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People
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People

BY Erin Heath

Image-Makers Boeing has lured Maureen P. Cragin away from the Veterans Affairs Department to serve as vice president of communications in its Washington office. Cragin, 39, is now in charge of coordinating Boeing's communications with Capitol Hill, the Pentagon, and many others. She spent the past year and a half as assistant secretary for public and intergovernmental affairs at Veterans Affairs, managing a staff of about 85. She also spent nearly six years with the House Armed Services Committee, ultimately becoming communications director. She got her start in public affairs during seven years of active duty in the Navy (she's still in the Reserves). Cragin caught the attention of the Naval Academy with her prowess as a swimmer, and went on to graduate in 1985. How did she survive her plebe year? She recalls that her father, a former Navy basketball coach and Marine, told her, " 'Remember, it's a game. You just need to play the game.' Whenever I was down, I remembered those words."

10/05/2002
Latest Update from Capitol Hill
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Press Release

Latest Update from Capitol Hill

Just a quick note to provide everyone with a Congressional update. I would say legislative update but that would be a misnomer since there really is not that much legitimate legislation going on up on Capitol Hill.

10/04/2002
Social Security Investment Ads to Run in Allentown
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Social Security Investment Ads to Run in Allentown

BY Jeff Miller

A business-backed coalition promoting private investment accounts for Social Security will begin running TV ads this week in Allentown and 18 other markets with close congressional races. The Coalition for Moderinzation and Protection of America's Social Security, or COMPASS, is spending between $6 million and $8 million on the campaign, which will also include print ads and direct mail. Executive Director Derrick Max said the campaign is aimed at reassuring senior voters that retirement benefits won't be cut if younger workers are allowed to invest part of their Social Security taxes in accounts they own. The coalition includes the Business Roundtable, Citizens for a Sound Economy, the National Association of Manufacturers, the United Seniors Association, the Hispanic Business Roundtable and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Although Mark McKinnon, who consulted on President Bush's 2000 campaign, created the ads, coalition leaders said they are not intended to help either party in the weeks leading up to the Nov. 5 election. "This is not a Democratic or Republican issue," said Sam Beard, the coalition's Democratic chairman who served on President Bush's Social Security commission. "It's really those who are for reform against those who are not." According to The Associated Press, the ads will run for two weeks in California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and West Virginia. The coalition declined to provide a full list of specific markets. The ads state that after "years of debate, bipartisan principles have been agreed upon that will save the [Social Security] system." They include protecting current benefits for retirees, no tax increases and allowing younger workers "the option to invest a small portion of their Social Security money in accounts they own." Some Democrats do support the accounts. But most are opposed to them, including Ed O'Brien, who is running for the 15th District congressional seat. The district covers all of Lehigh and Northampton counties and part of Montgomery. O'Brien calls the proposal a "risky privatization scheme" that could cause retirees to lose their retirement savings in a stock market downturn. His opponent, Republican incumbent Pat Toomey, is a staunch supporter of investment accounts for Social Security. Toomey says the accounts will give younger workers a far better return than the government provides and will enable them to build savings they can pass on to their children. Social Security is running a surplus. But that will change dramatically as the baby boom generation begins to retire in large numbers, leaving fewer workers to support them in the pay-as-you-go system. Beard said the system faces a $20 trillion debt that, without private accounts, will need either a 50 percent increase in taxes or a 30 percent cut in benefits. Bush's commission recommended three plans to move toward investment accounts. But critics of the commission's work say the plans would reduce the overall retirement income for most workers and don't account for the transition costs of moving to private accounts. "We've always said the devil is in the details -- how you structure the benefits and how the accounts would work," said Lee Goldberg, spokesman for the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare. Democrats have accused Republicans of avoiding the issue until after the election. But Jack Iannantuono, a Lehigh Valley COMPASS member who ran for U.S. Senate in 1998 on the Libertarian ticket, said neither party is taking seriously Social Security's long-term financial problems. "It could be that people just don't want to deal with difficult issues, and this is a difficult issue to understand, let alone solve," Iannantuono said.

