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U.S. Government Actions Threaten to Accelerate Recession, Deny Homes to Approximately 400,000 Potential Home Buyers
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U.S. Government Actions Threaten to Accelerate Recession, Deny Homes to Approximately 400,000 Potential Home Buyers

The American Homeowners Grassroots Alliance (AHGA), which represents the 70 million U.S. homeowners, today called on President George W. Bush's special softwood lumber trade envoy to urge the President to cancel duties imposed by the Department of Commerce that will deepen the recession and prevent hundreds of thousands of American families from buying homes. Those duties amount to a 32 percent federally imposed sales tax on homebuyers and other consumers. The special envoy, former Montana Governor Marc Racicot, was appointed to try to find a solution to a major softwood lumber trade dispute between the U.S. and Canada. "This tax will raise the cost of an average home $1,000, making homeownership unaffordable to nearly a half million families who are seeking to buy homes. AHGA believes the U.S. Commerce Department has bowed to pressure from a handful of large U.S. lumber producers like International Paper, along with a few forest land owners," said Beth Hahn, President of AHGA. Governor Racicot, who has become the chief U.S. negotiator on the issue, is expected by many to continue pushing Canada in negotiating sessions this week in Toronto to impose a "temporary" tax on consumers or face continued Commerce Department tariffs affecting U.S. consumers. The administration has been pressuring Canada to make reforms of policies it says amount to subsidies. However, those policies were previously challenged through NAFTA and the WTO procedures and were, each time, found legal. "Ironically, the U.S. has made the subsidy allegations at a time when our government reports to the WTO that it provides more than $600 million in federal subsidies to its timber producers, and that hundreds of millions more are provided by federal forestry management and through state subsidies and incentives," Hahn added. "These companies are already heavily subsidized by U.S. taxpayers, and should learn to compete rather than seek more taxes that will ultimately be paid by those same consumers. "AHGA strongly supports President Bush's efforts to lower trade barriers and enact fast track trade negotiating authority," Hahn said. "In every country some business sectors will win and others will lose. However, consumers in every country will benefit from free trade. The solution is not to reward inefficient business sectors with more protection and subsidies, but to offer programs to help displaced workers adjust to temporary unemployment and find new jobs as the President and Congressional leaders have advocated in their economic recovery proposals," Hahn said. At issue are 19.3 percent countervailing duties and 12.6 percent antidumping duties that have been imposed on all Canadian softwood lumber imports. The duties were imposed based on allegations by a few U.S. producers who claim they have been injured by the imports, which account for about 35 percent of softwood lumber consumption in the U.S. The duties are considered preliminary, but are being collected until a final determination is made sometime in the spring. The countervailing duties expire Dec. 15, but could be re-imposed next spring. Antidumping duties however will continue until a final determination expected in May. "These duties ignore the fact that the U.S. timber industry is not able to satisfy domestic needs for softwood, and never will," Hahn said. "Over the past several years, the U.S. government has expanded its efforts to protect our own forests, saving these wonderful natural resources for future generations. However protecting U.S. forests also inevitably makes us more dependent on imports. Therefore, American home builders and consumers must have access to affordable and available Canadian lumber to build homes. Auburn University studies showed that Canadian timber growing and harvesting practices are, in most instances, much more friendly to the environment than those of U.S. timber companies." Hahn said that the ultimate victims of the duties are first time homebuyers and seniors who need affordable housing. Economists have said that, based on U.S. Census Bureau calculations, the duties add more than a $1,000 to the cost of a new home and price nearly a half million U.S. families out of the housing market since that amount prohibits them from qualifying for a mortgage. "We are in a recession and this is a time when we need affordable homes and to not damage the housing sector which remains the only part of our fragile economy that continues to support the GDP," she added. AHGA is a member of American Consumers for Affordable Homes (ACAH), an alliance of 17 consumer and business groups whose mission is to promote free trade policies that enhance affordable housing. ACAH is opposed to any new trade restraints between the two countries in any form, even as a bridging agreement, export or import tax, that hurt U.S. consumers and the economy. ACAH represents consumers and companies who account for approximately 95 percent of softwood lumber use in the U.S. ACAH members include American Homeowners Grassroots Alliance, Catamount Pellet Fuel Corporation, CHEP USA, Citizens for a Sound Economy, Consumers for World Trade, Free Trade Lumber Council, 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.

