Tuesday, March 31, 2009
The MOU establishes conditions of the partnership between ATF and those countries regarding policy and procedures for the access and use of eTrace services made available to law enforcement agencies.
eTrace is a paperless firearm trace submission system that is accessible through a secure connection to the World Wide Web. This Internet application provides the necessary utilities for submitting, retrieving, storing and querying firearms trace-related information allowing for the systematic tracing of firearms recovered from crime scenes. Analysis of firearms trace data can assist in the identification of firearms trafficking patterns and geographic profiling for criminal hot spots and possible sources of illicit firearms.
ATF processed more than 300,000 crime-gun trace requests in fiscal year 2008, including traces from 58 countries. The other countries in the region that have eTrace capabilities include the Bahamas, Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Panama and Mexico. The seven Central American states recently signed the same MOU in December 2008. (For additional information see: http://www.state.gov/p/wha/hs/c29261.htm.)
A Rasmussen Reports poll released March 26 finds 63 percent of all voters now say tax cuts will help America’s economy. That’s an increase from the 56 percent measured in February and the highest number since Rasmussen began tracking the question in the mid-1990s.
Among unaffiliated voters, the number is even higher – 68 percent.
“Libertarians have been cutting taxes since the day we elected our first official nearly 40 years ago,” said William Redpath, Libertarian National Committee Chair. “Republicans and Democrats have been working together to drive up spending and taxes, and a supermajority of voters agree with over 200 currently elected Libertarians that this is wrong.”
“No wonder interest in the Libertarian Party on the rise. Voters prefer the very popular Libertarian policy of fiscal responsibility and limited government to get the economy moving,” said Redpath.
President Obama is doing little to assuage fears his tax hikes will hurt the economy. The Rasmussen poll also finds 51 percent of voters believe increasing taxes hurts the economy, the highest number since early January.
The Rasmussen poll also finds 52 percent of voters think they already pay their “fair share” of taxes, and more voters prefer a candidate who opposes all tax increases (43 percent) than one who only wants to raise taxes on the rich (42 percent.) Last month, voters preferred the “tax-the-rich” candidate by a 44 percent to 40 percent margin.
A majority of voters, 54 percent, also agree with Libertarians that a tax policy that helps the economy grow is more important than the Democrat/Republican policy of making sure “everyone pays their fair share.” Only 39 percent of voters believe punitive taxation is more important than pro-growth taxation.
While Obama promised to raise taxes only on families whose combined income was more than $250,000 a year, as well as a tax cut for “95 percent of working families,” Americans are skeptical. Sixty-six percent of voters think Obama will raise taxes on families making less than $250,000 a year.
Monday, March 30, 2009
"We are honored that Sean is coming back to Atlanta to cover our event," said Jenny Beth Martin, one of the Tea Party volunteer organizers. "I'm amazed at how fast the movement has grown in the course of just five weeks."
Mrs. Martin, a member of Smart Girl Politics, helped to organize the original Tea Party in February. The Atlanta event is a part of the Nationwide Tea Party Coalition (NTPC), the coordinator of both this and the prior Nationwide Chicago Tea Party held February 27, 2009.
The NTPC was formed February 20, 2009 by three grassroots organizations: Smart Girl Politics (SGP), Dontgo Movement (Dontgo), and Top Conservatives on Twitter (TCOT). To date, over 300 Tax Day Tea Party events are planned in cities and towns across America.
“From coast-to-coast, people can find an April 15th event nearby and come out to voice their opposition to the outrageous spending coming from Washington DC,” said Stacy Mott, founder of Smart Girl Politics.
SGP is working to bring together a broad coalition of conservatives, Libertarians, Blue Dog Democrats, and independents in order to deliver a message to Congress and the President: repeal the spending or we will retire you at the ballot box.
"SGP is a conservative organization and while we will fight to stand for our conservative principles, the tea parties are not a conservative event." said Mott. "We hope that regardless of your party affiliation, people will stand with us and tell Congress and the White House to stop spending our future."
Michelle Malkin, Newt Gingrich, Dana Loesch, GOPUSA, American Solutions, and Americans for Tax Reform have all come together to endorse the Nationwide Tax Day Tea Party.
Read about the Atlanta Tax Day Tea Party on Sean Hannity’s FOXNews blog at http://hannity.blogs.foxnews.com/2009/03/27/special-anno ...
To find out more about the Nationwide Tax Day Tea Party, visit http://taxdayteaparty.com. About the Organizations: Sean Hannity – Sean Hannity is a best-selling author, syndicated radio host, and is the host of the prime-time cable news and opinion shows, “Hannity” and “Hannitiy’s America.”
