Friday, January 30, 2009

Politicians Want to Use Tax Dollars to Crush Newer Model Trucks and SUVs; SEMA Warns Lawmakers That Boondoggle Will Cost American Jobs

/PRNewswire/ -- SEMA, the Specialty Equipment Market Association, is opposing an effort by some Washington lawmakers to include a national car crushing program in the upcoming economic stimulus package. Vehicles targeted for the scrap pile will likely include Chevy Blazers, Chevy Silverados, Chevy S-10s, Chevy Tahoes, Dodge Dakotas, Dodge Rams, Ford Explorers, Ford F-Series, Jeep Cherokees, Jeep Wranglers and any other SUV or truck that obtains less than 18 miles per gallon. Under the plan, the Federal government would pay a premium for 1999 and newer cars.

The so-called "Accelerated Retirement of Inefficient Vehicles Act" is cash-for-clunkers with a twist. Instead of focusing exclusively on old cars as is typical with scrappage programs, this bill will target any vehicle with lower fuel economy ratings. Participants will receive a cash voucher to purchase a more fuel-efficient new car or used car (MY 2004 or later) or receive credit for the purchase of public transportation tickets. Under the legislation, "fuel-efficient" means at least 25 percent better mileage than the CAFE standard. It will be illegal to resell the scrapped vehicles. Bill sponsors want to destroy four million pickups and SUVs over the next four years.

The program will fail to achieve its goal of improving fuel efficiency and stimulating car sales, but will increase unemployment and the cost of used cars and parts. Here's why:

-- Given the minimal $1,500-$4,500 voucher value, the program will lure
rarely-driven second and third vehicles that have minimal impact on
overall fuel economy and air pollution. This is not a wise investment
of tax dollars.
-- The program will reduce the number of vehicles available for
low-income individuals and drive up the cost of the remaining vehicles
and repair parts. This is a basic supply-and-demand reality.
-- The program will remove the opportunity to market specialty products
that are designed exclusively for the targeted pickups and SUVs,
including equipment that increases engine performance and fuel
mileage. Congress will be enacting a program to eliminate jobs and
reduce business revenues in the automotive aftermarket.
-- The idea that the trucks and SUVs must be scrapped in order to save
energy is irrational. The program's "carbon footprint" does not
factor in the amount of energy and natural resources expended in
manufacturing the existing car, spent scrapping it and manufacturing a
replacement car.
-- The program fails to acknowledge driver needs, such as the ability to
transport a family, tow a trailer or rely upon the performance, safety
and utility characteristics associated with the larger vehicles.
Instead, these vehicles will be destroyed.
-- There is no evidence that the program will achieve the goal of
boosting new car sales or increasing fuel mileage. Many states have
considered scrappage programs in the past as a way to help clean the
air or increase mpg, but abandoned the effort because they simply
don't work. The programs are not cost-effective and do not achieve
verifiable fuel economy or air quality benefits.
-- The program will hurt thousands of independent repair shops, auto
restorers, customizers and their customers across the country that
depend on the used car market. This industry provides thousands of
American jobs and generates millions of dollars in local, state and
federal tax revenues.

"Our members, like all business entities, are suffering the effects of the stalled economy," said Steve McDonald, SEMA's Vice President for Government Affairs. "In fact, for our members that market product for newer vehicles, we depend on a thriving and vibrant auto industry to create new business opportunities. We support efforts to spur new car sales. We don't, however, support public policy efforts that we are convinced don't work and will waste tax dollars in the process."

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Stimulus Bill Misses the Mark for Education

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- While a broad base of national educators, leaders and policymakers have agreed that the nation's education system requires fundamental operational changes, the federal government is poised to subsidize the systems that have failed American students, allowed them to fall behind their international counterparts and left a yawning achievement gap that sees barely 50 percent of African-American males graduating from high school.

"The achievement gap between white kids and most children of color is downright scary... alarmingly, as one study reveals, a growing number of the largest school districts are showing African-American male graduation rates of less than 40 percent. Across the country, the numbers are grim." - This according to Mandate for Change, a new monograph from the Center for Education Reform (CER) edited by Senior Fellow Samuel Casey Carter.

Unlike Washington's financial band-aid, CER's Mandate for Change offers a five-part cure for education in America that unites federal and state policies with substantive proposals for school improvement.

As another Mandate for Change contributor, former three-term governor of Michigan John M. Engler, makes clear, the problem starts with the public not having access to enough performance information about what we're getting for the money currently being spent before we even discuss whether more money can solve the system's ills. "If we can verify the quality of a product every step of the way as it moves along the manufacturing process, the education of our children deserves the same careful attention."

Journalist Richard Whitmire argues that without varied teacher compensation systems, there can be no improvement in teacher quality, writing, "Teachers should be hired, promoted, or fired based on their effectiveness in educating children. That simple formula, however - judging employees by the outcome of their efforts - although commonplace in the rest of society, remains elusive in the teaching profession... Effective teachers make a difference and the current system does next to nothing to reward effective teaching."

The proposed education aspect of the forthcoming federal stimulus package seeks to fund the continuance of all teachers' jobs, not ensure that our best and most effective teachers are rewarded for elevating the performance of the system as a whole.

"The stimulus package is supposed to be a tonic for the nation. Instead this may be just another quick infusion of cash to keep the status quo afloat. While teachers' unions, school districts and construction companies may benefit, this plan will not directly improve education for America's children. Money alone, not focused on student performance, will not improve the results," says Center for Education Reform president Jeanne Allen.

Economic Stimulus Package Would Place Social Security Trust Fund in Deficit for First Time Ever Next Year

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Congressional economic stimulus plan would place the Social Security Trust Fund into deficit for the first time ever next year, if the current economic stimulus package is passed by both Houses of Congress.

Social Security is funded by payroll taxes that employees and their employers pay into the system. Money that comes into the Social Security Trust Fund is used to pay the Social Security checks retirees receive each month, and since the creation of the Trust Fund in 1983, the program has always had more money coming in than going out.

However, that may change as soon as next year, due to a proposed refundable payroll tax credit which would offer workers a refund on their portion of Social Security taxes, meaning there would be insufficient cash to pay benefits. The $145.3 billion refundable payroll tax credit proposal would give individual workers up to $500 and couples up to $1,000.

According to the 2008 Social Security Trustees Report, the estimated surplus under "high cost," or bad economic conditions, is as follows:

Year Social Security Trust *Payroll Credit Costs,
Fund Projected Surplus Proposed Legislation
(Billions) (Billions)
2009 $54 $24
2010 $57 $80.8
2011 $43 $37
2012 $26
2013 $5

* Source: Joint Committee on Taxation

"A sufficiently funded Social Security Trust Fund is critical in ensuring that seniors don't have to endure benefits cuts," said Daniel O'Connell, chairman of The Senior Citizens League. "Although we recognize the economy is in bad shape, we don't think putting the Trust Fund into the red is a responsible response."

The Senior Citizens League is advocating for any decrease in payroll taxes to be taken from the general treasury, not the Social Security Trust Fund.

FAIR: Obama Rushing to Pass the Economic Stimulus Package While Delaying Vital Protections for American Workers

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- President Obama and top administration officials are actively pressuring Congress to pass an expensive economic stimulus package by mid-February, while quietly undermining an administrative rule that would protect American workers. The president has delayed, until May 21, the implementation of an executive order requiring all federal contractors to utilize the E-Verify program to ensure that all workers paid with taxpayer dollars are legally eligible to work in the U.S.

With the federal government poised to pump hundreds of billions of dollars into the economy to create new jobs, the Obama administration appears to be caving in to business and ethnic interest pressure groups to delay, or perhaps eliminate, this vital protection for U.S. workers. Former President George W. Bush issued the executive order last June requiring that companies doing business with the government guarantee that they are employing only eligible workers, effective Jan. 15, 2009. Before leaving office, Mr. Bush delayed implementation until Feb. 20.

"President Obama's single greatest domestic challenge is to get Americans back to work," said Dan Stein, president of FAIR, noting that some 12 million Americans are unemployed. "It defies all common sense to borrow vast sums of money to create new jobs without having a reliable system in place to make sure that American workers will be the ones to fill those jobs."

Amidst a global recession, a massive jobs creation program in the United States is likely to serve as a magnet drawing workers from around the world in search of employment. "E-Verify has proven to be the single most effective tool to protect American workers from losing jobs in their own country to illegal aliens," Stein said. "It is imperative that Congress reauthorize the program and that the administration require companies benefiting from the stimulus package to use the E-Verify system before the first borrowed dollar is spent.

"President Obama came to office promising change and an end to business as usual in Washington. Delaying implementation of an executive order requiring that government contractors hire only legal U.S. workers is a disappointing first gesture on the part of the new administration and one that the president should reconsider before signing any economic stimulus bill," Stein concluded.

TARP Inspector General Asked to Investigate Citigroup-Funded Caribbean Junket by Members of Congress

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today the National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) asked Neil M. Barofsky, the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), for a formal review of the sponsorship by Citigroup of a junket to the Caribbean by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel (D-NY) and five other members of Congress, a trip that violated House Rules.

The request comes in the wake of Citigroup's decision to scrap the purchase of a $50 million executive jet, and continuing questions about Citigroup's management.

The purported purpose of the Congressional trip was to attend the Caribbean Multi-Cultural Business Conference. The event took place November 6-9, 2008 on the sunny Caribbean island of St. Maarten at the Sonesta Maho Bay Resort & Casino, after Congress had approved the $700 billion bailout package in October.

