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The Coalition for Asbestos Reform Challenges Supporters of FAIR Act
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Newspaper Article

The Coalition for Asbestos Reform Challenges Supporters of FAIR Act

BY The Coalition for Asbestos Reform

WASHINGTON - The Coalition for Asbestos Reform (C.A.R.) today responded to the press conference held by Senators Specter and Leahy, in which they struggled to demonstrate support for S.852 the Asbestos Trust Fund bill. "We were struck more by who wasn't at this rally, than by who was," said Thomas O'Brien, Chairman of C.A.R. "Glaringly absent were the major corporations who helped draft this bill and stand to reap billions of dollars in benefits if it is enacted. Where was USG, a company that just this week revealed that the bill is worth $3 billion to them?"

02/03/2006
Publicly-Subsidized Convention Center Hotels Risky Business
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Publicly-Subsidized Convention Center Hotels Risky Business

What? Citizens for a Sound Economy, the national conservative think tank and grassroots organization is set to announce the findings of The Source Strategies study showing that Dallas' proposed convention center hotel is not financially viable and will not increase local demand. The Dallas Taxpayers' Rights Coalition is a non-partisan coalition of citizens and local businesses opposed to the City's proposal to build a tax-subsidized, 1,200 room hotel adjacent to the Dallas Convention Center. The Coalition contributed to Citizens for a Sound Economy's commissioned feasibility study for the hotel. When? 10 a.m., Wednesday, March 5th, 2003 Where? The Adam's Mark 400 North Olive Street Room: Lone Star A4 Who? Peggy Venable, Director, Citizens for a Sound Economy-Texas Bruce Walker, President, Source Strategies Tara Ross, Spokesperson, Dallas Taxpayers' Rights Coalition Steve Hollern, Chairman, Citizens for Taxpayers' Rights-Fort Worth CONTACT: Sarah Wright, +1-214-871-8888, for Citizens for a Sound Economy. SOURCE Citizens for a Sound Economy

03/04/2003
A Look at Reaction to State of the State Address
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A Look at Reaction to State of the State Address

Quotes from legislators and others after Gov. Rick Perry's State of the State address on Tuesday: "He has a new view from the top. ... We are rebuilding the engine and we are starting from zero." - Sen. Florence Shapiro, R-Plano. "It's unfortunate that it took a month of pressure for the governor to propose cuts. One-fifth of the session is over, OK here's what he wants to cut. Now it'll take us a while to digest that. I think any proposal he makes is a good one, because he hasn't made one before today." - Rep. Jim Dunnam, D-Waco, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus. "We'll reach a consensus on what are essential services and then at the end of the day we'll balance the budget because I believe we share the governor's commitment to balancing our budget, maintaining essential services and not raising new taxes." - Republican Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. "The governor's recommendations seemed to be a little hard in their hits on higher education. But again, we're going to look very carefully at this during our budget process." - Dewhurst. "We will consider every recommendation as is on the table. But for every recommendation that is made, we will not only look at it seriously but also raise questions about the impact. ... We don't want to be penny wise and pound foolish." - Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo. "Job creation is important and I support his efforts to bring jobs to Texas. But if we want to reap the benefits of economic security and fiscal responsibility we must first invest in the health and education of our children." - Rep. Pete Gallego, D-Alpine, chairman of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus. "I agree with the governor's comment that there is no clear solution currently on the table regarding school finance. That is why many of the members from both parties are wary of doing away with our school funding without an existing alternative." - Gallego. "Gov. Perry talked to families when he vowed to set spending priorities and live within the available funds, just as families are doing." - Peggy Venable, director of Texas Citizens for a Sound Economy. "We view the governor's message as a positive sign that he will follow through on his promise not to cut education funding, and in fact plans to increase spending on our students. We are pleased that, despite the budget shortfall, the governor recognizes that education is the greatest investment we can make in the prosperity of Texas." - Doug Rogers, executive director of the Association of Texas Professional Educators. "Governor Perry is to be commended for making access to affordable health care for all Texans a priority. ... The Legislature must put the brakes on out-of-control health care lawsuit abuse and skyrocketing malpractice premiums." - Kirsten Voinis, spokeswoman for Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse of Central Texas. "Perry is acting on the will of the people, the pleas of the small business owner and the demands of the state by balancing a budget that some say is impossible to reconcile without raising taxes. ... It's time to take a hard look at every dollar the state spends just like every Texas family." - Bill Hammond, president of the Texas Association of Business. "I'm afraid you're looking at denying people health care." - Scott McCown, executive director of the Center for Public Policy Priorities.

