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U.S. Efforts to Restart Discussions on Canadian Softwood Lumber Trade Welcomed by Consumers Who Remain Opposed to Any Co…
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U.S. Efforts to Restart Discussions on Canadian Softwood Lumber Trade Welcomed by Consumers Who Remain Opposed to Any Co…

Representatives of U.S. consumer interests welcomed efforts by the Commerce Department announced yesterday to seek a long-term solution to the prolonged and complex dispute with Canada over softwood lumber imports. American Consumers for Affordable Homes (ACAH), an alliance of 18 large national organizations and companies representing more than 95 percent of U.S. lumber consumption, said however that it remains opposed to imposing any border measures -- import or export taxes or quotas -- that only end up harming consumers. The Commerce Department imposed 27 percent countervailing and antidumping duties on lumber imports last summer, duties that consumers consider a federally imposed sales tax on lumber that harms homebuyers and impacts housing affordability in the U.S. The duties were imposed at the urging of a few large U.S. producers, led by International Paper, Potlatch, Plum Creek, Sierra Pacific, Temple Inland, and southern land owners forming the Coalition for Fair Lumber Imports, alleging that they had been harmed by Canadian softwood lumber, based on a perceived threat to the industry, although no evidence of actual injury was found. "The new Commerce Department initiative, in the form of policy bulletins dictating forest practice changes the U.S. wants Canada to make, is certainly welcomed to restart discussions and seek a resolution to this issue" said Susan Petniunas, spokesperson for ACAH. "However, we remain opposed to any efforts to tax U.S. lumber consumers, including import or export taxes." "The U.S. requires at least a third of its lumber in the form of imports, and Canada is the best source for it," she said. "We should move to free and open markets between our two countries." In the policy draft, Commerce Undersecretary Grant Aldonas said he would seek input from lumber producers. "It is equally important that he also seek input from those who use lumber and consumer interests, something that ACAH will aggressively pursue," Petniunas said. Petniunas said that recent proposals by Seattle-based forest producer Weyerhaeuser, the British Columbia government, and the British Columbia forestry industry association also are each a long way from relieving the burden of the lumber dispute on consumers. "Some of these proposals call for Canada to drop or suspend its appeals of the U.S. countervail and antidumping duties before the World Trade Organization and the North America Free Trade Agreement panels," she said. "We believe that would be a significant error on the part of Canada. Canada has already won major decisions earlier this year, and we are convinced that if the appeals are allowed to conclude in a timely manner, Canada will win again. This is the best route to free trade in lumber, and we hope Canada will resist any temptation to stop those appeals, even if it does hold discussions or look at interim measures." She noted that the Commerce proposal clearly indicates that it is aware of the roles the appeal processes play in an eventual solution to the problem, and that the ACAH believes that one reason Commerce is pushing for a solution now is because it too believes it will continue to lose in the WTO and NAFTA. "Unfortunately, the Coalition's attempt to fix prices backfired, and lumber prices have dropped significantly," Petniunas added. "All they have succeeded in doing is creating great volatility in the market once again, and to continue their negative impact on housing affordability." "The final 27 percent countervailing and antidumping duties on finished lumber for framing homes and remodeling, even at lower lumber prices, may increase the average cost of a new home by as much as $1,000," she said. "Based on information from the U.S. Census Bureau, that additional $1,000 prevents as many as 300,000 families from qualifying for home mortgages." Consumers have some strong support on Capitol Hill. More than 100 members of the U.S. House and Senate have signed resolutions or written letters to President George W. Bush over the past two years, indicating their support for free trade in lumber, and urging no new taxes or penalties on consumers. Industries that depend on lumber as an input and that oppose import restrictions include: manufacturers of value-added wood products, lumber dealers, manufactured and on-site home builders, and remodeling contractors and individuals. These industries employ more than 6.5 million workers, 25 to one when compared with those in the forestry industry. Members of ACAH include: American Homeowners Grassroots Alliance, Catamount Pellet Fuel Corporation, CHEP International, Citizens for a Sound Economy, Consumers for World Trade, Free Trade Lumber Council, Fremont Forest Group Corporation, 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.