The "lead sponsor" was Citigroup which contributed $100,000. Citigroup was certainly aware that it would be a major recipient of bailout funds. It was also aware that its fortunes had become increasingly reliant on Congressional actions. Citigroup should have also been aware that corporate sponsorship of such an event was banned by House Rules adopted on March 1, 2007, in response to the Abramoff scandal and the infamous golf trip to Scotland.

Taxpayers are now Citigroup's largest shareholder after infusions of $45 billion.

NLPC President Peter Flaherty attended the St. Maarten's event in order to document potential violations of law and House Rules. The sessions were lightly attended. The primary purpose of attending for most participants appeared to be to take a vacation.

In addition to Rangel, the other members of Congress who attended were Donald Payne (D-NJ), Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX), Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (D-MI), Bennie Thompson (D-MS) and Donna Christensen (D-VI).

The apparent violations of House Rules have already generated media attention. See "Shady Island 'House' Party: Pols's Trip to Caribbean Skirted Rules," New York Post, November 30, 2008, and "Caribbean Trip May Have Broken Rules," The Hill, January 28, 2009.

NLPC's Complaint reads, in part:

"When the TARP was presented to Congress, it was argued that the situation was dire, and that the failure of major financial institutions posed a systemic risk to our economy. The stated goal was to unfreeze credit so that banks can make loans to businesses and individuals. It was never contemplated that banks use their capital to buy influence on Capitol Hill by funding vacations for members of Congress."

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Economic Stimulus Package Offers Little Help to Seniors in Poverty

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The U.S. Senate version of the economic stimulus package would provide Social Security recipients and disabled veterans a one-time extra payment of $300.

The Senior Citizens League (TSCL) supports the $300 payment to seniors, but maintains that amount is insufficient to truly help the nation's poorest seniors. The average Social Security beneficiary receives just $13,836 per year, and more than 10 percent of seniors live below the poverty line.

TSCL is advocating for as much as $1,000 in relief for the nation's poorest seniors - the same amount couples earning up to $150,000 per year would receive.

A recent study released by TSCL found that seniors lost 51 percent of their buying power since 2000, a result of costs increasing more rapidly than the Social Security Cost of Living Adjustment.

"It's difficult to understand why the Senate would give the least money to the most vulnerable group in our economy," said Daniel O'Connell, chairman of The Senior Citizens League. "It seems clear that seniors - especially those barely getting by - are precisely the people that will stimulate the economy by spending their stimulus checks."

"We receive phone calls from seniors every day who are having a tough time paying for their prescriptions, groceries, and rent - these are the very people who need the stimulus most," said Shannon Benton, executive director of TSCL.

TSCL is concerned with one part of the Senate proposal: since workers would not pay a portion of their Social Security taxes, the Social Security Trust Fund would go into deficit spending as soon as 2010. TSCL encourages lawmakers to take the money required for this tax relief from the general treasury rather than the Trust Fund.

With 1.2 million supporters, The Senior Citizens League is one of the nation's largest nonpartisan seniors groups. The Senior Citizens League is a proud affiliate of The Retired Enlisted Association. Visit for more information.

The Porky Pig Stimulus Package

Press Release from ALG Condemning Stimulus Bill:
January 26th, 2009, Fairfax, VA—Americans for Limited Government President Bill Wilson today urged the House of Representatives to vote against the proposed $825 billion spending bill being considered “to restore confidence that the United States will be able to live up to its financial obligations at home and abroad.”

“Congress is running the serious risk that the United States will default on the national debt, now nearly $10.7 trillion,” said Wilson. “Today’s bill will only add to it, and the nation’s creditors overseas may be unable to continue funding our unsustainable government spending.”

The national debt of $10.7 trillion includes $4.3 trillion owed in the form of unfunded obligations to Social Security, Medicare, and other commitments, and $6.4 trillion held privately, $3 trillion of which is held overseas.

40 percent of the debt held privately comes due this year, and the only way for the government to pay it is to borrow more money.

“The current economic downturn was caused in large part because of government policies: easy credit and loose dollar policy by the Fed, the government sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac pushed loans on those who could not afford them, and the trillions of dollars of bailouts to date have only made it worse,” Wilson said.

“Now, government returns to the scene once again, not to fix the problems it created, but to exacerbate them by adding another $1.2 trillion to the debt when interest and other considerations are calculated,” Wilson added.

Wilson believes that extraordinary government interventions to date have completely spooked markets and discouraged savings, investment, and capital creation.

“The United States will not be able to get off the road to serfdom until the government actually constructs a plan to retire the debt and put an end to big government programs that hinder economic growth,” said Wilson.

Wilson warns of hyperinflation should creditors stop lending to the United States and the nation therefore defaults on the national debt.

“This is a catastrophe waiting to happen,” Wilson warned.

“Right now, countries overseas are trading real goods for paper. But that trend will reverse should the U.S. default, because a run on the dollar will ensue rapidly. Those dollars will come back home, and the people here will want to turn those dollars into real goods, but there will be too many dollars chasing too few goods,” Wilson explained.

“That’s the perfect recipe for hyperinflation. Prices would soar, and the economy would be wrecked,” Wilson added. “America would no longer be an economic superpower.”

“This must not come to pass. Congress must stop the madness by voting ‘no’ on the so-called ‘stimulus,’” Wilson concluded.
# # #
Stay tuned to the NRN blog throughout the day for developments on the stimulus vote.
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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Statement on Comparative Effectiveness Research Under Senate Appropriations Committee Stimulus Bill

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- "The Senate today improved on a comparative effectiveness research (CER) package from the House by focusing the $1.1 billion dollar research effort on clinical effectiveness," said Dr. Jane L. Delgado, President and CEO of the National Alliance for Hispanic Health, the nation's leading Hispanic health advocacy group. She added, "The Senate Appropriations Committee has rejected House report language that put cost over quality and was a prescription for bad health.

"House stimulus package language had urged that those treatments found 'more expensive, will no longer be prescribed.' The Senate instead calls for the CER program to focus specifically on clinical effectiveness. The Senate language recognizes that a decision on the best treatment for an individual patient must be made between the patient and their provider, not a federal research or rulemaking body.

"While the Senate language is an improvement , it is important that further steps be taken to ensure that research and governance reflect those that the research seeks to serve."

According to Dr. Delgado two outstanding issues are critical.

1. Final legislation must specifically enforce current policies for inclusion in research. House language was silent on inclusion of gender, race, ethnicity, and disability. While the Senate improves on House language, the final legislation should specifically call for research to be in compliance with the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Policy on the Inclusion of Priority Populations in Research.

2. Governance must be changed from an all federal board to include majority governance by patient and provider groups. Current House language calls for a 15 person governance board of only federal officials to oversee the $1.1 billion CER program. An all federal panel will not reflect the real-life concerns of patients and providers and inevitably lead to science and spending that does not meet the needs of patients for better quality care.

"We appreciate the work of the Senate Appropriations and Finance Committees and in particular thank Senators Baucus, Conrad, Harkin, and Inouye for their leadership on improving the CER program under the stimulus package. We look forward to our work with the Senate and House in the days ahead to develop a package that puts patients and quality first."

Consumer Watchdog Calls on Google to Cease Lobbying Effort to Allow Sale of Patient Medical Records

Consumer Watchdog Calls on Google to Cease Lobbying Effort to Allow Sale of Patient Medical Records; Urges Congress to Adopt Privacy Protections in Economic Stimulus Bill

PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The non-partisan Consumer Watchdog called on Google today to cease a rumored lobbying effort aimed at allowing the sale of electronic medical records in the current version of the Economic Stimulus legislation. Consumer Watchdog called on Congress to remove loopholes in the ban on the sale of medical records and include other privacy protections absent from the current bill such as giving patients the right to an audit detailing who had accessed their medical records and how the records were used.

Reportedly Google is pushing for the provisions so it may sell patient medical information to its advertising clients on the new "Google Health" database:

Download Consumer Watchdog's letter urging Congress to refuse Google's amendments and detailing five areas of needed patient privacy improvements:

In the letter sent today, Consumer Watchdog wrote:

"Americans will benefit from an integrated system capable of making our medical records available wherever we may need them, but only if the system is properly used.

"The medical technology portion of the economic stimulus bill does not sufficiently protect patient privacy, and recent amendments have made this situation worse. Medical privacy must be strengthened before the measure's final passage, rather than allowing corporate interests to take advantage of the larger bill's urgency. ...

"First and foremost, electronic medical records should be designed to benefit patients, not the corporate interests lobbying hard on Capitol Hill to get a piece of the $20 billion in taxpayer subsidies provided for this project."

The 5 patient privacy protections that Consumer Watchdog urged Congress to adopt in the electronic medical record section of the Economic Stimulus bill, include:

1. Retain & Strengthen Prohibition on Sale of Private Medical Data. Our private medical information, including which prescription drugs we take and which illnesses we have, is extremely valuable to the medical-insurance complex. Some want to market to us, others want to use this information to deny us access to insurance coverage. For instance:

-- Google is said to be lobbying hard this week to weaken the ban
currently in the draft measure on the sale of our private medical
records. Google must not be allowed to destroy this basic privacy
-- On Friday, Representative Roy Blunt (R-MO) added an amendment to the
House version of the stimulus bill allowing pharmacists to sell our
private medical information without our knowledge. This amendment must
be removed.
-- Currently, the stimulus bill makes an exception to the ban on the sale
of private medical information for purposes of "research." This
loophole is large enough to allow drug companies, marketers and health
insurers to buy our private health information for purposes of
"researching" consumer advertising for the newest health products, or
to decide which of us to insure.
-- Another broad exception would allow companies to sell or exchange a
patient's records if the sale or exchange is "to a business associate
for activities ... that the business associate undertakes on behalf of
and at the specific request of" the company holding the private

These blatant attempts to weaken privacy protections all must be turned back.

