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Tech Bytes - Tid Bits in Tech News: Let Them Build Their Own Wires
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Press Release

Tech Bytes - Tid Bits in Tech News: Let Them Build Their Own Wires

Yesterday, the ninth circuit court of appeals rejected the city of Portland’s contention that it could hold AT&T’s acquisition of TCI cable hostage. The issue of “open-access” has been resolved equitably in this instance, but the court’s decision to label broadband cable a “telecommunications service” is troubling for future litigation.

06/23/2000
Washington CSE: Huge Impact at State GOP Convention
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Press Release

Washington CSE: Huge Impact at State GOP Convention

“CSE is doing a great job in this state.” – Kelly Daniels, Political Director to Senator Slade Gorton

06/23/2000
Gore's 'Social Security Plus' Proposal Offers New Funds, But Little Reform
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Gore's 'Social Security Plus' Proposal Offers New Funds, But Little Reform

BY Peter Cleary

This week Vice President Al Gore announced a proposal for a new plan that allows American workers to build up savings through new investment accounts. Called Retirement Savings Plus, the Gore plan would provide $ 200 billion in tax credits over 10 years to low- and middle-income workers who choose to participate. Gore offered his proposal as an alternative to a Social Security reform plan offered by Gov. George Bush. Bush's plan would let young workers put part of their payroll taxes into private investment accounts. "This (plan) is Social Security plus, not Social Security minus," said Gore. "It doesn't come at the expense of Social Security. It comes in addition to Social Security." Critics say Gore's plan has nothing to do with Social Security, but is rather an attempt to blunt the popularity of Bush's plan. Still, the plan could encourage more workers to save and invest - especially those workers who don't do much saving now. But at what cost, ask critics. They say Gore's savings plan would create a new entitlement that would further strain federal coffers, already facing big outflows when Social Security stops paying for itself in 2017. "Gore 's new plan has no effect on Social Security revenues or the future liabilities of the system," said Lawrence Kudlow, senior managing director of ING Barrings. Gore's retirement savings plan would offer tax credits for workers who make less than $ 100,000 a year. Those couples who make under $ 30,000 or individuals who make under $ 15,000 would get the biggest benefit: $ 3 for each dollar invested, up to $ 2,000 a year. These so-called matching funds are designed to spur more savings for retirement, home-buying, education and health care. "Gore's plan would protect Social Security as the bedrock of retirement, while adding a new option for people to save for their retirement tax free and even have their contributions matched by the government to build up their nest egg," said Gore spokesman Doug Hattoway. The plan's critics concede it would give those families who already save a big incentive to participate. But they note that the barrier to saving for low-income workers is discretionary income. In fact, only 2.4% of American households with incomes less than $ 30,000 now save through tax-favored individual retirement accounts, IRS figures show. One indication that it might not help the savings rate of low-income workers is that the fastest growing entitlement at the federal level is the earned income tax credit. That credit is refundable in much the same way as Gore's plan would be. "It is precisely at this low end - $ 17,000 to $ 25,000 in annual income - which has the worst savings rate," said Kudlow. "The saving rate in these households is actually negative. They already receive a refundable tax credit (EITC), and it is used primarily for consumption, not savings." The Gore plan's effects on savings rates is unclear. So is its claim on federal revenues. The Gore camp estimates the 10-year cost will come to $ 200 billion. Yet Gore adviser and former Federal Reserve Board member Alan Blinder had trouble explaining how they arrived at the figure. "Nobody should expect that this will hit 100% of the population, but it is the greatest incentive that has ever been offered. What we do not know is what would be the (participation) rate," said Blinder. Critics see the estimate, and the plan, as more political than economic. "They stuck a finger in the air and picked a number," said Marty Regalia, chief economist of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. "Part of the reason that it came up at $ 200 billion is that that is what they figure the overage in the new numbers on the projected surpluses will be," he added. The government is expected to release higher surplus estimates starting next week. Kudlow agrees, noting that Bush's plan has struck a chord among some voters. "Gore is responding to the very favorable polling data concerning Bush's personal retirement accounts," he said. Gore is also banking on the political popularity of Social Security. He's charging that the Bush plan will undermine the system by removing revenues from it, to which Bush hasn't responded. Gore has sworn to protect Social Security, not necessarily reform it. Calls for reform have come from the likes of Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, D-N.Y., and Rep. John Porter, R-Ill., because the system will start running a deficit in 2017. Gore has proposed a rescue plan that will tap general revenues when the system starts running in the red. First, he would use the Social Security surplus to pay down the national debt. He would then credit the payments to the system and use interest savings to shore it up. Gore says this would extend the life of the trust fund until 2050. But President Clinton's fiscal 2000 budget casts doubt on that approach. The budget report said, "(The trust funds) do not consist of real economic assets that can be drawn down in the future to fund benefits. Instead they are claims on the Treasury that, when redeemed, will have to be financed by raising taxes, borrowing from the public or reducing benefits or other expenditures." In order to pay off those IOUs, the government will have to hike income taxes by at least 16%, or it will have to borrow over $ 10 trillion to bail out the system between 2017 and 2037, notes the Citizens for a Sound Economy using government figures. "Gore's (Social Security) plan, even if it were possible to protect the interest savings for Social Security, does nothing to address the solvency of the system," said Scott Hodge of Citizens for a Sound Economy. "The interest savings provided under his plan would only cover 12% of the unfunded liability." Hodge added, "By ignoring Social Security's impending financial collapse, Gore is implicitly raising taxes on tomorrow's workers or sticking them with a debt burden six times greater than today's national debt."