02/13/2003
President Bush Announced His Intention to Nominate Four and Appoint Three to Serve in His Administration
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President Bush Announced His Intention to Nominate Four and Appoint Three to Serve in His Administration

The following is an announcement by President Bush: THE WHITE HOUSE Office of the Press Secretary President George W. Bush today announced his intention to nominate four individuals and appoint three individuals to serve in his administration The President intends to nominate Dee Ann McWilliams of Texas, to be Assistant Secretary for Public and Intergovernmental Affairs at the Department of Veterans Affairs. As an active member of the U.S. Army, Major General McWilliams is currently the Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel and Installation Management for the U.S. Army in Europe and the Seventh Army. Previously she was the Director of Military Personnel Management with the Department of the Army. She was awarded the U.S. Army Distinguished Service Medal for her service. Major General McWilliams earned both her bachelor's and master's degrees from the Steven F. Austin University. She went on to earn a second master's degree in national security strategy from the National Defense University. The President intends to nominate Joseph Robert Goeke of Illinois, to be a Judge of the United States Tax Court for a term of 15 years. He is currently a partner at the law firm of Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw, where he has practiced tax litigation since 1988. From 1980 until 1988, Mr. Goeke worked in the Chief Counsel's Office at the Internal Revenue Service. He began his service at the I.R.S. as a trial attorney, moved up to senior trial attorney, and eventually became a special international trial attorney. Mr. Goeke is a graduate of Xavier University and he earned his J.D. from the University of Kentucky. The President intends to nominate Ricardo H. Hinojosa of Texas, to be a Member of the United States Sentencing Commission for a term of six years. Judge Hinojosa has served on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas since 1983. He is also currently an Adjunct Professor at South Texas Law School. He graduated with honors from the University of Texas at Austin, and earned his law degree from Harvard Law School. The President intends to nominate Michael E. Horowitz of Maryland, to be a Member of the United States Sentencing Commission for a term of six years. Mr. Horowitz is currently a partner with the law firm of Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft. Previously, he served as Chief of Staff and Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. Earlier in his career, he served in various posts at the U.S. Attorney's Office in New York, including Chief of the Public Corruption Unit and Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division. He graduated with honors from Brandeis University and earned his law degree from Harvard Law School. The President intends to appoint Eric Steven Lander of Massachusetts, to be a Member of the National Cancer Advisory Board for the remainder of a six year term, expiring March 3, 2006. Dr. Lander, a geneticist, molecular biologist, and mathematician, is a member of the Whitehead Institute and the founder and director of the Whitehead Institute ? M.I.T. Center for Genome Research. He is also a professor of biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In addition to his work in biology, he was an assistant and associate professor of managerial economics at the Harvard Business School from 1981 until 1990. He earned his bachelor's degree in mathematics from Princeton University and his Ph.D. in mathematics from Oxford University. The President intends to appoint the following individuals to be Members of the Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations for two-year terms: James Philip Hoffa, General President of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Paul Norman Beckner, President and CEO of Citizens for a Sound Economy SOURCE White House Press Office

01/15/2003
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…

- Current 27 percent countervailing and antidumping duties harm consumers and have a negative impact on housing affordability in the U.S. - Canada urged to continue - not suspend or drop - appeals at WTO and NAFTA panels as an opportunity to win free trade in lumber - Consumer, lumber users' opinions should be considered by Commerce Department WASHINGTON, Jan. 8 /PRNewswire/ -- 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. SOURCE American Consumers for Affordable Homes

01/08/2003
New Energy Study Downplays Efficiency Gains
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New Energy Study Downplays Efficiency Gains