Find out more at http://www.hannity.com/
Smart Girl Politics – SGP was founded by Stacy Mott in Nov. 2008 and now has over 3,000 members. We are dedicated to the advancement of conservative women in all levels of public service. Men are more than welcome to join. Find SGP tweets on Twitter at #sgp and is on the web at http://smartgirlpolitics.org
Atlanta Tax Day Tea Party – http://www.atlantateaparty.net/
The Atlanta Tea Party is at the State Capitol (206 Washington St SW,Atlanta, GA) on Wednesday, April 15th at 7:00 pm. Rain or shine. Sean Hannity will be at this event. MARTA has a station right at the Capitol.
This event is being sponsored by the Tea Party group, but a perfect opportunity to show the FairTax as the solution. Wear your tee shirts, make signs, print out information to pass out to those who aren't showing FairTax support. Let's get them all on board with the FairTax movement by passing out FairTax info to anyone who isn't showing their FairTax support!
Print info from either the FairTax.org site or from www.gafairtax.org.
Below are some of the poll's results. This was an online survey of 884 business leaders, who are also likely voters, and it has a margin of error of +/- 1.5 percentage points. To see more results, go to www.olearyreport.com.
Question 1: In regard to the bank rescue plans and economic
stimulus, do you feel the Obama administration is trying to do too
much, is disorganized, needs more time, or is right on target?
Fifty percent of business leaders think the Obama administration is
disorganized, while only 10 percent think it is "right on target."
Twenty-eight percent think the Obama administration needs more
time, another 10 percent think it's trying to do too much, and one
percent are "not sure."
Question 2: How do you rate President Obama's efforts to free up
credit markets in his first 60 days?
Fifty-two percent of business leaders rate Obama's effort as
"poor," while only 15 percent say it is "excellent." Twenty-two
percent give Obama a "good" rating and 10 percent say "fair" (one
percent are not sure).
Question 3: Do you think the budget recently proposed by President
Obama spends too much, not enough, or the right amount?
A solid 62 percent majority think President Obama's budget spends
too much, while only 13 percent say "not enough." Only 16 percent
of business leaders think it spends the right amount, and nine
percent are not sure.
Question 4: The Employee Free Choice Act is a proposed bill that
would effectively eliminate the secret ballot used by workers in
deciding whether or not their plant, business, or small business
should be unionized. Do you favor or oppose the bill?
Seventy-two percent of business leaders oppose this bill, which
Obama supports. Only 19 percent favor the bill, and 10 percent are
Question 5: Do you agree or disagree that President Obama's
proposed tax hikes for those making $250,000 or more will hurt
businesses, forcing them to lay-off employees?
Fifty-two percent of business leaders agree that Obama's tax hikes
will hurt businesses and increase unemployment; while 42 percent
disagree (six percent are not sure).
Sunday, March 29, 2009
"In-state tuition for illegals legislation replaces innocent American students in the limited seats in college at taxpayer expense!" said William Gheen of ALIPAC. "These bills also violate Federal law, provide taxpayer rewards and incentives for people to illegally immigrate to America, and increasing demands on taxpayers."
ALIPAC defeated in-state tuition for illegals legislation in North Carolina in 2005 by defeating HB 1183. Since that time, details on how to oppose this unpopular legislation have been circulated to other states resulting in similar legislation failing in almost all states except for Nebraska. The ALIPAC document titled "How To Defeat In-State Tuition for Illegal Aliens in Your State" will be distributed anew.
"Wherever adequate public debate happens before legislators vote on these bills, in-state tuition for illegals legislation fails to pass," said William Gheen. "The nine states that have this measure passed it into law without adequate public knowledge or debate. Our goal is to assure the public in these new states is forewarned and has time to respond."
A North Carolina poll conducted by the JWP Civitas Institute in 2005 indicated that over 80% of voters were less likely to support any state lawmaker who supported in-state tuition for illegal aliens. Many national polls reinforce the fact that a super majority of Americans oppose any non emergency taxpayer benefits for illegal aliens.
ALIPAC will be deploying citizen activists from around the nation and in each targeted state to inform lawmakers that close to 80% of their constituents oppose in-state tuition for illegal aliens. ALIPAC and activists will use the Internet and talk radio shows in each state to carry the messages.
For more information visit www.alipac.us or call (866) 703-0864.
