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Arrogance ... Thy Name is Torricelli
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Press Release

Arrogance ... Thy Name is Torricelli

This Week - The House will take up several measures this week. They begin with H.Res. 543 to express the sense of the House that Congress should complete action on making the marriage tax relief permanent. They will also take up the long awaited Department of Defense Authorization bill. Finally, since a new fiscal year began on Tuesday and the current, continuing resolution ends on Friday, they will also pass another CR - although the length of time has not been decided. The quicksand pit of the federal government, otherwise known as the U.S. Senate, will begin the week with the issue of homeland security again. However, since there is no end in sight to the debate, they will push it aside mid-week and take up the President’s resolution on Iraq. Arrogance… Thy Name is Torricelli Tales abound of Washington’s self-absorption, of our Prima Donna legislators and candidates who will sell themselves for a vote. But, even veteran politicos were surprised on Monday by the sudden and unusual decision of Senator Torricelli (D-NJ) not to seek re-election. The decision itself was remarkable. Known as The Torch, for his fiery and unyielding style, everyone expected him to have to be dragged, kicking and screaming, out of office. The speech, a self-indulgent rant of momentous proportion, represented the worst of Washington and was, in itself, a perfect example of Washington arrogance.

10/01/2002
Bring in the Prognosticators
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Press Release

Bring in the Prognosticators

This Week- The House is considering several pieces of legislation this week. They begin with H.R. 4691, the “Abortion Non-Discrimination Act of 2002,” and then will turn to a resolution known as a ‘CR.’ Short for “continuing resolution,’ a CR provides government funding during the interim of the fiscal year and the signing into law of the appropriations bills. It is required since the fiscal year officially ends on October 1st. Near the end of the week they expect to take up a very important piece of legislation limiting medical malpractice claims. This legislation, H.R. 4600, would address a growing crisis in our nation. Due to rampant lawsuite and aggressive trial lawyers medical malpractice insurance has skyrocketed leaving many communities without physician care. This bill would impose some limited legal reform bringing sanity back into the medical liability system. Like the movie Groundhog Day the Senate will take up the interior appropriations bill at the beginning of the week with homeland security being considered on a dual track. This is the fourth week for the interior appropriations bill which might actually be a new record for Senatorial logjams. The Senate also hopes to take up a continuing resolution since the fiscal year ends early next week.

09/24/2002
Al Moves (Further) Left
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Press Release

Al Moves (Further) Left

The former vice president moved out in front of his potential Democratic rivals yesterday by staking out a decidedly anti-Bush position on Iraq. While the other contenders for the Democratic nomination have either totally supported President Bush or given wishy-washy tepid support, Al Gore took a bold step. In a speech that would have made German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder proud, Gore staked out a position as the leading critic of President Bush’s foreign policy.

09/24/2002
Coalition For Auto Insurance Competition
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Coalition For Auto Insurance Competition

Legislators are about to hear the call for auto insurance reform from thousands of New Jerseyans concerned and frustrated over the lack of auto insurance choices. Citizens are signing a petition from the Coalition For Auto Insurance Competition urging legislators to reform the state's antiquated and anti-competitive auto insurance laws by passing The New Jersey Automobile Insurance Competition and Choice Act. "Our surveys show that consumers overwhelmingly support legislation that will result in more companies doing business in New Jersey and giving consumers more choices," said John Friedman, chairman of the Coalition for Auto Insurance Competition. "This bill would do just that." More than 90,000 petitions are on their way to homes. Petitions are also available on the Coalition's website at www.njcaic.org. This new push builds on education efforts already undertaken by the Coalition and gives residents a means to voice their frustration over a lack of competition in the auto insurance marketplace. The Coalition points to the state's excessive regulation of auto insurance as the culprit behind the lack of sufficient auto insurance choice and competition. "Four out of the six largest insurers in America already do not do business in New Jersey and when State Farm, the state's largest auto insurer, completes its withdrawal currently in process, that number will increase to five out of six," said Friedman. The latest figures show New Jersey has 47 percent fewer companies selling auto insurance than Illinois and more than a third fewer than neighboring New York and Pennsylvania. More than 20 auto insurance companies have left New Jersey in the past ten years. "Having to operate under the state's restrictive and difficult regulatory regime where insurers are told what products to sell, to whom they must sell to and how much to change, companies will lack an incentive to remain and invest in New Jersey," continued Friedman. "We need a regulatory system that promotes competition, encourages companies to sell auto insurance in New Jersey, and creates a stable market that offers more choices for consumers." The New Jersey Auto Insurance Competition and Choice Act outlines reforms to attract more auto insurers to New Jersey by permitting companies to use industry-accepted standard underwriting methods already used in nearly every state. The Coalition welcomes the participation of consumers, businesses, and associations who seek to work together to bring about meaningful and responsible auto insurance reform. Members include the National Association of Independent Insurers, Insurance Council of New Jersey, American Insurance Association, New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, Independent Insurance Agents of New Jersey, Citizens for a Sound Economy, National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies, New Jersey Association of REALTORS, Professional Insurance Agents of New Jersey, New Jersey Food Council, New Jersey Retail Merchants Association, NJ SEED (Society for Environmental, Economic Development), Somerset County Chamber of Commerce and the Commerce and Industry Association of New Jersey. CONTACT: Winning Strategies Ernie Landante, 973/799-0200 URL: http://www.businesswire.com

09/03/2002
Have Gov't Antitrust Actions Made Airlines' Woes Worse
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Have Gov't Antitrust Actions Made Airlines' Woes Worse

