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Stand Down Mode
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Press Release

Stand Down Mode

The Republican staff director of the House Appropriations Committee announced on Monday that the House of Representatives was in a “stand down” mode. Congress is just over two weeks away from its scheduled final adjournment, and not one of the annual appropriations bills has been sent to the president. The Senate hasn’t even passed a budget resolution. And they are in a “stand down” mode?

09/17/2002
Global Warming’s Uncertain Future
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Press Release

Global Warming’s Uncertain Future

A recent report by the Environmental Protection Agency includes a notable departure from the last six years. The report, which provides an assessment of various pollutants, does not include any discussion of global warming, or global climate change. According to the New York Times, many environmentalists attribute the change to the administration’s close ties to industry, which has been opposed to moving forward with global warming policies, such as the Kyoto Protocol, which would force nations to make significant cutbacks in the use of fossil fuels.

09/17/2002
Decisions, Decisions
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Press Release

Decisions, Decisions

This Week – Both the House and Senate took Monday off for the observance of Yom Kippur. They expect to hit the ground running on Tuesday when the Senate resumes consideration of H.R. 5093, The Interior Appropriations Act. They will also continue to debate H.R. 5005, The Homeland Security Act, which the President has repeatedly asked for before the November elections. The House will consider legislation that would block states from restricting interest rates on rent-to-own transactions (H.R. 1701) and legislation to make the repeal of the estate tax permanent.

09/17/2002
I Want My SUV
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Press Release

I Want My SUV

“The effect of liberty to individuals is that they may do what they please; we ought to see what it will please them to do, before we risk congratulations which may be soon turned into complaints.” --Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France

09/17/2002
AIA Names New Political Director
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AIA Names New Political Director

BY Dennis Kelly

WASHINGTON (BestWire) - Joe Quigley, a veteran fund-raiser in Washington, D.C., over the past decade, is the American Insurance Association's new political director. Quigley will oversee AIA's political action committee and direct its political and grass-roots activity at the state and federal level, the AIA said. Quigley comes to the AIA from the National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts, where he was most recently director of government relations. His prior experience includes the development and implementation of nationwide fund-raising campaigns for the National Association of Realtors, Citizens for a Sound Economy and the National Republican Senatorial Committee. A Massachusetts native, Quigley is a graduate of the University of New Hampshire.

09/17/2002
Property Rights Violated......Rural America Under Siege
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Press Release

Property Rights Violated......Rural America Under Siege

Editor's note: The following is CSE member Madeleine Fortin's own story about how the federal government is confiscating her and her neighbors' property. CSE members from around the country and especially from Florida can support Madeleine Fortin and other Florida property owners by attending the Sawgrass Rebellion rallies in Naples and Homestead on October 17, 18, and 19. We will be sharing more information about these rallies in future CSE newsletters, as well as information about rallies across the country as convoys from Klamath Falls, OR, and London, OH travel to South Florida.

09/16/2002
New Jersey’s Day Of Reckoning Arrives As Nonrenewals Begin
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Press Release

New Jersey’s Day Of Reckoning Arrives As Nonrenewals Begin

State Farm Insurance will soon inform some New Jersey customers that they are among the 4,000 who will be non-renewed each month as part of the company’s five-year plan for withdrawing from what is clearly the nation’s worst auto insurance market. More than a year in the making, the nonrenewals will toss several hundred thousand policyholders into the marketplace in a steady stream that will exceed the capital capabilities of remaining insurers. With no new capital likely to enter the market, New Jersey should be girding itself for a full-fledged market crisis. Click here for the complete publication.

09/12/2002
Terry Smith is the CSE Minuteman of the Month!
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Press Release

Terry Smith is the CSE Minuteman of the Month!

September’s Minuteman of the Month is Terry Smith of Decatur, Alabama. Terry is a retired U.S. Marine and a taxpayer hero to the citizens of Decatur. Terry has been active with CSE for over two years attending CSE Day in Montgomery and our first ever, Liberty Summit in Washington, DC earlier this year.

09/12/2002
Like Monkeys With Darts
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Like Monkeys With Darts

