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Stop Trial Lawyers from Exploiting Iowa’s Legal System!
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Press Release

Stop Trial Lawyers from Exploiting Iowa’s Legal System!

Trial lawyers run quite a successful business in Iowa. They make money by suing people, businesses, and institutions and then contribute money to politicians that will keep their money making machine alive. For trial lawyers, the greater the number of lawsuits they can bring, the more they will benefit. Our legal system should never be a “bank” for trial lawyers to dip their hands in. Americans realize the civil justice system is in need of reform, and a perfect place to start is with the class action system.

01/13/2003
DHHS numbers don't add up
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Press Release

DHHS numbers don't add up

This article originally appeared in the Raleigh News & Observer on January 12, 2003. By PAT STITH JEAN P. FISHER, Staff Writers Dave Mosley wasn't out to uncover anything when he began asking questions in May 2002 about payments made to hospitals for Medicaid, the state-run health insurance program for the poor. Having been hired recently by the state Department of Health and Human Services, Mosley, 34, said he was merely trying to educate himself. "I just couldn't get some of the numbers that I was looking at to make sense," he recalled.

01/12/2003
No question: US needs this tax cut
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Press Release

No question: US needs this tax cut

Financial Times This letter ran in the Financial Times on Feb. 11, 2003 February 11, 2003 No question: US needs this tax cut From Mr John J. Castellani and Mr Paul Beckner. Sir, Alan Beattie's report "Dividend tax cut plan faces hurdle in Congress" (February 6) falls short of examining the benefits of President George W. Bush's proposal to eliminate the double taxation of dividends for American taxpayers.

01/11/2003
TTA gets green light
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Press Release

TTA gets green light

This article originally appeared in the Raleigh News and Observer on Jnaury11, 2003 By VICKI HYMAN, Staff Writer Nearly a decade after the notion was proposed, the Triangle Transit Authority has won federal approval for a 35-mile, $724 million commuter rail line linking Raleigh, Research Triangle Park and Durham.

01/11/2003
'Free Market' Crusaders
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'Free Market' Crusaders