10/03/2002
Sitting on the Dock of the Bay
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Press Release

Sitting on the Dock of the Bay

Today, international trade is at a standstill in 29 ports across the Western United States. Normally bustling docks are quiet, as cargo ships stack up offshore in the Pacific Ocean.

10/02/2002
Texas CSE Director Peggy Venable to Greet Sawgrass Convoy
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Press Release

Texas CSE Director Peggy Venable to Greet Sawgrass Convoy

In what promises to be its biggest rally yet, The Sawgrass Rebellion convoy rolls into the Fort Worth area for an October 12 stop at the Saginaw, TX, Train & Grain Festival. Texas CSE state director Peggy Venable and other CSE members will join the grassroots organization, Citizens Against Forced Annexation, in supporting the convoy as it crosses the country to educate citizens and show solidarity with property owners in the Everglades area of south Florida.

10/01/2002
What’s in a Name?
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Press Release

What’s in a Name?

If, as The Washington Post reports, Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill plans to send a tax reform proposal to President Bush before the end of the year, now is the time to set the record straight on what “tax reform” means and why it is necessary.

10/01/2002
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
Torch the Code
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Press Release

Torch the Code

I think it is wrong to kick a man when he’s down. But don’t think for one minute that Robert Torricelli is down. He may not be running for reelection anymore, but he has no plans to leave politics. Instead, politics will now just become more lucrative for him– most likely as a million-dollar-a-year lobbyist for special interests. That sum is on top of the $52,500 annual pension taxpayers will provide for the rest of his life for his honorable service to the country.

10/01/2002
Bureaucratic Insecurity vs. Homeland Security
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Press Release

Bureaucratic Insecurity vs. Homeland Security

With elections just around the corner, Washington is providing a prime example of how politics rather than policy drives legislation. Beleaguered efforts to create the new Homeland Security Department have bogged down in partisan disputes over labor relations in the federal government, with terrorism taking a back seat to old-fashioned special interest politics. President Bush has vowed to veto any bill that hamstrings the new agency. On the other hand, Senate Democrats, who face a tight race to maintain control of the Senate, are seeking opportunities to shore up union support in the Homeland Security bill.

10/01/2002
Boosting the Bench
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Boosting the Bench

BY Terry Carter

In a June 25 letter to business leaders, Andrew E. Dochrel, president of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, promised to take the "positive and informative" high road in the upcoming elections for the state supreme court. The letter was something of a mca culpa, though Doehrel did not blame himself and didn't exactly apologize for what happened in the 2000 election campaigns. He did point out that he had just fired the chamber's media consultant who had helped craft controversial ads targeting a sitting justice in 2000. But he continued to defend the need for the spots: "The criticism of the campaign's methods unfortunately overshadowed the campaign's important messages about the negative impact of an excessively activist supreme court on Ohio's economy." Indeed, some political analysts say the chamber's campaign backfired through its own nastiness, guaranteeing a loss for its choice. And during the two years since, as the vicious 2000 judicial election cycle around the country has been parsed and studied, criticism has continued to cascade over those television ads in particular. They targeted Justice Alice Resnick and featured Lady Justice peeking from her blindfold to watch piles of money from trial lawyers and unions tip her scales. A voiccover asked: "Alice Resnick. Is justice for sale?" Apparently the Ohio chamber thought so. It spent $ 4 million trying to replace her with someone it considered pro-business, with help from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Resnick had written a 1999 opinion that struck down the state's tort reform law. But wait--as TV ads sometimes blare--there's more. At the same time, the neighboring Michigan Chamber of Commerce ran radio and newspaper ads in Ohio urging businesses to relocate to Michigan because its supreme court and "fair laws" have created a "healthy economic environment." As this November's elections near, the question in several states that have become the proving grounds for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's new war on lawyers is: What's the chamber going to do this time? Will its chutzpah and cash be matched by trial lawyers or other public interest groups?

10/01/2002

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