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Move Ahead on Social Security Reform
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Press Release

Move Ahead on Social Security Reform

Copley News Service, 01/12/2001 One of the real highlights of presidential year 2000 was the penetrating debate between George W. Bush and Al Gore concerning the future of Social Security. Bush led the way with a positive proposal to give individual workers investment control and true ownership of a significant portion of their Social Security payroll taxes.

01/12/2001
Round Two in U.S. v. Microsoft: Still Awaiting Evidence of Consumer Harm
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Press Release

Round Two in U.S. v. Microsoft: Still Awaiting Evidence of Consumer Harm

I will review all pending and future lawsuits brought on behalf on North Carolina consumers. I will only move forward with litigation and continue with pending litigation if I am assured that such action would provide consumers with economic benefits that can be measured. - Senator Roy Cooper, candidate for North Carolina Attorney General, 9/18/00. Introduction

01/12/2001
Wag the Nerd: Government Files its Screenplay for Antitrust
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Press Release

Wag the Nerd: Government Files its Screenplay for Antitrust

WASHINGTON — By filing a brief in response to the Microsoft appeal, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and 19 states’ attorneys general signaled their willingness to waste limited taxpayer dollars prosecuting a company that has provided measurable benefits to consumers. During the trial, the plaintiffs did not demonstrate evidence of consumer harm. Even the presiding judge, Thomas Penfield Jackson, later admitted “virtually everything” he did as judge in the Microsoft antitrust case “may be vulnerable on appeal.”

01/12/2001
Change the debate: Ashcroft a Champion for Consumers
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Press Release

Change the debate: Ashcroft a Champion for Consumers

Citizens for a Sound Economy President Paul Beckner today announced his support for Attorney General nominee Senator John Ashcroft and urged senators to confirm the former Missouri governor. “Few public servants have defended consumer interests as steadfastly and on a consistent basis,” said Beckner about Sen. Ashcroft in a letter to the Senate. Sen. Ashcroft is a champion for consumers and his record proves it: 1. Despite his ardent anti-smoking convictions, Ashcroft shielded consumers from an $800 billion cigarette tax.

01/10/2001
Seattle's "Light" Rail Faces Weighty Problems
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Press Release

Seattle's "Light" Rail Faces Weighty Problems

There is a belief among many Americans that government is inherently wasteful, inefficient, and arrogant. To the dismay of everyone in the Puget Sound area, the recent Sound Transit debacle has confirmed these stereotypes.

01/10/2001
Citizens For A Sound Economy Urges Senate to Confirm Ashcroft
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Citizens For A Sound Economy Urges Senate to Confirm Ashcroft

The following was released today by Citizens for a Sound Economy: -- Change the Debate: Ashcroft a Champion for Consumers -- CSE Urges Senate to Confirm Ashcroft Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE) President Paul Beckner today announced his support for Attorney General nominee Senator John Ashcroft and urged senators to confirm the former Missouri governor. "Few public servants have defended consumer interests as steadfastly and on a consistent basis," said Beckner about Sen. Ashcroft in a letter to the Senate. Sen. Ashcroft is a champion for consumers and his record proves it: -- Despite his ardent anti-smoking convictions, Ashcroft shielded consumers from an $800 billion cigarette tax. -- Ashcroft favors restraint in antitrust regulation and has voiced his concern over the government's case against Microsoft. -- His record shows consistent support of consumer-friendly bills including tort reform legislation, such as the Y2K Liability Act of 1999 and the Common Sense Legal Reform Act of 1995. Erick Gustafson, CSE's Center for Consumer Choice director, said the idle left-wing talk of the liberals doesn't focus where it should: on Ashcroft's pro-consumer record. "The fact is, as Attorney General, Senator Ashcroft will favor innovators over litigators and will fight for consumers every step of the way." Gustafson said. "We have no reason to believe otherwise. Time and again Ashcroft has proven himself a champion for consumers." "Ashcroft's distinguished record of public service should serve as the primary focus of the confirmation process and compel a 'yes' vote," Beckner concluded. "American consumers deserve John Ashcroft as their Attorney General."

01/10/2001
Rules of the Road: Starr Power
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Rules of the Road: Starr Power

BY Jaret Seiberg and Shanon D. Murray

Former Whitewater independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr has joined the fight against the Federal Trade Commission's efforts to prevent H.J. Heinz Co. from acquiring Beech-Nut Nutrition Corp. In briefs filed Dec. 29 with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, Starr is listed as the lead lawyer for Beech-Nut and its Milnot Holding Corp. parent. He joins fellow Kirkland & Ellis partner Tefft W. Smith in arguing that a trial court was correct in ruling that the efficiencies of the merger of the two baby-food operations outweigh any anti-competitive harms.

