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Interest Groups To Influence Social Security Debate In Targeted
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Interest Groups To Influence Social Security Debate In Targeted

BY Mark Wegner

Races As congressional candidates and party committees trade blows over so-called Social Security privatization - and who allegedly favors it - a number of outside groups are jumping into the election-year fray. One business-backed coalition hopes to influence the Social Security debate with a multi-million-dollar ad campaign in 20 competitive congressional races. Derrick Max, executive director of the Coalition for the Modernization and Protection of America's Social Security, also known as COMPASS, said his nonpartisan group has "about $6 [million] to $8 million in the pipeline" for ads that promote Social Security "modernization." COMPASS' membership includes the Business Roundtable, National Association of Manufacturers and Citizens for a Sound Economy. The group has sent out two mailers and deployed grassroots organizers and will begin airing ads in October in 20 unannounced districts. Max said the ads would not mention a candidate's name but would constructively promote the idea of individual accounts. "Republicans, some of them want to push it off the table," Max said. Of Democrats, he said: "I've seen ads that say [GOP opponents] are anti-senior. Neither seems to be a good public-policy debate." House Democrats and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee have declared they will make Social Security privatization a key issue this fall. House Republicans have countered by polling and researching responses to the attacks. Saying the ad misrepresented the voting record of GOP Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, the National Republican Congressional Committee successfully persuaded West Virginia broadcasters to pull DCCC ads. National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare's Executive Vice President Max Richtman said his group opposes privatization and is working to clarify where candidates stand on the issue. "In some of these races, the definition of 'privatization' has been manipulated by candidates, so you don't know where people are on these issues," Richtman said. The committee previously backed candidates with independent-expenditure radio campaigns, direct mail and postcards. The group has liberal leanings, but Richtman said the campaign has endorsed and contributed to Republicans, such as Rep. Henry Bonilla, R-Texas, a Democratic target for defeat this cycle. Campaign for America's Future Co-Director Roger Hickey said his group plans to spend a modest amount compared to other groups, but has asserted its clout this election cycle by challenging candidates to sign a pledge to oppose "privatizing Social Security, partially or totally." Hickey, whose campaign includes organized labor and civil rights groups, said some candidates and organizations have muddied the definition of "privatization." In the New Jersey Senate race, he said GOP businessman Doug Forrester has signed a pledge with "wiggle room" on the issue to blunt criticism by Democratic Sen. Robert Torricelli. "He didn't sign our pledge, but he cooked up his own pledge," Hickey said. Andrew Biggs, a Social Security analyst with the libertarian Cato Institute, said privatization was a "catch-all" term used at Cato but never referred to specific legislation. Once Democrats criticized it, Republicans looked for other terminology to describe proposals that divert a portion of an employee's payroll tax to personal accounts. "The reason you had the switch is that the opponents of reform, generally the Democrats, said that privatization was shutting down the system," Biggs said. Jim Martin, president of the conservative-leaning 60 Plus Association, said attacks on Republicans over Social Security are a perennial Democratic campaign tactic that is growing less effective. "It's a lot like crying wolf," Martin said "It's not working like it used to." AARP, at odds with the 60 Plus Association on the issue, is preparing to run a print ad and a television ad this fall to stir debate in the fall election. The group opposes changing the Social Security's funding mechanism and contends that diverting even a portion of the payroll tax would create a "carve-out" for Social Security. AARP Advocacy Director Chris Hansen said the television ad, set to run Oct. 18 in major media markets, would not refer to specific candidates or races. "We want to have a thoughtful, responsible debate on this subject," Hansen said. "We don't want to scare people, but we do want it on their radar screen."

09/24/2002
Recapture Texas' future from zealots, know-nothings
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Press Release

Recapture Texas' future from zealots, know-nothings

In 1999, when the Kansas Board of Education, under the control of fundamentalist extremists, removed the teaching of evolution from the science curriculum in public schools, Kansas became the object of national and international ridicule for having caved in to zealots and know-nothings. But the biggest uproar actually came from business leaders, who recognized that the economic viability of the state depended on the availability of credible public education. Businesses don't relocate to or invest in communities where ignoramuses set the educational curriculum. The Kansas Board reversed itself within a year.