BY Joseph Gointo

What hurts consumers more, a merger or a bankruptcy? That's what some are asking after financial woes at US Airways and United Airlines. The two carriers scrapped a merger last summer after the Justice Department threatened to sue. It's hard to imagine now, but at the time Washington frettedthe combined carrier would be too dominant. Dozens of lawmakers complained that deal would hurt constituents. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., for one, said it would mean a cutback in flights to New York, especially daily service from Washington's Dulles International to upstate cities. But times have changed. US Airways is bankrupt. It's cut more than 30% of its schedule. United, veering toward Chapter 11, has slashed flights by 20% andlaid off thousands. And flights between Dulles and upstate New York? United has cut daily departures to Albany from nine to four, to Syracuse from nine to three, and to Rochester from 11 to four. More cuts may be coming. Should Have Merged That has some asking if Justice was wrong to block the deal. "While the effects of Sept. 11 on airline travel cannot be underestimated . . . much of (United's and US Airways') financial turmoil could have been averted had the Bush administration allowed the two airlines to merge," said Jason Thomas, economist at Citizens for a Sound Economy. Few dispute that. But there's no consensus the Justice Department erred in opposing the deal. "The merger would have saved US Airways from the bankruptcy courts," said Richard Gritta, an industry expert at the University of Portland. "But it certainly would have done so at a price to the consumer." Experts may disagree whether Justice made the right decision. But they do agree the decision is important, because airlines are talking partnerships again. So President Bush's trustbusters must again decide whether to allow the deals or squelch them. And this time around, the airlines' finances clearly are worse, while the partnerships are more vague. Instead of merging, US Airways recently said it will "code share" with United. That will let passengers book a flight on one airline but connect to a flight on the other, all through one ticket. Northwest, Continental and Delta announced a similar pact last week. Financial Necessity The Transportation Department is reviewing both code-sharing plans. And the Justice Department may conduct its own review. In the meantime, neither agency has much to say on the subject. While the decisions await, some speculate the financial upheaval in the airline industry may mean a smoother ride through the review process than the US Airways-United deal got last year. "It is accepted by all sides, including the Department of Justice, that whena company is in financial trouble, exceptions (to antitrust rules) are made," said Nicholas Economides, an antitrust expert at New York University. The exceptions fall into a couple of categories. Both the "failing firm" and"existing assets" theories of antitrust law let otherwise anti-competitive deals proceed if one of the parties may go out of business. No one is sure whether those theories would apply to the code-sharing deals,though, since none involves actual mergers. Even if they do, the exceptions might not help. To qualify as a "failing firm," a company has to be in real danger of disappearing from the marketplace. And airlines have a long history of surviving after declaring Chapter 11. Continental has done that twice. Plus, some think the Justice Department may not consider concepts like "failing firm." Rather, it may limit a review to specific parts of the code-sharing deals that may be anti-competitive. That might mean looking at where one carrier's flights overlap with another's to see if code sharing on that route will reduce competition and boost prices. "Justice has a very narrow focus," said Luke Froeb, an economist at Vanderbilt University and an antitrust official under President Reagan. "Broader concerns . . . rarely enter into their analysis. They take it one caseat a time." Still, that can mean problems. When the US Airways-United decision was made,well before Sept. 11, the airline industry already was slumping. At the time, some analysts said a United-US Airways merger was the only way out of bankruptcy. But the contraction of the industry was not key for Bush's trustbusters at the time, many say. Creative Destruction Even if it had been, some experts argue, it's better to let firms fail even if that means short-term harm to consumers -- like the service reductions and price spikes that can happen after an airline goes broke. Economists call that "creative destruction." That idea, from Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter, suggests markets must cycle through failure to achieve "perfect competition." Sick, dying firms are replaced by healthy, vibrant ones. By those terms, Justice arguably made the right choice in nixing the United-US Airways deal. "There are definitely short-run ramifications if an airline fails," Gritta said. "But ultimately the free market works. The airlines wanted deregulation. They got it. In a deregulated market, if you fail, you fail."

09/03/2002
Limited Government on the Anniversary of September 11
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Press Release

Limited Government on the Anniversary of September 11

As the anniversary of September 11 approaches, conservatives will again be presented with the opportunity to explain how their view of the proper role of government squares with the harrowing realities made evident by the heinous terrorist attack. For those who do not understand conservatism, or wish to mischaracterize it for political gain, September 11 was supposed to be a death knell for the ideology: A harsh, yet unmistakable reminder of the primacy of the state in the life of its citizens.

08/28/2002
Rubin Where Art Thou?
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Press Release

Rubin Where Art Thou?

Yesterday, President Bush hosted a forum in Waco, Texas to defend the administration’s economic policies and those responsible for their formulation. Recent data suggest the economy faces significant hurdles: unemployment continues to rise, productivity growth has slowed, and unease continues to grip the financial markets. With Democrats eager to make the economy the centerpiece of this fall’s midterm elections, it is politically imperative for the Administration to find its voice on economic policy.

08/14/2002
Searching for A Legislative Compass
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Press Release

Searching for A Legislative Compass

This Week Since both the House and Senate are enjoying August recess, there is no activity in either house. The White House also is on what the White House describes as a “working vacation” at his ranch in Crawford, Texas.

08/12/2002
The Calm Before the Storm?
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Press Release

The Calm Before the Storm?

The President is working from home this month. Congress has left town until after Labor Day. This August, like most Augusts, will be a slow month in Washington. But watch out for a wild ride this fall.

08/07/2002
Full Investigation of Enron Must Include Citigroup Chairman Robert Rubin
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Press Release

Full Investigation of Enron Must Include Citigroup Chairman Robert Rubin

August 1, 2002 The Honorable Joseph I. Lieberman Chairman, Senate Government Oversight Committee Washington, DC 20002 Dear Senator Liberman,

08/01/2002

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