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This Week on Capitol Hill
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Press Release

This Week on Capitol Hill

President Bush’s tax cut took a short detour on Tuesday, when an amendment offered by Sen. John Breaux (D-La.) to cut the tax cut to $350 billion was approved by a 51-48 vote. Three Republican Senators, Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), George Voinovich (R-Ohio), and Lincoln Chafee (R-R.I.) all voted with the majority to reduce the size of the tax cut. Democratic Sen. Zell Miller (D-Ga.) missed the vote. Though it seems the president’s tax cut number is in jeopardy, there are more steps in the budget process that may provide an opportunity to gain back the lost dollars.

03/27/2003
Deficit Fears Should Not Stop Tax Cuts
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Press Release

Deficit Fears Should Not Stop Tax Cuts

03/27/2003
CSE Decries Senate Vote to Reduce President’s Tax Relief Plan
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Press Release

CSE Decries Senate Vote to Reduce President’s Tax Relief Plan

WASHINGTON DC – Today the Senate narrowly passed (51-48) an amendment to the budget resolution to reduce the President’s tax relief package to just $350 billion through 2013. CSE President Paul Beckner made the following statement: “On behalf of the nearly 280,000 members of Citizens for a Sound Economy, I want to express our extreme disappointment in the Senators who voted to slash America’s tax cut by over 50 percent. The economy is too shaky and the tax burden too high for our tax relief be yanked away.

03/27/2003
CSE Expresses Mixed Emotions About Senate Budget Resolution
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Press Release

CSE Expresses Mixed Emotions About Senate Budget Resolution

Washington, DC – Today, the Senate passed its FY 2004 budget resolution. While the budget makes a better effort to restrain discretionary spending and lays out a plan to balance the budget as quickly as possible, it is does not contain the amount of tax relief necessary to help grow the economy. CSE President Paul Beckner expressed mixed emotions:

03/27/2003
Letter to Grassley on Welfare
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Press Release

Letter to Grassley on Welfare

Senator Charles Grassley Chairman Senate Finance Committee SD-219 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington, DC 20510-6200 Dear Senator Grassley:

03/26/2003
Another Mother of Hotel Giveaways Angle Sounds Familiar
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Another Mother of Hotel Giveaways Angle Sounds Familiar

BY Carlos Guerra

Some City Hall boondoggles keep getting resurrected, each time with a stranger twist. One of these is the "Mother of All Hotel Giveaways," as I dubbed the convention center hotel when it was first proposed seven years ago. It began with the $200 million Convention Center expansion that city leaders said would win us the Really Big Conventions that would fill up local hotel rooms and increase occupancy tax revenues.

03/25/2003
Another Mother of Hotel Giveaways Angle Sounds Familiar
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Another Mother of Hotel Giveaways Angle Sounds Familiar

BY Carlos Guerra

Some City Hall boondoggles keep getting resurrected, each time with a stranger twist. One of these is the "Mother of All Hotel Giveaways," as I dubbed the convention center hotel when it was first proposed seven years ago. It began with the $200 million Convention Center expansion that city leaders said would win us the Really Big Conventions that would fill up local hotel rooms and increase occupancy tax revenues. But after the expansion failed to draw the huge meetings, they said we needed more rooms and then gave multimillion-dollar subsidies to three big hotels. And when the conventioneers still didn't show, it was because we needed a hotel at the convention center itself. It will be the Mother of All Hotel Giveaways, I predicted. In addition to the biggest subsidy to date, it will also get a free city parking lot and sit on prime city land rented for a song. At that time, headquarters hotel plans were as common, nationally, as huge convention center expansions. Literally every large city was doing one or both, so all would soon be competing for the same limited big conventions. Undeterred, city officials picked a developer and waited, and were still waiting when I cited what Grid, a real estate trade journal, had reported in its April 2002 edition: "Both the city (of San Antonio) and the development team continue to put the best face on the situation, (but) the deal is coming undone." By then, our headquarters hotel plans were 6 years old and the hotel was five years behind on its original opening date. And the travel industry had still not recovered from its post-Sept. 11, 2001, nosedive. After Related Lodging and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. missed its umpteenth financing deadline, the council dropped the developer - but not before vowing to "find other ways" to make the hotel a reality. One year later, city officials are still quietly exploring ways to revive it. They are considering financing the hotel entirely with tax money and handing it over to an operator, and even expanding it from 1,000 to 1,200 rooms to 1,600 rooms. But a newly released study of Dallas' proposed convention center hotel sheds some interesting light on these deals. (It was conducted for Washington-based Citizens for a Sound Economy by Source Strategies Inc., which also provides detailed analysis of hotel occupancy rates and taxes for the Texas Department of Commerce.) After studying development in Texas' largest convention markets over the last two decades, researchers concluded that "headquarters hotels do not generate their own market demand, (but instead) absorb existing demand." Source Strategies also found that if "the investment criteria of a private developer" were applied, subsidies for such boondoggles are "not a sound investment" because "the city would assume massive financial risk for a minimal return." Finally, the research group concluded that "a 'Convention Headquarters' hotel will be financially devastating to the existing hotels in the downtown district, causing extensive loss of revenues, reduced real estate values (and diminished tax base), and in some cases bankruptcies and closures." Of course, what they found concerns Dallas' proposed hotel. What we have been writing for almost seven years is about ours. But I must emphasize a key point made in that study: "Where private enterprise fears to tread, beware!"

03/25/2003
Statement by CSE President Paul Beckner on Madison County Circuit Court Decision in Philip Morris vs. Miles, et al
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Statement by CSE President Paul Beckner on Madison County Circuit Court Decision in Philip Morris vs. Miles, et al

Following is a statement by CSE President Paul Beckner on the Madison County Circuit Court Decision in the case of Philip Morris vs. Miles, et al: "This is nothing more than another hand out to a group of greedy trial lawyers who make a living by exploiting the legal system in order to line their pockets. This is exactly the kind of frivolous lawsuit that hurts American pocketbooks and American businesses and perverts our legal system. "A group of trial lawyers took a claim with absolutely no legal merit and found a known 'plaintiff-friendly' court that was almost certain to rule in their favor. "Suing tobacco companies has become a cash cow for trial lawyers and states. These lawyers hit the jackpot in Madison County, where class action filings have increased nearly 1,850 percent over the last few years. The plaintiff attorneys in this case stand to collect almost $1.8 billion in fees. The state of Illinois will receive $3 billion in punitive damages."

03/25/2003
Stop Lawsuit Abuse in Madison County
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Press Release

Stop Lawsuit Abuse in Madison County

“This is nothing more than another hand out to a group of greedy trial lawyers who make a living by exploiting the legal system in order to line their pockets. This is exactly the kind of frivolous lawsuit that hurts American pocketbooks and American businesses and perverts our legal system. “A group of trial lawyers took a claim with absolutely no legal merit and found a known ‘plaintiff-friendly’ court that was almost certain to rule in their favor.

03/25/2003
Put the word 'protection' back in EPA
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Put the word 'protection' back in EPA

BY Molly Ivins

Boy, we are marching backward on the environment at a truly impressive pace. Between the Senate and the Bush administration, we are advancing to the rear, double time. The Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, fuel efficiency standards, toxic waste -- this is literally sickening stuff. The Senate voted 62 to 38 last week to postpone, yet again, increasing the fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks.

03/22/2003

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