Fayette Front Page
Community News You Can Use
Fayetteville, Peachtree City, Tyrone
Friday, March 27, 2009
The legislation, introduced by Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) and Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.), is a broad amnesty measure disguised as an educational initiative that would allow millions of illegal aliens who meet a very loose definition of "student" to qualify for green cards. In addition, it provides in-state tuition benefits for illegal aliens that will displace legal residents competing for a fixed number of college admission slots and taxpayer subsidies.
The DREAM Act represents yet another attempt to enact an amnesty for illegal aliens, either in one comprehensive bill, or piecemeal. The DREAM Act would also place severe strains on state budgets and harm middle class families who are struggling to get their own kids through college.
Passage of the DREAM Act would:
-- Reward parents who violated immigration laws through their children,
and provide a powerful incentive for more illegal immigration.
-- Transfer seats and tuition subsidies to illegal aliens at a time when
state higher education budgets are being slashed, admissions
curtailed, and tuitions increased.
-- By broadly defining "student" it gives amnesty to large numbers of
illegal aliens who may be pursing any sort of education.
-- Accelerate chain migration and exponential population growth because
illegal aliens who are granted green cards will be able to petition
the Department of Homeland Security in the future to grant their
parents and relatives legal status too.
"Once again, Congress is ignoring the interests and concerns of hard-working, law-abiding Americans in order to reward illegal immigrants and pander to the illegal alien lobby," said Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). "Even as American families are struggling, and nearly every state is facing a budget crisis, Congress is prepared to mandate huge additional burdens in the form of a massive illegal alien amnesty."
"The American people have made it very clear that they reject amnesty for illegal aliens whether it's in one comprehensive bill, or piecemeal," Stein said. "The DREAM Act would not only allow millions of newly legalized illegal aliens to compete for their jobs, but allow them to compete for their own children's educational opportunities. With private university tuitions already out of reach for most middle class families, and tuitions at public universities rising three times faster than median family incomes, the DREAM Act would be more than a reward for illegal aliens. It would crush the hopes and dreams of countless American families trying to provide opportunities to their own children."
Thursday, March 26, 2009
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The U.S. Treasury’s financial rescue plan presented today (Monday) does not differ significantly from a previous one announced in September by the Bush administration and shouldn’t be expected to perform much differently, says a Duke University economist.
“This is the same dog that didn’t hunt a few months ago, the last time it was proposed,” said Connel Fullenkamp, a Duke associate professor of the practice in economics.
“It's going to be a cherry-picking exercise for investors with ready cash,” Fullenkamp said. “This won’t really ease the crunch that much, but a lucky few will be able to buy the least-troubled assets at good prices and make a lot of money from them.”
The new plan aims to get private investors to partner with a new federal entity to buy up troubled assets from banks.
“What I'd really like to know from Treasury Secretary Geithner is what has changed in the financial markets that will make firms that were previously unwilling to make a market for these assets suddenly make a market now,” he said.
Zogby/O'Leary Report Poll Finds Majority of American Voters Don't Fault U.S. Gun Laws for Mexican Drug Violence
One of the reasons for bringing back these unpopular laws, according to Holder, is that Mexican drug cartels are becoming increasingly violent and warring with Mexican government troops. Holder says that some of the guns being used by the Mexican drug mafia are being obtained illegally from the United States.
Mexico is a country with a reputation for political corruption and a healthy disregard for the individual rights of its citizens. Still, Holder and the Obama administration think that limiting the Second Amendment rights of U.S. citizens is a cure for drug violence in Mexico.
However, according to a recent poll conducted by The O'Leary Report and Zogby International, a vast majority of the American voting public disagrees.
The poll, which was conducted March 20-23 and has a margin of error of plus-or-minus 1.5 percentage points, asked 4,523 likely voters:
"Mexican officials, gun control groups and officials at the Department of Homeland Security claim drug cartels are crossing the U.S. border in order to obtain guns illicitly. Others say that the Mexican drug cartels are equipped with military hardware including grenades, anti-tank missiles and mortars - all weapons that are not available to the American public. Which of the following do you think is the main source for Mexican drug cartel arms?"
Sixty-five percent of voters say that the international black market is the main source for Mexican drug cartel arms; while only 13.5 percent think these arms are coming from U.S. gun stores (3.5 percent think the arms are coming from somewhere else and 18 percent are not sure).
Among voters aged 18-29 years old, one of President Obama's strongest groups of supporters, 73 percent say international black market, and just six percent say U.S. gun stores (two percent say somewhere else and 19 percent are not sure).