Absent a prolonged drop in Americans' living standards, America will still need significant new supplies of energy to fuel its growing economy regardless of conservation efforts, says a new study by the Citizens for a Sound Economy Foundation (CSE), a grassroots advocacy and education organization dedicated to economic freedom. "Abundant Energy: The Building Block of Prosperity" rebuts the claim that America can avoid developing new sources of energy and modernizing its energy transmission infrastructure simply by relying on improved efficiency and conservation. In the entire post-war period from 1949, the CSE study observed that the U.S. economy reduced its energy intensity substantially -- cutting the amount of BTUs consumed per dollar of GDP virtually in half. But during the same period, demand for energy tripled nevertheless, largely because of strong economic growth. "Without the tripling of energy supplies, the strong economic growth that has made the U.S. the most powerful economy in history would not have been possible," conclude CSE analysts. Alliance spokesman Bruce Josten, Executive Vice President for Government Affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said the study confirms an important point often missing in the energy debate. He noted that history and technological advances have shown that the U.S. can increase conservation and still grow its economy. But, he said, "We can't meet our energy demand through conservation alone, unless we halt economic progress, and I think most Americans would reject that approach." CSE also finds that "energy efficiency" is often misunderstood when used interchangeably with conservation. "Using less energy is efficient only if the cost of the resources needed to replace energy use is lower than the cost of the energy that is 'saved'," observes the study. For example, a household appliance may seem more efficient by using less energy, but may actually require a net increase in energy to produce, and is therefore less efficient than the product replaced. The Alliance for Energy and Economic Growth represents more than 550 energy users, ranging from small, independent businesses to the nation's largest manufacturers, as well as companies that generate and distribute energy from a diverse mix of sources -- including natural gas, oil, coal and nuclear energy -- supplying millions of households and workplaces.

01/01/2003
Conservative and Free Market Groups Call FTC Do-Not-Call Registry Bad Economic Policy;
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Conservative and Free Market Groups Call FTC Do-Not-Call Registry Bad Economic Policy;

In anticipation of the expected announcement today by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) of its proposal to create and monitor a nation wide "do not call" (DNC) list many national conservative and free market organizations have issued their protest, again, to the unprecedented steps of the federal agency. "Today's move by the FTC to go ahead with a national do-not-call list is just bad economic policy. Many businesses, particularly small businesses, and their employees are going to be negatively affected by this move. Congress and the Bush Administration should put a halt to this ill-advised policy," stated Darrell McKigney, President of the Small Business Survival Committee (SBSC). Many experts on state rights, privacy advocates, and heads of free market and conservative organizations have concerns about adding new regulations on the teleservices industry that will have a far reaching impact on small businesses, non profit organizations, and the general public. Seventeen groups signed on to a petition letter to President Bush in June of 2002 adamantly opposing the FTC's proposed DNC list. "While the 'do not call' proposal has become a topic of debate here in Washington, it is not evident that action by the Federal Trade Commission is necessary," stated Paul Beckner, president of Citizens for a Sound Economy. "The FTC's actions raise important questions about free speech and may harm consumers more than they would help them. "As numerous studies have demonstrated, direct business communication to consumers increases awareness of product alternatives, intensifies competition, and lowers prices. Furthermore, many private sector alternatives have developed to address concerns about unsolicited phone calls, including 'hassle-free' credit cards and caller id and call block features from telephone companies. New FTC regulations on commercial speech would not only harm the solicitors, but foreclose the market for private sector alternatives through the creation of a vast database that would compromise consumer privacy in the process." Duane Parde, executive director of the American Legislative Exchange Council, said, "There is absolutely no need for the federal government to enforce such frivolous regulations on to Americans when states are already implementing do-not-call lists, and the free market is providing solutions to block unwanted calls to consumers. The federal government is most assuredly not needed here." ALEC, CSE, and SBSC, represent three of the groups out of 17 that oppose this FTC ruling and signed on to a petition letter to President Bush in June, 2002, urging the President to withdrawal this FTC initiative immediately. Copies of the petition letter available upon request. CONTACT: Stella Harrison, +1-202-431-6461, or stella@stellarstrategies.net, for the Small Business Survival Committee. MAKE YOUR OPINION COUNT - Click Here http://tbutton.prnewswire.com/prn/11690X26314665 SOURCE Small Business Survival Committee

12/18/2002
Trade Commission Urged to Focus on Consumers in Taking Action Related to Duties on Canadian Softwood Lumber
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Trade Commission Urged to Focus on Consumers in Taking Action Related to Duties on Canadian Softwood Lumber