2. Provide an "Audit Trail" To Track Who Accesses Our Records. Under the current version of the bill, a patient is not able to track which medical personnel access their medical records or how that information is used. The measure must be amended to allow patients to request an "audit trail" detailing when their medical record was accessed, by whom, and for what purpose.

3. Make Database Holders Accountable for Keeping Our Medical Records Private. Companies developing electronic medical record technology must be fully accountable for the safe keeping of our information. "Safe harbor" provisions in the current legislation that would insulate these interests from accountability must be removed. For example, the current version of the bill shields database holders from telling patients when possible identity thieves access their private information as long as the data disclosure was "unintentional" and the company acted in "good faith."

4. Allow States To Adopt More Protective Standards. Currently the bill allows states to establish additional privacy regulation and enforce existing requirements. These provisions must remain part of the final proposal. Other federal health care laws, like HIPPA, Medicaid, and COBRA, provide a model for a federal-state partnership rather than federal pre-emption of more protective state standards. States have traditionally been the laboratories of innovation in patient privacy. In fact, the gold standard for medical privacy is the California Confidentiality of Medical Information Act, which bars the sharing, selling, or using for marketing or otherwise, any private medical information.

5. Retain House Amendments Protecting Private Information. Last week, Congressman Edward Markey (D-MA) added amendments to the House bill requiring the holders of health information databases to make protected health information "unusable, unreadable, or indecipherable" to unauthorized individuals. This amendment will help to ensure that databases are appropriately protected to keep sensitive medical information out of the hands of identity thieves and black market information aggregators.

Monday, January 26, 2009

American Life League Statement on Pelosi's State-Enforced War on Preborn Babies

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- American Life League executive director Shaun Kenney issued the following statement today regarding Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's interview with ABC News on Sunday. Rep. Pelosi stated that the millions of dollars slated for contraception in the economic stimulus package would "reduce costs to the states and to the federal government."

"At a time of financial crisis, Nancy Pelosi's solution is to kill future taxpayers."

"Pelosi has described herself as 'an ardent, practicing Catholic.' But ardent, practicing Catholics do not treat destruction of human beings and human dignity as an economic stimulus plan. They do not see the death of countless preborn Americans through the use of abortifacient birth control as an opportunity to 'reduce state costs.'"

"Family planning regimes across the world have been noted for their brutality. China's "One-Child" policy has literally exterminated over one hundred million human beings. That Pelosi would seek to imitate such brutality with state-enforced policies designed to discourage women from exercising their right to bring life into this world is not only horrific; it's a betrayal of her Catholic faith."

"Archbishop George Niederauer of San Francisco has already spoken to Pelosi about her incorrect portrayals of the Catholic faith. It is painfully clear Pelosi has not received this message."

"Worse, Pelosi is willing to distort Catholic social teaching in order to further a narrow political ideology."

"Catholics everywhere now look towards Archbishop Neiderauer. American Life League publicly calls on Archbishop Neiderauer to enforce Canon 915 and protect the Eucharist from further politicization by this radical clique of pro-abortion Catholics. A clear and strong message needs to be sent, not only for the souls of the faithful who would be misled by such mixed messages, but for Pelosi's sake as well."

Reaction to Gillebrand Proves Democrats Still Party of Gun Control, Says CCRKBA

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The hysteria-laden reaction from members of her own party to last week's appointment of New York Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand to fill the United States Senate seat vacated by Hillary Clinton proves that Democrats are still the party of gun control, the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms said today.

"Kirsten Gillibrand gets high marks from the ACLU and from the Americans for Democratic Action," noted CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb. "She supports abortion rights, stem cell research and health care protection for children -- all hot button issues for Democrats -- but because she supports gun rights, members of her own party have chosen to excoriate her and Gov. David Patterson. Well, so much for being the party of tolerance and inclusion.

"Where does it say that gun owners in New York State should be deprived of a voice in the Senate Democratic Caucus?" Gottlieb wondered. "Gillibrand recently said she believes there can be much common ground between those who protect gun rights and those who believe in gun control. Isn't that the same thing that the extremists at the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence have been claiming? Isn't that the same philosophy that gun control zealots on Capitol Hill have expressed in the past?

"The difference," he continued, "is that Gillibrand has a 100-percent rating from the NRA, while too many of her fellow Democrats have made careers out of giving only lip service to the Second Amendment.

"What this controversy really proves," Gottlieb stated, "is that too many Democrats remain devoted to crushing gun rights, and they will even stoop to attacking and demonizing a rising star of their own party to further their agenda. This is not the party of 'change' that so many Americans supported in November. It is apparently a party of narrow views with no tolerance for different opinions, especially if those opinions support the rights of millions of law-abiding American firearms owners."

With more than 650,000 members and supporters nationwide, the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms ( is one of the nation's premier gun rights organizations. As a non-profit organization, the Citizens Committee is dedicated to preserving firearms freedoms through active lobbying of elected officials and facilitating grass-roots organization of gun rights activists in local communities throughout the United States.

32 Million Adults Still Won't Be Able to Read, Write, or Apply for Jobs

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- ProLiteracy, the nation's leader in adult literacy programs and advocacy, today decried the exclusion of Title II of the Workforce Investment Act from the current economic stimulus package.

David C. Harvey, president of ProLiteracy, called on President Obama and Congress to include Title II of the Workforce Investment Act in the economic recovery proposal. "We applaud the efforts of our new president and Congress to craft a stimulus bill focused on creating new jobs," Harvey said. "But it is imperative that they focus on the very people who will have the most difficulty finding jobs -- low-literate workers. An effective recovery bill must provide adult literacy and employment training opportunities."

Harvey pointed out that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, to be reviewed by House subcommittees this week, funds job training services for at-risk youth, individuals with disabilities, and older Americans through Titles I, III, and IV of the Workforce Investment Act.

"But inexplicably, Title II, which focuses on adult education and literacy, was left out of the bill," Harvey said. "Many of the nearly 3 million jobs lost during 2008 were held by individuals who need additional help with basic reading, math, or English skills in order to take advantage of the jobs that the Recovery Act will create."

A recent U.S. Department of Education report estimates that 32 million adults in the U.S. don't read well enough to fill out a job application without help. Title II, also known as the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act, is the largest source of federal funding for programs that teach adults reading, writing, math, technology skills, and English as a Second Language (ESL).

"The previous administration did not prioritize low-literate adults' needs, so the problems and numbers have only increased," said Harvey. "It is now a new administration and new Congress focused on the economy and job recovery. A basic foundation of a strong, employable workforce is a literate workforce. Now is the time for the federal government to take action to address the issue of adult illiteracy and include Title II funding," Harvey concluded.

Individuals who share ProLiteracy's position can send e-mails to President Obama and members of Congress through ProLiteracy's web site,

New Poll: Union Members Oppose Big Labor's Card Check

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A new national survey of voters released today by the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace (CDW) shows opposition coming from an unlikely source - union households. A special polling oversample of 400 union households shows both union members and all voters strongly opposing The Employee Free Choice Act, often called the "card check" bill.

The findings indicate widespread concern among both voters and union households about this legislation that threatens secret ballots, worker privacy and job growth. Both voters and union members tell pollsters that Congress should focus on other more important issues and put Big Labor's agenda aside.

"The strong opposition from current union members to the Employee Free Choice Act should send a clear signal to President Obama and the Democrat-controlled Congress that the EFCA lacks popular support, both among a key Democratic constituency and voters as a whole," said Brian Worth with the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace. "The only support card check has is among the leaders of Big Labor."

The poll was conducted by nationally respected polling firm of McLaughlin & Associates. It surveyed 1,000 likely voters with a sub-sample of 400 union households. The poll was conducted from January 7 to 11, 2009.

Key findings of the poll include:

-- Three out of four voters (74%) oppose the "The Employee Free Choice
Act." Union households also strongly oppose the Employee Free Choice
Act, 74% oppose to only 20% support.
-- When given a more detailed description of the Employee Free Choice
Act, nearly 9 out of 10 voters, 86%, feel the process should remain
private and only 8% feel it should be public information. Again, even
union workers feel strongly that the process should be kept private,
as 88% said private and only 8% said public.
-- Four out of five voters, or 82%, favor having a federally supervised
election as a means to "protect the individual rights of workers."
The voters clearly see this as a basic right, especially given that
only 11% of voters feel the card check would be the best way to
protect the individual rights of workers. Support increases to 85%
among union households.
-- The majority (52% to 26%) of American voters believe that the Employee
Free Choice Act is not good for job creation. Even among union
households, the plurality (48%) believes that the Employee Free Choice
Act will cost America jobs.
-- In the current economic climate, 52% of voters are particularly
opposed to any measure that would risk jobs or job growth.
-- Further exemplifying the electorates' distaste for the Employee Free
Choice Act, 71% agreed that this legislation would be "unwise" and
"risky." In today's economic climate, the electorate has little
confidence in the federal government's ability to make such major
business decisions.

Despite opposition from their own rank and file workers, labor bosses have made support for the EFCA, or "card check" bill, a top priority this year and are pressuring Congress to act quickly to pass it. Unfortunately for Big Labor, 79% of union workers and voters want Congress to focus on other issues like jobs and healthcare.