A strong majority of self-described Independent voters (66 percent) also say that the international black market is main source of arms for Mexican drug cartels, and only 12 percent say U.S. gun stores (four percent say somewhere else and 19 percent are not sure).
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
AIG Gives $644,000 in 'Campaign Bonuses' to U.S. Senators and Representatives According to The O'Leary Report
According to a breaking poll conducted by The O'Leary Report and Zogby International, 73 percent of Americans think any members of Congress who received campaign contributions from AIG over the last two years should return the money.
This might go double for President Obama and Senator Dodd, who were by far the largest recipients of AIG campaign cash in the last election cycle. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Obama received $104,332 from AIG and Dodd raked in $103,900. Obama and Dodd far outpaced the rest of Congress, as the next largest beneficiary received about $45,000 less than each of them. All told, AIG gave a total of $644,218 to federal candidates over the last election cycle.
The O'Leary Report/Zogby poll, which was conducted March 20-23 and has a margin of error of plus-or-minus 1.5 percentage points, asked 4,523 likely voters: "Should members of Congress who received campaign donations over the past two years from the troubled financial giant AIG return the contributions?"
Seventy-three percent of all respondents say "yes," these members of Congress should return their AIG bonuses. Among self-described Democrats, 61 percent say yes, as do 83 percent of Republicans and 78 percent of Independents.
Sixty-four percent of young voters aged 18-29 years old, one of the President's most enthusiastic support groups, think that Obama and congressional recipients of AIG donations should return them. Seventy-four percent of taxpayers and 70 percent of Americans who have no federal income tax liability also think the money should be returned.
The Center for Responsive Politics lists AIG as the fourth largest contributor to Senator Dodd, who chairs the Senate Banking Committee, giving him a total of $281,038 in campaign bonuses over his career. Senator Max Baucus (D-MT), who chairs the Senate Finance Committee, has received more money from AIG over his career ($91,000) than he has from any other company. The Center also reports that stimulus bill supporter Senator John Kerry (D-MA) "was by far the biggest investor in AIG, with stock valued around $2 million."
Congress may be undecided on how best to recoup AIG's taxpayer-funded bonuses, however, a clear majority of American voters want members of Congress to return the campaign bonuses they received from AIG.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Coalition for a Democratic Workplace Applauds Senator Specter for Opposing Anti-Worker Card Check Bill
In a speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate today, Senator Specter voiced opposition to both the card check scheme and the job-killing binding interest arbitration provision.
"CDW appreciates Senator Specter's principled decision to protect worker privacy and secret ballot elections," said Brian Worth with the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace.
Senator Specter's opposition effectively makes him the 41st vote against the bill.
“It’s disturbing that the President is calling for a national energy tax that will destroy jobs and wreck family budgets, and even more disturbing that White House officials have identified this national energy tax as a non-negotiable presidential priority. We need a better solution, and Republicans will offer one.
“Middle-class families and small businesses face a slumping job market, rising costs of living, and evaporating savings. Unfortunately, President Obama’s budget is poised to make matters even worse forcing Americans to deal with a new national energy tax that will cost families up to $3,100 per year.
“From last week’s revelation that the President’s budget costs a staggering $2.3 trillion more than the White House claimed to today’s discussion of a new national energy tax, Washington Democrats are making all the wrong moves when it comes to getting our economy back on track. They should work with Republicans on a budget that will help rebuild savings, create jobs, and get the government’s fiscal house back in order. The President’s budget will harm our economy and destroy jobs by spending too much, taxing too much, and borrowing too much. Republicans will offer a better budget solution in the days to come, and we hope the President and his Democratic colleagues will give it the consideration it deserves.”
Monday, March 23, 2009
"This ruling validates what we have known all along - politicians trumped the scientists when it came to the FDA's handling of Plan B," said Kirsten Moore, President and CEO of the Reproductive Health Technologies Project. "Plan B is a safe and effective back-up contraceptive method that gives women of all ages an option to prevent unintended pregnancy. We urge the FDA and Duramed to work together to lift the unnecessary age restriction and put Plan B on pharmacy shelves to make timely access a reality for anyone who needs it."
This ruling comes in response to a lawsuit filed by the Center for Reproductive Rights against the FDA for its failure to make emergency contraception Plan B available over-the-counter. The lawsuit claimed that the FDA broke its own rules and regulations, ignored medical consensus, as well as the expertise of its own scientists and advisory committees by holding Plan B to an arbitrarily higher standard than other OTC products. The plaintiffs asked the court to order the FDA to make Plan B available over-the-counter for women of all ages.