- Senate Finance Committee asks ITC to examine building component industry competitiveness, effect of tariffs and other border measures on U.S. home building industry and homebuyers - Hidden federally imposed 27 percent sales tax through duties imposed on lumber from Canada places undue burden on new homebuyers, other users of lumber WASHINGTON, Dec. 5 /PRNewswire/ -- American Consumers for Affordable Homes (ACAH) today called on the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) to focus on how border taxes, quotas, price controls and other trade distorting measures, particularly the 27 percent duties recently imposed on Canadian lumber imports, are hurting consumers. The ITC today held hearings on the competitiveness of the U.S. structural building components industry, which includes structural beams, arches, trusses and other wood products needed for home construction. In response to a request for this assessment by Senators Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and the Senate Finance Committee, the ITC has surveyed home builders, lumber dealers and other interested parties on the market for U.S. wood for structural building components and non-wood substitutes, and its impact on U.S. production and housing construction. The Senate request for the study was issued under Section 332 of the Tariff Act of 1930. In connection with the study, Senators Baucus and Grassley also directed the ITC to examine the effect of tariffs and other border measures on the domestic home building industry and U.S. homebuyers. The most significant of these is the 27 percent countervailing and anti-dumping duties on Canadian lumber imports imposed by the U.S. Commerce Department last spring "While we believe this study can provide useful information about lumber users, we hope that the ITC also will take into consideration the burden placed on consumers forced to pay the 27 percent duties on Canadian lumber imports," said Susan Petniunas, ACAH spokesperson. "The impacts are not just on lumber users; the current duties amount to a federally imposed sales tax on new home construction, remodeling and other applications for lumber. It is a tax on home buyers and home owners." Petniunas pointed out that even though current lumber costs have dropped, the duties add to the instability and volatility of the housing market. "Without trade-distorting border taxes or other interferences such as quotas, the cost of lumber would be dictated by the free market, allowing for longer term stability," she added. "Removal of border taxes benefits lumber dealers, home builders and, ultimately, consumers and the economy." The review is a new and separate action from the countervailing and anti-dumping duty investigation conducted by the Department of Commerce and the ITC earlier this year. Following the investigation, the Senate Finance Committee will receive a report next April on the impact of imports on the domestic users of lumber, including homebuilders, lumber dealers, and manufactures of building components. The investigation also gives the ITC an opportunity to assess the true impact of the 27 percent tariffs on U.S. consumers. According to Petniunas, these duties are particularly devastating for consumers because the U.S. cannot produce sufficient lumber to meet its needs. Approximately one-third of its lumber for building homes must come from imports, primarily from Canada. "The 27 percent countervailing and anti-dumping duties imposed on finished lumber for framing homes and remodeling, can 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." The impact on workers in the building trades and lumber-using jobs is another important factor that the ITC should consider in its investigation. Approximately six million U.S. workers are involved in lumber-using businesses, including homebuilders, remodelers, lumber dealers, and such industries as window, pallet and bed makers. "Workers associated with the consumers of lumber outnumber lumber-producing workers by 25 to 1 in the United States," Petniunas said. More than 100 members of the U.S. House and Senate have signed resolutions or written letters to President Bush over the past year, indicating their support for free trade in lumber, and urging no new taxes or penalties on consumers. This past summer, the World Trade Organization found that the Department of Commerce action imposing preliminary countervailing duties more than a year ago on Canadian softwood lumber imports was contrary to U.S. obligations under U.S. trade rules and should be overturned. Similar WTO challenges have been made by Canada on the final countervailing and anti-dumping duties imposed last spring. Challenges to the U.S. tariffs are also pending before dispute panels convened under the North American Free Trade Agreement. ACAH is an informal alliance opposed to any border measures or quotas on Canadian lumber imports Its members, who represent more than 95 percent of the domestic consumption of lumber, 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.

