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Month: December 2016

MAK cleans up Salem home

Joseph Haggard (from left), Clay Rushton, Sgt. Lance Inman and Bob Shackelford volunteer to clear out the former home of a Korean War vet widow. (KEIZERTIMES/Lyndon A. Zaitz)

Men in Action for Keizer (MAK), the Keizer Chamber of Commerce’s volunteer group of men, jumped into action earlier this month when they were called by representatives of the Oregon Department of Veteran Affairs to help clear out the former home of a veteran’s widow.

A small group of MAK volunteers, led by Bob Shackelford, were joined by three Keizer Police Department employees at the manufactured home in northeast Salem that was the residence of Carmel Westover for decades. Westover, in her 70s, had relocated to a foster home earlier in the year.

The large, three-bedroom home, was filled with the artifacts of a life that Westover shared with her husband Marvin, a Korean War Naval vet, who had passed away. The clear-out team filled a large trash container and a recycling container, donated by Pacific Sanitation Service. Items in the home were divided into categories: trash, recyclables, personal documents and things that will be sold.

Men in Action for Keizer, which has a roster of about 50 members, was created several years ago as a counter to the chamber’s Keizer Network of Women (KNOW), assists in every way for those in need—individuals, businesses, civic projects and more. Shackelford, a real estate broker, leads the group, which is constantly seeking projects to which they can lend their manpower.

Jordan Killian, property manager for the Department of Veteran Affairs (ODVA), contacted Sgt. Lance Inman at Keizer Police, who connected him with Shackelford and MAK. Overseeing the project was Helen Ireland, conservatorship manager with ODVA.

Along with Shackelford, the volunteers from Men in Action for Keizer at the home clean-up were Bob Parsons, Clay Rushton and Joseph Haggard. Joining Inman from the police department were Traci Moore and Jacki Wolfe.

Parks survey hitting mailboxes

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

About half of Keizer residents are going to be receiving a thicker utility bill this week. It’s because a survey about Keizer parks is being included with the regular mailing.

The remaining utility customers will receive the survey with their January bill. Keizer residents can also fill out the survey online at keizer.org where additional informational videos and materials will also be made available.

The questionnaire requests residents’ feedback regarding Keizer’s parks and asks if they would support a fee attached to their regular utility bills to create a dedicated parks fund, options range from no fee to $8 per month.

While the inquiry is being billed as a “survey,” members of the Keizer Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, who have spent the better part of nine months planning its launch, are hoping respondents treat it more like homework.

“As we began to talk about this, we realized there was a lot we didn’t know. For people to understand what the survey is about, we had to give them some information about the context of funding available through the city,” said Donna Bradley, a parks board member.

“We want the responses to be educated, not just emotional,” added Matt Lawyer, another member of the parks board.

To that end, here are some of the basics regarding park funding at the city level:

• Parks receive about 2.5 percent of the city’s general fund. That’s the minimum and funding over and above that level is rare. The general fund also pays for police services which make up the bulk of its expenditure.

• The city has about $800,000 in system development charges (SDCs), paid by developers when new residential facilities and homes are built, waiting to be used on parks improvements. However, it would need to come up with an additional $6.1 million from other sources to spend all of it down. A dedicated parks fund would be one way to unlock SDC money.

• Parks also benefit from rental fees paid for the orchard and residence at Keizer Rapids Park and for a cell tower at Bair Park. It amounts to about $50,000 per annum, but only $10,000 per year is earmarked for improvements.

In the meantime, expenses are overrunning the city’s ability to maintain the parks. Last month, when a slide and bridge on a play structure in Wallace House Park were vandalized, it left Robert Johnson, Keizer’s parks and facilities supervisor scrambling to come up with $3,500 to fix them. Sections of the play structure were blocked off while Johnson figured out how to cover the unexpected expense. (See Case Study No. 1)

In recent years, Keizer Rapids Park and all of its amenities have gotten a lot of attention, but the vast majority of the work that’s been done has been completed through volunteer efforts and grant money from other sources. However, maintaining the park has fallen on the two full-time parks staff members and a few seasonal employees.

Many improvement projects have already been delayed for years (See Case Study No. 2), and the increased costs of deferred maintenance pushes projects waiting in the wings even further down the list.