"Workers aren't fooled by Big Labor's attempt to increase their power at the expense of worker privacy," said Worth.

More information about the poll and CDW's efforts to protect secret ballots and worker privacy can be found at

Methodology: This poll of 1,000 likely general election voters in the United States was conducted from January 7th - 11th, 2009 by McLaughlin & Associates. An oversample of 193 union households was conducted, which brings the combined total of union households to 400. All interviews were conducted via telephone by professional interviewers. Interview selection was random within predetermined election units - in this case, the fifty states. These units were structured to correlate with actual voter turnout in a general election. This poll of 1,000 likely general election voters has an accuracy of +/- 3.1% at a 95% confidence interval. The 400 sample of union households has an accuracy of +/- 4.9% at a 95% confidence interval.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Defense Officials Address Detainee Concerns

As the Defense Department prepares plans to close the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, defense officials acknowledge the possibility that released detainees could return to the battlefield.

"It's something that we're cognizant of. It's obviously something that we try to assess at the time of transfer when we are looking at these individuals," Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman told Pentagon reporters today.

President Barack Obama yesterday signed an executive order that directs the closure of the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo within a year.

The detention center has housed nearly 800 suspected terrorists captured in Afghanistan, Iraq and other places since the start of the global war on terrorism that followed the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States. About 250 detainees are being held at Guantanamo, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 attacks.

Of the more than 500 detainees who have been transferred from Defense Department custody, 18 allegedly have resumed terrorist activities and another 43 former detainees are suspected of having resumed their former lives, Whitman said.

Whitman addressed a query from a reporter citing news reports that a former Guantanamo detainee had apparently become an associate leader for al-Qaida in Yemen.

Guantanamo inmates' cases are reviewed annually, Whitman said, to ascertain whether or not they qualify for release. However, he said, there's no guarantee released individuals won't return to terrorism.

"You can't have absolute certainly," Whitman acknowledged.

Speaking to Pentagon reporters, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates yesterday acknowledged there are challenges inherent with shuttering the center.

"Clearly, the challenge that faces us, and that I've acknowledged before, is figuring out how do we close Guantanamo and at the same time safeguard the security of the American people," he said.

There "are answers to those questions," Gates said, noting there is "a lot of work to do."

Saturday, January 24, 2009

FRC Condemns President Obama's $441 Million Bailout of International Abortions

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- On the day after millions of Americans solemnly marked the 36th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision that has led to the loss of an estimated 50 million lives, President Barack Obama took unilateral steps to expand abortion at taxpayers' expense.

In one of his first official acts as President of the United States, President Barack Obama rescinded the "Mexico City Policy." This policy prohibits taxpayer funds from going to foreign non-governmental organizations that use other funds to promote and perform abortions. Under the Mexico City Policy, funding for family planning is not reduced by one penny but recipient agencies must decide whether or not to engage in abortion promotion or provision. A policy against promoting abortion is only "anti-family planning" if one assumes that abortion itself is a method of "family planning."

Tony Perkins, President of Family Research Council, had this to say:

"Yesterday, President Obama issued executive orders banning the torture of terrorists but today signed an order that exports the torture of unborn children around the world. At a debate last year at Rick Warren's Saddleback Church, then-candidate Barack Obama vowed to find 'common ground' on the issue of abortion and that he, as President, would work to 'reduce the number of abortions.' His action today flies in the face of that vow and probably sets a record as the most quickly broken campaign promise ever leaving the question, how many more broken promises to families lie ahead?

"Both sides of the abortion debate, from Planned Parenthood to Family Research Council, agree on a simple economic point: when you subsidize abortion, abortions will increase. Thanks to his actions today, U.S. taxpayers will be forced to take part in exporting a culture of death. We have a responsibility to respect the policies and traditions of the other countries, which have laws recognizing the right to life of the unborn, and it is an insult to fund organizations that are intent on overturning those laws by promoting an elite ideology of abortion on demand.

"One of President Obama's first acts is to rescind this vital government policy and reward pro-abortion groups. This should serve as a bitter pill for those who campaigned for him, all the while proclaiming their belief in the cause of life and family."

Friday, January 23, 2009

Economic Stimulus Bill Mandates Electronic Health Records for Every Citizen without Opt-out or Patient Consent Provisions

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Institute for Health Freedom (IHF) warns that the economic stimulus bill mandates electronic health records for every citizen without providing for opt-out or patient consent provisions. "Without those protections, Americans' electronic health records could be shared -- without their consent -- with over 600,000 covered entities through the forthcoming nationally linked electronic health-records network," says Sue A. Blevins, IHF president.

"President Obama has pledged to advance freedom. Therefore the freedom to choose not to participate in a national electronic health-records system must be upheld," Blevins says. "Unless people have the right to decide if and when their health information is shared or whether to participate in research studies, they don't have a true right to privacy."

IHF calls on Americans who care about health privacy to contact their members of Congress and President Obama to voice their own opinions about the need for opt-out and patient consent provisions, to ensure true patient privacy rights.

Some provisions of the economic stimulus bill include:

-- "The utilization of an electronic health record for each person in the United States by 2014."

-- "The National Coordinator shall perform the duties...consistent with the development of a nationwide health information technology infrastructure that allows for the electronic use and exchange of information and that...facilitates health and clinical research..."

The federal medical privacy rule promulgated under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) already permits the disclosure of personal health information without patient consent for treatment, payment, and oversight of the healthcare system. IHF has long called for modification of the HIPAA rule to restore patient consent in order to preserve the confidential doctor-patient relationship. The stimulus bill fails to restore patient consent, while at the same time, mandating electronic health records and facilitating the electronic exchange of every American's health information.

Statement of Paul Helmke on Selection of Kirsten Gillibrand for U.S. Senate Seat From New York

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Paul Helmke, President of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, issued the following statement about New York Governor David Paterson's selection of Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand to fill the U.S. Senate seat of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton:

"We have been disappointed by Representative Kirsten Gillibrand's record on preventing gun violence during her one term in Congress. For example, she supported legislation that would have weakened efforts to fight illegal gun trafficking. We are hopeful, however, that as a United States Senator representing the entire state of New York she will follow the example of Senator Charles Schumer and former Senator Clinton and work with us to make it harder for dangerous people to get dangerous weapons in this country."

As the nation's largest, non-partisan, grassroots organization leading the fight to prevent gun violence, the Brady Campaign, with its dedicated network of Million Mom March Chapters, works to enact and enforce sensible gun laws, regulations and public policies. The Brady Campaign is devoted to creating an America free from gun violence, where all Americans are safe at home, at school, at work, and in our communities.

U.S. bailout package will spark inflation and shift the burden to foreign investors: CIBC World Markets

/PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- CIBC (CM: TSX; NYSE) - To pay for its multi-trillion dollar bailout and stimulus packages, the Obama administration will print money at an unprecedented rate, a course that will drive up inflation and drive down the greenback while shifting a large part of the financial burden onto foreign investors, finds a new report from CIBC World Markets.

The report predicts that like Argentina in the late 1980s and Zimbabwe today, the U.S. government will simply create more money to fund its plans. "If the central bank prints it, someone will spend it," says Jeff Rubin, chief economist and chief strategist at CIBC World Markets. "Already U.S. money supply is growing at a nearly 20 per cent rate in the last three months and the printing presses are just warming up. And there's no shortage of more troubled assets to monetize along with $1.5 trillion-plus federal deficits to keep money supply growth chugging along in the future.

"As it buys up spread product, the Fed will leave Treasuries to be mopped up by foreigners. Since outsiders, like the People's Bank of China, now own over 50 per cent of America's debt, there has never been a better time to reflate. Why default on your taxpayers when you can default on someone else's? A 10-year Treasury bond will, of course, mature at par, but who's to say the greenback won't sink 40 per cent against the Yuan over its term like it did against the Yen between 1971 and 1981?"

Mr. Rubin notes that while the prospect of reflation may seem incredulous on the cusp of negative U.S. CPI numbers, past deficits that were a mere fraction of what they are today in relation to the size of the American economy, were readily monetized. And without fail, that monetization led to an explosive bout of subsequent inflation.

"The huge World War II deficits saw inflation peak at almost 20 per cent in 1947," adds Mr. Rubin. "When the printing presses were turned up to pay for the Korean War, inflation moved from negative territory to over nine per cent within the space of nine months in the early 1950s. And when Arthur Burns greased the Fed's presses after the Vietnam War, inflation soon made a triumphant return back to double-digit territory.

"Headline U.S. CPI inflation will grab a negative handle in the next few months but it will be running north of four per cent in less than a year."

Adding to these inflationary forces in the next year will be increased pressure on oil prices. While global demand is expected to be down about one per cent in 2009, oil supply is also declining. The plunge in oil prices caused by the recession has put the brakes on a number of new supply projects that were expected to address the depletion loss of nearly four million barrels a day this year alone.

"The IEA (International Energy Agency) recently estimated that the industry will have to spend well over half a trillion dollars annually to meet future demand and counter depletion," says Mr. Rubin. "No one is going to finance those money-losing mega-investments at oil prices anywhere near $40 per barrel. If yesterday's record high prices haven't spurred supply growth, what chances do oil prices a third or a quarter of those record levels have?"

