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Priority: Saving a Few Bucks
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Priority: Saving a Few Bucks

BY Reverend Kathy Leonard

The most telling line in your reporting of the Measure 28 defeat was the quote from Russ Walker of Citizens for a Sound Economy: "It really says something about where people's priorities are" ("Voters reject tax increase," Jan. 29). Yes, it certainly does. It says that Oregonians' priorities are for saving ourselves a few bucks each week, but not for public education, higher education, public safety, our justice system, or health care for our poor. Don McIntire, president of the Taxpayer Association of Oregon, was quoted as saying, "We've had months and months of talk of calamity if Measure 28 failed. Now I want to see that calamity" ("Light and heavy hearts greet news," Jan. 29). Mr. McIntire, here it comes. I grieve for our state.

01/01/2003
Religious Right roups join forces to select Texas textbooks
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Religious Right roups join forces to select Texas textbooks

01/01/2003
Counting 'Dead-Weight Loss' of Security
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Counting 'Dead-Weight Loss' of Security

BY David Lazarus

I hate to be a spoilsport just as Congress is preparing to hand the president his much-coveted Homeland Security Department, which will merge 22 government agencies into a single entity, creating a public-sector behemoth with no fewer than 170,000 workers. But it must be asked: Has anyone looked closely at how much this will cost? The White House says the new department will have a $37 billion annual budget but will not actually increase the size of the federal government. If anything, the administration says, combining all those agencies will create economies of scale that will save taxpayers money. Sure, that's how government works. Placing the Army, Navy and Air Force under a Department of Defense didn't result in any redundant multibillion-dollar weapons systems or toilet seats costing $640. "Putting all these agencies together is going to have a very significant dead-weight loss," said Jason Thomas, staff economist at Citizens for a Sound Economy, a left-leaning Washington nonprofit. "Dead-weight loss" is an economic term describing financial waste from inefficiencies -- money that gets spent but produces no benefit for society. Thomas estimates that nearly a quarter of the Homeland Security Department's budget, at least during the next few years, will be squandered on dead-weight loss. He also believes the Bush administration's financial expectations for the new entity are wildly optimistic. "When you take a broader view of it, you're looking at about $70 billion a year," Thomas said, explaining that numerous security-related expenses have yet to be accounted for in the department's budget. He added, "It's going to be very difficult for them to get the cost savings they're projecting." Norm Ornstein, resident scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, a Washington think tank, said the department's budget doesn't currently allow for defending container ships coming and going at U.S. ports. This could run about $5 billion a year, Ornstein said. Moreover, he said, bringing together the various agencies will require joining no fewer than 24 separate payroll systems, and dozens of different computer networks and software configurations. These costs, too, have yet to be accounted for. "The administration says that because we're talking about a nearly $40 billion budget, you can accommodate everything," Ornstein said. "I can't help but view that with extreme skepticism." The Congressional Budget Office estimated this summer that it would cost more than $3 billion to get the Homeland Security Department off the ground -- beyond its almost $40 billion operating budget. That estimate includes $150 million to administer the new Cabinet-level department next year, ballooning to $225 million annually over subsequent years. House Republicans countered that the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office is wrong and that all administrative costs fall within the White House's funding forecasts. But Robert Reischauer, former head of the Congressional Budget Office, told me that the Homeland Security Department's administrative overhead will most likely cost $2 billion a year at the outset -- and that's without any new terrorist incidents. "Should any insecurity emerge, this will be like the Defense Department, receiving large budget increases year after year," he said. Mind you, this is on top of a looming war with Iraq, which federal authorities estimate would cost as much as $13 billion a month, not to mention a subsequent occupation of the country, which is estimated to cost up to $4 billion monthly. How will we pay the tab? Answer: We won't. "We're running large deficits, and those deficits will grow even larger in the future," Reischauer said. The federal budget deficit jumped to $159 billion in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30. The 2003 deficit is expected to be even bigger. Another wild card here is the epic scope of trying to merge so many different government agencies, each with its own culture and way of doing things (or not). Homeland Security will be the third-largest federal entity, after the Defense Department and Veterans Affairs. It will encompass a wide variety of jurisdictions, from the activities of the Border Patrol and Coast Guard to the Customs Service and Immigration and Naturalization Service. "If it works, it will be great," said Thomas at Citizens for a Sound Economy. "But you're dealing with a public employee culture that does not lend itself well to working together." He and other observers note that each of the 22 agencies involved has spent years defending its bureaucratic turf in budget battles and keeping a tight grasp on information. "What we know from past combinations and mergers is that culture is the dominant factor," said Ornstein at the American Enterprise Institute. "It always trumps all other considerations." Look at it like this: Hewlett-Packard and Compaq are in the same line of work, and they couldn't find enough room for both Carly Fiorina and Michael Capellas (the latter exited the merged company last week). Joining the ultracool Secret Service with the Agriculture Department's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service? Yeah, that'll be an easy fit.