12/05/2002
U.S. Consumer Groups Call Weyerhaeuser Proposal to Tax U.S. Lumber Consumers Up to 25 Percent 'The Wrong Idea At The Wro…
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U.S. Consumer Groups Call Weyerhaeuser Proposal to Tax U.S. Lumber Consumers Up to 25 Percent 'The Wrong Idea At The Wro…

An alliance of American Consumers for Affordable Homes (ACAH), formed to oppose continued quotas or taxes on softwood lumber imports from Canada, today called a proposal from Steven R. Rogel, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Weyerhaeuser, the wrong idea at the wrong time. Rogel has proposed that the Canadian government impose a border tax of as much as 25 percent on lumber going into the U.S. Currently, the U.S. is imposing countervailing and antidumping duties of 27 percent on imports, which were implemented last May. "This is a wrong idea at the wrong time," said Susan Petniunas, spokesperson for ACAH. "Canada has won its cases several times in the past in the World Trade Organization (WTO) and under the North American Free Trade Agreement, and has already had significant victories this time. We believe that Canada will win again, and that it should pursue free trade and open markets in lumber between the U.S. and Canada." "ACAH believes that if the cases are handled expeditiously in the WTO and NAFTA, decisions should be announced within the next several months, possibly as early as February or March from NAFTA," Petniunas said. "If there are no appeals to drag the process out, a resolution to this lumber war can be achieved," Petniunas added. Because there are not enough trees available to produce lumber for home building in the U.S., Canadian lumber imports are absolutely vital for the construction of affordable new homes and to make improvements on existing homes in America. The U.S. relies on Canada and other sources for approximately a third of the lumber it needs. Led by International Paper, Potlatch, Plum Creek, Sierra Pacific, Temple Inland and southern landowners, the Coalition for Fair Lumber Imports filed petitions with the U.S. Commerce Department more than a year ago alleging that domestic lumber producers had been harmed by Canadian softwood lumber imports and asking for countervailing and antidumping duties. The International Trade Commission approved the Commerce Department's action, and duties were imposed at the end of May. More than 110 members of the U.S. House and Senate have signed resolutions or have written letters to President Bush over the past year opposing duties and indicating their support for free trade in lumber between the U.S. and Canada. Workers in the lumber consuming business outnumber jobs in lumber production 25-1. The 27 percent duties already in place could add as much as $1,000 to the cost of a new home, and price as many as 300,000 families out of the housing market. ACAH has opposed those taxes. ACAH members represent more than 95 percent of the lumber consumption in the U.S. Members include American Homeowners Grassroots Alliance, Catamount Pellet Fuel Corporation, CHEP International, Citizens for a Sound Economy, Consumers for World Trade, Fremont Forest Group Corporation, Free Trade Lumber Council, 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.

11/20/2002
Congressional Resolutions Urge Bush: End 27 Percent Federal Tax On Canadian Lumber Imports Essential for Homes, Other Uses
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Congressional Resolutions Urge Bush: End 27 Percent Federal Tax On Canadian Lumber Imports Essential for Homes, Other Uses

