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Pledge to the Taxpayers of North Carolina
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Press Release

Pledge to the Taxpayers of North Carolina

As North Carolina encounters spending and budget challenges, including potential increases in indebtedness, it is important to show a strong commitment to the hard-working families and taxpayers of our state. I will therefore vote against any tax increase and pledge to keep the burden of taxation in North Carolina no higher than its present level through the year 2003-2004. Signed: ____________________________

03/08/2002
Letter to All Candidates for the NC General Assembly
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Press Release

Letter to All Candidates for the NC General Assembly

Dear Candidate: During the last two legislative sessions, hundreds of CSE activists have worked in their local communities and have traveled to Raleigh to ask their legislators for less taxation, less regulation, and less interference in the free market. The General Assembly will face even greater spending and budget challenges in the next session. Therefore, we are asking that you sign our “No New Tax” pledge for the 2003-2004 sessions of the General Assembly.

03/08/2002
Letter to Washington State Legislators
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Press Release

Letter to Washington State Legislators

Dear Legislators, As you are well aware, an unexpected spike in the cost of medical care poses a direct threat to future state budgets. This year’s $1.2 billion budget shortfall could look paltry in comparison to future deficits if out-of-control health spending is not addressed. I write on behalf of nearly 300,000 members and supporters of Citizens for a Sound Economy Foundation (CSE Foundation) to urge you to address Medicaid costs and balance the state budget through comprehensive reform, not piecemeal price caps and regulations.

03/07/2002
Steel Never Sleeps
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Press Release

Steel Never Sleeps

In what is perhaps one of the most important economic decisions of his administration, President Bush is moving forward with a plan to impose a 30 percent tariff on imported steel. While this protectionist measure will be welcomed by the steel industry, consumers should be wary. Higher steel prices translate into higher prices for a wide array of consumer products, from automobiles to appliances to housing. Worse, it is not evident that higher tariffs will help the steel industry; taxpayers may be the next target as steelmakers seek greater subsidies and benefits from the federal government.

03/05/2002
Will Politicians Act Now to Save Social Security?
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Press Release

Will Politicians Act Now to Save Social Security?

You may not realize it, but America has been living paycheck-to-paycheck. Our largest government program, Social Security, is a “pay-as-you-go” retirement plan where current workers’ taxes pay the benefits for current retirees. This arrangement is sustainable, as long as there are ever more workers than retirees. But what happens if there aren’t enough workers to pay the Social Security bill?

03/05/2002
RUSSIA'S FLAT TAX REFORM
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Press Release

RUSSIA'S FLAT TAX REFORM

From DALLAS MORNING NEWS This year Americans will pay accountants and attorneys $140 billion to do their taxes and help them navigate the 46,000-page U.S. Tax Code. Too bad, observers say, this isn't Russia.

03/04/2002
Media Bias on Campaign Finance
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Press Release

Media Bias on Campaign Finance

The Senate’s reaction to two seemingly unrelated bills recently passed by the House of Representatives has crystallized the political class’s psychological confliction over campaign finance reform. One, identified as Shays-Meehan after its sponsors, would cap contributions to the national Democratic and Republican parties made by corporations, unions, and wealthy individuals. The other, dubbed Tauzin-Dingell after its sponsors, would deregulate the broadband Internet offerings of incumbent local phone companies.

03/04/2002
Steel Trap
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Press Release

Steel Trap

ABSTRACT FROM CATO

03/01/2002
North Carolina CSE Activists Hold Town Hall Meeting With Representative Robin Hayes
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Press Release

North Carolina CSE Activists Hold Town Hall Meeting With Representative Robin Hayes

Laurinburg, NC – In conjunction with Concerned Citizens of Scotland County, North Carolina Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE) held an open forum with Representative Robin Hayes to discuss local economic issues. More than 200 area residents attended the event. Congressman Hayes spoke on important topics; job creation in the area, the Economic Stimulus Package, and taxes that affect the local community.

02/28/2002
U.S. Consumer and Business Groups Tell Canada
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U.S. Consumer and Business Groups Tell Canada