“Last year, we had a bid to fix the south parking lot at Claggett Creek Park for about $7,500. We couldn’t pay for it then and when it finally got done this year, it cost us $13,000. It was the same space, but it had gotten that much worse,” Lawyer said.

Due to statewide ballot measures that locked in property taxes at 1996 levels, the city cannot raise additional funds simply by raising taxes. It leaves essentially three options for creating a dedicated parks fund: 1) creating a parks district, which would create additional set-up costs for implementing and managing the parks system; 2) local option levies, which would need to be renewed at the ballot box every time they expire and put future sustainability in question; or 3) imposing a fee like the one being proposed in the survey. The city council could impose the fee and are looking to the survey responses as a stand-in for an advisory vote.

Parks board member Scott Klug wasn’t a fan of imposing a fee until the idea for the survey came forward.

“It concerned me that we were going to be asking people to pay for something that not everyone uses, and I especially didn’t want to impose the fee without asking,” Klug said.

Keizer voters have a history of balking at the mere thought of additional taxes and fees, but board member Jim Taylor, a former Keizer city councilor and longtime parks advocate, said even people who don’t use parks benefit from their presence and good condition.

“Parks are a reflection of the health of the community. Nice parks are a deterrent to crime and increase property values,” Taylor said.

Taylor sat on the council as many fee proposals died at the ballot box, but he feels better about this one than many in the past.

“If enough people take the time to understand, we have a good chance at doing this. People have to understand the repercussions of not paying and the benefits of paying a little more,” he said.

At the $8 per month level, the additional cost would be $96 per year per household.

Parks board members encourage residents to take a stroll through their neighborhood parks and make note of what needs attention and what they would like to see as far as improvements before responding to the survey.

Without a dedicated parks fund, Johnson said the reality is that relatively minor maintenance like mowing and debris removal will become more infrequent and some amenities would be closed or removed as they reach the end of their lifecycle.

“In the last wind storm, we had another five or six shingles blow off the gazebo (behind the Keizer Civic Center). The roof is going to begin to rot and we’re going to be faced with closing it down or removing it entirely,” Johnson said. “Too many people think you can buy something for a park and not touch it for 20 years. Parks are no different than a car, you have to get tires rotated, you have to change the oil, you have to do the things that keep it running and usable.”

Responses to the survey will be accepted through the middle of March at which point the data will be analyzed and the parks board will forward a recommendation to the Keizer City Council.

“The information we get back will help prioritize what comes next in our parks – even if we find out we don’t have the support needed for a fee. This is about taking pride and ownership in our neighbors and neighborhoods. We’re all one community and we want it to be the best one possible,” Lawyer said.

Members of the parks board will be holding outreach events between now and mid-March. The kickoff will be a joint city council and parks board work session on Monday, Jan. 9 at 5:45 p.m. The public is encouraged to attend. If you are part of a community or civic organization willing to host an outreach event, you can contact members of the parks board to arrange a time through Deputy City Recorder Debbie Lockhart at [email protected] or 503-856-318.


Case Study No. 1 – A barricaded play structure

In November, a play structure at Keizer’s Wallace House Park was barricaded after vandals struck.

The connection point of a slide to larger structure was damaged and a slat on a bridge was broken. The estimate to fix the problems came in at $3,500.

“It looks piddly on paper – $3,500 shouldn’t keep the problem from being fixed, but it is a huge hit to us. We have to ask ourselves if we can afford it,” said Robert Johnson, Keizer’s parks and facilities supervisor.

Part of the repairs were covered under warranty, while others had to come out of the parks budget, which is typically stretched thin no matter the time of year. Labor alone cost $1,900 because a licensed installer had to be contracted so the warranty wouldn’t be voided.

There is no excess within the parks budget. The general fund, which the city uses to pay for police and parks among other expenses, does but fixing a play structure using those reserves falls far down on the list of priorities.

If Johnson cuts back on hours for seasonal hires, it will mean he and Don Shelton, the city’s only other full-time parks employee, will have to scramble to make up the difference when park usage kicks into full gear next spring.

Another option is holding off on equipment purchases. Johnson was hoping to get a new mower, blower and trimmer in June 2017 with any funds he managed to save during the rest of the year.


Case Study No. 2 – Forging a disappointing legacy

At the October meeting of the Keizer Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, a Keizer teen named Dean spoke to the members in attendance. He asked that board members help him repair Carlson Skate Park behind the Keizer Civic Center.

