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Trade Commission Urged to Focus on Consumers in Taking Action Related to Duties on Canadian Softwood Lumber
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Trade Commission Urged to Focus on Consumers in Taking Action Related to Duties on Canadian Softwood Lumber

- Senate Finance Committee asks ITC to examine building component industry competitiveness, effect of tariffs and other border measures on U.S. home building industry and homebuyers - Hidden federally imposed 27 percent sales tax through duties imposed on lumber from Canada places undue burden on new homebuyers, other users of lumber WASHINGTON, Dec. 5 /PRNewswire/ -- American Consumers for Affordable Homes (ACAH) today called on the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) to focus on how border taxes, quotas, price controls and other trade distorting measures, particularly the 27 percent duties recently imposed on Canadian lumber imports, are hurting consumers. The ITC today held hearings on the competitiveness of the U.S. structural building components industry, which includes structural beams, arches, trusses and other wood products needed for home construction. In response to a request for this assessment by Senators Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and the Senate Finance Committee, the ITC has surveyed home builders, lumber dealers and other interested parties on the market for U.S. wood for structural building components and non-wood substitutes, and its impact on U.S. production and housing construction. The Senate request for the study was issued under Section 332 of the Tariff Act of 1930. In connection with the study, Senators Baucus and Grassley also directed the ITC to examine the effect of tariffs and other border measures on the domestic home building industry and U.S. homebuyers. The most significant of these is the 27 percent countervailing and anti-dumping duties on Canadian lumber imports imposed by the U.S. Commerce Department last spring "While we believe this study can provide useful information about lumber users, we hope that the ITC also will take into consideration the burden placed on consumers forced to pay the 27 percent duties on Canadian lumber imports," said Susan Petniunas, ACAH spokesperson. "The impacts are not just on lumber users; the current duties amount to a federally imposed sales tax on new home construction, remodeling and other applications for lumber. It is a tax on home buyers and home owners." Petniunas pointed out that even though current lumber costs have dropped, the duties add to the instability and volatility of the housing market. "Without trade-distorting border taxes or other interferences such as quotas, the cost of lumber would be dictated by the free market, allowing for longer term stability," she added. "Removal of border taxes benefits lumber dealers, home builders and, ultimately, consumers and the economy." The review is a new and separate action from the countervailing and anti-dumping duty investigation conducted by the Department of Commerce and the ITC earlier this year. Following the investigation, the Senate Finance Committee will receive a report next April on the impact of imports on the domestic users of lumber, including homebuilders, lumber dealers, and manufactures of building components. The investigation also gives the ITC an opportunity to assess the true impact of the 27 percent tariffs on U.S. consumers. According to Petniunas, these duties are particularly devastating for consumers because the U.S. cannot produce sufficient lumber to meet its needs. Approximately one-third of its lumber for building homes must come from imports, primarily from Canada. "The 27 percent countervailing and anti-dumping duties imposed on finished lumber for framing homes and remodeling, can increase the average cost of a new home by as much as $1,000," she said. "Based on information from the U.S. Census Bureau, that additional $1,000 prevents as many as 300,000 families from qualifying for home mortgages." The impact on workers in the building trades and lumber-using jobs is another important factor that the ITC should consider in its investigation. Approximately six million U.S. workers are involved in lumber-using businesses, including homebuilders, remodelers, lumber dealers, and such industries as window, pallet and bed makers. "Workers associated with the consumers of lumber outnumber lumber-producing workers by 25 to 1 in the United States," Petniunas said. More than 100 members of the U.S. House and Senate have signed resolutions or written letters to President Bush over the past year, indicating their support for free trade in lumber, and urging no new taxes or penalties on consumers. This past summer, the World Trade Organization found that the Department of Commerce action imposing preliminary countervailing duties more than a year ago on Canadian softwood lumber imports was contrary to U.S. obligations under U.S. trade rules and should be overturned. Similar WTO challenges have been made by Canada on the final countervailing and anti-dumping duties imposed last spring. Challenges to the U.S. tariffs are also pending before dispute panels convened under the North American Free Trade Agreement. ACAH is an informal alliance opposed to any border measures or quotas on Canadian lumber imports Its members, who represent more than 95 percent of the domestic consumption of lumber, include American Homeowners Grassroots Alliance, Catamount Pellet Fuel Corporation, CHEP International, Citizens for a Sound Economy, Consumers for World Trade, Free Trade Lumber Council, Fremont Forest Group Corporation, The Home Depot, International Mass Retail Association, International Sleep Products Association, Leggett & Platt Inc., Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform, Manufactured Housing Institute, National Association of Home Builders, National Black Chamber of Commerce, National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association, National Retail Federation, and the United States Hispanic Contractors Association.