With U.S. and Canadian trade negotiators engaged in 11th hour negotiations to resolve the long-running cross-border dispute over lumber, a delegation representing the interests of millions of U.S. consumers and workers in lumber-dependent industries today called on Canadian Trade Minister Pierre Pettigrew to oppose any border measures such as quotas, tariffs or taxes that would restrict lumber supply and harm consumers by raising prices.  "We support changes to make lumber supply more responsive to market demand and applaud the far-reaching changes proposed by the Canadian provincial governments in the management of their timber that would remove incentives to over-produce during periods of weak demand, and make sales practices more transparent to eliminate suspicions that their timber sales are not market-based," said Susan Petniunas, spokesperson for the American Consumers for Affordable Homes (ACAH), an alliance of 17 American consumer and business groups fighting trade restraints on softwood lumber that harm U.S. consumers.  "However, with Canadian firms facing punitive penalties imposed by the U.S. Commerce Department, we are strongly opposed to the idea of a negotiated settlement for the sake of expediency that institutes any so-called border measures such as quotas, tariffs or taxes. This would be far worse to the interests of consumers than no agreement at all," Petniunas added.  The U.S. Department of Commerce last year imposed preliminary anti-dumping and countervailing duties on Canadian lumber shipments into the U.S. in response to complaints lodged by a handful of U.S. lumber producers. It is expected to issue a final ruling on the cases on March 21. In the meantime, U.S. and Canadian negotiators have been engaged in talks to find a negotiated settlement before the Commerce Department makes its final decision.  "Free trade is the cornerstone of NAFTA and a basic principle of the Bush Administration," said Petniunas. "To extend these duties next month would fly in the face of free trade. That is why it is extremely important that the Canadian government stands firm and does not allow the Coalition for Fair Lumber Imports (the U.S. lumber lobby) to use threats or intimidation to coerce it into making a bad deal that would create distortions in the marketplace, provide windfall gains for timber barons and leave millions of U.S. consumers -- the home buyers, renters and people remodeling their homes -- footing the bill in the form of higher lumber prices."  If the duties were extended in March, history has shown that they are likely to be lower than the tariffs currently in place, and Canada would still have a strong case to present to the World Trade Organization and NAFTA, according to Petniunas.  "Canada has already laid the groundwork for an appeal with the World Trade Organization and with NAFTA, and we think the Canadians have a solid legal foundation," said Petniunas. "There have been three previous countervailing duty cases on this issue, and in each case in which it was taken to a final decision, it was ultimately determined that the Canadian government did not provide unfair subsidies to its lumber industry. As this case moves forward, we believe this conclusion will once again be reaffirmed, and that free trade in lumber between Canada and the U.S. will prevail."  "Trade restrictions on lumber cause artificial price increases and volatile swings in the lumber market, both of which hurt housing affordability, said Bobby Rayburn, a home builder from Jackson, Miss., and vice president and treasurer of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), an ACAH member. "Each one dollar increase in the price of framing lumber per 1,000 board feet adds about $20 to the price of an average new home."  If the current duties are fully reflected in U.S. lumber prices, the cost of an average new home would increase by at least $1,500.  U.S. Census figures indicate that such an increase could force at least 450,000 prospective American home buyers out of the market.  Reiterating comments he made before the Senate Finance Committee during a Feb. 13 hearing on lumber trade issues, Rayburn told Pettigrew, "Because of the harmful effects of artificial price increases, I want to be clear; we are opposed to border measurers such as quotas, tariffs or export fees that restrict imports of Canadian lumber."  Furthermore, Rayburn said that lumber from Canada is qualitatively different from the softwood lumber produced in the southeastern United States and is used for different purposes.  "The spruce and white pine from Canada is better suited for wall framing," he explained. "Southern yellow pine, the most common domestic species, is more likely to bend and warp, and is used for beams and joists and for outdoor applications requiring pressure-treated lumber.  In the absence of Canadian spruce, builders are likely to turn to light weight steel studs or lumber imports from Europe in order to build homes with walls that don't crack."  Retailers are also opposed to the U.S. trade action.  "Home Depot is focused on delivering the right product at the right price to our customers," Annette Verschuren, president, Home Depot Canada, told Pettigrew.  "That is why we support free trade and Canada's position on this issue. The Softwood Lumber agreement imposed volatility in the marketplace for consumers. We are encouraging the Canadian government to stay the course and continue to pursue free trade in lumber between Canada and the United States."  In addition to the negative impact on home buyers, others in the industry will be harmed, according to ACAH.  "These duties will reduce the number of new homes being built," Petniunas said. "The seven million people employed in the housing construction sector, manufactured housing builders, employees of lumber yards and mass retailers that supply home builders and others in the manufacturing and supply chain will all suffer."  In addition to NAHB and The Home Depot, other ACAH members include: American Grassroots Homeowners Alliance, Catamount Pellet Fuel Corporation, CHEP USA, Citizens for a Sound Economy, Consumers for World Trade, Free Trade Lumber Council, International Mass Retail Association, International Sleep Products Association, Leggett & Platt Inc., Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform, Manufactured Housing Institute, National Black Chamber of Commerce, National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association, National Retail Federation, and the United States Hispanic Contractors Association.

02/28/2002

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