Nation

Then there was the company that blew out a sewage plant by dumping chemical wastes down the drain. They killed the plant's friendly sewage-eating bacteria, so that human waste poured into a river that was the source of drinking water for various municipalities. "My boss was screaming at me," Sasse told the Corporate Crime Reporter. "His point was, this is no big deal. Who cares? He is extremely determined on the subject of not believing in the enforcement of pollution laws."

Sasse, himself a probusiness Reagan Republican, tried to talk to Clinton's U.S. Attorney but could never get through, and was told to lay off holding press conferences in big pollution cases because it would make the administration appear "too liberal."

Exasperated by Clinton red tape that prevented him from discussing prosecutions with his superiors, and frustrated by endless bureaucracy that seemed calculated to stall new cases, Sasse charged the Department with intimidation under the Environmental Employee Protection Act, which shields federal employees who bring an environmental action from undue political pressure. Although an administrative law judge ruled in Sasse's favor, Justice continues to fight the case on jurisdictional grounds, refusing to comply with discovery requests.

"I'm very probusiness myself," Sasse said, "but I don't want the world blighted or people getting sick from pollution." Sasse continues to work in the U.S. Attorney's office and waits to see what will finally happen with his grievance.


Let Them Eat Tax Cuts!
Promises, Promises

The GOP's obsession with tax cuts is becoming a contentious issue within the party and could end up as an albatross in the general election. Frontrunner George W. Bush wants to reduce taxes by $483 billion over five years. That's more costly than Bob Dole's 1996 proposal to reduce taxes by 15 percent, and more than the $792 million cut congressional Republicans passed last summer, only to have it vetoed by Clinton. Bush hopes his scheme will appeal to crucial GOP conservatives in the primaries. He insists his cuts will benefit lower- and middle-income taxpayers, but Gore has gone after him already for being irresponsible, charging that his proposals would use up the surplus and ruin the economy.

More to the point, Bruce Bartlett, a former Reagan administration Treasury official writing in the Heritage Foundation's Policy Review, argues that the tax revolt, which fueled GOP campaigns beginning with Reagan's in the late 1970s, is dead. "Supporters of tax cuts need to be more sophisticated than they have been," writes Bartlett. "They cannot just declare their support for tax cuts and expect hungry voters to react as if they are being thrown red meat. Voters have been burned by too many false promises. . . ."

Coming from Heritage, the most important conservative Republican think tank in Washington—which for years has set the parameters of GOP debate—Bartlett's article is a political heads-up to GOP candidates not to go nutso on taxes next year.



Go Ask Alice

Closing in for a drug sting, British undercover detectives approached a heavily fortified house in the English town of Middlebrough, only to gasp in amazement when a three-year-old girl answered the door. The child took their money and toddled off, returning with marijuana, which she passed through a grill to the cops. "My officers were absolutely gobsmacked," Detective Sergeant Bell said in disbelief. Five members of the child's family, including her sobbing 23-year-old mum, were subsequently locked up, but the girl went free because she is under 10.

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