12/05/2002
CSE Educates LA Voters on Landrieu and Terrell’s Positions on Tax Reform
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Press Release

CSE Educates LA Voters on Landrieu and Terrell’s Positions on Tax Reform

This Saturday, Louisianans will vote to send either Senator Mary Landrieu or Suzanne Terrell to the United States Senate. Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE) is undertaking an education and mobilization effort to inform Bayou State voters on the significant differences between the two candidates on taxes and the need for fundamental tax reform. CSE President and CEO Paul Beckner commented:

12/05/2002
Riley Announces First Cabinet Pick
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Riley Announces First Cabinet Pick

BY Mike Cason

TUSCALOOSA -- Despite three days of gloomy financial news, Gov.-elect Bob Riley was upbeat when he spoke to lawmakers Wednesday. He named his first Cabinet appointee and asked lawmakers to help him make sure the state competes in education and other areas the way it does in college football. "There is not another Southern state that's as poised to take advantage of what's coming in the next generation as well as Alabama," Riley said. Riley named Toby Roth, 34, of Montgomery as his chief of staff. Roth managed Riley's campaign. Before that, he worked for the Business Council of Alabama and was director of Citizens for a Sound Economy, a pro-business advocacy group. Riley didn't say when he would name more Cabinet members But when asked, Roth said the administration would include women and minorities in prominent positions. "That is certainly a top consideration in putting the Cabinet together," Roth said. Roth said some Siegelman Cabinet members would be considered for the Riley administration. Department of Human Resources Commissioner Bill Fuller and Department of Corrections Commissioner Mike Haley, Siegelman appointees, both have said they would like to keep their jobs. Riley's message capped a three-day orientation for the new Legislature that was dominated by reports of serious budget shortfalls. Some legislators said they were encouraged by Riley's positive speech, but want more specifics on how he'll deal with budget problems, which some have said are the worst they've been in a couple of decades. "I think he made some good statements about wanting to see the state come from the bottom in education," said Sen. Sundra Escott, D-Birmingham. "I think what we've got to do is figure out how he is going to go about doing that." Riley takes office Jan. 20. Alabama's third Republican governor since Reconstruction will submit his proposals to a Democrat-controlled Legislature. Riley said they have a "window of opportunity" to change the state. "Very few times in your life have you been able to make the kind of fundamental, systemic changes you can today," Riley said. Sen. Lowell Barron, D-Fyffe, expected to be president pro tem of the Senate for a second four-year term, pledged to cooperate with Riley. "Gov. Siegelman had at least a two-year honeymoon period," Barron said. "He got most everything he wanted. Riley's got a great window. It could be a year, two years. Hopefully, he could stretch it into four years." The Legislature meets in organizational session Jan. 14 and begins its regular session in March. Democrats hold a 25-10 majority in the Senate and a 64-41 majority in the House. Rep. Johnny Ford, D-Tuskegee, liked Riley's positive messages. "I think Riley is going to give us some new hope and new vision for this state," Ford said. Ford, a former Tuskegee mayor, said he quietly supported Riley during the campaign because of his experience dealing with Riley when Riley represented Macon County in Congress. "Though our county never supported him, he did perhaps more to help Macon County than any other congressman," Ford said. Riley offered few specifics in his speech. He did repeat a campaign proposal that the state should set up a commission to plan highway construction, rather than allow the governor and his appointed director of the Department of Transportation to make road-building decisions. That proposal has been around for years, but has never passed the Legislature. Riley said it would improve efficiency at DOT by taking some of the politics out of the agency. "For too long, we have used that department to buy influence," Riley said. Rep. Frank McDaniel, D-Albertville, said Riley might be able to get that passed. "I think there's more open-mindedness there than a lot of people may realize," McDaniel said.

12/05/2002
Trade Commission Urged to Focus on Consumers in Taking Action Related to Duties on Canadian Softwood Lumber
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Trade Commission Urged to Focus on Consumers in Taking Action Related to Duties on Canadian Softwood Lumber

American Consumers for Affordable Homes (ACAH) today called on the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) to focus on how border taxes, quotas, price controls and other trade distorting measures, particularly the 27 percent duties recently imposed on Canadian

12/05/2002
Riley's Campaign Director Will Be Chief of Staff
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Riley's Campaign Director Will Be Chief of Staff

