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Winds of change blowing in Washington

John Dimsdale Nov 8, 2006

Winds of change blowing in Washington

John Dimsdale Nov 8, 2006


MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: The results of yesterday’s Congressional races will certainly affect economic policy in Washington. To take a look at the impact, I’m joined by our Washington bureau chief John Dimsdale. Good morning Johna€¦

JOHN DIMSDALE: Good morning Mark.

THOMAS: John, the New Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has said the Democrats want to impose a windfall profits tax on the oil companies. It’s one thing to say that. How difficult will it be to do it and what could the economic impact be?

DIMSDALE: Well, it’s going to be very difficult especially given the fact that there’s a former oil man still in the White House for the next two years. And the new Democrats have a much more moderate taint to them than the more liberal Democrats who would try to tax the oil companies. But that being said, there is more talk about taxing petroleum to pay for renewable, alternative fuels. Now remember Californians yesterday rejected a new tax on gasoline to fund alternatives, so this is going to be a tough issue for the Democrats.

THOMAS: With the House now going over to the Democrats can you talk about the kind of control that party will now have in terms of appropriations and running committees?

DIMSDALE: Well , several long-serving liberals will now take over the tax-writing committee, for example Ways and Means will be headed by Charles Rangel who famously said during the campaign that he’s not sure any of President Bush’s tax cuts should be made permanent. The Financial Services Committee will be headed by Barney Frank of Massachusetts who favors stronger powers for shareholders to limit CEO compensation. Wisconsin’s David Obey will take over at Appropriations and he’s long been a thorn in the side of Republicans.

THOMAS: John, you referred to the California vote on the oil tax. There were a lot of other economic initiatives across the country. Can you give us a wrap-up?

DIMSDALE: Missouri, California rejected some pretty steep extra taxes on tobacco, although South Dakota voted yes to hike taxes on tobacco products.

THOMAS: A measure to support stem cell research was on the ballot in Missouri. How did voters decide there?

DIMSDALE: They decided to go along with this. That supposedly helped out the Democratic challenger there Clair McCaskill. Stem cell research generally across the country gets more support from the electorate and that held true n Missouri, which would expand the use of embryos for research into finding cures for diseases.

THOMAS: And what has to have been one of the more unusual ideas on the ballot, residents in Arizona had a measure that would have entered all registered voters into a lottery with a chance to win a million dollars. The idea was that this would encourage more people to vote. What happened there?

DIMSDALE: Well, it was pretty soundly defeated, 66 to 34. The opponents said you know it’s kind of wrong to offer a prize for just exercising your Constitutional right, and some say responsibility, to vote. It’s interesting, had it passed, the chances of winning would have been better than the regular lottery.

THOMAS: John Dimsdale is our Marketplace Washington Bureau Chief. And in Los Angeles, I’m Mark Austin Thomas. Thanks for joining us. Have a great day.

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