01/09/2001
CSE: Onerous and Unnecessary Rules for Salmon Take Effect Today
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CSE: Onerous and Unnecessary Rules for Salmon Take Effect Today

The following was released today by Oregon Citizens for a Sound Economy: Today the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) will begin enforcing 4(d) rules for salmon in the Pacific Northwest, threatening the rights of property owners throughout the region. These rules will apply the "take" prohibitions of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to salmon populations listed as "threatened." Included in the 4(d) rules is a provision giving individuals and special interest groups the right to file lawsuits against property owners for alleged violations of the ESA. Potential impacts of the new federal rules could include lost jobs, higher energy and water bills, higher costs for new homes, caps on residential and commercial water use, the destruction of dams that produce clean energy and are a vital source of power in the Pacific Northwest, limits on agricultural irrigation, and new government regulation of construction and transportation costs. "The prohibitions in the 4(d) rules threaten basic property rights and turn the entire Pacific Northwest into a fief of the Fisheries Service," said Oregon CSE Director Russ Walker. "What's worse, NMFS has virtually guaranteed that extremists will try to shut down farms and businesses with a flood of frivolous lawsuits." The 4(d) rules are not only onerous, but unnecessary. Populations of salmon in the Pacific Northwest are surging to levels not seen in decades. However, NMFS refuses to count most of these fish because they do not meet the agency's misguided standards of biological purity. Walker noted, "If this bureaucracy would stop inventing reasons to ignore the millions of salmon returning to our rivers, there would be no justification for ESA listings at all." "The only rule NMFS should be applying is just count every fish. "Ignoring good science in order to pander to special interests is an unfortunate aspect of the Clinton-Gore legacy. A legacy we in the Pacific Northwest will have to live with." ------ CSE recruits, educates, trains and mobilizes hundreds of thousands of volunteer activists to fight for less government, lower taxes and more freedom. CSE believes individual liberty and the freedom to compete expand consumer choices and provide individuals with the greatest control over what they own and earn.

01/09/2001
The Media's Coup: McCain 'Reform' Is A Win For Press, But Loss For Voters
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The Media's Coup: McCain 'Reform' Is A Win For Press, But Loss For Voters

By James C. Miller III The general public is far less concerned with campaign finance reform than journalists and incumbents are. During the recent presidential election, poll after poll found the issue ranked near the bottom of voters' concerns compared to matters such as health care, education and taxes. A Portrait of America poll found the public ranked campaign finance 24th of 28 issues in order of importance, and the Gallup Poll found a majority of Americans consider it either a low priority or no priority at all. Yet it is hard to turn on the TV or pick up a newspaper without being bombarded with arguments about the evils of campaign finance. The public's attitude toward politics is not one of disinterest. It is one of despair that any reform would improve the quality of political representation. Gallup reported last October that six out of 10 people believe "no matter what new laws are passed, special interests will always find a way to maintain their power in Washington." The interests of journalists and incumbents in campaign finance reform are transparent. By limiting the power of challengers to acquire the money to get their messages out, it increases the power of the media to be the conduit and interpreter of those messages and gives additional protection to incumbents. As amply demonstrated by my own writings and those of others, the salient characteristic of the current campaign law is its protection of incumbents against challengers. Various provisions make it very difficult for a challenger to raise enough money to overcome the incumbent's name recognition and access to funds. The incumbent 's dream, of course, would be a flat-out prohibition on campaign spending. Under that scenario, challengers remain unknown, incumbents get all the attention and volunteers and, barring some sensational scandal, citizens vote for the devil they know rather than the one they don't. So, with the media and elected officials driving the process, we are likely to end up with campaign finance reform that caters to their interests, not those of the voters. Determing how we select our representatives does matter. Having a competitive market for representation is just as important as having a competitive market for automobiles, groceries and, yes, computer operating systems. David Boies' characterization of Microsoft pales in comparison with any objective description of monopoly power in politics. Incumbents, not challengers, set the rules under which "competition" takes place. Incumbents establish the means to enforce those rules through the Federal Election Commission. They confirm some of its officials. They appropriate its operating budget, and they monitor its activities. The result is that political representatives on the whole are not nearly as responsive to voters' concerns as they would be if political markets were truly competitive. Why is the Postal Service the brunt of so many jokes about poor service? Not because it's a government enterprise, but because, at least until recently, its customers have had little choice. When did the U.S. automobile industry become significantly more responsive on quality and price - before the competition from imports, or after? Would the U.S. cell phone industry be anything like as dynamic as it is today if it were a monopoly? Do you think your fuel bills would be higher or lower if all energy sources - natural gas, oil, electricity, even wood - were owned by a single firm or managed by a cartel? Why expect anything different when it comes to politics? For the most part, well-meaning proposals such as the McCain-Feingold/Shays-Meehan legislation could make political markets less competitive, not more. The latest version of the Senate bill would increase the limit on "hard money" contributions to political parties (which tend to funnel money to incumbents), but would not raise the limit on direct contributions to candidates (which would be particularly helpful to challengers). Moreover, the bill would make it more difficult for outside groups to support candidates and would even limit (probably unconstitutionally) the ability of individuals and groups to promote or oppose issues - the effect of which might benefit one candidate over another. If campaign finance reform were to increase the overall advantage enjoyed by incumbents, it would not necessarily be the voter's friend. When it comes to campaign finance, the media may extol the vision and foresight of reform's champions, and elected officials may, with reluctance, say, "Throw me in that briar patch." But the voting public could be taken for a ride. James C. Miller III is counselor to Citizens for a Sound Economy Foundation, a market-based public policy organization in Washington, D.C. He is the author of "Monopoly Politics," published by the Hoover Institution in 1999.

01/07/2001
Benton Starts Retirement with Court Appearance
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Benton Starts Retirement with Court Appearance

BY J. Andrew Curliss

Former Raleigh City Manager Dempsey Benton probably had other plans for the first workday in 17 years that he didn't have to go to City Hall. But the powers-that-be wanted at least one more day of public service out of Benton, whose retirement started Sunday.

01/06/2001

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