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National Debt Overkill
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Press Release

National Debt Overkill

As published in The Washington Times, May 18, 2001 An important new white paper on the economy by Jack Kemp, published by Empower.org, should be must reading for all Americans.

05/18/2001
Real Debt Relief: Paying Back The American Taxpayer Should Be Job One
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Real Debt Relief: Paying Back The American Taxpayer Should Be Job One

BY James C. Miller III

For nearly three decades, annual outlays of the U.S. government exceeded annual receipts, and the federal debt rose steadily - until 1998. Since then, the federal government has run significant annual surpluses. Paying off a major portion of the debt within a decade appears not only feasible but altogether likely. This presents a set of questions heretofore not addressed. For example, what proportion of the national debt could be paid off without incurring unreasonable costs? At present, the public debt is $ 3.4 trillion. Even if the Treasury Department were to end the Savings Bond program, the state and local series, and other such programs, as well as suspended the issuance of longer-term debt, some $ 500 billion would mature after 2011. To pay down more, Treasury would have to engage in very aggressive "buy-back" strategies, and these can be costly. Using more reasonable assumptions about policy and economics, the Office of Management and Budget and the Congressional Budget Office project that roughly $ 1 trillion would be unavailable for redemption in 2011 - a concept Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan recently labeled the "irreducible minimum." Even assuming you could pay off the national debt, it would not make sense to end the program completely. First, the federal government needs to borrow in order to cope with month-to-month variances in receipts and outlays. Furthermore, it needs the ability to borrow on a substantial scale if circumstances demanded it. How much debt it would be prudent to pay down and whether to end the program forever are matters over which experts can endlessly disagree. But the more vital issue is what the federal government might do with this surplus once the debt was paid down to this "irreducible minimum." There are really no good answers to this question. The federal government could place these hundreds of billions, or even trillions, of dollars in bank accounts. The government presently maintains bank accounts in order to facilitate thousands of transactions each and every day. But it doesn't load up these accounts with massive balances, nor should it. Purchasing assets appears the obvious answer. But as Chairman Greenspan has cautioned, "It would be exceptionally difficult to insulate the government's investment decisions from political pressures." Moreover, disposing of such huge surpluses in this fashion would mean government controlling or outright owning substantial portions of the U.S. economy. Under CBO's and OMB's base lines, more than $ 3 trillion in such "excess surpluses or excess cash" are projected by 2011. If all were invested in equities, the U.S. government would be able to control roughly 10 percent of the total stock market in 2011. The prospects for harmful effects on economic efficiency, not to mention the potential for political chicanery, are chilling. If surpluses were to continue after the debt was retired, another course would be to create a system of personal investment accounts. These could be for the purpose of augmenting individuals' retirement accounts, health care coverage or even promoting other worthy goals like education. In effect, the government would be forcing people to pay according to the canons of the tax code and then guiding them in their purchase decisions. Our choice would be between creeping communism and creeping socialism! But the question has to be asked: Why run a surplus once the debt is paid? Why should the U.S. government, not to mention the American taxpayer, be put in such a bind? What reason is there for the government to accumulate substantial cash balances? It could create some sort of "rainy day fund," as some states have done. But surely the kind of balances we are talking about far exceed any reasonable need along those lines. Moreover, the "rainy day" device is not so important for the national government, which is subject to far less swings in revenues and outlays, and which has a much easier time of issuing debt if warranted. The obvious answer is to phase out the surplus in a thoughtful and cost-effective manner. As Chairman Greenspan recently testified, "it is far better . that the surpluses be lowered by tax reductions than by spending increases." In fact, to avoid a return to deficits, Congress and the president must take action to lower spending in the future. As for the debt, it should be placed on a glide path to reach the "irreducible minimum," and the remaining surplus should be returned to whom it belongs - the American taxpayer. James Miller is a former director of the Office of Management and Budget. He is now counselor to Citizens for a Sound Economy Foundation, a market-oriented research and education organization in Washington, D.C.

05/17/2001
Tech Bytes- Tid Bits in Tech News: Bundling Redux
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Press Release

Tech Bytes- Tid Bits in Tech News: Bundling Redux

Although still five months from its scheduled ship date, Microsoft’s latest version of Windows has re-ignited the “tying” controversy that precipitated the antitrust case currently on appeal. However, this time Microsoft is not accused of leveraging its operating system “monopoly” to force consumers to accept other products. Instead, rivals contend that Microsoft is using the popularity of its Media Player to encourage consumers to upgrade to Windows XP.

05/17/2001
Alabama CSE Day at the Capitol: 150 Alabama CSE Activists Call for Choice and Competition For Prescription Drugs
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Press Release

Alabama CSE Day at the Capitol: 150 Alabama CSE Activists Call for Choice and Competition For Prescription Drugs

Montgomery, AL - In states across the country, CSE state chapters have brought grassroots activists to their respective capitols to lobby their legislators on core CSE issues such as tax-cuts, prescription drugs, the environment, technology issues, and tort reform. Alabama CSE was the sixth CSE state chapter to conduct its CSE Day at the Capitol in Montgomery, AL. Over 150 grassroots activists were bussed in from around the state in order to let their legislators know that they wanted less government, less taxes and more freedom.

05/17/2001
Issue Analysis 118 - The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge: To Drill or Not to Drill?
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Issue Analysis

Issue Analysis 118 - The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge: To Drill or Not to Drill?