01/08/2003
Keep Their Money In Our Economy
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Press Release

Keep Their Money In Our Economy

Ten witnesses Dec. 5 urged the Internal Revenue Service to withdraw or re-evaluate proposed regulations (REG-133254-02) that would require U.S. banks to report interest paid on accounts held by nonresident aliens from 16 countries. Of the 10 witnesses at the IRS hearing, nine private-sector interest groups told IRS the rules would drive foreign investment out of the United States, would create burdens for U.S. financial institutions, and run contrary to congressional efforts to attract capital to the U.S. economy.

01/08/2003
Guidance on Reporting of Deposit Interest Paid to Nonresident Aliens
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Press Release

Guidance on Reporting of Deposit Interest Paid to Nonresident Aliens

Proposed Rule Making: REG-133254-02 and REG-126100-00 Guidance on Reporting of Deposit Interest Paid to Nonresident Aliens December 5, 2002 By Lawrence A. Hunter Chief Economist Empower America Introduction

01/08/2003
It's Time for Real Telecom Competition
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Press Release

It's Time for Real Telecom Competition

January 8, 2003 Senator John McCain SR-241 Russell Senate Office Building Washington, DC 20510-0303 Dear Senator McCain:

01/08/2003
A Tale of Two Tax Plans
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Press Release

A Tale of Two Tax Plans

The gauntlet has been thrown—a battle to control domestic economic policy finds Republicans and Democrats squaring off with competing policy prescriptions. On Monday, Democrats unveiled a ten-year, $136 billion stimulus plan to pre-empt the administration’s more aggressive $674 billion plan to bolster economic growth. While both plans aim to improve economic performance, they take decidedly different approaches. Democrats continue to believe the government can spend its way out of recession, calling for more spending and temporary manipulations of the tax code. President Bush, on the other hand, has offered an aggressive package that, for the most part, focuses on strengthening incentives for economic growth.

01/08/2003
Tax cuts two years ago not effective in stimulating the economy
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Tax cuts two years ago not effective in stimulating the economy

BY KAI RYSSDAL; AMY SCOTT

KAI RYSSDAL, anchor: Is it tax cut deja vu all over again? Good morning. I'm Kai Ryssdal in Los Angeles. Announcer: The MARKETPLACE MORNING REPORT is produced by Minnesota Public Radio, in association with the University of Southern California. RYSSDAL: It's fair bet there will be some kind of tax cut coming this year, even though Congress does still have to approve the president's economic stimulus plan. Thing is, there were tax cuts two years ago that were supposed to get the economy going again. MARKETPLACE's Amy Scott looked into what happened. AMY SCOTT reporting: In 2001, American taxpayers got the largest tax rebate in history, about $28 billion. What'd you do with your share? Unidentified Man: I think I deposited it in my checking account, and then continued to write checks. SCOTT: But Joel Friedman at the Center on Budget & Policy Priorities points out 34 million Americans didn't get any rebates because they didn't earn enough to owe taxes, and those are the people, he says, mostly likely to put that money right back into the economy. Mr. JOEL FRIEDMAN (Center on Budget & Policy Priorities): The lower-income you are, the more cash-constrained you're going to be, and therefore, if you get an extra dollar, you're going to be more likely to spend it. SCOTT: Even proponents of tax cuts question the stimulating effect of rebates, like Wayne Brough at Citizens for a Sound Economy. Mr. WAYNE BROUGH (Citizens for a Sound Economy): If people are already strapped with debt and it's a small, one-time rebate, there's a lot of evidence that suggests that people use that to pay down debt. SCOTT: Seventy-five percent of those who got a rebate last time put it towards debt or savings; only a quarter actually spent the money. In Washington, I'm Amy Scott for MARKETPLACE.

