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Reforming the Federal Tax Policy Process
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Press Release

Reforming the Federal Tax Policy Process

Cato Institute SummaryWhen government considers raising or cutting taxes, official scorekeepers estimate changes to federal revenues and the distribution of the tax burden. Those estimates are very important in policy discussions regarding the desirability of proposed tax changes. Therefore, it is crucial that policymakers receive the most accurate and complete assessment of the likely effects of tax proposals.

12/17/2002
Healthy Forest Initiative
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Press Release

Healthy Forest Initiative

Submitted via e-mail to: Healthy Forests Initiative, USDA FS Content Analysis Team P.O. Box 221150 Salt Lake City, Utah 84116 Comments on: National Environmental Policy Act Documentation Needed for Fire Management Activities; Categorical Exclusions Notice of Proposed National Environmental Policy Act Implementing Procedures December 16, 2002, (67 FR 77038) Submitted by: Wayne T. Brough, Ph.D. On behalf of:

12/16/2002
Friends Don’t Let Friends Vote Pelosi
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Press Release

Friends Don’t Let Friends Vote Pelosi

On January 7th, 2003, the new 108th Congress will organize itself, and the House of Representatives will select a Speaker of the House. The vote for Speaker is a public roll call vote. Most, if not all, Republicans will choose Dennis Hastert (R-IL). Similarly, the majority of House Democrats have signaled they will vote for their new leader, Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), for Speaker.

12/16/2002
Critics Take Shots at Copy-Protection Plan
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Critics Take Shots at Copy-Protection Plan

BY Bill McConnell

Broadcasters might not have expected a ringing endorsement for their preferred digital copy-protection technology, but, last week, they were surprised by the thunder of nearly universal skepticism. Except for broadcasters' Hollywood allies, nearly all media and tech companies weighing in on possible copy-protection measures for digital over-the-air TV complained that the "broadcast flag" won't work, isn't needed or can't be imposed without approval by the U.S. Copyright Office or Congress.

12/16/2002
TAX PLEDGES
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TAX PLEDGES

Conservative anti-tax groups are not serving North Carolinians well with their no-tax-increase pledge drives. The groups bully legislators into promising not to raise taxes and then appropriate for themselves the right to decide what is a tax increase. In short, they are stealing from the broad base of North Carolina voters the right to be represented by people who stood for election, not by political operatives who stand on the sidelines. The so-called Citizens for a Sound Economy group says that it has no-tax-increase pledges from 47 representatives and 20 senators. It has just recently ruled that any vote to extend the half-cent sales tax that is scheduled to expire on July 1 will be a tax increase and therefore a violation of the pledge. No one elected CSE to make such determinations, and any legislators who signed the pledge in advance did so either out of ignorance or timidity. The voters cannot all crowd into the Legislative Building in Raleigh to vote on issues of statewide concern. So the representative system calls for the election of legislators who carefully weigh all of the evidence and then vote. They consider the state's needs, its revenues and its spending. Only then should representatives decide whether they will vote for or against any particular tax measure. In the past, the CSE has declared that loophole closings and other means of making the tax system fairer are tax increases. It then flexed its muscles in an attempt to scare legislators away from supporting the changes. Legislators cannot allow that to happen this year. With a budget shortfall that could balloon to $2.4 billion, there will be serious strains placed on the state's ability to educate its children, treat its mentally ill and provide health care for its poor. Will North Carolina be able to claim a "sound economy" if class sizes must grow because new teachers can't be hired? Will the state have a sound economy if the mentally ill are roaming the streets untreated or if the uninsured poor flood emergency room, where hospitals will have to bear the costs of treating them? No, that will not be a sound economy. It will be a deterioration in the quality of life that all North Carolinians enjoy. Legislators face a monstrous job over the next eight months. If they can allow the sales tax to revert by one-half cent, that would be great. The sales tax is a regressive tax that falls most heavily on the poor and consumers. But the revenue that tax generates is essential to maintaining core state services. With the no-new-taxes pledge, legislators have committed themselves not only to voting against the sales tax exemption but also to voting against any other new tax that might replace that lost income. Tax pledges carry power only if citizens pay attention to them. For the good of the state, all North Carolinians, including the legislators who made the pledges, should ignore CSE and its associates.

12/16/2002
Damage Control
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Press Release

Damage Control

Originally appeared in The Wall Street Journal Wednesday, December 11, 2002.

12/13/2002
Governor-Elect Kulongoski Considers Tax Increase on Oregon Consumers
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Press Release

Governor-Elect Kulongoski Considers Tax Increase on Oregon Consumers

The Oregonian’s December 10 issue carried a lead story concerning Gov.-elect Kulongoski’s recent economic forum in which it reported that the Oregon business community strongly advocated for a sales tax. The same article also reported that Kulonogski and the business community had agreed to work quickly to double the state’s vehicle registration fee. This is typical of The Oregonian’s reporting – focusing on the things that it’s editorial board supports while ignoring the rest of the story. The business community agreed to host this economic summit with the understanding that before there would be any consideration of a sales tax in Oregon, the following would be enacted: real PERS reform, serious cuts in government spending, introduction of baseline budgeting, elimination of capital gains taxes and cutting property taxes. Then and only then would the business community consider seriously supporting a sales tax. Although Kulonogski pays lip service to the idea that state government should focus on cost-cutting before raising taxes, it is evident from his campaign and recent pronouncements that he will continue to be an advocate for larger government, higher taxes and more governmental intrusion into the lives of all Oregonians.

12/11/2002
Forest Management Policy Needs to Change
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Press Release

Forest Management Policy Needs to Change

America’s natural resources have long been a source of the nation’s economic strength. An abundance of minerals, farmland, and energy resources has fueled America’s growth while providing products for a growing population, not only in the United States, but much of the world as well. Yet today, many of America’s vital natural resources remain under federal control, with bureaucracies and politics driving important decisions about their management. The debate over oil exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) is a prime example of the politics involved in these decisions. So, too, is the battle over President Bush’s Healthy Forests initiative, which seeks to establish a more sensible approach to forest management.

12/11/2002
A Busy New Year for Congress
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Press Release

A Busy New Year for Congress

The list of to-dos for Congress when it convenes on January 7 grows longer by the day. For instance, the Senate will need to confirm President Bush’s new appointees to head the Treasury Department and Securities and Exchange Commission, both chambers still need to pass fiscal year 2003 appropriations bills, an economic stimulus bill is gathering steam, and other items like energy legislation, prescription drugs, a possible war with Iraq, fundamental tax, Social Security, and civil justice reform all loom in the background. I think it’s best if this week’s piece focuses on appropriations and the economic stimulus bill.

12/11/2002
No Promise in Pusillanimity
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Press Release

No Promise in Pusillanimity

Paul O’Neill and Lawrence Lindsey’s terms of service to the Bush administration ended unceremoniously last Friday with the pair’s resignations, announced a few hours apart. On Monday, Bush announced the appointment of former CSE Board member John Snow to become the 73rd Secretary of the Treasury, pending Senate approval. As of writing, former co-chairman of Goldman Sachs, Stephen Friedman, is expected to replace Lindsey as head of the National Economic Counsel.

12/11/2002

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