Page 4A OPINION East Oregonian Tuesday, December 12, 2017 Founded October 16, 1875 KATHRYN B. BROWN Publisher DANIEL WATTENBURGER Managing Editor TIM TRAINOR Opinion Page Editor MARISSA WILLIAMS Regional Advertising Director MARCY ROSENBERG Circulation Manager JANNA HEIMGARTNER Business Office Manager MIKE JENSEN Production Manager OUR VIEW Trump’s denigration of FBI is self-serving The FBI is so universally himself as a tough street fighter. But running down the FBI at the familiar to Americans that it’s time when it has hundreds of unnecessary to spell out its name. investigations going, some of them Its initials are synonymous with a kind of stolid professionalism. Like dangerous, is not smart for the our northern neighbor where the nation’s chief executive officer, Royal Canadian Mounted Police who oversees the FBI and ought to famously “always have its agents’ gets their man,” welfare and safety the FBI isn’t in mind. glamorous, but The Republican is who you want Party of days on your side if gone by was a there’s a criminal proud defender to apprehend. of law and order. It is sad to see It isn’t without the GOP’s leader fault. In the and his enablers post-9/11 era, its turn against our anti-terror focus most potent police has sometimes agency, which been overzealous, has been effective generating at combating complaints organized crime from minority and blocking communities and attacks by foreign civil libertarians. terrorists. But long gone It is a standard are the days of AP Photo/Andrew Harnik ploy to attack J. Edgar Hoover, Former FBI Director Robert Muel- government its legendary the special counsel probing founding director, ler, Russian interference in the 2016 during political campaigns, but who infamously election. quite another to played fast and sabotage it after loose in pursuing being elected. personal vendettas It is sad to see the the and agendas. GOP’s leader and his Meanwhile, rest of us need At least since it became known enablers turn against government to function. And that FBI Associate our most potent we sure as hell Director Mark Felt served as the police agency, which need the FBI to doing its Washington Post’s has been effective at continue job well. secret source in combating organized Thankfully, upending the there is no corrupt Nixon crime and blocking evidence for administration, a attacks by what Trump large majority of is suggesting. Americans sees foreign terrorists. Robert Mueller, the FBI as an the retired honest and neutral FBI director now directing the bulwark against wrongdoers of all independent investigation of kinds, in or out of government. election interference, promptly This makes it all the more relieved one agent of his duty astounding to hear a U.S. president because of a pro-Clinton email. denigrate the FBI. Claiming the This is a sign that the agency has a agency’s stature is in “tatters,” self-correcting mechanism. It still President Trump is lashing out at treasures objectivity, fairness and an American institution with a far truthfulness. Trump, of course, has better reputation than he enjoys no use for any of these values. himself. Trump is simply trying to Trump’s reaction to the FBI’s derail an investigation that is now legally sanctioned investigation penetrating his operation. We must of Russian involvement in the last make certain the FBI stays on the election may be understandable job. from someone who regards OTHER VIEWS Susan Collins and the duping of centrists new deficits created by the tax bill to usan Collins is often called one of justify the very thing Collins opposes: the last centrists. She is a classic Medicare and Medicaid cuts. Those New England Republican, a programs, Ryan told a talk-radio host, senator who mostly votes with her party are “really where the problem lies, but is willing to buck it. A couple of weeks ago, Collins made fiscally speaking.” Cutting them is a top a classic Collins deal. It tried to split priority for 2018. the difference between Democratic and If anything, Ryan’s snub is more Republican positions. significant. House conservatives might David But it sure looks like a bum deal Leonhardt still fold and approve the narrow deal now. It also looks like a cautionary tale that Collins thought she had. But Comment for anyone who wants to occupy the Republicans will not permit the more political center during the age of Donald meaningful promise she’s made — that Trump and a radicalized Republican Party. the tax bill won’t lead to health care cuts. Tax Here’s the back story: Collins said that she cuts and health care cuts are inexorably bound. would vote for the recent Senate tax bill so long So in exchange for her vote, Collins as Republicans leaders promised to pass other received, at best, a cosmetic fix that she will legislation — in the near future — that would have to pretend is something more. reduce the bill’s knock-on damage to health What was her mistake? It was both tactical care programs. and strategic. She laid out three conditions. She wanted The tactical error was to fritter her moment her colleagues to pass two separate bills that of leverage, when the Senate bill’s fate was would shore up insurance markets for people uncertain and she had the potential to influence who weren’t covered through their job. And other swing senators. Instead of demanding she wanted congressional leaders to promise something real, she accepted vague promises. to undo the Medicare and Medicaid cuts She can still vote against the version of automatically triggered by the deficit increase the bill that emerges from House-Senate from the tax cut. negotiations, but she doesn’t have the sway Her colleagues assured her they would she did before. Senators usually don’t switch pass the bills she wanted — not immediately their vote at this stage, and the tax bill will pass but soon after the tax bill had passed. Collins without her if no other Republican flips (with decided that was good enough, and on Dec. 2, Vice President Mike Pence breaking a 50-50 she became one of 51 yes votes on the tax bill. tie.) When Collins describes her deal, she makes Her strategic error is the one that holds it sound both ironclad — her word — and lessons for other would-be centrists. Namely, substantial. She has spoken of a personal she defined the political center in relative terms commitment from Mitch McConnell, the rather than substantive terms. Republican Senate majority leader. And she’s emphasized leaders — not just Trump, but McConnell that the deal isn’t merely for show. It will, she and Ryan too — have moved sharply to the insists, protect Medicaid and Medicare — two right. They are rushing through a bill without programs particularly important to Mainers, the normal procedures. They are making given the state’s large elderly population. verifiably false claims about it. And they have “I also got an ironclad commitment that decided that taking health