BY Shawn Zeller

Most Americans probably know little or nothing about the White House Office of Management and Budget, but Washington insiders are well aware of OMB's power. The office's 500-plus staffers oversee preparation of the federal budget, and they evaluate the effectiveness of federal programs and regulations. That's why it was seen as an unprecedented lobbying opportunity when OMB asked the public in 2001 for suggestions about federal regulations that should be revised or rescinded. Plenty of corporations and trade associations responded to the call, among them the American Chemistry Council, the American Petroleum Institute, IBM, and Procter & Gamble. In all, OMB received 71 suggestions from 33 different trade groups, corporations, municipalities, and nonprofits. But of all the respondents, none was as prolific as an obscure affiliate of George Mason University called the Mercatus Center. The center submitted 44 of the 71 proposals, most of them taking a hard line against government regulation. And of the 44, OMB gave its stamp of approval to 15-including Mercatus critiques of a proposed Interior Department rule prohibiting snowmobiles in Rocky Mountain National Park, a Transportation Department rule limiting the hours a trucker can drive, and an Environmental Protection Agency rule limiting the amount of arsenic in drinking water. "Our list dominated because we were the only group doing comments in any comprehensive way," said Susan Dudley, deputy director of the regulatory studies program at Mercatus. "They called it our 'hit list,' " she added with some amusement, referring to critics of the group. Overnight, Mercatus-an organization whose Latin moniker names the activity of markets, trade, and commerce-became an influential player in Washington. Of course, it didn't hurt that John Graham, the head of OMB's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, was once an adviser to Mercatus, or that three Mercatus employees, including Dudley, were once OMB officials. When OMB put together a similar report in 2002, the number of overall submissions quadrupled, and the roll call of organizations offering ideas rose from 33 to 1,700. Mercatus was again a prolific commenter, but influencing the OMB report was only one of several ways the group continues to turn heads. Bush administration officials drafting the 2003 budget proposal, for example, consulted with Maurice McTigue, head of the government accountability project at Mercatus. And just this week, former Reps. J.C. Watts, R-Okla., and Tim Roemer, D-Ind., signed on with Mercatus as part-time distinguished scholars. Meanwhile, the center's Capitol Hill campus last year drew more than 1,000 Hill staffers to lectures on everything from bankruptcy law to tax policy. Mercatus topped its year off when economist Vernon Smith, who had left the University of Arizona in 2001 to join George Mason and the center, won the Nobel Prize for economics. Smith was noted for his work in developing role- playing techniques that demonstrate the efficiency of markets. The center expects that its 2003 retreat for congressional chiefs of staff, to be held next month, will be the most successful to date. Basketball legend Earvin "Magic" Johnson will deliver the keynote address, outlining his efforts to start businesses in low-income urban areas. Mercatus promotes the idea that "free markets lead to great prosperity," said the center's president, Paul Edwards. "We don't believe that good ideas should stay cloistered in the library. We want to get these ideas into the hands of people [on Capitol Hill and in federal agencies] who can use them effectively." The folks at Mercatus insist they shouldn't be tagged as conservatives. "I don't consider us ideological," said Tyler Cowen, the center's general director. The scholars at Mercatus are an eclectic group. Cowen is considered a leading expert in the economics of the arts. Edwards, who became president of the center last March, previously worked at George Mason University's Institute for Humane Studies, a libertarian group that seeks to "enlighten" young journalists on the benefits of free markets and "limited government." The institute shares space with Mercatus on the fourth floor of George Mason's law school, a distinctive modern building in Arlington, Va. The head of the regulatory project is Wendy Gramm, one- time Enron board member, wife of former Sen. Phil Gramm, R-Texas, and former administrator for information and regulatory affairs at OMB during the Reagan administration. McTigue, whose government accountability project publishes an annual report on the effectiveness of federal agencies in communicating with the public, is a former New Zealand Cabinet minister. Making it all possible financially is the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, which got Mercatus off the ground in 1997 with a five-year, $10 million grant, and which remains the center's largest donor. In 2001, the foundation provided a $3 million grant to lure economist Smith from the University of Arizona. Koch, the CEO of Kansas-based Koch Industries, is a longtime funder of conservative and libertarian causes. The Washington-based groups that his foundation has supported include the American Legislative Exchange Council, Citizens for a Sound Economy Foundation, and the Federalist Society. "The Koch foundation believes that advancement of market-based solutions is the most certain means of assuring the long-term well-being of all Americans," explained Tony Woodlief, a foundation spokesman, in a written statement for National Journal. Koch's support for Mercatus has raised eyebrows among environmental activists. In 2000 and 2001, Koch Industries paid $40 million in fines related to violations of various environmental regulations. Liberal interest groups, concerned over Mercatus's comments on federal regulations, have called the group a front for corporate interests. Public Citizen, which is affiliated with Ralph Nader, says in a just-released report that Mercatus's approximately $6 million annual budget comes from such big companies as BP Amoco, General Motors, Pfizer, and Philip Morris. "Mercatus regularly files comments with government agencies aimed at preventing enactment of rules that could impact its patrons' bottom lines," the report argues. In January 2002, the Clean Air Trust named Wendy Gramm its "clean-air villain of the month," citing the Mercatus Center's attacks on environmental regulations in the 2001 OMB report. Mercatus "basically rents the [George Mason] university's name to give a patina of credibility to Wendy Gramm's anti- environmental agenda," the trust said in a news release. Susan Dudley, who is the day-to-day manager of the regulatory project, responds that Mercatus examines "regulation from the perspective of the public interest." But she acknowledges that the group's arguments have been controversial. Among the most controversial were comments by Dudley on the EPA arsenic rule, and her opposition to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's ergonomics rule. Dudley argued that EPA, in requiring lower arsenic levels in drinking water, had not demonstrated the benefits of lower levels, and that "compelling communities to reduce arsenic takes money that could be used to protect against bioterrorism threats, or to buy better schools, new emergency response equipment, or increased traffic safety." The Bush EPA took steps to reconsider the arsenic rule, but after a public outcry, the agency approved it. Mercatus had more success in opposing OSHA's ergonomics rule. That rule would have required employers to take new steps to prevent workplace injuries. Dudley, in her comment, argued that the agency had proposed a one-size-fits-all solution that didn't account for differences in workplace risks. In 2001, after vigorous lobbying by an array of business groups and a concerted effort by conservative Republicans, Congress overturned the ergonomics rule. Meanwhile, at the Capitol Hill campus, attendance at the center's policy lectures has taken off in the last two years. Cohen and other Mercatus employees sometimes teach, but more often the center flies in professors from various universities. Cowen said that Republican attendees outnumber Democrats but that the numbers are close. "We have plenty of speakers who are Democrats or left wing, and we have debates," Cowen said. "Our audience wants that and needs that." Richard Boykin, chief of staff to liberal Rep. Danny K. Davis, D-Ill., calls the lectures an "intense indoctrination on key issues facing Congress." He says he "understands the suggestion that this is Republican rhetoric. But I think it goes beyond that." Boykin says he often disagrees with a speaker, but enjoys the give-and-take. The next goal for Mercatus is to establish programs that will appeal to members of Congress. To that end, Mercatus wooed former House members Roemer and Watts. And in November, the center made another high-profile hire, bringing on Lawrence Kudlow, a former Reagan-era OMB official and conservative television pundit, as a distinguished scholar. Still, Lawson Bader, who heads the Capitol Hill campus, says Mercatus isn't planning to jump into the lobbying game. "We aren't looking to kill a bill, or put a new bill in place," he said. "The hardest thing we have to deal with is the 'So what?' question. My personal sense is that if we take someone who is hostile to or naive about markets, and that person winds up being less naive or hostile, I view that as a positive."

