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From Republicans, a new tone on taxes?

Boehner indicates willingness to compromise on fiscal cliff

Republican House Speaker John Boehner extended an olive branch to President Barack Obama and Democrats this week. Sure, he waved the branch a bit menacingly at times, but it’s a start.

Boehner addressed reporters Wednesday after speaking with Obama, who handily won re-election the night before. On the urgent issue of the approaching “fiscal cliff” coming in January, the House Speaker signaled a willingness to work with the President on taming the dangerous national debt.

“For purposes of forging a bipartisan agreement that begins to solve the problem, we’re willing to accept new revenue, under the right conditions,” he said.

The hitch, of course, is how Boehner and Democrats define those conditions. On this, Boehner warned that Republicans aren’t abandoning their principles, which include an objection to taking “a larger share of what the American people earn through higher tax rates.” That seems to mean Republicans are holding firm on no tax increases, a point Boehner emphasized on Friday. But it’s early.

With any compromise, Boehner will confront the same resistance he did when he crafted a debt deal with Obama in 2011, only to see the right wing of his party reject it. This time around, however, more Republicans seem to be heeding the message voters delivered Tuesday about GOP rigidity on issues like taxes and immigration. Republican officials even talked this week about the need for comprehensive immigration reform.

Democrats will howl that Republicans are cravenly courting the Latino vote. Perhaps so, but good legislation doesn’t necessarily have to come from pure-heartedness. The country wants results, and if it takes Republicans being jarred into a willingness to compromise on important issues, we’ll take it.

Burdensome Fla. voting

Come on, Florida. Still counting votes days after Election Day and unable to declare a presidential winner?

When President Obama, re-elected Tuesday without knowing who the Sunshine State chose, declared in his speech that America had to do something about voting problems, Florida was the place a lot of us were thinking of.

Yes, it was heartening to see citizens were willing to stand in line for hours to cast their ballots – in cold, in rain, in snow, and over several days of early voting. But it didn’t have to be that way.

Florida, the poster child for bad voting practices, inflicted pain on voters through a series of knuckleheaded moves: This year, officials reduced the number days people could vote early from 14 to 8. Some Florida counties opened fewer voting locations to save money. To compensate, voters took advantage of in-person absentee voting. They showed up at election offices as late as Monday to ask for absentee ballots that they filled out on the spot. Those votes had to be certified individually before they could be counted. Florida also had an excessively long ballot, with 11 constitutional amendments worded in an unwieldy fashion – one was 700 words!

Sigh. Voting is a privilege. But states shouldn’t make it a burden. We’ve got to fix that. Florida should lead the way.

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