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Join the informed writers of The Times' editorial board in lively discussions at our blog, Opinion Northwest.

Topic: democrats

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December 16, 2013 at 6:00 AM

Chaining mental health reforms to gun control is a failed strategy

The serial tragedies of gun violence perpetrated by young men provoke two responses, depending on which adjective you focus on: gun or mentally unstable.

A memorial in Newtown, Conn., one year later. / ASSOCIATED PRESS

A memorial in Newtown, Conn., one year later. / ASSOCIATED PRESS

I ranted in October that proposed public policies to address recent shooting incidents got lost in the shouting about the first adjective. Democrats, led by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, were culpable because they wouldn’t decouple mental health improvements from the gun issue, believing, I suspect, that is the only way the latter will pass.

Well, something happened last week that gives me hope.

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0 Comments | Topics: democrats, gun control, mental health

December 4, 2013 at 5:38 AM

Bruce Ramsey’s favorite columns, 2000-2012

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On the eve of my retirement, Times Editorial Page Editor Kate Riley suggested I pick my favorites from the 342 columns I’ve written for The Times since 2000. Here are 10, with my own headlines:

1. “Games With Words,” April 12, 2000. This was my takedown of the World Trade Organization protesters, who used loopy logic to justify their disruption of an international conference.

2. “A Republican War,” April 9, 2003. I hated the Iraq war and wrote three columns against it before President Bush started it. This one was written while U.S. soldiers were on the way to Baghdad. In it, I predict that the conquest of Iraq would result in an electoral disaster for the Republicans in 2004. I was wrong; the disasters came in 2006 and 2008.

3. “Eight Parking Places at a Strip Club,” August 27, 2003

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0 Comments | Topics: 2013 elections, democrats, iraq war

October 21, 2013 at 12:49 PM

Another school shooting shifts the conversation to gun control, but for how long?

UPDATE: One of the two people killed in the Nevada middle school shooting was a teacher who stepped in to protect his students. This Huffington Post story has the details. The teacher’s death may renew ridiculous suggestions by the National Rifle Association that teachers should be allowed to carry a gun or at least have one handy in…

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0 Comments | Topics: barack obama, children, democrats

October 18, 2013 at 6:00 AM

Catch mental health problems early

In the vast arena of public education, the part least understood or addressed well is mental health. Think about it. Schools remain vigilant about ensuring students perform well academically. Immunizations are legally required and periodic check-ups for hearing and vision remain even as school systems have cut back in many areas. These things are appropriate because they directly impact students in the classroom. Mental health…

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0 Comments | Topics: barack obama, children, congress

October 10, 2013 at 6:00 AM

Civil Disagreement: Obamacare and the government shutdown

Civil Disagreement is an occasional feature of the Seattle Times editorial board. Here Bruce Ramsey and Lynne K. Varner offer dramatically different takes on the federal budget battle and the government shutdown. This interactive includes a poll about American sentiment toward the political standoff.

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0 Comments | More in Civil Disagreement, Pro/con | Topics: 2013 elections, Affordable Care Act, barack obama

August 13, 2013 at 6:00 AM

Seattle Central Community College should get Beacon Hill landmark PacMed

The choice of turning the old PacMed Center into apartments or classrooms is expected to be made Tuesday. The Pacific Hospital Preservation and Development Authority, the public entity that owns the sprawling art deco-style building atop Beacon Hill, is holding a public meeting Tuesday starting at 6 . Afterward, the authority’s governing council is expected to vote on whether to lease the Pacific Tower  building to Seattle Central Community College or to a…

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0 Comments | Topics: democrats, Education, health care

June 14, 2013 at 12:43 PM

Legislature’s budget must be good for higher education

As the state House and Senate near a budget deal (we all hope), lawmakers are reminded to make 20040912opart-fsure higher education has enough money.

This is not the year for cuts. At a minimum, the budget must include maintenance-level funding that allows our public universities and community and technical colleges to pay for current programs and obligations.

Budget proposals from the Democratic House and the Republican-led Senate Majority Coalition include maintenance-level funding. Both budgets also invest more money in the State Need Grant.

But in letters to key lawmakers this week, education leaders from both the state’s four-year and two-year systems expressed serious concerns about the budget prospects.

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0 Comments | Topics: 3to23, children, democrats

May 31, 2013 at 7:00 AM

Colorado blazes a trail on education reform

My column this week noted the education reforms in Colorado, a state of similar population and demographics to Washington. Colorado is further down the road making school improvements and offers lessons for this state.  The biggest lesson is about charter schools, which Colorado has had for nearly 20 years.  An advocacy group in Denver, A-Plus, produced a report last…

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0 Comments | Topics: 3to23, children, democrats

May 23, 2013 at 6:00 AM

The U.S. House of Representatives should reject GOP student loan bill

U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene cosponsored a bill extending low student loan interest rates. (Photo by Greg Gilbert/The Seattle Times)

U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene’s bill would extend current low student loan interest rates.
(Photo by Greg Gilbert/The Seattle Times)

UPDATE: The U.S. House of Representatives voted 221 to 198 in favor of a Republican plan to avert a scheduled doubling of student loan interest rates. The bill now goes to the Senate which is unlikely to take it up anytime soon because of ongoing work on the farm bill for now and immigration next month. Good.

Even though Congress needs to act by July 1 or student loan interest rates will jump from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent, the bill passed Thursday by the House is a terrible solution.  It would set a temporary low interest rate on students loans but the problem is future interest rates would be attached to 10-year Treasury notes. That sets in motion interest rates that would vary with the markets. Hundreds of thousands of student borrowers would be saddled with higher, rather than lower, debt.

A better option,  offered by U.S. Rep Suzan DelBene, D-Washington, was blocked by Republican leadership from even coming up for a vote. DelBene’s bill would have kept current low student loan interest rates for two years while Congress worked on a long-term solution. The Senate has a bill similar to the one offered by DelBene.

A nation that already owes more than $1 trillion in student loans must do something to rein in student loan interest rates. But the GOP plan harms students more than it helps them. The Congressional Budget Office projects the legislative plan would translate to a 5 percent interest rate on Stafford loans in 2014. Sounds okay, right? But that rate would soar to 7.7 percent in 2023. Moreover, Stafford loan rates would be capped at 8.5 percent, while loans for parents and graduate students would have a 10.5 percent ceiling under the GOP proposal. This Congressional Research Office analysis does the math.

GOP sponsors of the bill are trying to sell it as a facsimile of a proposal by the Obama administration. Not quite. Yes, President Obama supports tying student loan interest rates to an economic indicator – many Democratic lawmakers do. But the details of the president’s plan matter.

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0 Comments | Topics: congress, democrats, Education

May 2, 2013 at 11:29 AM

Civil Disagreement: Is the gender pay gap a Seattle problem?

Civil Disagreement pits two members of the Seattle Times editorial board against each other on a question of the day. It is an occasional feature of The Times’ Northwest Opinion blog. Here Bruce Ramsey and Lynne K. Varner take on the recent report that the pay gap between men and women is wider in…

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0 Comments | More in Civil Disagreement, Pro/con | Topics: children, congress, democrats

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