Of all the amenities in Keizer parks Carlson Skate Park stands one of the best chances to become a flashpoint. Cracks are forming throughout the park and the bowl in the northwest corner is all but unusable for riders of anything but a bike. It’s been on the to-do list for five years and one hoped-for renovation project has already fallen through.

Dean had already contacted a potential business partner who was willing to fly into town and provide an estimate for doing the repair work, but the price tag is going to be hefty.

“There’s a light resurfacing that will cost about $50,000 to $100,000 and can be done in phases. The permanent solution is going in and doing a little redesign and a lot of resurfacing. That would be about half a million,” said Robert Johnson, Keizer parks and facilities supervisor.

The skate park was built in the 1990s through volunteer efforts and donated materials, but it is approaching the point of becoming a liability for the city. Without some sort of overhaul, it may face closure.

“If we had kept it up, you can’t put a price on how neat it is to have a place for kids to hang out,” said Scott Klug, a member of the parks board.

Unfortunately, the parks board could do little other than encourage Dean to stay involved.

“We had a high school kid come in and ask us, ‘Please, can you fix our park?’ When you have to talk to a kid and say, ‘Sorry, there’s nothing we can do about it.’ That is heartbreaking,” said Matt Lawyer, a member of the board in attendance that night.

It hit especially close to home for parks board member Jim Taylor, who has spent decades involved with youth activities in Keizer.

“I was so frustrated because there was nothing we could do to financially help him. What kind of message does that send to a kid who worked up the courage to come and talk about the issue? That’s a bad lesson in government,” Taylor said.

Free towing service on New Year’s

Wiltse’s Towing is offering a free New Year’s service for anyone in the Salem-Keizer city limits who has had too much to drink, wants to get home safely but doesn’t want to leave their vehicle.

Call 503-581-1533 on Dec. 31 at noon through Jan. 1 at noon and Wiltse’s Towing will pick you and your vehicle up and deliver both home at no charge.

Just provide your location, name, phone number (in case they can’t find you) and the make, model and color of your vehicle.

And allow about 30 minutes for someone to arrive.

Celtics finish Classic strong

McNary senior Adam Harvey had 17 points, seven rebounds and three assists in a 80-42 victory over Evergreen, Wash. on Thursday, Dec. 22. (KEIZERTIMES/Derek Wiley)

By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes

SALEM—McNary suffered its first loss of the season in the Capitol City Classic.

But that doesn’t mean the tournament wasn’t a success.

After falling to Mater Dei, a Catholic school in southern California, 64-60 on Wednesday, Dec. 21, the Celtics rebounded to defeat Evergreen, Wash. 80-42 on Thursday and then knocked off Thurston 60-46 Friday at Willamette University.

McNary had its chances against Mater Dei, who went on to defeat West Salem 53-50 to win the Capitol City Classic. The Celtics trailed by just one point with two minutes to go.

“It was a hell of a game,” McNary head coach Ryan Kirch said. “They are a powerhouse team out of San Diego. Our kids played really, really physical. It was back and forth. They’ve got multiple college players on their team. I thought our kids played well. We missed a couple free throws. We had one or two turnovers in tough spots. We played toe to toe with them. I told our kids afterwards I was really proud of how hard they played. They didn’t back down from anybody. Sometimes you just tip your hat to the opponent and that was the case.”

With 14 points and four assists, Matthew Ismay led McNary in the loss. Alex Martin had 10 points, four assists and four rebounds.

“It was a battle,” said Cade Goff, who added 13 points, four assists and four rebounds. “I think we responded well and it was a really good test. They’re a talented team with a lot of guys who can do a lot of things and we matched them. I think moving forward in those situations and those games, we’ll be on top next time.”

After a back-and-forth first quarter against Evergreen, the second period turned into a free throw contest with the Celtics going 7-for-7 from the line and the Plainsmen making five of 10 attempts.

Playing with more energy in the second half, McNary quickly extended its lead from 36-21 to 47-21 midway through the third quarter. A Goff putback at the buzzer then gave the Celtics a commanding 62-32 lead heading to the fourth.