09/21/2002
Oregon: Will Abortion Outplay the Economy
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Oregon: Will Abortion Outplay the Economy

Campaign Tip SheetPrimary/Filing Dates, Latest Polls, Latest Ads...Ex-OR Supreme Court Justice Ted Kulongoski (D) launched his fall ad campaign "with a withering attack" on ex-state Sen. Kevin Mannix's (R) "opposition to abortion." Pollster Tim Hibbitts said Kulongoski "may have been quick to go on the attack because voters are increasingly looking for change and may be more likely to tie" Kulongoski to term-limited Gov. John Kitzhaber (D) and the legis. "budget stalemate." Kulongoski "dismissed accusations that he is trying to deflect attention" from OR's "economic crisis." Mannix spokesperson Mike Beard: "Try telling the people with the pink slips right now that Ted Kulongoski's No. 1 concern is abortion." Kulongoski spokesperson Kristen Grainger: "Kevin Mannix sees it as a red herring. We see it as a Great White that's going to bite him. ... When he calls it a red herring, he's insulting the intelligence of the pro-choice voters of this state" (AP, 9/18). TO RAISE OR NOT RAISE, THAT IS THE QUESTION Portland Oregonian's Mapes reports, the OR legis.' decision to hold a 1/03 election on a proposed income tax increase "threw a new curve" in the gov. race as Kulongoski and Mannix "took opposite positions on the measure. Mannix: "I am willing to do some short-term borrowing to avoid tax increases, particularly in a recession." Kulongoski: "Kevin must have a pocket full of credit cards, because this is just borrowing against the future of the state, and it's very, very dangerous to us." Mannix again: "I'm a great believer in restructuring and being creative about how we make ends meet with the means presently available without raising taxes -- and he's not" (9/19). MANNIX IS GETTING SOME HELP Citizens for a Sound Economy is running a statewide TV ad "criticizing" Kulongoski for supporting a "temporary" income-tax increase to "help fill" the budget shortfall. OR chapter head Russell Walker said the group spent "more than $116K to air the ad "for a week"

09/20/2002
Citizens for PERS Reform PAC Announces Fall Voter Education Campaign
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Press Release

Citizens for PERS Reform PAC Announces Fall Voter Education Campaign

Oregon Citizens for a Sound Economy (OR CSE) and Citizens for PERS Reform PAC (CPR PAC), an affiliate of OR CSE, announced today that they will be conducting an education campaign for Oregon voters on the immediate and growing fiscal crisis of the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS). OR CSE director Russ Walker had these comments:

09/18/2002
Democrat Goes on the Offensive in TV Ad
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Democrat Goes on the Offensive in TV Ad

BY Jeff Mapes

Summary: Gubernatorial candidate Ted Kulongoski takes Republican Kevin Mannix to task for his "extreme" position on abortion Shrugging off criticism he's trying to shift attention from Oregon's troubled economy, Democrat Ted Kulongoski on Tuesday launched his fall advertising in the governor's race with a blistering attack on Republican Kevin Mannix's opposition to abortion rights. Kulongoski's decision to immediately go on the attack is unusual. Candidates usually focus their first commercials on warm-and-fuzzy biographical spots extolling their virtues, particularly when they lead in the polls as Kulongoski has. But Kulongoski has been roughed up by an ad run by an independent group attacking the Democrat's support for a tax increase, and his campaign strategists think Mannix is particularly vulnerable on abortion given Oregon's reputation as a state that staunchly defends abortion rights. Mannix spokesman Mike Beard said that Kulongoski -- who earlier this month held a high-profile news conference to attack Mannix on abortion -- is once again trying to shift the subject from more important issues. "Try telling the people with the pink slips right now that Ted Kulongoski's No. 1 concern is abortion," said Beard, arguing that Kulongoski doesn't want to focus on how to improve the economy and get the state out of its budget crisis. Kulongoski spokeswoman Kristen Grainger made no apologies for focusing on abortion. "Kevin Mannix sees it as a red herring," she said. "We see it as a great white that's going to bite him. . . . When he calls it a red herring, he's insulting the intelligence of the pro-choice voters of this state." Kulongoski also began re-airing a biographical spot from the primary. But Grainger said most of the TV time bought by the campaign would be de voted to the abortion ad, which claims Mannix is "too extreme" on the issue. Portland pollster Tim Hibbitts said Kulongoski may have been quick to go on the attack because voters are increasingly looking for change and may be more likely to tie Kulongoski to Democrat Gov. John Kitzhaber and the budget stalemate in the Legislature. "This is a sign that the Kulongoski people aren't taking anything for granted," Hibbitts said. "This isn't a good time to be a front-runner, and people aren't happy with the way things are going." Kulongoski found himself on the receiving end of early attack ads when he first ran for governor 20 years ago. The state was in an even deeper recession then, and Kulongoski was running close to then-Gov. Vic Atiyeh in polls in the summer. In early September, Atiyeh launched radio ads saying that "this is no time for Mr. Kulongoski's dangerous approach" on the economy, and Atiyeh wound up winning in a landslide. Mannix also raised abortion as an issue during the primary when he sent out mailings pointing out that he was the only one of the Republican candidates who was "pro-life." And he attacked one of his primary rivals, Portland lawyer Ron Saxton, for not supporting a ban on the late-term procedure opponents call partial-birth abortion. Mannix began his general-election advertising last week with an ad focused on the economy and leadership. However, a separate group, Citizens for a Sound Economy, ran a TV commercial statewide criticizing Kulongoski for saying in the spring that the Legislature should enact a temporary income-tax increase to help fill the state's budget shortfall. Although the group says it is operating separately of Mannix, Grainger said she thinks the Citizens' ad is funded by people supporting the Republican candidate. "I disagree that we're the first" to use attack ads, she said. "I think Mannix and his supporters went negative two weeks ago." Russell Walker, who heads the Oregon chapter of Citizens for a Sound Economy, said the group spent more than $116,000 airing the ad for a week and planned to air it again soon. He said the ad was funded by local donors he did not name. But he said they were "not necessarily" Mannix supporters.