Oil exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) has become one of the most politically contentious provisions of the debate over national energy policy. Assessments show that there are likely to be significant quantities of oil in ANWR and that this could add appreciably to domestic supplies. However, recovering this oil is certain to have impacts on the region’s environment. The question for policymakers is whether these environmental impacts are so significant that they should preclude all exploration and production, or whether they are minimal and manageable.

05/17/2001
Government Urged Not to Ignore -and to Value Fairly -Interests of U.S. Consumers, Workers as Canadian Lumber Trade Restr…
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Government Urged Not to Ignore -and to Value Fairly -Interests of U.S. Consumers, Workers as Canadian Lumber Trade Restr…

Even though the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) today voted to allow countervailing duty and antidumping petitions on Canadian softwood lumber imports into the U.S. to move forward, the concerns of millions of American consumers and workers must be the primary concern as the U.S. government deals with antidumping and countervailing duty issues in the coming months, said the American Consumers for Affordable Homes (ACAH), a 15-member alliance representing consumer groups, home builders and lumber dealers. "We are confident that in the long run the concerns of American consumers and more than 6 million U.S. workers in the homebuilding and related sectors will be considered," said Susan Petniunas, ACAH spokesperson. "If they are fairly evaluated, any attempts to impose future trade restraints on Canadian softwood lumber will end, and there will be free trade between our two countries for these products. Today's decision to continue the investigations is unfortunate." Two days after the U.S./Canada Softwood Lumber Agreement (SLA) expired on March 31, the Coalition for Fair Lumber Imports, a Washington, D.C.-based lobbying firm representing some U.S. lumber producers, filed countervailing duty and antidumping petitions. If the orders are imposed, they would result in a hidden tax on lumber amounting to up to 78 percent. Today's preliminary action by the ITC allows the investigations to move forward and receive further consideration by the Department of Commerce and the International Trade Commission (in the final phase of the Commission's injury investigation). "U.S. trade law sets a very low threshold for cases to move on to the next phase of consideration. While we are disappointed with the outcome, it was not unanticipated," Petniunas said. "We believe that it was a wrong decision, however." "The expiration of the SLA was a tremendous boost to the interests of American consumers and workers," said Petniunas. "It's essential that those interests are fairly evaluated and receive due consideration as this case moves forward." If orders are imposed, they could raise the cost of a typical new home by $2,000-$4,000, according to the ACAH. U. S. Census Bureau calculations indicate that an increase of this magnitude could drive nearly 1.2 million households out of the housing market each year. "Such action would have the most severe impact on the young, the elderly, and the less-wealthy," said Petniunas. "These people are likely to be deprived of the American dream of home ownership if these petitions are upheld." ACAH also explained that the investigations could impact thousands of American jobs. "U.S. workers who use softwood lumber in their employment outnumber those in the United States who supply lumber by 25 to 1," Petniunas said. "Placing a duty or tax on softwood lumber coming into the United States will negatively impact these workers and their families." In addition to the damage such results would have on individuals, enactment is likely to harm the national economy. "Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan recently testified before the Senate Finance Committee that slowing economic growth could spawn protectionist measures in the form of countervailing and antidumping suits that are 'unwise and surely self-defeating,'" said Petniunas. "The ITC in its final ruling and the Commerce Department will serve the interests of U.S. consumers, workers, and the national economy by rejecting the protectionist arguments in these petitions," Petniunas predicted. ACAH members include CHEP USA, Citizens for a Sound Economy, Consumers for World Trade, 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.

05/16/2001
FINDING THE ENERGY TO SAVE THE ECONOMY
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FINDING THE ENERGY TO SAVE THE ECONOMY

BY DAVID LIGHTMAN

In many ways, the key to avoiding a full-blown energy crisis is to keep the public confident about the economy and willing to spend. But that won't necessarily ease the immediate concerns of increasingly rattled consumers watching the increasing prices at the gas pump and worrying whether they'll be able to turn on their air conditioners this summer.

05/16/2001
Buck Buchanan–Influential Member of the State Finance Committee–Signs Petition Opposing the Lottery!
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Press Release

Buck Buchanan–Influential Member of the State Finance Committee–Signs Petition Opposing the Lottery!

State Representative Charles “Buck” Buchanan signed North Carolina Citizens for a Sound Economy’s (CSE) petition opposing a state sponsored lottery. Buchanan, a powerful member of the state Finance Committee, is an eighth term Republican representing Avery, Burke, Caldwell, Catawba and Mitchell counties in the General Assembly. Buchanan adding his name to a growing list of General Assembly members who oppose a lottery is a powerful blow to the politicians’ and gambling companies’ dream of implementing a government-run lottery in North Carolina.

05/16/2001
Issue Number 9- Lottery May Hurt Retailers
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Press Release

Issue Number 9- Lottery May Hurt Retailers

North Carolina Citizens for a Sound Economy today released Issue Number 9 of its ongoing effort to educate elected officials and citizens on why a government-run lottery is bad business and public policy. The Lottery is not a gift to retailers! The reality it would leave convenient store owners in debt!

05/16/2001
Grassroots Activists Launch Efforts for Sound Energy Policy
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Press Release

Grassroots Activists Launch Efforts for Sound Energy Policy

On May 15, 2001, Alabama Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE) held its third annual Alabama “CSE Day at the Capitol.” This was the first of many events throughout the country urging elected officials to support a sound energy policy and the Bush tax cut, among many other things. Paul Beckner, president of CSE, issued the following statement today regarding the grassroots rally in Alabama:

05/16/2001

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