BY Kim Chandler

TUSCALOOSA - Republican Gov.-elect Bob Riley on Wednesday named his campaign director and former business lobbyist, Toby Roth, as his chief of staff. Roth, 34, had long been considered a contender for a top job in the new administration. He is Riley's first Cabinet appointment. "I have been impressed in everything that he has done for me over the last few months," Riley said Wednesday. "Toby is one of the most capable, dependable and talented individuals that I have had the opportunity to work with, and the people of Al abama will benefit greatly from his service to the state." The chief of staff typically is the hub of any governor's administration, and Roth said he will be involved in the selection of people to fill other Cabinet positions. Though relatively young, Roth has been working in Alabama's political arena for more than six Roth, Page 5B 1B years for conservative groups and candidates. He was the vice president of advancement for the Business Council of Alabama from 2001 to 2002, where he oversaw the group's membership and endowment programs. He was the first director of Citizens for a Sound Economy, a nonprofit or ganization that promotes lower taxes and less government. He also served as BCA's manager of political affairs from 1996 to 1997 and was finance director of Harold See's 1996 campaign for the Alabama Supreme Court. Many business groups were squarely in Riley's corner in the campaign against Gov. Don Siegelman. The BCA broke a longstanding tradition of neutrality to back Riley. Roth has a political science degree from the University of Alabama and a law degree from the College of William & Mary in Virginia. "He's got the background to understand government, the Legislature and all that's involved," former BCA President Bill O'Connor said. "Toby has unquestioned integrity. He's open. He's a pragmatist. He's numbers-oriented, and he's an excellent appointment." Roth, who is white, and Riley said they were trying to make sure the Cabinet is diverse in gender and race. "It is certainly a top consideration," Roth said. Roth said he and Riley were negotiating a salary. Siegelman Chief of Staff Jim Buckalew makes $84,000 a year. Riley said the entire Cabinet would be in place before his Jan. 20 inauguration. For the Department of Human Resources, Roth said the Riley team has talked with current DHR Commissioner Bill Fuller and former Commissioner Tony Petelos, who served under Siegelman and Gov. Fob James. Fuller said Wednesday that he would be interested in remaining at DHR to finish a long-running overhaul of the state's child welfare system. "These are dynamic times at DHR," Fuller said.

12/05/2002
A Miserable Monday Morning
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Press Release

A Miserable Monday Morning

At 7:30 AM on the Monday morning after Thanksgiving, most of us were still shaking off the long holiday weekend. In New York City, they were busy passing a massive tax increase.

12/04/2002
Making Sense of Legal Nonsense
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Press Release

Making Sense of Legal Nonsense

Our legal system is a cornerstone of our economy. Yet in recent years, the courts have been used in ways that drive up costs for consumers while rewarding irresponsibility. The direct cost of the U.S. tort system is over $180 billion annually—roughly 1.8 percent of the nation’s output. That is two and one-half times greater than other industrial nations. These estimates are conservative and do not include the substantial indirect costs of excessive litigation, such as “defensive medicine,” or the foregone benefits of products and services no longer available or never produced due to fear of lawsuits.

12/04/2002
Riley Names Toby Roth to be Chief of Staff
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Riley Names Toby Roth to be Chief of Staff

Gov.-elect Bob Riley made the first major appointment to his administration Wednesday, naming former Business Council of Alabama official Toby Roth to be his chief of staff. Roth, 34, of Montgomery, was the director of Riley's campaign for governor and previously was vice president for advancement for the BCA. As chief of staff, Roth will direct the day-to-day actions of Riley's cabinet and staff. "Toby has proven to be one of the most capable, dependable and talented individuals that I've had the opportunity to work with, and the people of Alabama will benefit greatly from his service to the state," Riley said. Roth said he would expect a high level of professionalism and ethical behavior from everyone who works for the Riley administration. He said he would give cabinet members and staff room to work, but would expect results. "In general, I am not a micro-manager. I am for putting competent people in place with loose oversight, but manage by getting results," Roth said. A graduate of the University of Alabama and the College of William and Mary School of Law, Roth was the first director of the Alabama chapter of Citizens for a Sound Economy, a conservative consumer advocacy group.

12/04/2002
Five Easy Pieces of Federal Tax Reform
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Press Release

Five Easy Pieces of Federal Tax Reform

© 2002 Copley News Service, 12/3/2002 I wasn't going to write about taxes for a second week in a row, but then I read Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill's interview with The Financial Times, which troubled me in light of several other recent signals indicating that the Treasury may be heading in what I consider to be the wrong direction on tax reform.

12/03/2002
Will House Democrats Allow History to Repeat Itself?
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Press Release

Will House Democrats Allow History to Repeat Itself?

When asked to identify the most salient leftward shift of the modern Democratic party, today’s political historians may cite the nomination of George McGovern as its presidential candidate in 1972. Come January 7, 2003, this assessment may change if, as expected, Nancy Pelosi is elected by recorded public vote as the Minority Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives.

12/03/2002

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