“I think we just came in, talked at half and realized the one thing we were probably lacking the most is energy,” said Goff, who finished with 17 points and five rebounds against Evergreen. “Especially being a tournament atmosphere, we don’t have a lot of fans or a packed crowd with a bunch of students. I think that was a major key. We had to come out with our own energy.”

Adam Harvey had 17 points, seven rebounds and three assists. Ismay added 14 points, five rebounds and seven assists. Easton Neitzel was also in double digits with 10 points, three rebounds and two assists.

“We’ve got to create our own energy,” Kirch said. “I thought we were a little calm early on, a little passive. Then once the ball got rolling a little bit, you saw us play the way we’re accustomed to playing.”

Chandler Cavell gave McNary a spark off the bench against Thurston, going 8-for-9 from the free throw line to finish with 15 points. Ismay had 10 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Harvey had 13 points, six rebounds and two assists. Lucas Garvey added 12 points.

The Celtics began play in the Oregon Holiday Hoopfest at Summit High School in Bend on Wednesday. The tournament runs through Friday.

“It’s all about having fun,” Kirch said. “We’re pretty serious with game plans and all that but the tournament atmosphere is a lot of fun.”

McNary then returns to Greater Valley Conference play on Tuesday, Jan. 3. The Celtics host Forest Grove at 6:45 p.m.

Salem mayor-elect shares vision for Salem-Keizer

Chuck Bennett, Salem’s mayor-elect spoke at the recent Rotary Club of Keizer luncheon. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

Salem’s mayor-elect, Chuck Bennett, stopped by the weekly Rotary Club of Keizer luncheon Thursday, Dec. 22, to talk about the ways Salem and Keizer can work together.

Topics ranged from the future of the Urban Growth Boundary (UGB) to transit and homelessness.

Bennett reserved his harshest critique for the Salem-Keizer Transit District.

“I’m convinced that we need to sit down and figure out where we want to go from this slow, unrealistic service with buses traveling around town mostly empty on odd routes that don’t seem to be serving our residents well,” Bennett said.

Recent attempts to add funding to the district through ballot measures have largely gone down in flames, and Bennett said it is indicative of a lack of conviction to have a transit district in the Salem-Keizer area at all.

In January, Bennett is hoping the Salem City Council acts on approving ride-sharing services, like Uber and Lyft, within Salem and Keizer to follow suit shortly thereafter.

“Right now, the average wait for a taxi is 45 minutes. (Ride sharing) will be one more transportation option for the area,” Bennett said.

He also touched on recent talks about a possible third bridge over the Willamette River.

“Right now, we’ve progressed farther than we have in 40 years of talks. Salem, Keizer, and Marion and Polk counties have all approved UGB expansions to accommodate the bridge at Pine Street and that paves the way for an environmental impact statement,” he said.

Keizer and Salem officials are interested in expanding the UGB beyond accommodating a new bridge. Keizer needs industrial commercial land and Salem needs more space for multi-family and single family housing.

He lamented the lack of
affordable housing in the Salem core, which has contributed to growing homelessness in the mid-Willamette Valley.

“We have a very complicated homeless problem and we have a large number statistically listed as homeless,” he said.

Currently, Salem and Keizer officials along with representatives from Marion County have convened a task force to explore options for tackling the homelessness problem, but the group’s time is waning and plans for what comes next are still hazy.

Bennett said about 500 of the area’s homeless residents are dealing with late-stage addiction issues or mental health problems that make them the hardest to find alternative housing for.

On a more positive note, Bennett credited the work of the Salem-Keizer School District and specifically the Career and Technical Education Center (CTEC), a public-private partnership, as a model for similar projects to follow around the state and the nation.

“There are opportunities ahead of us and I think good times are ahead, if we keep our heads on straight,” he said.

Fran Lindquist

F. Lindquist

Fran Lindquist, age 75 of Salem, Oregon passed away on Dec. 18, 2016. Fran, daughter of Jesse Carter and Mildred (McGoldrick) Carter, loving wife of Robert Lindquist, succumbed to Parkinson’s at her home. She is survived by Robert her loving husband of 55 years, son Daniel, sister Lois, and pre-deceased by her brother Jerry.

