New England editorial roundup
The Nashua (N.H.) Telegraph, July 19, 2012
As the national drumbeat builds for Mitt Romney to release additional tax returns, we can't help but wonder if he is the only person on the planet who doesn't know how his petulant game of keep-away is going to end.
Surely, everyone knows he is going to release more of his tax filings; it's just a matter of when, not if.
But should we be proven wrong, we hope the Republican nominee-in-waiting is prepared to answer persistent questions about his peculiar pigheadedness -- and not just from Democrats and the media -- right up until Election Day.
What started out as a trickle has turned into a steady stream of nudges from Republican colleagues urging him to make public additional tax returns -- beyond his already released 2010 and estimate for 2011 -- and put this prickly issue behind him.
In recent days, Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa (the fourth most senior Republican in the upper chamber), Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, to name a few, have called on the former Massachusetts governor to be more transparent about his finances.
Even some of the more influential conservative voices in the media -- including columnist George Will and Weekly Standard Editor William Kristol -- have joined the just-do-it chorus.
"He should release his tax returns tomorrow -- it's crazy," Kristol said on "Fox News Sunday." "You've got to release six, eight, 10 years of back tax returns. Take the hit for a day or two."
Which raises the question: How much is enough?
For now, Romney says he intends to release no more than his 2010 and 2011 tax returns, pointing out that's in line with what his predecessor, Sen. John McCain, did during his unsuccessful 2008 run for the presidency.
But that's hardly in keeping with the precedent set by nominees of both parties during the past two decades:
In 1990, then-Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton made public 10 years of federal tax returns in preparation for his 1992 run for the White House. He followed up in April of that year by releasing 1990 and 1991.
George W. Bush released his tax returns for the years 1997, 1998 and 1999 while mounting his 2000 bid against Democrat Al Gore. He would go on make public his tax filings between 2000 and 2007 while serving as the nation's 43rd president.
And then- Illinois Sen. Barack Obama released seven years of tax returns in the run-up to his election in November 2008.
For his part, Romney said he does not want to release additional tax information because he doesn't want to give the Obama campaign, as he recently told the National Journal, "more pages to pick through, distort and lie about."
Understandable? Sure. Politicians don't generally like to hand their political opponents ammunition.
But that's hardly the point. It's not a matter of whether the president's political operatives have a right to scour the financial documents; it's that the American people have a right to know the financial background of those who aspire to hold the highest office in the land.
And if it's important enough for party nominees to demand those documents from their potential vice presidents, it's important enough for voters to demand those same documents from their presidential nominees.
Four years ago, Romney turned over 23 years' worth of tax returns to the McCain team while being vetted for vice president.
There's no good reason why he can't meet the American people halfway today.
The Newport (R.I.) Daily News, July 16, 2012
With thousands of people suffering from the effects of Lyme disease -- and thousands of new cases being reported each year -- we are glad to see national attention being focused on the issue.
A group of federal senators and representatives have proposed legislation that would establish an advisory committee of researchers, patient advocates and agencies, and coordinate support for developing better diagnostic tests, surveillance and research.
"The tick problem is growing. The Lyme disease problem is growing," said Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., a co-sponsor of the bill in the Senate. "This requires resources."
It sure does.
More than 150,000 cases of the tick-borne disease -- named for the Connecticut town in which it was discovered -- have been reported since 1982, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control.
Lyme disease is transmitted through the bites of infected deer ticks. The bacteria typically manifests itself first as a rash -- that sometimes looks like a bull's eye centered on the tick bite -- and then as an infection, accompanied by fever, headaches, muscle and joint pain and fatigue.
Most people recover with antibiotics, although some symptoms can persist. If left untreated, the infection can cause arthritis or spread to the heart and nervous system.
Some people, even after traditional treatment for Lyme disease, have reported the recurrence of persistent symptoms, including arthritis, fatigue and neurological disorders, called chronic Lyme disease. The state of Rhode Island recognizes chronic Lyme disease and requires insurers to cover the cost of its treatment.
That was an important step, as the symptoms of Lyme disease and its treatment have been the subject of controversy for years. Each year, patients go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed, or even worse, are told that their symptoms are "all in their head." This has to stop, so advances can be made in diagnosis, treatment and prevention.
"The key with the bill is to get everyone in the room, get all of the best available science and then aggressively attack this hideous disease that has ruined so many lives," said Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., the sponsor of the House bill, who has pushed similar legislation in the past.
If approved, the legislation ultimately would result in more federal money aimed at Lyme disease, Reed said, which would benefit organizations and services such as TickEncounter Resource Center, run by the University of Rhode Island's Center for Vector-Borne Disease.
"We're really looking for ways to sustain these activities," said Thomas Mather, a professor and director of the URI center. "Mostly what's needed are more resources."
In addition to resources, education and awareness are key. We are glad to see a Rhode Island member of Congress helping to lead that charge.