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Wright On V No sooner had Jim Wright been installed as the new Speaker of the House than he went out on a limb by saying the rich don’t need the kind of tax break they’ve been given in the Reagan years. Interviewed January 10 on the Evans and Novak program on the Cable News Network, Wright pointed out that the tax rates for the richest citizens have been cut from 70 percent to 50 percent and now to 38 percent. The tax reform laws passed last year call for a further drop to 28 percent, but Wright says the cut should be postponed. Wright said that the Reagan administration’s cuts in such programs as student loans and Medicare are “taxes on poor people,” and in light of such sacrifices the wealthiest citizens those earning $150,000 or more should be willing to sacrifice, too. “They don’t really need new tax cuts,” he said. Wright has also been taking a liberal stand on military spending questions, even though it is no accident his Fort Worth district has for years been knee-high in Pentagon money. “We have doubled military spending in the last six years,” Wright said, noting that it has been at the expense of education and social spending. “You can’t shunt all those things aside in order that you can buy more and more expensive weapons,” he said, in answer to a question about whether he would oppose the Reagan administration’s “modest” three percent proposed. increase in military spending for the next year. In 1984, Wright proposed cutting the federal budget deficit by finding ways to reduce “the runaway growth in military spending” by $100 billion over a three-year period. Asked about the possibility that the already earmarked $40 million in contra aid will get hung up in Congress in February, Wright said he wasn’t sure. But he said it will be “very difficult to expect Congress to grant new money to the contras” next fall. In his closing commentary, the right-wing Robert Novak gave Wright credit for appearing on the program, which he said former Speaker Tip O’Neill would never have done, but added that Wright was clearly “just as tough an antagonist and just as partisan as Tip O’Neill.” Texas Consumer Association, the Texas Senior Citizen Association, the Gray Panthers, the Texas AFL-CIO, and Consumers Union Southwest say that big banks continue to charge high interest on credit card use while mortgage rates and other interest barometers have fallen. “The big banks are just plain greedy,” said Carol Barger, director of Consumers Union Southwest. Texas Bankers Association vice president Sam Kimberlin said it’s the costs of handling credit-card business that keeps the interest rates high. The coalition urges consumers to “fight and switch” and suggests using banks charging lower rates, refinancing existing high-interest credit card debts, and encouraging lawmakers to require that banks disclose their interest rates, fees, and other terms when advertising for credit card business. Siding with Crazies V One of the pro-contra aid television commercials which may have been funded by the Iranian arms deal was targeted at U.S. Rep. Albert Bustamante, D-San Antonio. Bustamante said the commercial painted him as a “communist” and that the advertising campaign was backed by “a bunch of right wing crazies that have been overcome by power.” He said he had already decided to vote for contra aid when the commercial was broadcast. V Two billion dollars over the estimated cost and 18 months behind schedule, Comanche Peak nuclear power plant is now planned to begin commercial operation in early 1989. Texas Utilites has outlined a 100 percent design review of the plant and intends for the review to correct all of Comanche Peak’s problems by early 1988. After years of the kind of bungling for which the nuclear industry is infamous, Texas Utilities spokesman Larry Nace now says his company will resolve the plant issues “in a manner in which our credibility and integrity are unimpeacha ble.” v A group fighting the proposed highlevel nuclear waste dump in West Texas recently visited their government representatives in Washington. The Nuclear Waste Task Force met with George Bush’s chief of staff Craig Fuller, Sen. Phil Gramm, Sen. Lloyd Bentsen’s staff, Rep. Larry Combest, R-Lubbock, and Rep. Beau Boulter, R-Amarillo. Task Force president Delbert Devin, who favors putting radioactive waste in dry casket storage at the point of origin until safe disposal methods are found, said all the meetings were productive. V If the powers in the Senate begin pushing “tort reform” legislation in the direction of a constitutional amendment, it will mean some kind of understanding has been reached between the trial lawyers and Lt. Gov. Bill Hobby. While there has been every indication that Hobby supports efforts to limit corporate efforts to redefine civil liability rights more narrowly, a Senate move to redefine civil liability through a constitutional amendment may give the trial lawyers all the room they need to block such a move in the House, which requires a two-thirds vote. In the Senate, the trial lawyers seem to be able to call upon at least one-third of the legislators of the upper house at any time. An agreement between Hobby and the trial lawyers could have important implications for Hobby’s reported gubernatorial plans for 1990. Confidence Men V No wonder no one is voting in this country. One look at the front page of the December 17 provides little reason for voter confidence in government. On the same front page, you find: “Blame Is Rejected by Donald Reagan in Iran Arms Deal,” “President Urges Limited Immunity From Senate Panel for 2 ExAides,” “Deaver Inquiry Suggests Others Were Involved,” and “Former U.S. Intelligence Employee Is Sentenced to Life for Espionage.” V And speaking of front pages: the December 19 Austin American-Statesman carried an interesting juxtaposition of headlines on its front page. “Cancerous brain tumor removed from CIA leader” reads the headline of one article, while the sidebar attached to it announces: “Inquiry makes little headway.” V A group opposing the Reagan administration’s foreign policy on Nicaragua is attempting to match in humanitarian aid the $100 million Congress recently approved for contra assistance. The group, Quest for Peace, is a national network of over 400 sponsoring organizations and thousands of individuals, which last year matched in humanitarian aid to Nicaragua the $27 million Congressional package of contra aid. The effort, which will provide food, clothing, and medicine for people living in Nicaragua, receives the endorsement of the Archdiocese of Detroit, which declared that Roman Catholic bishops, together with most U.S. religious leaders, have consistently opposed any type of U.S. aid to the contras, calling it “illegal, immoral, and unwise.” 18 JANUARY 23, 1987