11/28/2001
Time to Cut the Payroll Tax
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Press Release

Time to Cut the Payroll Tax

Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, many policymakers have advocated a payroll tax cut to reduce labor costs and boost consumption. Surprisingly, many conservatives who normally support tax cuts of any sort become wobbly when it comes to payroll taxes. Some, including supply-side guru Bruce Bartlett, have openly criticized the wisdom of enacting payroll tax cuts if they are not accompanied by comprehensive Social Security reform.

11/26/2001
Classical Exuberance, Bursting Keynesian Bubbles
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Press Release

Classical Exuberance, Bursting Keynesian Bubbles

Excerpt from The Green Book. In my opinion, this is not the "normal operation of the business cycle," nor the aftermath of a "burst bubble." Asset values have collapsed across the board, especially in the high-tech sector, not because they were unreasonably high, though some were, but rather because deflationary monetary policy slammed the economy into lower gear, made promising business plans unachievable and otherwise prudent debt levels unmanageable.

11/26/2001
Not All Tax Cuts Are Created Equal
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Press Release

Not All Tax Cuts Are Created Equal

Copley News Service, 11/26/2001 Don't be misled by the illusion of bipartisanship conjured up in pictures of President George W. Bush and Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle hugging. It's more a clinch than a hug as Democrats play "rope-a-dope" on the so-called stimulus package, wrestling with the president and trying to wear him out fending off their class-warfare tactics and big-government spending schemes. Five versions of a stimulus package are on Capitol Hill, none of which has sufficient support to be enacted into law.

11/26/2001
Success Abroad Relies on Strength at Home
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Press Release

Success Abroad Relies on Strength at Home

As Congress struggles to develop a stimulus package and U.S. troops are deployed in Afghanistan, the economy continues to sputter. Uncertainty, a lack of consumer confidence, and a jittery stock market have slowed economic growth. The September 11 attacks on New York and Washington, D.C. clearly exacerbated economic problems that already were starting to emerge. In fact, the National Bureau of Economic Research recently announced the recession began last March, ending a record ten-year economic expansion. Amidst the faltering economy and the military build-up in Afghanistan, the old chestnut "War is good for the economy" has re-appeared, suggesting that increased military spending will boost demand in the economy, putting people back to work while pumping up Wall Street. In reality, war is a costly undertaking that cannot be sustained without a strong economy. President Bush cannot ignore domestic economic policy as he pursues foreign threats to the United States.

11/25/2001
Mineral industry's support keeps text alive
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Mineral industry's support keeps text alive

BY Gaiutra Bahadur

A group made up mainly of members of the mining industry backs one of the two environmental science texts approved for Texas high school students earlier this month. The state education board's Republicans originally disapproved of "Global Science" by Iowa-based Kendall/Hunt Publishing Co., but withdrew objections after leaders of the Mineral Information Institute wrote letters to the board calling attention to their free-market credentials.

11/21/2001
Politics echo in textbook debate
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Politics echo in textbook debate

BY Gaiutra Bahadur

The textbooks put on trial earlier this month before the state's education board cover environmental science, but the controversy surrounding them invoked recent political history.

11/21/2001
Special Interests Have Much to be Thankful For
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Press Release

Special Interests Have Much to be Thankful For

This week, President Bush signed the airline security act to federalize the nation’s 30,000 airport screeners. The political wake turbulence caused by the inexplicable crash of American Airlines flight 587 made a protracted struggle untenable. As a result, a terrible bill became law that not only adds 30,000 union workers to the federal government’s payroll, but also establishes incomprehensible new regulations to modify and improve on the incomprehensible security regulations already in place.

11/20/2001
Textbooks still provoke controversy
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Textbooks still provoke controversy

BY Gaiutra Bahadur

The textbooks recently put on trial before the state's education board cover environmental science, but the controversy surrounding them invoked recent political history for some.

11/20/2001
Defeating Deflation
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Press Release

Defeating Deflation

As printed in The Wall Street Journal, November 19, 2001

11/19/2001

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