A year ago, Mr. Rubin estimated that production would grow from about 86 million barrels per day in 2008 to around 88 million by decade's end, based on data for 200 pending new projects. However, recent announcements of project cancellations and postponements not only cancel out the expected two million barrel per day increase in global production by 2010, but they are likely to actually drive production down a million barrels per day below last year's levels.

In Canada, a region the IEA expects will be the single largest source of new crude supply, almost three times as important as Saudi Arabia over the next 20 years, cancellations or delays in recent months have already affected about one million barrels per day of planned oil sands capacity. Now, rather than grow by close to 400,000 barrels per day by 2010, total Canadian production is likely to rise by only a third of that.

"That's only the tip of the iceberg since the vast majority of cancellations have been on projects whose first flow dates are well after 2010," adds Mr. Rubin. "If oil prices were to stay at current levels, production, instead of plateauing around 88 million barrels per day by 2012 as we had previously forecast, would decline at an accelerating pace between now and 2015. By 2015, production would decline to around 76 million barrels per day, a level of roughly 10 per cent lower than last year's level. Unlike past oil shocks, there is no longer any newly discovered $10 per barrel North Sea oil to meet a rebound in demand."

He notes that higher prices will ultimately change that supply outlook by reversing some of the cancellations announced in the wake of oil's price plunge. Global demand snapped back at around a three per cent pace after the two declines in oil consumption seen in the early 1980s. Even a 2-2 1/2 per cent bounce back would leave the world facing even tighter supply conditions than it did in 2007 when oil prices moved from $60 to $100 per barrel.

"Back then, demand was about 1.5 million barrels per day more than supply. This imbalance, not only led to a very rapid inventory drawdown, but also attracted speculative activity in oil markets. By our estimates, we expect to see an even larger imbalance, almost two million barrels per day, between recovering demand and shrinking supply as early as 2010.

"When that happens, global oil inventories will plunge, and global oil prices will once again spike. That may well reverse some of the supply destruction that is currently taking place, but not before world oil prices print triple-digit levels again."

Thursday, January 22, 2009

President Obama Gives the Unborn at Least a 24 Hour Reprieve, Postpones $441 Million Bailout of International Abortions, Says Family Research Council

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- On the day that millions of Americans solemnly marked the 36th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision that has led to the loss of an estimated 50 million lives, President Barack Obama was widely expected to issue an executive order rescinding the "Mexico City Policy," which prohibits taxpayer funds from going to foreign non-governmental organizations that use other funds to promote and perform abortions.

Instead, the President issued a statement reiterating his support for Roe v. Wade. Media reports indicate that he eventually plans to sign an executive order overturning the "Mexico City Policy" despite promises made during the campaign and today to "reduce the number of abortions."

Tony Perkins, President of Family Research Council, had this to say:

"Today, President Obama chose to give unborn children at least a 24-hour reprieve before he signs an executive order that sends millions in U.S. taxpayer funds to pro-abortion groups around the world. Some may see this brief delay as an 'olive branch' to the hundreds of thousands attending today's March for Life. If this is an olive branch, we'd like to see the olive tree.

"These marchers aren't a special interest group seeking recognition for themselves. Rather, they march for the day when unborn children are fully protected under law. Regardless of whether the order takes effect today or tomorrow, granting the unborn a 24-hour reprieve is not enough. It may be an extra day of life, but these children deserve a full life, protected under law.

"We have a responsibility to respect the policies and traditions of the many other countries, that have laws recognizing the right to life of the unborn, and it is an insult to fund organizations that are intent on overturning those laws by promoting an elite ideology of abortion on demand."

No Policies From Obama to Stop Diversion of Federal Small Business Contracts to Fortune 500 Firms

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Since 2003, over a dozen federal investigations that have uncovered billions of dollars in federal contracts intended for small businesses actually wound up in the hands of Fortune 500 firms.

Any plans from President Barack Obama to adopt the recommendation of the Small Business Administration (SBA) Office of Inspector General to address the problem have been conspicuously absent from any of his stimulus plans or proposed policies.

President Obama has also ignored repeated pleas from small business groups around the country to adopt legislation and policies to stop Fortune 500 firms and thousands of other large businesses from commandeering up to $100 billion a year in federal small business contracts.

ABC, CBS and CNN have all released investigative stories on the issue, which found that firms such as Lockheed Martin, Wal-Mart, Microsoft, John Deere, Xerox, Dell Computer, Northrop Grumman and Home Depot all received millions of dollars in federal small business contracts.

Even some of the largest firms in Europe such as British Aerospace (BAE), Rolls-Royce and Dutch giant Buhrmann NV have received hundreds of millions a year in U.S. government contracts intended for small businesses.

Thousands of middle class firms have been forced to close their doors as they struggled in vain to compete with Fortune 500 firms for even the smallest government orders for goods and services specifically set aside for small businesses.

Small business advocates are concerned that President Obama will not only allow federal small business contracts to continue to be diverted to Fortune 500 firms, but that he will support a new federal policy that will create a new loophole in federal law allowing even more government small business contracts to be diverted to firms controlled by some of the nation's wealthiest investors.

The National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) has contributed millions of dollars to President Obama and key members of Congress, such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, to try and have federal law changed to allow some of the wealthiest investors in the country to masquerade as small businesses and take billions of dollars in federal contracts designated for legitimate small businesses.

President Obama's appointment of Karen Mills, a multi-millionaire venture capitalist, to the post of Administrator of the SBA is seen by small business groups as a confirmation that President Obama will attempt to create more loopholes in federal contracting law, which will divert more federal small business contracts away from middle class firms and into the hands of wealthy investors.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Obama's 'Newer Deal' Likely to Raise Deficit

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As President Barack Obama takes office, he is promising a bold stimulus plan for the declining economy. Some of his proposals mirror those of Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal. A new report from Casey Research, "Obama's Newer Deal," examines Obama's plan in comparison to Roosevelt's and concludes that it is even more risky.

The Obama plan relies on both spending and tax cuts to raise incomes and promote recovery. The Obama administration believes people need to have money to spend in order to get the economy moving.

Casey Research's analysis shows that what is needed is a "great deleveraging: using assets to pay down debts. Like a household with finite income and too many credit cards, there comes a time when the piper has to be paid. Getting more credit cards only temporarily makes the problem go away and surely makes it all worse."

There are other key differences between the New Deal and the Obama plan. In 1933, the federal debt was $360 billion in 2008 dollars and 40% of the GDP. In 2008, the federal debt was just under $11 trillion and 70% of the GDP.

The government is likely to add $3 trillion to the national debt in 2009 alone.

"The time will come and probably in 2009," concludes Casey Research, "that the only way the U.S. will be able to fund its deficits is to create money by printing it. The Treasury will have to sell bonds, and in the absence of foreign buyers, the Fed will have to print the money to buy them. The consequence will be runaway inflation, increasing interest rates, recession, and inevitable tax increases."

"The era of runaway U.S. consumerism is over. The economy's eventual turnaround will only occur after the debt that permeates the economy is substantially reduced. It's going to be a painful process," says Casey Research.

Casey Research is a team of highly experienced investors and trained economists who spend countless hours researching powerful economic trends and the very best ways to profit from same. Their clientele is made up of individual and institutional investors who share the costs - through subscription fees - in exchange for unbiased research and information they can use in managing their portfolios to produce above-average returns.

Americans' Confidence Level Increases Regarding Nation's Issues After Obama's Inauguration Speech

/PRNewswire/ -- A study conducted among 1,819 self-reported Democrats, Republicans and Independents revealed that the majority of Americans are more confident that the key issues facing the nation will improve during the next four years after viewing President Barack Obama's inauguration speech.

The study was conducted by HCD Research on January 20 to obtain Americans' perceptions of President Barack Obama and what effect his presidency will have on the nation's critical issues, including the economy, health care, education, the war in Iraq and energy supply and creation.

Participants were asked to respond the questions before and after viewing the inauguration speech to determine if their perceptions changed after viewing the speech. Participants were also asked to rate Barack Obama based on 8 leadership attributes. To view detailed results, visit:

Among the findings:

After the speech, 51% of Republicans were confident that the economy would improve over the next four years compared to 38% before watching the speech. Democrats were more confident with regard to the issue of Iraq. There was an increase of 17% of Democrats who believed that the issue of the war in Iraq would improve in the next presidency after watching the inauguration speech.

Republicans' perception of President Obama's leadership also improved after the inauguration speech. Participants were asked to rate President Obama on an agreement scale based on 8 leadership attributes before and after watching the inauguration speech. Republicans increased their level of agreement for every leadership attribute after viewing the speech. The highest increases were seen in the following attributes: "Obama is firm and consistent in his views" (increase of 15%), "Obama is representing my values (increase of 14%) and "Obama is honest" (increase of 13%).

Participants' emotions were also measured while viewing the speech. The emotion that was felt the most by viewers during the inauguration speech was hopefulness. Hopefulness was the top emotion felt by Democrats (68%), Republicans (36%), as well as Independents (57%). Democrats and Independents also reported that they felt confident and attentive, while Republicans reported that they felt some skepticism.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Growing Optimism That Obama Will Improve US Relations: Global Poll

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As Barack Obama prepares to be sworn in as the 44th president of the United States, a new 17-nation poll conducted for the BBC World Service finds widespread and growing optimism that his presidency will lead to improved relations between the United States and the rest of the world.

The poll also shows people around the world are looking to President Obama to put highest priority on dealing with the current global financial crisis.

