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Today's Opinion

Lots of opportunity for tax reforms

U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., has just been appointed chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, the committee that oversees tax policy. Ryan, whose district includes Kenosha County, said this week he is determined to make progress on reforming the U.S. tax code.

We wish him well in that effort — we think. Ryan so far has not been specific about his tax reforms, and the details are important. Tax reform is a popular subject in general, but every specific proposal has enemies. It’s impossible to judge a tax reform plan without knowing specifically what’s in it.

A balanced boost to transportation fund

State Transportation Secretary Mark Gottlieb’s proposal to raise revenue for roads has a little bit of everything — except tolls.

Gottlieb’s proposed two-year budget raises the gas tax by changing the way it is calculated, imposes a new fee on vehicle purchases and imposes an additional registration fee on owners of electric or hybrid cars.

Connecting with Grandpa through hunting


Crawl out of bed. Shake off the shivers. Rub the sleep out of my eyes. Pull on the long johns and wool socks. Stumble down the hall to the kitchen. Pour a cup of coffee and a bowl of cereal. Watch the headlights of cars driving down the highway an hour before sunup. I hear Grandpa now. He’s up too. Excitement and adrenaline are coursing through our veins. Grandpa calls that “fire in your belly.”

It’s 5 a.m. in late November. Gun deer season in Wisconsin. After donning our blaze orange clothing and strapping on our boots, gloves, and hats, we each grab our rifles and head out the back door. It’s a ritual we’ve repeated every year for the past 15 years.

Local Columnists

It’s time to raise the minimum wage

By Sen. Bob Wirch

Thirteen Wisconsin counties and municipalities put the question of whether Wisconsin’s minimum wage should be increased from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour before the voters, and in each case, the voters delivered a resounding, “yes!”

Voters in Neenah, Menasha and Appleton in the Fox Valley, Wood and Portage Counties in central Wisconsin, and Douglas and Eau Claire Counties up north all overwhelmingly supported the referendum. Closer to home, the measures received 72 percent of the vote in the city of Racine and 63 percent in Kenosha County.

Veterans deserve our service

by Arthur I. Cyr

The immediate aftermath of Veterans Day, and all the related media commentary, is a good time for reflection. The funeral Nov. 11 of Kenosha’s James VanBendegom, missing in action in Vietnam in 1967, adds a special poignancy.

National Public Radio interviews with two leaders are especially instructive. Robert A. McDonald, new Secretary of Veterans Affairs, combines dedicated public service and demonstrated executive ability.

A tradition of giving thanks


Wow, almost Thanksgiving already. With the way the ad cycle is going, I thought St. Patrick’s Day was just around the corner. I saw the first Christmas ad before my birthday, which I share with this newspaper — though I’m a little bit younger.

As we get ready to have our Thanksgiving dinner, my family has a tradition. After grace, but before we eat, we go around the table and everyone takes a brief moment to mention some things they are thankful for. It can be as serious as Grandma going through a list of the family’s accomplishments for the year, or as light as a niece or nephew giving thanks for a toy or a trip to a museum.

Syndicated Columnists

Verbal attacks on state election, ethics agency draw return fire

By Bill Lueders

No one in Wisconsin has been more forceful in demanding changes to the state’s Government Accountability Board, which oversees elections, campaign finance, ethics and lobbying, than Robin Vos.

The Republican Assembly speaker has deemed the GAB “dysfunctional” and called its director and general counsel, Kevin Kennedy, an “embarrassment” who “needs to be gone.” His critique has been long on vitriol but short on specifics.

On Cosby, it’s hard to keep the faith


A few weeks ago, I spent a delightful afternoon and evening with Bill Cosby. I was the emcee of a gala for historically black Claflin University, which is in my hometown; Cosby was the headliner. Both of us were donating our time to a worthy cause.

It was just the second time I had met him, so I certainly don’t claim to know him well. It was apparent that he’s having serious problems with his eyesight; a young man was at his side to help him navigate. Otherwise, Cosby was just what you’d expect if you ever watched an episode of his eponymous television show — warm, funny, avuncular, mischievous, wise. He was Cliff Huxtable in winter.

The pope’s honeymoon is over


Pope Francis’ American honeymoon is over (though the whole idea of a papal honeymoon smacks of Borgia-era excess).

At first, some political conservatives complained that Francis was showing insufficient respect for distinguished Catholic theologians such as Adam Smith and Milton Friedman. But now, more thoughtful Catholic writers wonder if the pope (who conspicuously marries cohabiting couples) is laying the groundwork for more substantive changes on the sacrament of marriage and access to the Eucharist for the divorced and remarried. This, argues Ross Douthat of The New York Times would “sow confusion among the church’s orthodox adherents” and raise the (undesired) prospect of “schism.”

Politics in Video

Voice of the People

Don’t like what’s in the machine? Don’t buy anything
It’s hard to predict anything about Lake Michigan

Now he tells us about raising taxes
Pothole patching is done correctly

Veterans group sends money to wounded heroes
Property owner should decide fate of trees

Kenosha will do the right thing with homeless shelter
Aldermen don’t showup for committee meetings