06/23/2000
Capitol Comment 284 - Privacy: While Legislators Debate, Others Innovate
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Capitol Comment

Capitol Comment 284 - Privacy: While Legislators Debate, Others Innovate

Privacy is this year’s ubiquitous issue. It can be found on bookshelves, magazine covers, the evening news, and in campaign speeches. Privacy applies to different aspects of people’s lives, from medical records to financial records to shopping habits. Definitions of privacy vary, but it might be best described as the control we have over information about ourselves.

06/22/2000
Failure without Consequences for Public Schools
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Press Release

Failure without Consequences for Public Schools

"The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results." This common-sense aphorism, sometimes attributed to Albert Einstein, aptly identifies the problem with the current level of state oversight of public schools. When a school or an entire school district fails to meet the state's performance goals, there are no dramatic changes - just different government officials doing the same thing over and over again (and expecting different results).

06/22/2000
Tech Bytes - Tid Bits in Tech News: Digital Divide Dwindles Drastically
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Press Release

Tech Bytes - Tid Bits in Tech News: Digital Divide Dwindles Drastically

According to recent reports released by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and Mediamark research, the co-called "digital divide" is quickly disappearing. As many as 134 million Americans currently have access to the Internet and conservative estimates have that total increasing to 197 million by 2003.

06/22/2000
Iowa CSE Fires Up Activists at Issue Forums
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Press Release

Iowa CSE Fires Up Activists at Issue Forums

"I want to compliment the Citizens for a Sound Economy... I'm proud to be here to talk about class action reform."-- Senator Chuck Grassley

06/22/2000
Solution For Failing Schools
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Press Release

Solution For Failing Schools

Today the Alabama Department of Education announced its list of failing schools for 2000, identifying which schools will be taken over by the state. Alabama Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE) has taken a steadfast position that the best way to save failing schools is to break up the public school monopoly and use vouchers to give parents control of their child's education. But, a state takeover promises nothing but more of the same.

06/22/2000
Highest SAT Scores Ever for Alabama Students
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Highest SAT Scores Ever for Alabama Students

BY Bill Poovey

Alabama student scores on the Stanford Achievement Test matched or exceeded the national average in every grade tested for the first time, but six poorly performing public schools are headed for state intervention. About 463,000 students in grades 3-11 took the Stanford 9, with the scores released Thursday being used for the fifth straight year to measure the academic performance of their schools and school systems.

06/22/2000
Ignoring Our Rally
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Ignoring Our Rally

BY Avery McGrew

Your June 21 edition once again showed the liberal bias of the paper. The day before, CSE (Citizens for a Sound Economy) held a Day at the Capitol. Where were you?

06/22/2000

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