Plan B is an FDA-approved, back-up birth control method that can prevent pregnancy in the first few days after sex. Containing a concentrated dose of the progestin hormone found in daily birth control pills, Plan B can reduce the risk of pregnancy by up to 89 percent when taken within 72 hours of sexual intercourse (the sooner a woman takes it, the more effective it is). Critics have argued that increased access to Plan B would lead to promiscuity or other risky health behaviors but these concerns are misplaced. Real world experience with EC and other contraceptives show that reducing barriers to access is important but not sufficient when it comes to reducing unintended pregnancy. Access must be coupled with information and education to help individuals make healthy choices throughout their lifetime.
Friday, March 20, 2009
The six offices closing -- located in Lake Mary, FL; North Reading, MA; Manchester, NH; Edison, NJ; Erie, PA, and Spokane, WA -- house only administrative functions and will not adversely affect customer service, mail delivery, Post Office operations or ZIP codes. The functions of these six offices will be assumed by 10 district offices within close proximity.
Additionally, administrative staff positions at the district level nationwide are being reduced by 15 percent. More than 1,400 mail processing supervisor and management positions at nearly 400 facilities around the country also are being eliminated and nearly 150,000 employees nationwide are being given the opportunity to take an early retirement.
In the past year the Postal Service has taken very aggressive cost-cutting actions, including:
-- Cutting 50 million workhours;
-- Halting construction of new postal facilities;
-- Negotiating an agreement with the National Association of Letter
Carriers that adjusts letter carrier routes to reflect diminished
-- Freezing salaries of all Postal Service officers and executives;
-- Instituting a nationwide hiring freeze;
-- Reducing authorized staffing levels at postal headquarters and area
offices by at least 15 percent;
-- Selling unused and under-utilized postal facilities;
-- Adjusting Post Office hours to better reflect customer use; and,
-- Consolidating mail processing operations.
The Postal Service is streamlining operations and improving efficiencies across the board in order to protect its ability to provide affordable, universal mail service. By modifying networks, consolidating functions and restructuring administrative and processing operations, the Postal Service is adapting to meet the evolving needs, demands and activities of its customers.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
"The bonus scandals at AIG and the big banks are the last straw," said SEIU President Andy Stern. "Americans have simply had it with an economy that keeps delivering for top executives while leaving working people falling behind.
"It's time now for Congress to step in and make sure that workers in America can have a chance for a voice at their companies, affordable health care, and a financial system that works for people, not lavish corporate lifestyles."
The first national action since the bailouts began is being sponsored by a range of organizations, including the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Change to Win, Rock the Vote, MoveOn.org, United Students Against Sweatshops, Coalition of Labor Union Women, Partnership for Working Families, Working Families Party, Brave New Films, Catholics United, and Jobs With Justice.
Demonstrations are planned at more than 100 locations in over 30 states, including:
Chicago: 3:30 p.m. CDT; Bank of America, 231 S. LaSalle, to AIG on Adams
Boston: Noon EDT; Bank of America, 100 Federal St. to AIG on High St.
Denver: Noon MDT; Wells Fargo, 1700 Lincoln St., to AIG, 1225 17th St.
Los Angeles: 4:45 p.m. PDT; AIG HQ, 1999 Ave of the Stars, Century City
New York: 4:00 p.m. EDT; Goldman Sachs, 85 Broad, to AIG, 70 Pine St., to Citi
Pittsburgh: 3:30 p.m. EDT; Spring Hill Suites, 223 Federal St.
Portland: 11:45 a.m. PDT; Salmon St. Fountain to Goldman Sachs
San Francisco: Noon PDT, Wells Fargo, 420 Montgomery, to AIG
Washington, DC: 12:30 p.m. EDT; AIG, 2020 K St. NW
The nationwide protests challenge Congress to take immediate steps to rebuild an economy that works for everyone by passing:
The Employee Free Choice Act so workers have the freedom to form unions for a voice to share in the economic progress they help create.
Affordable, quality health care for all where everyone, including big corporations, does their share and Americans no longer have to go without quality health care or face health costs that sink a family's budget.
Strong banking reform to make sure the financial services industry can never again bring our economy down by prioritizing huge profits and executive pay over responsible lending, or by preying on consumers, gambling with families' hard-earned money, and hiding their dealings.
For more information on actions happening across the country, please visit www.TakeBackTheEconomy.org.
With 2 million members in Canada, the United States and Puerto Rico, SEIU is the fastest-growing union in the Americas. Focused on uniting workers in healthcare, public services and property services, SEIU members are winning better wages, healthcare, and more secure jobs for our communities, while uniting their strength with their counterparts.