01/11/2003
No Question: US Needs This Tax Cut
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No Question: US Needs This Tax Cut

BY Mr John J. Castellani and Mr Paul Beckner

From Mr John J. Castellani and Mr Paul Beckner. Sir, Alan Beattie's report "Dividend tax cut plan faces hurdle in Congress" (February 6) falls short of examining the benefits of President George W. Bush's proposal to eliminate the double taxation of dividends for American taxpayers. There is no question that the US needs tax relief to expand the economy at a rate sufficient to create new jobs and reignite consumer demand. From business headquarters to family kitchens, Americans watch with growing concern as the world's most resilient economy struggles to achieve its potential and people grow more anxious about their own economic well-being. A recent study by The Business Roundtable (BRT) demonstrates that the dividend component of the president's plan will have the single most positive impact on our nation's economic growth - increasing the number of jobs by an average of 500,000 a year for the next five years. PwC, using the highly respected Inforum LIFT model at the University of Maryland, conducted the BRT's study on the impact of the economic growth proposal. Specifically, the BRT study shows that over the next five years, the dividend component contributes half of the proposal's resulting growth in both jobs and gross domestic product. It puts money into the pockets of shareholders from all income levels by reducing the taxes they pay on dividends and by increasing the dividends that corporations pay out by an estimated 4 per cent. These benefits are multiplied further when shareholders start to use this additional money to buy more goods and services, driving up demand for products and leading producers to step up their hiring and capital spending to meet the rising consumer demand. Repealing the dividend tax will not only increase jobs; it will also make savings and investment more attractive and bolster stock prices and investor confidence. Most Americans know that it is unfair to tax the same profits twice. The president's comprehensive economic growth proposal - including the elimination of the double taxation of dividends for individuals - is exactly what the US economy needs. It is the right approach to help spur consumer spending, create jobs and boost investor confidence.

01/11/2003
CSE's Agenda for the 108th Congress
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Press Release

CSE's Agenda for the 108th Congress

January 10, 2003 Dear Legislator: The 108th Congress will provide an opportunity to identify the key issues facing Americans and develop comprehensive bi-partisan plans to address them. On behalf of the 250,000 members of Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE), I wanted to take this opportunity to inform you of our legislative priorities for the new Congress and to pledge the assistance of our network of dedicated activists to support a policy agenda that will restore economic growth and create jobs. FUNDAMENTAL TAX REFORM

01/10/2003
William Bennett Advises Bush Administration, Congress to Embrace True Civil Rights Agenda
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Press Release

William Bennett Advises Bush Administration, Congress to Embrace True Civil Rights Agenda

Today, Former Education Secretary and co-director of Empower America William J. Bennett sent a memo to the White House and the U.S. Congress urging them to embrace a true civil rights agenda based on colorblind policies and equal opportunity for all. Bennett advises that in the coming year a civil rights agenda should be crafted around three action items:

01/10/2003
William Bennett Advises Bush Administration, Congress to Embrace True Civil Rights Agenda
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Press Release

William Bennett Advises Bush Administration, Congress to Embrace True Civil Rights Agenda

Today, Former Education Secretary and co-director of Empower America William J. Bennett sent a memo to the White House and the U.S. Congress urging them to embrace a true civil rights agenda based on colorblind policies and equal opportunity for all. Bennett advises that in the coming year a civil rights agenda should be crafted around three action items:

01/10/2003
Doctors Praise 'Bold' Plan
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Press Release

Doctors Praise 'Bold' Plan

From the Charleston Daily Mail, January 9, 2003, Thursday Copyright 2003 Charleston Newspapers Physicians today were reveling in Gov. Bob Wise's proposed tort reform plan, calling it novel, encouraging, bold and even radical. Wise's bill would supply four of the five sticking points the doctors' own proposal advocates in an effort to contain spiraling medical malpractice insurance costs. But it does not limit plaintiff attorney fees.

01/09/2003

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