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CSE Activists Invited to Attend Sawgrass Event October 18 in Naples, Florida
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Press Release

CSE Activists Invited to Attend Sawgrass Event October 18 in Naples, Florida

CSE has been following one of the two Sawgrass Rebellion convoys, as it winds its way from Klamath Falls, Oregon, to Naples, Florida. The following was written based upon information provided by John Grasmeier of the Property Rights Action Committee in Naples. Yes folks, the Sawgrass Rebellion is moving forward. Convoys have moved across the country from Klamath Falls, Oregon, and London, Ohio, and are now approaching Florida.

10/15/2002
Where’s Your Plan?
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Press Release

Where’s Your Plan?

The 2002 mid-term elections take place in less than three weeks. And it appears the “Big Lie” strategy of the Liberals on Social Security has not worked. The partisan leaders of the Democrat party have utterly failed to make opposition to personal retirement accounts a winning issue.

10/15/2002
Tax Reform Specifics Required
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Tax Reform Specifics Required

BY Jason Thomas

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. Since his confirmation as Treasury secretary in early 2001, the current tax code has ranked as Mr. O'Neill's top pet peeve. With all of its carve-outs and exemptions for favored businesses, industries, and voting blocks, the tax code embodies the dark side of representative democracy. While much has been written about how much time and money individuals waste complying with the tax code, the age-old formula of concentrated benefits for a select few in exchange for broadly diffused costs has continued unabated. As such, the forms necessary to determine whether your political profile makes you worthy of special treatment have become more complex, to the tune of 44,000 pages of rules and regulations. Currently, the top 25 percent of income earners pay $5 out of every $6 in federal income taxes. A single male earning $50,000 living in a rented apartment can have a greater tax liability than a family of four that owns a house and has a combined income of more than $100,000. Corporations with special connections to legislators can pay nothing in federal taxes, while a business of similar size and revenues can pay tens of millions to the Treasury. The political process rewards readily identifiable voting segments, those who patronize party and candidates, and campaign contributors. Because of this, the tax code is an incomprehensible mess that mocks any notion of efficient tax collection. Economic growth is undermined as taxpayers invest inordinate amounts of time to comply with the tax and corporations take money that could go toward productive use, like employees, plant and equipment, to invest billions in lobbyists and lawyers to manipulate the tax code. Few people consider the tax code to be fair or relish the process through which they calculate their appropriate tax liability. But deductions for children, home mortgage interest payments, college tuition, and retirement investments are very tempting. Today's tax code is 8 times larger than it was just 50 years ago because of these provisions. In the 2000 election, there was a palpable friction between politicians who campaigned for new, targeted tax breaks to add further complications to the code and those who campaigned against the tax code itself. Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, received raucous applause for his oft-repeated line, "The current tax code is a 44,000-page catalog of favors for special interests and a chamber of horrors for the rest of America." Vice President Gore would warm up his audiences with talk of middle-class tax credits and special purpose deductions. The majority of the American electorate now seems to suffer from cognitive dissonance on taxes in that they want special carve-outs for themselves, but don't want to go through the hassle of complying with the tax regulations necessary to provide for such targeted tax relief. Seasoned politicians will recognize this dichotomy and take advantage of it by appropriating the name "tax reform" to policies that are anything but. Because it would be impractical to oppose "tax reform" in general, politicians will simply shift its meaning, or use modifiers like "family friendly" or "equitable" to describe their "tax reform" plans. Everyone will agree to "close loopholes," but one man's loophole will be another's "indispensable feature of our democracy," and the political-decision making process will produce essentially the same system as we have today. If Mr. O'Neill is serious when he speaks of fundamental tax reform and President Bush is willing to expend the political capital necessary to achieve such a lofty goal, the administration must take on the process by which tax law is produced as much as the tax law itself. To generate the necessary political support for genuine tax reform, with a single rate and few, if any, deductions, the administration must translate frustration with the tax code's size and complexity into disdain for the political process that produces it. The fundamental reform of the tax code is a Herculean task that few politicians would be brave enough to attempt. There will be few allies and an entire city of entrenched opponents. Treasury Secretary O'Neill must get the debate off on the right foot by making explicit what tax reform really means before the opposition renders the phrase meaningless.

10/15/2002
K Street: Chamber Is Coy on Campaign Effort
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K Street: Chamber Is Coy on Campaign Effort

Chamber Is Coy on Campaign Effort After publicly vowing earlier this year to raise and spend more than $30 million to help elect business-friendly candidates and push legal reform in the 2002 elections, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has become more tight-lipped about the effort. Chamber President Thomas Donohue stressed in an early-October address that the chamber "is committed to challenging the class-action trial lawyers on all fronts." But the Institute for Legal Reform- the chamber affiliate that runs the electoral project called the Litigation Fairness Campaign-declined to say how much was being spent on advertising and get-out-the-vote operations in judicial and attorney general races around the country, or for efforts to sway Congress into passing legislation on class-action reform, medical malpractice, and asbestos liability. "We're not discussing any plans whatsoever," Michael Schick, the institute's director of communications, told National Journal. Several sources familiar with the campaign, however, say that a joint fundraising drive by the chamber and the Business Roundtable has raised about $20 million so far. That's a smaller amount than was expected, though hardly a number to sneeze at. The money is being spent to bolster Supreme Court and attorney general candidates in Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Mississippi, and Texas, sources said. Judicial candidates in a few other states such as Ohio and Wisconsin may also get some help. The campaign is now being coordinated in part by Stanton Anderson, a partner at McDermott, Will & Emery who has worked in the past for Donohue and the chamber. Anderson came aboard after Jim Wootton decided recently that he would step down as the institute's president after Election Day. Wootton is still actively involved, sources said, but not quite as much as he had previously. Wootton, a lawyer, is still considering options for the future, including moving to Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw, a law firm whose client list includes the chamber. Meanwhile, another pro-business group that played a role in judicial elections in 2000, Citizens for a Sound Economy, has pulled back from the judicial sphere this year. CSE says it is focusing instead on bolstering pro-business turnout in the Senate races in New Hampshire, North Carolina, and Texas. -Peter H. Stone and Louis Jacobson