The letter, from Harvey Rosenfield, the California-based consumer advocate who authored the state's insurance rate rollback Proposition 103, and Jim Donahue of the Washington-based WallStreetWatch.Org, asserts that Geithner has been unable to transcend his earlier role, while Chair of the New York Fed, as an architect of the failed Bush Administration Wall Street bailouts -- including the initial $80 billion AIG bailout.
Moreover, it appears the Treasury Department was aware of the latest round of bonus and retention payments but failed to announce them until after AIG issued $160 million in checks. Pointing out that the President has often called for "an open, honest government that would fight" for people, not special interests, it concludes that "In these grave days of national reckoning, the citizenry deserves better."
"It is clear that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner cannot provide the requisite independence that is required in an environment in which financial institutions and other businesses are demanding trillions of dollars of taxpayer money," the letter to President Obama states. "With respect, we urge you to ask for his resignation."
Two weeks ago, WallStreetWatch.Org issued a 231-page report pinpointing twelve policy decisions by the federal government that led directly to the current financial calamity -- and how those policies were dictated by Wall Street through over $5 billion in campaign and lobbying expenditures between 1998 and 2008 by many of the same firms who are receiving American taxpayer dollars.
The letter calling for Geithner's resignation, and "Sold Out: How Wall Street and Washington Betrayed America," are available at: WallStreetWatch.org.
This week, followers of PGPF's National Debt on Twitter witnessed a record high when its national debt "tweet" clocked in at $11,033,157,578,669.78 -- crossing the $11 trillion mark for the first time in U.S. history.
By going virtual, PGPF now provides an easy way for Americans to monitor a part of our nation's financial obligations every day -- without the space limitations of the famous "national debt clock" which was a prominent fixture in New York City's Times Square neighborhood, until in ran out of numbers in 2008.
PGPF's National Debt on Twitter has experienced a surge of interest, primarily through "word-of-mouse", and now has over 5,000 followers and growing.
As Americans feel tremendous anxiety and doubt over the nation's weakened economic state, more and more people have turned to social networking sites to get informed and share their concerns with others online.
In response, PGPF has now launched the National Debt Page on Facebook. After visiting the National Debt Page and "becoming a fan," concerned Americans receive daily Facebook updates of the Treasury Department's national debt numbers. The Facebook account also has the added advantage of allowing users to connect with other Facebook "fans" of the National Debt from across the world.
Unnerving as our $11 trillion national debt may be, factoring in the government's off-the-balance sheet liabilities and unfunded retirement and health care obligations, $11 trillion is just the tip of the iceberg. The real national debt is actually $56.4 trillion, or $483,000 per U.S. household.
National Debt on Twitter:
National Debt on Facebook:
PGPF President & CEO Dave Walker on Facebook:
PGPF on Facebook:
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
U.S. Sues Union Pacific R.R. for $37 Million for Allegedly Failing to Prevent Use of Rail Cars to Smuggle Narcotics Across Border
According to the complaints, Union Pacific Railroad, the largest provider of rail transportation services in North America, has substantial Mexico rail operations, serving border gateways in California, Arizona and Texas. It is alleged in the complaints that Union Pacific has a substantial ownership-interest in the privatized Mexican railroad company Ferrocarril Mexicano (FM). Union Pacific also partners with FM to offer Union Pacific's customers the ability to move merchandise north- and south-bound between Mexico and the United States.
In accordance with Title 19, United States Code, Section 1584, the owner or person in charge of a vehicle bound to the United States is required to submit to Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection (CBP), a manifest that accurately identifies all merchandise on board the vehicle. A violation of this section mandates the imposition of civil monetary penalties.
"It is imperative for transportation providers to be vigilant in determining the nature of cargo they bring into the United States from other countries," said Michael F. Hertz, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department's Civil Division. "These laws were established to protect the American people."
The complaint, filed in the Southern District of California, alleges that on 37 separate occasions, from November 2001 to October 2006, after Union Pacific submitted its manifests, CBP officials found a total of over 4,000 pounds of marijuana on Union Pacific rail cars north-bound from Mexico for travel throughout the United States. According to the complaint, CBP imposed mandatory monetary penalties of $33,595,112 for Union Pacific's violations but to date, Union Pacific has failed and refused to pay the civil penalties.
