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In the Loop

Example Goes From Good to Bad

By Al Kamen
Friday, December 10, 2004; Page A35

Were those family-friendly tax cuts too big? On Oct. 4, as the campaign entered the home stretch, President Bush stopped in Des Moines to sign his most recent tax-cut bill and to single out Mike and Sharla Hintz, a couple from Clive, Iowa, he said benefited from his tax plan.

Last year, he said, they saved about $2,800 on their income taxes because of the administration's tax cuts. They used the money for their family, Bush said, making "home repairs and improvements."

_____In the Loop_____
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"It's a special day for Mike and Sharla," the president said, "their 13th wedding anniversary. Theirs is a typical story. See, last year they received a child-tax-credit check for $1,600 for their four children. They took the family on a vacation to Minnesota. Next year when you get your check, you may want to come to Texas."

Unfortunately, Mike, a First Assembly of God youth pastor, might not be making the trip next year. Seems he was arrested this week and charged with sexual exploitation of a child, according to Iowa news reports.

Police said that last spring, Hintz began a relationship with a 17-year-old girl who was a member of the church's youth group, according to KCCI-TV. The contact allegedly occurred at the girl's home and during a mission trip to India.

Hintz, through his lawyer, denied the allegations. The church fired Hintz on Oct. 30.

Have Gems, Will Travel

Miss all the codels to China? Still need some Christmas presents? Maybe fine pearls would do the trick? An e-mail from Geraldine R. Gennet, general counsel of the House, is great news for Hill staffers.

"The ' Pearl Lady,' " Gennet reminds, "is the person who owns the store where we bought pearls in Beijing last Dec. when I went on a congressional trip. . . . The prices were very good" and so, she believes, was the quality.

Best of all, the Pearl Lady is right here in River City this very week, we're told, at a townhouse on Independence Avenue SE. Her agent, Marsha Lefkovits, says in an e-mail Gennet appended that "just in case you are not familiar with the Pearl Lady, she was first introduced by our embassy in Beijing. Most congressional and executive branch delegations to China go to her store in Beijing."

Lefkovits's comments contradict our firm view that people on these trips are working constantly and have no time to shop.

The Pearl Lady's "father owns the largest freshwater cultured pearl farm in China," we're told.

Gennet was hoping to get over to the Pearl Lady's showing here, because she "only bought a few gifts in China and regretted not buying more pearls (watching everyone else on the trip [who] wore them on the trip and back on the Hill)."

Sherlock Holmes Not Needed

To outsiders, the Cabinet transition kabuki can be a confusing time. On the one hand, the president always "accepts" the resignation with "deep regret," and is devastated at losing the services of so fine a public servant.

The Cabinet officer is equally saddened to disappoint but feels he must: a) spend more time with family; b) explore options in the private sector; c) return to his roots, or his first love, or whatever.

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