insurance away from we’re not going to see cuts in the Medicaid/ Americans is a core Republican principle. Medicare program as a result of this bill,” Collins made the mistake of chasing after Collins said on “Meet the Press.” an impossible deal. She wanted to position But some of Collins’ fellow Republicans herself between the two political parties, and evidently have a different definition of ironclad. she wanted to protect Medicare and Medicaid. Within days of the Senate vote on the tax When it proved impossible to do both, she bill, conservative House Republicans started claimed otherwise — and put a higher priority saying that they didn’t care about her deal. on politics than policy. She did not make it with them, and they do In Trump’s Washington, other centrist not feel bound by it as they negotiate the bill’s Republicans are going to face a version of her final language with the Senate. These House dilemma, again and again. They are going to members, as Politico put it Friday, have decided have decide which matters more to them: being to “thumb their nose” at Collins. a loyal Republican or being an actual centrist. Meanwhile, Paul Ryan, the speaker of the ■ House, has been undermining Collins in his David Leonhardt is an op-ed columnist for own way. He has made clear that he will use the The New York Times. S Unsigned editorials are the opinion of the East Oregonian editorial board of publisher Kathryn Brown, managing editor Daniel Wattenburger, and opinion page editor Tim Trainor. Other columns, letters and cartoons on this page express the opinions of the authors and not necessarily that of the East Oregonian. YOUR VIEWS GOP tax bill no help to the middle class Why do our elected representative keep telling us the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act helps the middle class? While the bill initially reduces taxes for low and middle income taxpayers, many of the allowances that contribute to those reductions phase out quickly, so that by 2023, those groups would be paying more than under current law. Congress is already talking about the need to reduce social welfare programs so the increase in the deficit created by the new tax bill would be smaller. Those reductions will also hurt low and middle income taxpayers. Why do they tell us the bill will create more jobs? The bills reduce the cost of buying new machinery (think robots) while increasing the cost of getting an education to train for good paying jobs (think taxing tuition waivers). Even if the tax reductions were to lead corporations and large businesses to create more jobs, it wouldn’t matter here in Eastern Oregon where there already is not enough affordable housing for all those who could work here. Bonds issued by cities or states on behalf of private and nonprofit developers (private activity bonds) serve as a tax-exempt means of financing all sorts of projects including affordable housing. The house version of the bill would eliminate the tax exemption for such bonds. Low Income Housing Tax Credits would be less attractive in an environment of lower corporate taxes. Building and maintaining affordable housing would be harder under the new tax bill so our housing stock would fall further behind the demand, raising housing prices for everyone. Why is it more important to end the estate tax on the few ultra-large estates that still pay such a tax than to renew the Child Health Insurance Program? Ending the estate tax is not going to create jobs. Providing health insurance to children immediately puts money in family pockets and helps children be healthy in the process. Why is the tax bill being rushed through Congress? Is it perhaps so we won’t have time to tell our representative that we object to a bill that harms middle and low income people, benefits the wealthy, and increases the deficit? Call your congressman now to ask them to vote against the proposed tax bill! Tell them to start over and think carefully about protecting the people who elected them. Stop it. Name calling Trump isn’t going to bring him down. Accusing him of being a racist isn’t going bring him down. This Robert Mueller “investigation into collusion with Russia” isn’t going to bring him down. The “leaked” Access Hollywood tape didn’t bring him down. Trump won because our politicians failed us. Republicans have lacked the spine for generations to unify with a cohesive agenda out of fear of their public image. Democrats don’t care about anyone. They only see fit to tell you what is wrong in the world and who to blame for it. Do not continue more of this childish tabloid BS. If you don’t like Trump, disagree with his policies, but attacking his character doesn’t work and weakens your position. He obviously thrives on that and you only help him by driving his supporters further away from you and closer to him. No matter what side of the political spectrum you are on, hold all your politicians accountable for the jobs they do or more “Trumps” will crop up in the future. Lindsay Winsor Milton-Freewater Jordan Whetsler Umatilla Evaluate politicians by policy, Menace in the Blue Mountains not personality Farmers, hunters and hikers beware! There is a murdering herd of chipmunks killing off cows, sheep, llamas, deer, elk, turkeys and grouse. If this sounds ridiculous to you, consider the fact that ODFW can investigate a llama kill that is partly eaten, with wolf tracks 20 yards away and trail camera photos of a wolf pack 300 yards away but can’t determine it as a wolf kill. ODFW loves these wolves. They are job security. ODFW gets to spend their days in the woods checking on and learning what the wolves are doing. They get to ride around in trucks, airplanes and helicopters all paid for by taxpayers. They spend time in the forest on our nickel, tagging and monitoring wolves and investigating kills on livestock. But the burden of proof is so stringent that many kills are obvious but never declared a wolf kill. If it does becomes obvious that a wolf or a pack is killing livestock that it can’t be ignored by ODFW, a ton more money is spent hunting and killing the predators to blame. There is no way of knowing how many deer, elk, turkey and grouse are killed to support these killer chipmunks throughout Oregon. Roger Robinson Hermiston LETTERS POLICY The East Oregonian welcomes original letters of 400 words or less on public issues and public policies for publication in the newspaper and on our website. The newspaper reserves the right to withhold letters that address concerns about individual services and products or letters that infringe on the rights of private citizens. Submitted letters must be signed by the author and include the city of residence and a daytime phone number. The phone number will not be published. Unsigned letters will not be published. Send letters to managing editor Daniel Wattenburger, 211 S.E. Byers Ave. Pendleton, OR 97801 or email email@example.com.