The government's complaint filed in the Southern District of Texas alleges that on June 16, 2003, Union Pacific submitted a manifest to CBP for entry at the Port of Entry at Brownsville, Texas. According to the government complaint, the railroad manifest indicated that the rail cars were empty. However, the suit states that CBP officials, during a routine inspection, found a total of 99 packages containing 117 kilograms of cocaine within a false wall on the bottom side of the rail car. The suit, filed in the Southern District of Texas, seeks $4,128,000.
"Railroad companies and other freight carriers must take seriously their obligations under the law to take appropriate action to prevent the use of their vehicles to smuggle narcotics and other contraband into the United States," said Karen P. Hewitt, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California. "This civil complaint marks an important step toward addressing the repeated failure of the largest railroad company in North America to prevent rail cars bound for travel throughout the United States from being used to smuggle significant amounts of narcotics."
"Along with the profits of doing an international transportation business comes the legal obligation to ensure contraband is not also brought into our country," said Tim Johnson, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas. "The consequences of failing to meet that obligation are what this suit is all about."
"Securing the nation's rail system against the threat of cross border smuggling requires the compliance and cooperation of the rail industry," said Jayson P. Ahern, Acting Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Department of Homeland Security. "Failure to comply with reasonable security measures leads to vulnerabilities that are simply unacceptable when considering the consequences of illegal cross border activity."
The case is being handled in San Diego by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joseph P. Price, Jr., and Joseph J. Purcell; in Houston by Assistant U.S. Attorney Nancy L. Masso; in Washington by Civil Division Trial Attorneys, David S. Silverbrand and Lauren A. Weeman; and with the assistance of Shelby L. Stuntz and Julie Koller, Attorneys, Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection.
Boehner Expresses Outrage at Obama Administration’s Handling of AIG Bonuses, Abuse of Taxpayer Funds
“Two weeks ago, the President’s spokesman said that they were confident that they knew how every dime was being spent at AIG. Well clearly, they didn’t know what they were talking about. I think this is outrageous and I think the American people are rightly outraged that their tax money is going to pay bonuses to the very people that got this company in trouble.” (AUDIO)
NOTE: For months, House Republicans have been calling for more stringent accountability regarding the use of taxpayer dollars in financial bailouts. House GOP leaders wrote to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner last month, urging him to present an exit strategy to get the federal government back out of the private sector. The leaders sent a similar letter to former Treasury Secretary Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke late last year. The following exchange took place between White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs and ABC News reporter Jake Tapper on March 2, 2009.
JAKE TAPPER: AIG, is the administration confident that it, that it knows what happened to the tens of billions of dollars previously given to AIG?
ROBERT GIBBS: Is it confident – I’m sorry?
TAPPER: That they know -- that you guys know what happened to the previous billions before you hand over this next $30 billion.
GIBBS: Yes -- yes, the -- I mean, I don’t think it's a -- well, obviously, you’ve got a huge insurance company that is losing money, not the least of which because of its sheer size and sheer size and decrease in the growth in our economy. It experiences a far bigger drop, largely because of its size. But, again, the steps that -- that Treasury and -- and others took were to ensure a larger systemic problem wasn’t one that we had to deal with here today in letting something just die.
TAPPER: But in terms of specifically the -- I guess it's like $150 billion before, you guys are confident...
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
"The Washington Times nailed it," said CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb, who proposed arming pilots just hours after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and championed the armed pilot program. "What Obama is doing is risking public safety, as the newspaper put it, 'in the name of an anti-gun ideology.'"
The newspaper reported in its Tuesday edition that President Obama is "quietly ending the federal firearms program" by diverting some $2 million from the training program to hire "supervisory" staff, whose job, it appears, will be to harass armed pilots through unnecessary field inspections.
"How dare the president, or anybody in his administration, take measures to erode the safety of air travelers," Gottlieb questioned. "The armed pilot program provides a guaranteed level of security to the public. There may or may not be an air marshal aboard every airplane, but there is definitely a pilot in the cockpit.
"We trust commercial airline pilots with $500 million aircraft," he continued. "We can certainly trust them with $500 pistols to defend those planes, and the lives of their passengers.
"Certain individuals have never liked the armed pilot program," Gottlieb acknowledged. "These anti-gun, anti-self-defense bureaucrats seem more interested in their own power, and protecting their little empires, than they are in protecting the public. And now, Obama is catering to their anti-gun bigotry."
Call the White House at (202) 456-1111, or send a comment by visiting www.whitehouse.gov/contact.
With more than 650,000 members and supporters nationwide, the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (www.ccrkba.org) 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.