In 15 of the 17 countries polled, majorities think that the election of Barack Obama will lead to improved relations with the rest of the world. On average 67 percent express this upbeat view, while 19 percent think relations will stay the same and just 5 percent that relations will worsen. This is up sharply - by 21 points among tracking countries - from polling done for the BBC World Service six months ago, before Obama was elected

Asked to rate six possible priorities for the Obama Administration, the top priority in all 17 countries polled was the global financial crisis. On average 72 percent said that it should be a top priority.

This was followed by withdrawing US troops from Iraq - with 50 percent saying this should be a top priority - then addressing climate change (46%), improving America's relationship with the respondent's country (46%), brokering peace between Israel and the Palestinians (43%), and supporting the government of Afghanistan against the Taliban (29%).

The results are drawn from a survey of 17,356 adult citizens across 17 countries conducted for the BBC World Service by the international polling firm GlobeScan together with the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) at the University of Maryland. GlobeScan coordinated fieldwork between November 24, 2008 and January 5, 2009.

"Familiarity with Obama seems to be breeding hope," commented Steven Kull, director of the Program on International Policy Attitudes. "But then again," he added, "he is starting from a low baseline, following eight years of an unpopular US president. Maintaining this enthusiasm will be a challenge given the complexities he now faces."

President Obama to Press Reset Button

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- President Barack Obama promised Planned Parenthood that, "The first thing I'd do as president is sign the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA)." If he keeps this promise, American Right To Life president Brian Rohrbough said, "President Obama will press the reset button on the pro-life movement and reverse decades of legislation, regulations not built on the firm foundation of personhood, but misguided laws built on sand shifting in the political wind."

Catholic Bishops are warning that FOCA would regulate even pro-life medical facilities, pushing Catholic hospitals toward aborting children. "These bishops actually opposed valid personhood bills," said Rohrbough. "While supporting the immoral strategy of regulating child killing, they may be forced to take their own medicine, and become the target of further regulation, or close their hospitals."

"FOCA trumps regulations, and personhood trumps FOCA," said Rohrbough, "because personhood invokes the laws that already protect persons. For a state to re-introduce slavery is inconceivable, yet after a mere election cycle, Obama is committed to reverse decades of misguided pro-life effort." American Right To Life opposes what it calls the "pro-life industry" exposing that "National Right To Life's regulation of child killing will never end abortion; establishing personhood from the very moment of human reproduction is the only way to protect the innocent."

Lawyer Clarke Forsythe, president of Americans United for Life (AUL), erred when he wrote in Human Life Review that the partial-birth abortion ban "served as a legal fence." Laws that end with, "and then you can kill the baby," as do all such regulations including the PBA ban, erect no walls, nor fences, but only swinging gates. "The PBA fiasco confirms what happens when a Christian movement is turned over to secular humanist lawyers," said American RTL's VP Steve Curtis, "because it never had the authority to save one child, as James Dobson stated that 'Ending partial-birth abortion...does not save a single human life."

World Magazine's latest issue reports that FOCA "would kill... informed consent, waiting periods, ultrasound use, and parental involvement, [prohibition of] federal funding..., and the partial-birth abortion ban." American RTL sees the FOCA fight as the opportunity for pro-lifers to unite in establishing personhood and the God-given right to life.

41 Student Groups Demonstrate on Barack Obama’s Inauguration Day

(BUSINESS WIRE)--Today, Barack Obama’s Inauguration Day, students on college campuses nationwide will declare, “One day of Obama is enough. It’s time for change.”

41 chapters of the group Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) have confirmed their participation in a nationwide activism event to demonstrate against Barack Obama’s policies. Each chapter will distribute flyers, hand out pocket constitutions, and talk to students about the dangers of Barack Obama’s policies on their campus.

“Not all young people are excited about the policies of President Obama. Who do you think will pay for all of this reckless spending? Who will fight and die in these unnecessary wars oversees? Our generation will,” says Jeff Frazee, Executive Director of YAL, in Arlington, VA.

YAL’s event, Real Change Requires R3volution, seeks to peel back the marketing of Barack Obama and expose his policies for what they really are – not real change. Before taking office, Barack Obama has put forth an $800 billion economic plan, promised more troops in Afghanistan, and begun talks of reviving the draft.

“YAL chapters will demonstrate that there is a strong opposition to Obama’s youth movement and policies. He does not have a monopoly on our generation,” says Frazee.

Monday, January 19, 2009

In a Sea of Obama Love, There's a Voice of Patriotic Resistance

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- With the $150 million inauguration only days away, is announcing that a record 350,000 grassroots conservatives have pledged a patriotic, resilient and determined resistance-against an Obama ideology that could have devastating consequences on our nation.

"This is not a personal attack on Barack Obama," says founder Steve Elliott. "On the contrary, this is a call to action for conservatives who profess love for our country and respect for our institutions. Our disagreements with the President are based in ideology and public policy only. From this firm foundation we are mounting a patriotic, resilient, conservative resistance to Obama's agenda."

Elliott says he is thrilled by the early response, and anticipates meteoric growth within the first 100 Days of the Obama Presidency. "The President's first one hundred days will give citizens a digitally clear snapshot of where he intends to take us as a nation. This is where we will begin to see the depth of his socialist agenda for America."

The Resistance petition states:As an American citizen, while I will show respect to President-elect Obama, I oppose the far-Left and socialistic elements that comprise the centerpiece of his agenda. I recognize that it will take a patriotic and resilient Citizen Resistance to block implementation of this agenda and I join with others who oppose these threats to our liberties.

Launched shortly after the election, Grassfire's Resistance petition gives conservatives a place to join together around a common goal, and provides web-based structures and strategies that truly equip conservatives to resist any attempt to undermine or erode our liberties. "We believe the very foundation stones of our nation are being threatened, that's why this growing effort is needed. We are taking a stand on a variety of specific issues including wealth redistribution, higher taxes, amnesty and a persistent weakening of our uniquely American culture," says Elliott.

Through the Resistance, Elliott believes conservatives can begin to Rebuild and Restore - "developing new models that inform, equip and prepare conservatives for a return to political prominence."

Congress Introduces Bill That Would Reinstate Downpayment Assistance: Nehemiah Responds

/PRNewswire/ -- The following statement was issued today by Scott Syphax, president and CEO of the Nehemiah Corporation of America in response to H.R. 600, a bill introduced in Congress that would reinstate seller-funded downpayment assistance (DPA). Prior to the October 1, 2008 ban on DPA, Nehemiah was the oldest and largest provider of downpayment assistance.

"With foreclosures on the rise and banks maintaining their stranglehold on credit, we commend Congressman Al Green for recognizing the important role downpayment assistance can play in the market's recovery. Through H.R. 600, DPA offers a simple solution that can empower thousands of worthy families to take advantage of depressed home prices therefore reducing the glut of homes on the market. Further, it does so without spending a single government or taxpayer dime according to the Congressional Budget Office. Creating opportunities for sustainable homeownership will be a cornerstone to strengthening a crumbling housing market and breathing life back into the economy. As the Obama Administration takes the reins tomorrow, we call on Congress to reach across the aisle and prioritize broadening opportunities for responsible homeownership in America by reinstating DPA."


Saturday, January 17, 2009

Gen. McCaffrey Notes Inappropriateness of New York Times Reporter Today Covering DOD IG Report Refuting Reporter's Own Earlier Stories

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- General Barry McCaffrey (ret) issued the following statement today on the inappropriateness of New York Times reporter David Barstow being allowed to write the paper's story today on DOD's Inspector General Report refuting Barstow's earlier stories referencing Gen. McCaffrey:

Gen. McCaffrey stated:

"Disappointing and slanted coverage of this DOD IG Report by the NYT Editor who cleared Barstow to write this news piece. Barstow should not have been allowed to defend his own flawed reporting in the face of contrary sworn official evidence to his central argument. The DOD Inspector General report mentions me and other retired military analysts and notes that 'extensive searches found no instance. to achieve a competitive advantage' and stated that there was 'no conflict.'

"Barstow notes 'articles in the New York Times.' He fails to state that he was the sole author of 'these articles' -- or note that he is now part of the story. These were his by-line articles that have been apparently refuted by this DOD IG Report.

"Barstow also notes, '(The report) documented one instance in which an analyst had lost access because of critical war commentary.' How could he not publicly reveal to his readers that I was the one that the report mentioned by name as having been dropped from this group of analysts?

"This is Journalism 101. Barstow fails to reveal a central inconvenient fact which undermines his entire 5000+ word attack in his subsequent article.

"The Washington Post and other media wrote their normal, objective, balanced news story about the DOD IG Report in today's editions. I make no case for or against the DOD IG investigation -- which, however, does dispute Barstow's entire story.

"Suggest the New York Times should not have allowed Barstow to selectively mine the DOD IG report to defend his articles -- and again attack me. How could he not mention sworn testimony from a senior defense official that noted DOD anger at my criticism of Rumsfeld and the Pentagon?

"All of America expects excellence from the New York Times. This article
today by Barstow is journalism which lacks integrity," McCaffrey

Friday, January 16, 2009

President Bush Forgot to Acknowledge His Greatest Achievement

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Riki Ellison, Chairman of the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance (MDAA) paid tribute to President George W. Bush today for the development and deployment of our nation's missile defense system. His commentary is as follows:

"As President George W. Bush concludes his 8 years as the Commander in Chief of our nation it is with due respect that one of his most positive achievements and a lasting legacy are the achievements that have taken place over his Presidency with missile defense. The United States withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) treaty and the decision to deploy a missile defense system at the beginning of his first term, to having a limited missile defense capability deployed during the ballistic missile launches by North Korea, to expanding missile defense in cooperative agreements with 18 countries, highlighted by the signings of the Czech Republic and Poland to host a European Missile Defense site at the end of his term."