Fran was born on July 12, 1941 on a family farm in Schuyler County, Missouri. The family later moved to Glenwood, Missouri and then to the Salem, Oregon area in 1946. She graduated from South Salem High School in 1959, and married Robert Lindquist in 1961. Fran also graduated from Merritt Davis School of Business in 1966, with a degree as a medical secretary. Among her employment activities, Fran had worked for a travel agency, the office for Salem Elks Lodge, and later retiring in 2003 from Goodwill Industries.

Fran enjoyed socializing and entertaining others with activities through the Keizer Elks lodge and was a prior president of the Ladies of Keizer Elks. She was also active with the Red Hat Society and Keizer QTs. Fran will be fondly remembered and greatly missed by family and friends. A celebration of life will be held at Keizer Elks lodge on Sunday, February 12, 2017 from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in her honor to Willamette Valley Hospice.

The color orange

There are few things as promising as the dawning of a new year. As the calendar flips from December 31 to January 1, everything will be reset. We make resolutions in an effort to be better. A new year holds the promise of adventures and experiences as well as milestones and celebrations.

Spring is the season when nature starts to bloom anew, but for the people, New Year’s Day heralds all that is bright and new and unexplored. For most people anyway.

There is no getting around the fact that not everyone will celebrate a new year, because for them it will look much like the previous year.  Many people will continue to struggle with finances, living situations and more. People who don’t live the great American lifestyle don’t always have a choice. They should not be judged. For those in need who ask for help should receive it, not just from some bureaucracy but from their fellow man.

We judge when we are intolerant of other’s life style, life choice or ideology. That intolerance begets isolation, bias and injury.

Our world has become a society in which too many people feel they’ve been given the permission to  attack, verbally and physically,  those who are different. That includes the bullying of children, whether it is in person or cyber. It is not nearly enough to just express the sentiment that everyone should get along—that’s too simplistic. It takes action from all corners; society must make intolerance shameful.

We can take the tools of other messages—ribbons—to take a stand, locally, against intolerance. Tying orange-colored ribbons to our trees, wearing orange-colored ribbons on our chests will create curiousity and questioning from neighbors, friends and strangers. When asked what the ribbon is for we can say it is to promote tolerance amongst and between people, here in Keizer and around the globe.

Judging less and tolerating difference is a good resolution for each of us to make. It will make the new year better and more promising, even here in our little corner of the world.

  —LAZ

Bob O’Shea

Bob O’Shea

Bob O’Shea, of Keizer recently passed away.

He is survived by his wife, Joan.

A Celebration of Life will be held Saturday, Jan. 7, at the Keizer Elks lodge, 4250 Cherry Avenue N., at 1 p.m.

Hate and divisiveness

By PRITAM K. ROHILA, Ph.D.

Acrimony and nastiness have been hallmarks of the recent presidential election campaign in the United States. Divisive ideas, which were being propagated by hosts of a handful of talk radio and cable TV channels, became mainstreamed. Opponents were demonized, and differences among Americans were accentuated.  Suspicion, anger and hate became widespread.

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) recorded a 14 percent increase in the number of hate groups in the country in 2015. In its 2016 report, released in late November, it counted almost 900 incidents of harassment and intimidation in a variety of settings, all directed against immigrants, minority individuals and related institutions. Even children, disabled individuals and houses of worship were not spared.

New York Police Department has noted a 115 percent increase in hate crimes in New York City. According to the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations, in parts of the county, there was a 24 percent rise in hate crimes, mostly targeting minorities, and  there was 69 percent increase in hate crimes just against Latinos.

The FBI reported 5,850 hate crimes in the United States, last year. Muslims and Muslim-appearing individuals were targeted on 263 occasions, the second highest number on record, trailing only the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks backlash. Many Muslim women have experienced hijab-grabbing incidents. In some cases, even Muslim police officers were victimized.

It is ironic that all this is happening in a nation where the Statue of Liberty, the internationally-renowned icon of freedom, has welcomed immigrants from all over the world, and a nation that has so frequently highlighted human rights violations in other parts of the world.

Let us hope that the divisiveness, which has marked the recent elections, does not pit some Americans against other Americans and minorities in the country continue to enjoy rights and protections enshrined in the U.S. Bill of Rights.

Regardless of who occupies the White House, and which political party dominates Congress, we must continue to uphold and abide by the many international covenants we have endorsed, and the basic rights and freedoms enshrined in the U.S Constitution.