01/08/2003
Bush plan offers dividends for us all
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Bush plan offers dividends for us all

BY Seiler

With a new majority of his fellow Republicans controlling Congress, President Bush on Tuesday called for an aggressive $670 billion in tax cuts over 10 years to encourage spending and investment and, by doing so, turn the wheel of the economic recovery. Speaking before the Chicago Economic Club, he called for eliminating taxation on dividends earned on stocks, increasing by $400 the tax credit for children, ending the ''marriage tax'' (the higher taxes paid by many couples than if they were single) and advancing and making permanent his 2001 tax cuts. ''Americans deserve to know their tax cuts will not be taken away,'' he said. ''We can preserve the hard won gains our economy has made and advance toward greater prosperity.'' These are good ideas. In particular, eliminating taxes on stock dividends would help individual investors and companies. The top tax rate on dividends now is 38.6 percent (the same as for income), compared to 20 percent for capital gains, the rate used for sale of stock. That disparity has encouraged companies to work more for short-term stock price increases to keep and attract investors rather than for steady increases in value paid out in dividends. And the current system encourages companies to take on debt to promote growth, because the debt can be deducted from taxes owed, according to a study by Jason Edwards, a staff economist at Citizens for a Sound Economy, a conservative think tank. Dividends also are taxed twice, first when the company pays its business taxes, then when the shareholder pays his personal tax on dividends. ''But of the share that is paid to taxable owners, as little as 36 cents of every dollar in profit goes into their pockets,'' notes the Washington Post. In other words, the double tax rate can be as high as 64 percent. ''It's immoral to tax dividends twice,'' Esmael Adibi, director of the Anderson Center for Economic Research at Chapman University, told us. ''This tax cut is long overdue.'' Democrats are portraying the Bush plan as one that only helps the wealthy and have devised a plan of their own amounting to $136 billion over 10 years. It would include a one-shot $300 tax credit to families and more unemployment benefits. ''Our proposal is targeted to consumers'' but the Bush plan ''is targeted to wealthy families,'' said Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the Democratic minority whip. Actually, Mr. Adibi said, ''more than 50 percent of American workers are exposed to the equity market'' through pensions, 401(k) plans and individual investing. ''If the dividend tax cut goes through, it would boost the stock market and increase consumer confidence, which would increase consumer spending.'' Now it's Congress' turn. We hope Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Santa Ana, lives up to her ''blue dog'' Democrat label as a tax-cutter and goes along. And O.C. Republicans should make this good plan even better by proposing to eliminate capital gains taxes and cutting the top income tax rate immediately to the Reagan-era 28 percent from 38.6 percent. Citizens have first call on the product of their labor, not the government.

01/08/2003
It’s Love At First Sight
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Press Release

It’s Love At First Sight

Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE) today cheered President Bush’s proposal for Economic Growth and Job Creation. The President called for complete repeal of the dividend tax, acceleration of the 2001 income tax rate cuts, and improvements in the child tax credit, the marriage deduction, and small business investment expensing. In total, the plan is a bold move to boost the economy by improving American tax policy.

01/07/2003
CSE “Not Pelosi” Campaign Convinces Four House Democrats
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Press Release

CSE “Not Pelosi” Campaign Convinces Four House Democrats

Today, the 108th Congress organized itself, and the House of Representatives conducted a roll call vote for Speaker. Related Website: www.NotPelosi.com Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE) targeted 14 moderate Democrats with its grassroots “Not Pelosi” campaign to encourage them to vote “Present” today. The campaign was anchored by the activist website www.NotPelosi.com.

01/07/2003
State Viewed as Bellwether on Insurance Dilemma
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Press Release

State Viewed as Bellwether on Insurance Dilemma

From the Charleston Daily Mail January 6, 2003, Monday Copyright 2003 Charleston Newspapers The other 49 states consider West Virginia the poster child for medical malpractice insurance problems, said the former president of the American Academy of Family Physicians. So Dr. Richard Roberts, a family practitioner in Wisconsin, today said the nation would closely watch over the next few weeks how lawmakers resolve problems with doctors getting and affording the insurance. "Failure to act is the legislative equivalent of malpractice," Roberts said.

01/06/2003

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