number of criminal aliens last year. According to the Washington Times, "the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement deported 392,862 aliens in fiscal year 2010, slightly less than a 1 percent increase over 2009 but short of the agency's goal to remove 400,000 this year."
What curbed my enthusiasm was news that removal of other illegal immigrants -- those not convicted of crimes, though it could be justifiably argued that their status as illegal immigrants is, by definition, the breaking of American law -- fell to the lowest number since 2007.
Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), said that while it is nice that Secretary Napolitano believes removing people in the country illegally is an important function for the Department of Homeland Security, "policy directives from the highest levels of DHS clearly demonstrate that the administration is refusing to enforce laws against noncriminal aliens."
That bad cop/good cop approach is designed to pacify those on the political right while the administration and some Democrats in Congress simultaneously lay the groundwork for legalizing those who broke our laws to get here and remain in the country illegally.