10/12/2002
The Endangered Species Act Reform Project
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Press Release

The Endangered Species Act Reform Project

Dear Mr. Moshofsky,

10/11/2002
White House, Fed Must Tout Tax Cuts
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Press Release

White House, Fed Must Tout Tax Cuts

© 2002 Copley News Service, 10/10/2002 The economy is at a standstill and perhaps even headed for yet another contraction, with 43,000 jobs lost last month and stocks in the worst bear market in 30 years. Business investment fell an average of 4.1 percent in the first two quarters of this year, and current data indicate there is no investment recovery in sight during the second half of the year. Meanwhile, Congress, the administration and the Federal Reserve Board stand around in paralysis, each waiting for the other to act, all fearful of taking action themselves.

10/10/2002
They Simply Don’t Have a Plan
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Press Release

They Simply Don’t Have a Plan

Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE) President Paul Beckner challenged Democratic Congressional Leaders to either offer a specific fiscal and economic plan to get the economy moving, or to stop criticizing the President’s plan. “The President submitted a specific budget. House Republicans passed it. The Democrats don’t even have a budget blueprint. They simply don’t have a plan.

10/10/2002
FCC Rejects EchoStar Hughes: Et tu, Powell?
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Press Release

FCC Rejects EchoStar Hughes: Et tu, Powell?

Today, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted unanimously, 4-0, to block the merger of satellite operators EchoStar and Hughes Electronics. The merger would have created the nation’s largest multichannel programming provider, pending the outcome of the AT&T Broadband-Comcast merger. CSE filed comments earlier this year to urge the FCC to approve the merger. The following statement can be attributed to CSE Staff Economist Jason M. Thomas:

10/10/2002
Graham Is the Taxpayer's Champion
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Graham Is the Taxpayer's Champion

BY Barbara Cole

Does anyone think he is undertaxed? While many Democrats think so, U.S. Rep. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., knows that most of us are severely overtaxed. Mr. Graham knows that the only way to limit government and cut wasteful spending is to reduce the flow of money flooding into Washington. Furthermore, he also knows a free people and a prosperous economy are only possible when taxes are low. Mr. Graham's outspoken support for tax cuts is no election-year ploy, and no cheap trick to fool the electorate. Ever since his election to Congress in 1994, Mr. Graham has been leading the charge for lower, simpler taxes. For his efforts, he's been called a "taxpayer hero" by the National Taxpayers Union and a "friend of the taxpayer" by Citizens for a Sound Economy. To Mr. Graham, no federal tax program should be exempt from the knife. He supports cutting marginal income-tax rates and the capital gains tax. He favors eliminating the estate tax and the marriage penalty. He backs increasing both the Individual Retirement Account contribution limit and per-child tax credit. Many Democrats think Americans need to fork over more of their incomes to the tax man. They should set an example by voluntarily paying more on their returns -- though this is as likely as Osama bin Laden surrendering himself to federal authorities. The rest of us will do the right thing and make Lindsey Graham, the taxpayers' champion, our next U.S. senator.

10/10/2002
Social, and Political, Security
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Social, and Political, Security

BY Juliet Eilperin

It seems that every week another political debate erupts over the future of Social Security. Yesterday, it was the partial privatization of the retirement system that prompted a war of words, as two dueling groups are pushing to put lawmakers on the record before the Nov. 5 election. While Democratic congressional leaders are pressuring candidates to oppose creation of individual savings accounts, several GOP interest groups want them to support it, even though, in the face of a plummeting stock market, GOP strategists have quietly urged candidates to play down privatization. A new nonprofit group, Social Security Choice.Org, is launching a $ 500,000 advertising campaign to promote the accounts. Funded by groups including Americans for Tax Reform, Citizens for a Sound Economy, National Taxpayers Union and 60 Plus, it has already signed up 20 congressional candidates who back such a plan. President Bob Costello said the group was gearing up for next year's legislative fight over Social Security. But Democrats are not standing idly by. Yesterday, House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt (D-Mo.) attacked Costello's group on the floor by name, saying "a coalition of right-wing organizations" is having GOP candidates sign their pledge "in order to give them cover on the issue of privatizing Social Security." Gephardt and Senate Majority Leader Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.) will offer a counterpledge at a news conference today with the Campaign for America's Future. It, unsurprisingly, would commit candidates to oppose individual accounts. Gephardt called for a vote on privatization before leaving for the year. "Let's conduct a free and fair debate in the open, in the sunshine, in the public about the consequences that will be caused by the privatization of Social Security."

10/09/2002

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