01/01/2003
FEDERAL GROWTH GUIDE CRITICIZED AS MEDDLING
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FEDERAL GROWTH GUIDE CRITICIZED AS MEDDLING

BY CORY REISS

WASHINGTON -- Erick Gustafson grew up in a different Sarasota than he left seven years ago. Condominiums and vacation homes have replaced trailer parks on Longboat Key. Hotels have risen. Strip malls have been built. Countless tiffs about signage and aesthetics have flared.

01/01/2003
New Energy Study Downplays Efficiency Gains
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New Energy Study Downplays Efficiency Gains

Absent a prolonged drop in Americans' living standards, America will still need significant new supplies of energy to fuel its growing economy regardless of conservation efforts, says a new study by the Citizens for a Sound Economy Foundation (CSE), a grassroots advocacy and education organization dedicated to economic freedom. "Abundant Energy: The Building Block of Prosperity" rebuts the claim that America can avoid developing new sources of energy and modernizing its energy transmission infrastructure simply by relying on improved efficiency and conservation. In the entire post-war period from 1949, the CSE study observed that the U.S. economy reduced its energy intensity substantially -- cutting the amount of BTUs consumed per dollar of GDP virtually in half. But during the same period, demand for energy tripled nevertheless, largely because of strong economic growth. "Without the tripling of energy supplies, the strong economic growth that has made the U.S. the most powerful economy in history would not have been possible," conclude CSE analysts. Alliance spokesman Bruce Josten, Executive Vice President for Government Affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said the study confirms an important point often missing in the energy debate. He noted that history and technological advances have shown that the U.S. can increase conservation and still grow its economy. But, he said, "We can't meet our energy demand through conservation alone, unless we halt economic progress, and I think most Americans would reject that approach." CSE also finds that "energy efficiency" is often misunderstood when used interchangeably with conservation. "Using less energy is efficient only if the cost of the resources needed to replace energy use is lower than the cost of the energy that is 'saved'," observes the study. For example, a household appliance may seem more efficient by using less energy, but may actually require a net increase in energy to produce, and is therefore less efficient than the product replaced. The Alliance for Energy and Economic Growth represents more than 550 energy users, ranging from small, independent businesses to the nation's largest manufacturers, as well as companies that generate and distribute energy from a diverse mix of sources -- including natural gas, oil, coal and nuclear energy -- supplying millions of households and workplaces.

01/01/2003
CLUB NOTES
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CLUB NOTES

Republican club The Dallas North Republican Club will meet at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Taffy's Restaurant, 1902 Promenade on Coit Road, between Belt Line and Arapaho roads in Richardson. The speaker will be Tina Peyton, who is North Texas field manager of the Texas Division of Citizens for a Sound Economy.

01/01/2003
SOCIAL SECURITY REFORM TOPIC OF JAMESTOWN FORUM
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SOCIAL SECURITY REFORM TOPIC OF JAMESTOWN FORUM

BY FROM STAFF REPORTS

A public-interest group is offering Triad residents a chance to learn more about Social Security reform this evening. N.C. Citizens for a Sound Economy is hosting the 90-minute forum beginning at 7 p.m. in the Jamestown Civic Center, 301 E. Main St. The presentation includes remarks by U.S. Rep. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., who has championed reform of the retirement system, and by a staff member of the group that focuses on economic issues of national importance. U.S. Rep. Howard Coble of Greensboro also will be on hand.

01/01/2003
GAS REVOLT
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GAS REVOLT

BY John McCaslin

Boston had their tea party. It was only a matter of time before Washingtonians began taking to the streets to voice their displeasure with the high price of a gallon of gasoline. For instance, bureaucrats leaving the headquarters of the Environmental Protection Agency last week were handed pink slips, or a "Notice of Termination" on pink paper, as they headed down into the subway. The notice read: "To: All EPA Bureaucrats "From: The American Taxpayer

01/01/2003
R.J. Reynolds protests Dole assessment plan
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R.J. Reynolds protests Dole assessment plan

WINSTON-SALEM - The largest cigarette maker in North Carolina says its disagrees with a proposal by Sen. Elizabeth Dole, R-N.C., to charge cigarette companies an assessment to pay for a proposed buyout of federal tobacco quota. A buyout could pump at least $4 billion into the state's rural economy, but officials at R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. say the assessment breaks the spirit of Dole's pledge not to support tax increases. "This appears to be a classic bait and switch," said Tommy Payne, the senior vice president for external relations at Reynolds.

01/01/2003
Bush Chooses Reagan-Era Republican for UNESCO
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Bush Chooses Reagan-Era Republican for UNESCO

BY Jim Lobe

Published on Thursday, October 2, 2003 by OneWorld.net WASHINGTON -- The enthusiasm of internationalists over the return of the United States to the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) after almost 20 years' boycott may be dampened by President Bush's choice to be the next ambassador at the Paris-based agency.

01/01/2003

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