In the spirit of reconciliation and brotherly love, we must combat divisiveness and bigotry, as some churches across the country did with their communion services on the election-day this year, and as two of the nation’s largest Jewish and Muslim advocacy groups recently did to form an unprecedented partnership.

(Dr. Pritam Rohila, of Keizer, is a retired neuropsychologist. He can be reached at [email protected])

The economy needs attention now

By LAWRENCE KUDLOW

President-elect Donald Trump’s transition continues to go smoothly. Actually, better than smoothly—confidently. More than confidently —transcendently.

And to top it all off, the Dow is up 9 percent since the election, while economic-sensitive small caps have jumped nearly 16 percent. These are signs of Trump confidence.

Hard-nosed investment manager Ray Dalio, founder of Bridgewater Associates and a nonpolitical guy, expects the Trump years to be as transformational as the years of President Ronald Reagan and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. He says the Trump era could “ignite animal spirits” and “shift the environment from one that makes profit makers villains with limited power to one that makes them heroes with significant power.”

That’s as good a summary as I have found.

Since the election, I have argued that the Barack Obama/Hillary Clinton war against business will come to an end and that America will once again reward success, not punish it. And while the left has demonized Trump’s Cabinet appointees as a terrible group of successful business people, free-market capitalists such as myself regard this group as very good indeed.

Why shouldn’t the president surround himself with successful people? Wealthy folks have no need to steal or engage in corruption. Their business success demonstrates that they know how to achieve goals and convince skeptics that good deals can be made to the benefit of both sides. Isn’t this just what America needs?

And most of these folks aren’t political. They won’t be afraid to reach across the aisle for bipartisan solutions. And that includes Trump himself. For many years, he was a Democrat—just like Reagan, just like me.

In our new book, JFK and the Reagan Revolution, Brian Domitrovic and I explain how the two great pro-growth tax-cutting presidents—John F. Kennedy, the Democrat, and Ronald Reagan, the Republican—used civility and respect to communicate key ideas in a bipartisan effort that yielded terrific results for American prosperity.

So far, this has been the Trump way. Not only has he conducted himself with great civility, beginning with his Oval Office meeting with President Obama, but he has also sought an inclusive approach wherever possible, irrespective of party.

Yet with less than a month until the inauguration, it is crucial that Trump embark on immediate bipartisan efforts to strengthen the economy. It was the number-one election-year issue. And despite strong post-election increases in business and consumer confidence—along with the stock rally—the economy is weakening yet again.

Measured year-to-year, real gross domestic product is rising only 1.7 percent. Business fixed investment, or BFI, continues to decline. Productivity is flat. Consumer spending has barely risen in the last two months, while both auto production and sales are slumping. Nonfinancial domestic profits have declined year to year for the last six quarters.

Of all these factors, the slump in business fixed investment is the most harmful. If you go back in history across the four long post-war recoveries of the ‘60s, ‘80s and ‘90s, BFI averaged nearly 7 percent. In the Obama recovery, BFI was only 4 percent. Over the past two years, it has been flat.

Using a back-of-the-envelope rule of thumb, if the investment performance of Presidents Kennedy, Reagan and Clinton were in place now, our economy would be growing at 3 percent rather than 2 percent —a big difference.

That’s why pro-growth tax reform is so important. It is reported that Trump will immediately move to overturn costly Obama regulations, especially on small business. This is good. It will add to growth.

But the big decision will be whether to repeal and rewrite Obamacare or enact tax reform as the first order of legislative business.

Replacing Obamacare is hugely important, both to improve our health care system and remove the economic drag of its taxing, spending and regulating. But business tax reform, with low marginal corporate rates for large and small companies, easy repatriation and immediate expensing for new investment, will have an enormously positive impact on the weakest part of our economy, namely business investment.

That’s where we’ll see 3 or 4 percent growth, higher productivity, more and better-paying jobs and fatter family pocketbooks.

If there were a way to combine a two-year budget resolution with reconciliation instructions (51 Senate votes) to reform health care and taxes in one full sweep, that would be ideal. However, if tax reform (be it business or individual) comes second and the start dates are postponed until 2018, then businesses and consumers will postpone economic activity. That could make 2017 a much weaker economic story than confidence surveys and the recent stock market suggest.

There’s a great transition going on, but the economy needs immediate attention. Tax reform is the key.

(Creators Syndicate)