BY Jason M. Thomas

When George W. Bush was sworn in as the 43rd president of the United States, the Congressional Budget Office [CBO] estimated the federal budget for fiscal 2002 would be in surplus by an eye-popping $405 billion. Last week, the CBO issued its latest estimate for 2002: a $157 billion deficit. In just more than 19 months in office, President Bush has overseen a $552 billion swing in the 2002 budget and an estimated $7 trillion deterioration of the federal government's 10-year fiscal outlook. Such a reversal of fortune is staggering and could be a political liability for the president's party in this November's midterm elections. Democrats have been quick to blame the Bush tax cut for the deficits, but according to the CBO figures, only $74 billion, or 13.5 percent of the accounting change is attributable to the tax cut. Increases in discretionary spending [14.1 percent] - some of it to finance military reprisals to the September 11 attacks - and the economic downturn [17.8 percent] both dwarfed the fiscal effect of the tax cut, as Republicans will be sure to point out on the campaign trail. But, as math majors have already discovered, the aforementioned economic and legislative developments account for less than 50 percent of the change in the overall budget. The biggest factor in the dramatic reassessment has been what the CBO calls "technical changes," completely unrelated to any federal policy. The CBO describes these changes as adjustments to economic and tax policy assumptions, which is a nice way of saying their estimates were just plain wrong. This should not be surprising. Budget estimates are exceedingly difficult to make, even for the next year. In addition to unreliable forecasts of economic activity, federal budget estimates must rely on speculation about how much tax revenue such activity can be expected to yield. Stock market observers often joke about how the average analysts' stock picks are no better than if a monkey were to throw darts at the newspaper's financial pages. To get a sense of the reliability of CBO estimates, spin the monkey three times beforehand. As John Barry of the Tax Foundation points out in a recent memo, the CBO's March 1997 prediction for the 2002 deficit was much more accurate [$188 billion] than the estimate made just last year. Mr. Barry argues, sensibly, that "federal deficit estimates are no basis for tax policy," as "margins of error of 50 percent or greater are typical." Voters should be wary when politicians treat speculative forecasts of volatile budgets as gospel. Instead, policymakers should use more reliable estimates and hard numbers whenever possible. For instance, when determining the appropriate level of taxation and spending, instead of looking to unreliable budget estimates lawmakers should consider the relationship between federal tax receipts and spending to gross domestic product [GDP]. President Bush's tax cut was not good policy because CBO calculations estimated a $5.4 trillion surplus over 10 years; it was good policy because federal tax receipts had grown to 20.3 percent of GDP, a peacetime record. It was this dramatic growth in taxes relative to the economy - not sound fiscal management as some would have us believe - that led to the budget surpluses of recent years. While it is true that a $290 billion deficit in 1992 was turned into a $236 billion budget surplus in 2000, federal spending grew more than 35 percent during that time and was only held that low because the 1995-96 conservative Republican majority was willing to shut down the government to keep growth below 2 percent for a single fiscal year. Budget estimates will never be abandoned because they can serve a useful purpose. The U.S. Treasury needs a sense of how much bonded debt it must issue to cover federal spending and can use deficit projections when deciding what type of debt to issue and how much to make available for auction. But in the hands of opportunistic politicians, budget projections can be a dangerous, albeit misleading, rhetorical weapon. The CBO does as good a job forecasting deficits and surpluses as any private or public economic research group in the country, but it would be nice if politicians included the same disclaimers as CBO when using its numbers. Of course, this will not happen until politicians eschew distortion as a political weapon, an outcome about as likely as this year's CBO forecast for the 2012 budget deficit. Jason M. Thomas is a staff economist at Citizens for a Sound Economy Foundation.

09/12/2002
Groups Voice Opinions on Social Studies Books
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Groups Voice Opinions on Social Studies Books

BY Lucy Hood

Textbook testimony heeded Woody Guthrie's words on Wednesday, or at least his best-known phrase, as educators and parents debated the content of social studies books to be used in Texas classrooms for the next eight years. In various ways, many of the 78 people who signed up to testify before the State Board of Education had one thing to say: "This land is my land." They felt strongly that the social studies texts should reflect just that. Wednesday's hearing was the third and final one before the board approves a list of recommended textbooks in November. The stakes are high both for the state and the publishing industry. Texas is the second-largest consumer of textbooks nationwide, and it will spend an estimated $344.7 million on social studies books alone. The speakers fell into three camps. One of those, a coalition of several conservative organizations, claimed that many of the more than 250 social studies books under consideration do not place sufficient emphasis on patriotism and the merits of a free-market society. Their liberal counterparts argued that there is more to social studies than capitalism and patriotism. A third group said the accomplishments of minorities, particularly Hispanics, are not fairly represented in the texts. "The textbook battle is a clash of belief systems," said Richard Neavel, of Austin, who has five grandchildren in public schools. One of them is 11-year-old Elena Cortez Neavel. "Elena will not be educated if she learns to be blindly patriotic," he said. Mentioning scandal-ridden companies such as Enron, he asked if "that is the free enterprise system that these organizations want Elena to admire?" One of the organizations he referenced was Citizens for a Sound Economy. Its leaders have raised questions about the teaching of economics, for example, and whether the textbooks accurately tout the benefits of capitalism and the drawbacks of governmental intervention. Another vocal critic of the social studies texts has been the Texas Public Policy Foundation, which spent nearly $100,000 and commissioned 16 scholars to study several of the textbooks. They identified more than 500 errors. But their critics have questioned whether the errors represent actual mistakes or a difference of opinion. Chris Patterson, director of education research for the San Antonio-based TPPF, came under fire Wednesday for the group's failure to hire an African American or Hispanic scholar to review the books. "You need diversity," said board member Mary Helen Berlanga, D-Corpus Christi. "There are many Hispanic scholars who would have welcomed the opportunity to work with you and your evaluation." Many who spoke mentioned the Sept. 11 attacks, and Citizens for a Sound Economy gave the textbooks high marks overall for their accounts of the tragedy. Samantha Smoot, executive director of the Texas Freedom Network, said the hearing was an exercise in democracy and therefore a suitable way to mark the anniversary. She also reiterated the group's commitment to "ideology-free textbooks" and opposition to censorship. Citizens for a Sound Economy director Peggy Venable gave the textbooks high marks overall for their accounts of the Sept. 11 tragedy, but criticized some books for not placing blame on Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaida network. "We need to point out that we were attacked for our virtues, not our sins," she said. What publishers ultimately put in the Texas books is often used as a template for the books they sell nationwide, said Stephen Driesler, executive director of the Association of American Publishers. The changes made here, he said, could end up in classrooms all over the country, or, as Guthrie would say, from "California to the New York Island, from the Redwood Forest to the Gulf Stream waters."

09/12/2002

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