"The missile defense systems developed and deployed during his Presidency are of land and sea based interceptors and sensors that have had 27 successful test intercepts and a real missile defense intercept of a falling toxic satellite last February."

"Most significantly during President Bush's years, the U.S. has deployed missile defense systems that have helped bring stability and security in the Far East Asia Region as North Korea moved forward with attaining nuclear weapons."

"Today, due to President Bush, our nation, our troops and our allies are safer from ballistic missile threats."

Ellison concluded his tribute by saying: "Thank You Mr. President."

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Economic Stimulus Package Could Impinge on Americans' Health Privacy

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- "Before increasing federal spending on health IT, Congress should first fix the already-outdated 1996 HIPAA privacy rule to ensure individuals have control over their personal health information," says Sue A. Blevins, president of the Institute for Health Freedom (IHF). "Right now, the HIPAA privacy rule has too many loopholes to ensure true patient privacy," Blevins stresses.

IHF released the following analyses regarding proposed federal spending on health IT and its impact on health privacy:

What does Barack Obama's economic stimulus package have to do with your health privacy? A lot! If Obama creates electronic medical records for most Americans (as he's proposing) without first fixing the federal health privacy rule (to ensure patient consent), everyone would end up losing control over his or her personal health information. That's because the rule gives many entities the legal authority to share information without patients' consent for purposes related to healthcare treatment, payment, and overseeing the healthcare system. (See "What Every American Needs to Know about the HIPAA Medical Privacy Rule":

Obama is seeking support for a massive emergency spending package, warning that the U.S. recession could stretch on for years unless such steps are taken. A January 8 Reuters report noted that "Obama also wants to spend to help the healthcare industry create electronic medical records. Well over $100 billion could be spent on the various [electronic medical records] projects." reports that Obama's "audacious plan" is to "computerize all health records within five years." Obama would thus be advancing the health IT goals of the Bush administration. Its last budget set access to electronic health records as an objective to be achieved by 2014.

Moreover, the current HIPAA law would govern a nationally linked database. It is important to understand, however, that "HIPAA was never intended for the digital age, because the [1996 HIPAA law] never anticipated the emergence of Web-based records," according to David Brailer, former National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.

The bottom line is that Obama's spending plans may impinge on your privacy. There's a lot at stake with electronically transferring health data and paying claims within the $2.2 trillion healthcare industry. Concerned Americans should voice their concerns to their members of Congress and to Barack Obama.

TARP Inspector General Asked to Investigate Citigroup and Bank of America Donations to Rainbow/PUSH; Bailout Recipients Headline Jackson Fundraiser

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today the National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) asked Neil M. Barofsky, the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), for a formal review of the sponsorship by Bank of America and Citigroup of the Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Conference currently taking place in New York City. The January 13-16 event is one of two of Jesse Jackson's annual fundraisers.

According to official conference materials, Citigroup is a "Gold Sponsor," a designation costing $50,000. Bank of America is identified as a "Silver Sponsor," a designation costing $30,000.

Both Citigroup and Bank of America are major recipients of TARP funds. Taxpayers are now Citigroup's largest shareholder after infusions of $45 billion. Bank of America has already received $25 billion. According to today's Wall Street Journal, it is seeking billions more in order to make possible its acquisition of Merrill Lynch.

NLPC's Complaint reads, in part:

"When the TARP was presented to Congress, Secretary Henry Paulson and others argued that the situation was dire, and that the failure of major financial institutions posed a systemic risk to our economy. The stated goal was to unfreeze credit so that banks can make loans to businesses and individuals. It was never contemplated that banks use their capital to make donations to organizations founded by a controversial figure like Jesse Jackson.

It should be noted that shareholders have made objections to corporate donations to Rainbow/PUSH and the so-called Citizenship Education Fund (CEF) even before the onset of the financial crisis. CEF is a 501(c)(3) organization founded by Jesse Jackson that co-sponsors the Wall Street Conference. In recognition of these objections, the New York Stock Exchange itself ended its financial sponsorship of the event in 2005.

Citigroup's management and board of directors cannot claim that it is unaware of the donations to Jesse Jackson's groups, or that they have not sparked controversy. Indeed, in remarks at the company's annual meetings in 2006 and 2007, I vigorously raised the issue in connection to our shareholder proposals asking for disclosure of Citigroup's charitable contributions, a resolution management opposed.

It should be further noted that Citigroup's relationship with Jesse Jackson began under questionable circumstances that have contributed in part to Citigroup's present problems and its need to seek taxpayer support. When Travelers and Citicorp sought to merge in 1998, Jesse Jackson said he would oppose the merger. Citigroup initiated financial support to his organizations. Jesse Jackson changed his position and supported the merger. It was speculated in the media that Citigroup's 'charitable' giving to Jesse Jackson's groups did have a business purpose.

As shareholders, we have protested corporate support for Jesse Jackson's organizations. Now that all taxpayers are shareholders in both Citigroup and Bank of America, these donations are completely objectionable, and should not be allowed. Unless you undertake a swift review of this matter, and take appropriate action, public cynicism about the use of TARP funds for their intended purpose will only increase."

Obama Windfall Profits Tax on Oil and Gas Industry Could Fund Stimulus Plan

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is a statement from American Small Business League President Lloyd Chapman:

Every day for more than two years President-elect Barack Obama promised voters that if he was elected president, he would enact a windfall profits tax on the oil and gas industry to fund a $1000 per household energy rebate. (

Just two days after being elected on November 6, President-elect Obama rolled out his transition website,, ( which contained all of the policies he intended to implement. The top issue under the "Economy" section of the Obama-Biden Agenda was the enactment of a windfall profits tax on the oil and gas industry. Two days later on November 8, the windfall profits tax vanished from the website. To this day, President-elect Obama has never personally offered any justification or rationale for the disappearance of one of his biggest campaign promises.

Now, with America in the middle of a historic economic disaster, which could rival the Great Depression, President-elect Obama's windfall profits tax on the oil and gas industry might be the perfect vehicle for funding an economic stimulus plan.

President-elect Obama is now proposing to spend up to one trillion tax dollars to stimulate the nation's failing economy. As opposed to spending approximately $300 billion in taxes to fund a $1000 per household tax rebate, now is the perfect time for President-elect Obama to reconsider the windfall profits tax on the oil and gas industry to help fund an economic stimulus plan. There is no question the oil and gas industry actually did make windfall profits during the last eight years and will almost certainly continue to do so.

The oil and gas industry's windfall profits began early in the Bush Administration. The Associated Press began reporting on the windfall profits in the oil and gas industry in 2003, when the average price of oil was $30 a barrel.


Since the oil and gas industry has made windfall profits even when the price of oil was as low as $30 dollars a barrel, it is almost certain they will continue to make record profits no matter what the price of oil.

The greed and lack of regulation of the oil and gas industry was obviously a contributing factor to America's current economic crisis. Someone must pay higher taxes eventually to fund the Wall Street bailout, and President-elect Obama's one trillion dollar economic stimulus plan.

The oil and gas industry needs to be controlled in some way. The price of gas at the pump is on the rise again, and more windfall profits at the expense of working families struggling to cope are a virtual certainty.

President-elect Obama's windfall profits tax on the oil and gas industry was a great idea; everyone that voted for him thought so. Now is the time for President-elect Obama to enact the windfall profits tax on the oil and gas industry as he promised during his campaign. It will ensure energy prices stay low in relationship to the price of oil, and help fund the economic stimulus plan needed to save our nation's economy from what could be the worst economic disaster in American history.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Major Media Excuse Obama Nominee's Failure to Pay Taxes

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Rather than provide a check on the abuses of those in power, Accuracy in Media editor Cliff Kincaid says the media are making excuses for Obama Treasury Secretary nominee Timothy Geithner's failure over the years to pay a variety of taxes and to make sure those he hired as domestic help had legal status in the U.S. The media, Kincaid argues, are functioning as arms of the Obama Transition office. The most popular excuse, first put forward by the Obama office, is that Geithner just made "honest mistakes." This excuse has been picked up by the media, he notes.

In a column on the subject, Kincaid says, "based on the documents that have come out, he [Geithner] is either a tax cheat or a dummy when it comes to his basic personal finances and tax matters. Do we want either one as head of the Treasury Department?"

Kincaid suggests poor coverage of the scandal by NBC News may be related to the fact that Jeffrey Immelt, chairman and chief executive officer of NBC parent company General Electric (GE), is on the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, whose president is Timothy Geithner. "It is also interesting to note that a subsidiary of GE, GE Capital, is getting some of the federal bailout money that Geithner, if he is confirmed, will have a role in managing," Kincaid notes. He asks, "Conflict of interest, anyone?"

He adds, "Another member of the board of the New York Fed is Lee C. Bollinger, the president of Columbia University, who serves on the board of the Washington Post Company. This is the media conglomerate whose media properties include the Washington Post newspaper, Newsweek, and Slate."

"Connections like this help explain why Geithner's tax problems won't become a scandal or even much of a controversy for major elements of the media," the AIM editor concludes.

Congressional Action Could Harm Physician Hospitals; Economic Impact Could Be Severe Warns PHA

/PRNewswire/ -- Special interests who tried to attack physician-owned hospitals in Congress last year by attaching harmful measures to the Farm Bill and War Supplemental Bill are at it again. Now, a handful of lawmakers are trying to use a children's health care bill to limit patients' access to some of the best hospitals in the country.