- Consumers get stuck paying the bill while large U.S. forest companies pocket profits - Congress, Senate members seek free lumber trade, competitive North American market WASHINGTON, Oct. 16 /PRNewswire/ -- Congressmen Jim Kolbe (R-AZ) and Steny H. Hoyer (D-MD) have introduced an updated concurrent resolution calling on President George W. Bush to pursue discussions with the Canadian Government to "promote open trade between the United States and Canada on softwood lumber, free of trade restraints that harm consumers." The resolution aims to: * ensure a competitive North American market for softwood lumber; * ensure free trade regarding softwood lumber between the U.S. and Canada; * ensure all stakeholders are included in trade discussions of softwood lumber, a reference that specifically includes consumers who ultimately pay the increased costs of protectionist tariffs; * and calls for a fair and expeditious review by independent World Trade Organization (WTO) and North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) panels. It also urges the U.S. government to abide by the decisions of these international trade agreements to which the U.S. has subscribed. A similar resolution has been introduced in the Senate. The WTO found this summer that the Department of Commerce action imposing countervailing duties a year ago on Canadian softwood lumber imports should be overturned, and is in violation of international trade rules. The U.S. has also recently suffered a major set-back in the WTO when it ruled that the Byrd Amendment that allows the U.S Government to pay duties it collects to "injured" U.S. companies in a countervail dispute is also a violation of international trade rules. Similar WTO challenges have been made by Canada on the antidumping duties and other aspects of the long-standing trade dispute between Canada and the U.S. The House resolution, H. Con. Res. 454, similar to one introduced in the Senate (S. Con. Res. 135) in August and supported by 12 members of the Senate, asks the Bush Administration not to intervene to impede the current challenges by Canada in the WTO and North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to determine whether the U.S. countervailing and antidumping duties are legal under international trade rules. The resolutions ask that the process move expeditiously so that this issue can be resolved under international trade rules. "Softwood lumber is essential for building quality, affordable homes in the United States," said Cong. Hoyer. "Its price and availability have a major impact on the U.S. economy, workers and consumers. The U.S. home building industry employs approximately 6.5 million people." Hoyer noted that this compares to more than 25 jobs in the consumption of lumber for each job in U.S. forestry production. In May, the U.S. Commerce Department imposed massive countervailing and antidumping duties, equal to 27 percent of the product's volume, on softwood lumber. That decision was based solely on the hypothetical "threat of injury" with no proof of real injury to the U.S. forestry industry by Canadian imports. The duties are harming U.S. consumers, according to ACAH spokesperson Susan Petniunas. "The final 27 percent countervail and antidumping duties imposed last May on finished lumber for framing homes and remodeling, 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." Cong. Kolbe said that the duties "are penalizing home buyers and other U.S. lumber consumers. It is wrong to penalize consumers when there is no significant proof that there has been any damage to the U.S. industry by the Canadian imports. This dispute has been going on for more than 20 years. The U.S. consumer suffers, while the U.S. government and industry have never been able to prove that the imports harm our domestic industry." The duties are opposed by a broad-based alliance of consumer groups, trade organizations, and companies that represent more than 95 percent of U.S. softwood lumber consumption, American Consumers for Affordable Homes (ACAH). "The duties amount to a federally imposed 27 percent sales tax on first-time homebuyers and on seniors seeking to reduce home costs in retirement," said Petniunas. "Consumers' interests should be a major factor considered by the Administration, and we appreciate the members of the House and Senate urging President Bush to do so," Petniunas said. "These duties hurt our ability to provide affordable housing, and jobs within lumber consuming industries." Because there are not enough trees available to produce framing lumber for home building in the U.S., Canadian lumber imports are absolutely vital for the construction of affordable new homes, and to make improvements on existing homes in America. The U.S. relies on Canada and other sources for approximately 37 percent of the lumber it needs. Led by International Paper, Potlatch, Plum Creek, Sierra Pacific, Temple Inland and a group of southern landowners, the Coalition for Fair Lumber Imports filed petitions with the U.S. Commerce Department more than a year ago alleging that domestic lumber producers had been harmed by Canadian softwood lumber imports and asking for countervailing and antidumping duties. "Since 1981, some of the large U.S. producers and landowners have periodically charged Canada with subsidizing its lumber industry, and they have consistently lost when Canada has appealed preliminary decisions," Petniunas said. "The summer WTO ruling, that there is no illegal subsidy of lumber by Canada, continues to show that the U.S. actions are not based on the facts. We believe the Commerce Department will continue to get failing grades from on-going WTO and NAFTA reviews of their actions over the past year. The madness should end, and the administration should sue for free trade in lumber with Canada." Similar resolutions were introduced in the U.S. House and Senate last year and also in the last session of Congress urging free trade on Canadian lumber. H. Con. Res. 45 and S. Con. Res. 4 garnered more than 110 sponsors earlier in the session. Members of the U.S. House and Senate also have written letters to President Bush over the past three years opposing any trade restrictions on Canadian lumber and indicating their support for free trade in lumber between the U.S. and Canada. "It's time for our trade policy to reflect fairness to all of the stakeholders, including consumers, specifically in discussions about trade in lumber," said Sen. Don Nickles (R-OK), lead sponsor of the Senate resolution. American Consumers for Affordable Homes (ACAH) represents more than 95 percent of U.S. softwood consumption. 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. These industries employ more than 6.5 million workers, 25 to one when compared with those in the forestry industry. ACAH members include: American Homeowners Grassroots Alliance, Catamount Pellet Fuel Corporation, CHEP International, Citizens for a Sound Economy, Consumers for World Trade, Fremont Forest Group Corporation, Free Trade Lumber Council, 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.

10/16/2002

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