09/18/2002
Kulongoski Opens Ad Campaign on Abortion Issue
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Kulongoski Opens Ad Campaign on Abortion Issue

Ted Kulongoski launched his fall advertising campaign in the governor's race Tuesday with a withering attack on Republican Kevin Mannix's opposition to abortion. The front-runner dismissed accusations that he is trying to deflect attention from Oregon's economic crisis. Front-runners usually open their ad campaigns with a softer approach. But Kulongoski has been roughed up by an ad run by an independent group attacking his support for a tax increase, and his strategists think Mannix is vulnerable on abortion given Oregon's tradition of preserving abortion rights. Mannix spokesman Mike Beard said that Kulongoski is trying to shift the subject from more important issues. "Try telling the people with the pink slips right now that Ted Kulongoski's No. 1 concern is abortion," said Beard. Kulongoski spokeswoman Kristen Grainger made no apologies for focusing on abortion. "Kevin Mannix sees it as a red herring," she said. "We see it as a Great White that's going to bite him. . . . When he calls it a red herring, he's insulting the intelligence of the pro-choice voters of this state." Grainger said most of the TV time bought by the campaign would be devoted to the abortion ad, which claims Mannix is "too extreme" on the issue. Portland pollster Tim Hibbitts said Kulongoski may have been quick to go on the attack because voters are increasingly looking for change and may be more likely to tie Kulongoski to Democrat Gov. John Kitzhaber and the budget stalemate in the Legislature. He said people aren't happy with the way things are going. Kulongoski was on the receiving end of early attack ad when he first ran for governor 20 years ago. The state was in an even deeper recession then, and Kulongoski was running close to then-Gov. Vic Atiyeh in polls in the summer. In early September, Atiyeh launched radio ads saying that "this is no time for Mr. Kulongoski's dangerous approach" on the economy, and Atiyeh won in a landslide. Mannix also raised abortion as an issue during the primary when he sent out mailings pointing out that he was the only one of the Republican candidates who was "pro-life." Mannix began his general-election advertising last week with an ad focused on the economy and leadership. However, a separate group, Citizens for a Sound Economy, ran a TV commercial statewide criticizing Kulongoski for saying in the spring that the Legislature should enact a temporary income-tax increase to help fill the state's budget shortfall. Although the group says it is operating separately of Mannix, Grainger said she thinks the Citizens' ad is funded by people supporting him. "I disagree that we're the first" to use attack ads, she said. "I think Mannix and his supporters went negative two weeks ago." Russell Walker, who heads the Oregon chapter of Citizens for a Sound Economy, said the group spent more than $116,000 airing the ad for a week and that the ad was funded by local donors he did not name. But he said they were "not necessarily" Mannix supporters.

09/18/2002
Stand Down Mode
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Press Release

Stand Down Mode

The Republican staff director of the House Appropriations Committee announced on Monday that the House of Representatives was in a “stand down” mode. Congress is just over two weeks away from its scheduled final adjournment, and not one of the annual appropriations bills has been sent to the president. The Senate hasn’t even passed a budget resolution. And they are in a “stand down” mode?

09/17/2002
Global Warming’s Uncertain Future
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Press Release

Global Warming’s Uncertain Future

A recent report by the Environmental Protection Agency includes a notable departure from the last six years. The report, which provides an assessment of various pollutants, does not include any discussion of global warming, or global climate change. According to the New York Times, many environmentalists attribute the change to the administration’s close ties to industry, which has been opposed to moving forward with global warming policies, such as the Kyoto Protocol, which would force nations to make significant cutbacks in the use of fossil fuels.

09/17/2002
Decisions, Decisions
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Press Release

Decisions, Decisions

This Week – Both the House and Senate took Monday off for the observance of Yom Kippur. They expect to hit the ground running on Tuesday when the Senate resumes consideration of H.R. 5093, The Interior Appropriations Act. They will also continue to debate H.R. 5005, The Homeland Security Act, which the President has repeatedly asked for before the November elections. The House will consider legislation that would block states from restricting interest rates on rent-to-own transactions (H.R. 1701) and legislation to make the repeal of the estate tax permanent.

09/17/2002
I Want My SUV
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Press Release

I Want My SUV

“The effect of liberty to individuals is that they may do what they please; we ought to see what it will please them to do, before we risk congratulations which may be soon turned into complaints.” --Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France

09/17/2002

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