"We know that physician-owned hospitals are good for patients and good for the economy," said Molly Sandvig, Executive Director of Physician Hospitals of America (PHA), the national association representing the interests of physician hospitals. "It is completely counterintuitive that at a time when our country is experiencing an economic downturn, high rates of unemployment, and inadequate access to healthcare, Congress would consider killing an industry that provides over 55,000 jobs nationally and that provides patients access to the best quality healthcare available in America."

There are currently 199 physician-owned hospitals nationwide. Together, these facilities employ thousands of doctors, nurses, and support staff. They also provide a local economic engine through property taxes, higher wage jobs, and greater health care choices for local residents.

A recent study of the economic impact of physician-owned hospitals in Arkansas, Indiana, Louisiana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas conducted by the Health Economics Consulting Group found that:

"Physician-owned hospitals add considerable value to state economies, ranging from a net effect of $117.8 million in Pennsylvania to $2.3 billion in Texas. The combined impact across all eight states is $2.9 billion. This implies that physician-owned hospitals, through their employment and capital expenditures, generate a total of $3.9 billion in economic activity in these eight states alone."

The proposed language being added to the children's health care bill (SCHIP) would not allow hospitals to grow and would essentially cause these hospitals to whither on the vine since they could not adjust to marketplace demand. Also, there would be no protection offered for hospitals under development and no physician hospitals built after January 1, 2009 would be allowed to take Medicare or Medicaid patients. Closure of physician-owned hospitals would eliminate $2.4 billion in total payroll, $509 million in federal taxes, $1.9 billion in trade payables, and will put 55,000 full- and part-time employees out of work.

There are also 85 hospitals currently under development nationally. On these hospitals, an estimated $1,830,909,350 has been expended with $574,358,090 still outstanding, ready to be spent. The addition of these 85 hospitals would also equate to an estimated 23,000 more jobs.

"HR 2 is punitive legislation and the physician hospital piece is an insignificant offset to the costs of SCHIP. It is hard to understand how Congress can propose an important increase in medical services to children while simultaneously cutting back on hospitals that provide services to this population, among others," said Sandvig.

'President Obama: Make Clarity, Transparency, Simplicity a Priority,' Say 79% of the American People

/PRNewswire/ -- "People are desperate for clarity and simplicity in order to make informed decisions," says Alan Siegel, Founder and Chairman of global brand consultancy Siegel+Gale. "There is a huge opportunity for government and business to overcome cynicism and regain lost trust through the way they communicate with their constituents and customers."

A new survey of 1,214 American homeowners and investors conducted by Siegel+Gale between December 29, 2008 and January 5, 2009, released today, shows an overwhelming majority demand more clarity in communications from companies and the government. Fully 84% of all consumers say they are more likely to trust a company that uses jargon-free, plain English in communications. And 79% say they think it is "very important" that President Obama "mandate that clarity, transparency, and plain English be a requirement of every new law, regulation and policy."

"Transparency and authenticity are the new marketing imperatives," says Lee Rafkin, Siegel+Gale's Global Director of Simplification. "People are fed up and desperate for institutions and brands that offer simple and honest communications they can understand. That's the clear message from our most recent research survey."

Complexity Up; Trust Down

Three-quarters of survey respondents (75%) say that complexity and lack of understanding have played a significant role in the current financial crisis. Moreover, 63% of those surveyed feel that "banks, mortgage lenders, and Wall Street intentionally make things complicated to hide risks or to keep people in the dark."

Trust in companies is predictably down, the survey shows. Compared to one year ago, 37% are less likely to trust their mortgage lender, 36% are less likely to trust their broker or financial advisor, and 35% are less likely to trust their bank.

However, consumers agreed they should shoulder some of the blame for the financial crisis. Over half of all surveyed admitted to not reading or attempting to understand the complicated documents they sign. And 50% agreed with the statement, "Financial products are inherently complicated. It's the final responsibility of the customer to make sure they understand all the risks."

The survey asked how much of an impact jargon-free, plain-English explanations and disclosures would make on consumer interest in a number of categories. Consumers reported:

-- a 79% increased interest in investing in a financial product,
-- a 73% increased interest in selecting a broker or a financial advisor,
-- a 67% increased interest in purchasing a life insurance policy,
-- a 63% increased interest in taking out a loan, and
-- a 63% increased interest in applying for a credit card.

Taxpayer Watchdogs Offer List of 'Ax-Ready' Programs as Alternative to Mayors' Pork Projects

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The U.S. Conference of Mayors has sent Congress a $96.6 billion wish list of "shovel-ready" projects to allegedly create jobs and improve the nation's infrastructure, but the National Taxpayers Union (NTU) and the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW) are offering a different solution to stimulate the economy: an updated list of "ax-ready" programs and legislation that would reduce wasteful spending. Last October, NTU and CCAGW sent a letter to then-Presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama outlining ways to reduce federal outlays.

"Before Election Day, NTU and CCAGW answered the Presidential hopefuls' calls for going through the budget 'line by line' to root out waste and inefficiency," NTU President Duane Parde said. "Now, we're highlighting more 'ready-to-cut' areas of the federal government for Congress to act on instead of stuffing states full of pork." CCAGW President Tom Schatz added, "Congress must cut wasteful spending now, at the same time the stimulus package is being considered. Promising to address the mounting fiscal burden on taxpayers at a later date means that nothing will ever happen."

Among the mayors' "'Ready to Go' Jobs and Infrastructure Projects" are well over $1 billion in projects involving sidewalks; $1 million for annual sewer rehabilitation in Casper, WY; $6.1 million for corporate hangars, parking lots, and a business apron at the Fayetteville, AR airport; 28 projects with the term "stadium" in them; and 117 projects mentioning landscaping and/or beautification efforts. The taxpayers should be most teed off at the 20 golf courses included in the list.

Some alternatives to the mayors' list could be found through NTU's research arm, the National Taxpayers Union Foundation (NTUF), which through its BillTally program has compiled a list of legislation that would reduce federal spending. NTUF also maintains a roster of 2,150 spending-cut bills introduced in the last nine Congresses that totaled over $9.5 trillion, only 69 of which were eventually signed into law (for a savings of $89.6 billion). Finally, NTU reviews data from the Bush Administration's Program Assessment Rating Tool, which found nearly 220 programs in 2007 that were ineffective or did not demonstrate results.

CCAGW's research arm, Citizens Against Government Waste, has just issued the "2009 Prime Cuts," which has 700 cut recommendations totaling $1.9 trillion over five years. It includes the elimination of duplicative and inefficient programs such as the Market Access Program, which costs $231 million over five years to help large and profitable American companies advertise abroad.

"The mayors have billed their projects as 'shovel-ready,' but the only shoveling going on would be out of taxpayers' pockets," Parde concluded. Schatz added, "The best way to stimulate the economy and create jobs is to cut wasteful spending and keep money in the private sector."

Committee on Capital Markets Regulation Releases Recommendations for Reorganizing U.S. Regulatory Structure

/PRNewswire/ -- The Committee on Capital Markets Regulation, noting that the U.S. financial crisis has put the issue of financial regulatory structure on the front burner of public policy for the first time in decades, today released the following statement and recommendations for reorganizing the nation's financial regulatory structure:

The crisis has made possible reforms on a scale not imaginable since the Great Depression. Indeed, the severity of the crisis, the scope of the regulatory failures and the antiquated, patchwork design of the U.S. regulatory structure have given rise to a broad consensus regarding the need for sweeping regulatory reorganization.

This consensus presents a historic opportunity to bring U.S. financial regulatory structure into the 21st century, ensuring our role as a global leader in financial markets. Done properly, reform will restore market confidence, increase consumer and investor protection, improve regulatory quality, stimulate capital formation, enhance our ability to manage systemic risk and facilitate global policy coordination.

The Committee on Capital Markets Regulations believes there is enormous room to improve our regulatory structure. The U.S. employs more financial regulators and expends a higher percentage of its gross domestic product on financial oversight than any other major country. There are approximately 38,700 financial regulatory staff in the U.S., versus some 3,100 in the United Kingdom. Meanwhile, financial regulatory costs in the U.S. total $497,984 per billion dollars of GDP, versus $276,655 in the United Kingdom.

Yet recent events suggest that the far larger staffs and greater funding in the U.S. have not resulted in a correspondingly higher quality of supervision. The U.S. Treasury recognizes this, and issued its own bold recommendations, "Blueprint for a Modernized Financial Regulatory Structure," in March 2008.

At its core, federal financial regulation performs four functions: providing a lender of last resort, supervising and regulating financial institutions for safety and soundness, regulating market structure and conduct and providing for consumer/investor protection. Any regulatory structure must effectively perform these four functions. Further, the Committee believes that the functions must be coordinated by the President through the office of the Secretary of the Treasury. However, determining which part of the regulatory structure performs some or all of these functions is a more difficult challenge.

The Committee's recommendations address only revisions to U.S. federal regulatory structure. The Committee may consider later whether to address the role of the states and self-regulating organizations ("SROs"), internal agency organization or global coordination.(1)

The Committee is a non-partisan group of independent U.S. business, financial, investor and corporate governance, legal, accounting and academic leaders. It was formed in the fall of 2006 to study and report on ways to improve the regulation of the U.S. capital markets.

(1) In March, the Committee will release a new report -- "Capital Markets Regulation After the Credit Crisis" -- addressing key substantive regulatory issues.