Monday, March 16, 2009
CDW: Hoffa's Card Check Gaffe Coincides With 20th Anniversary of Justice Department Requiring Teamsters to Hold Secret Ballot Elections
On March 10, 2009, James P. Hoffa, the current president of the Teamsters, mocked the importance of the secret ballot in a press release that commended Democratic congressional leaders for pushing forward with legislation to eliminate the secret ballot for union organizing elections.
In a desperate attempt to shift attention away from the fact that the card check scheme pushed by Big Labor and its allies on Capitol Hill would strip away worker privacy and make workers vulnerable to threats of intimidation and coercion, Mr. Hoffa, who has been elected by the Teamsters' secret ballot system three times, asked "since when is the secret ballot a basic tenet of democracy?"
The CDW ad campaign juxtaposes Hoffa's comments on the card check debate with the American people's overwhelming support of the secret ballot. A poll conducted in January for CDW found that 82 percent of likely voters believe a worker's vote in a union organizing election should be kept private; 86 percent believe a secret ballot election is the best way to protect the individual rights of workers. Only 11 percent support the card check scheme that would make the votes of workers public to their employers, co-workers and union organizers.
"The Teamsters were right to agree to use the secret ballot in 1989," said Brian Worth, with the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace. "It cleaned up mob-related corruption and made the union more accountable to rank and file workers. I'm assuming Mr. Hoffa is not in favor of taking away the secret ballot from his members. I just don't understand how he can justify stripping it away from the millions of American workers who don't belong to his union."
Friday, March 13, 2009
Since 2006, the percentage of adults who believe the federal government to be somewhat or very secretive has grown steadily; from 62 percent in 2006 to 74 percent in 2008. The latest survey finds 73 percent characterizing federal government as secretive.
This mood is perhaps buoyed by the nearly eight in 10 adults who think President Obama's Freedom of Information directive calling for a presumption of disclosure is the right thing to do.
"Trust in government has been on the decline for some time in the United States. The previous administration's disclosure policies certainly contributed to public skepticism," said Jerry Miller, director of the Scripps Survey Research Center at Ohio University. "People now appear more optimistic, but still guarded, about President Obama and the current administration's disclosure practices under the Freedom of Information Act."
As in previous years' surveys, people see their state and local governments as more open than the federal system. At the state level, 54 percent view government as open, 44 percent as secretive. People also are more trusting of local public officials. More than half, 56 percent, say their local government is very or somewhat open, with 44 percent rating it as very or somewhat open.
"The more open our government, the more inclusive the processes that impact our everyday lives," noted Rich Boehne, president and chief executive officer of The E.W. Scripps Co.
Two-thirds of adults (67 percent) say they've heard of the federal Freedom of Information Act, and when told about it, slightly more (77 percent) think it is a good law. However, hardly anyone surveyed had ever used it. Nine in 10 adults (94 percent) have never requested information using a FOIA request. None of this, of course, dulls their skepticism about compliance with the law: 61 percent say they believe the federal government only sometimes, rarely or never obeys FOIA law.
"It's heartening there is a reversal in the downward trend of public confidence in the openness of the federal government," said Andy Alexander, co-chair of the American Society of Newspaper Editor's FOI Committee.
"But it's sobering to note that more than half of those surveyed said they still believe their government only sometimes, rarely or never abides by disclosure requirements mandated by law," added Alexander, who is ombudsman at The Washington Post.
The survey of 946 adults was conducted by telephone from Feb. 16 through March 11 by the Scripps Survey Research Center at Ohio University under a grant from the Scripps Howard Foundation. The survey has a margin of error of about 4 percentage points.
The survey has been commissioned by ASNE for Sunshine Week since 2006, Sunshine Week is a non-partisan open government initiative led by ASNE, with print, online and broadcast media; public officials; civic groups and non-profit organizations; public and special libraries; educators and students; religious leaders; and others. It is primarily funded by a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
U.S. Gun Industry Feeds Gun Violence on U.S./Mexico Border, Violence Policy Center Analyst Tells Congress
"If one wanted to design a system to pour military-style guns into criminal hands, it would be hard to find a better one than the U.S. civilian gun market," Diaz testified before the Subcommittee on National Security & Foreign Affairs of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. "The only 'better' way would be openly selling guns to criminals from the loading docks of manufacturers and importers."
Diaz pointed out that officials of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) have stated that Mexican drug lords increasingly seek military-style weapons easily available on the U.S. civilian market. These include: the Barrett 50 caliber anti-armor sniper rifle capable of piercing armor plate from a mile and a half; semiautomatic assault rifles, including variants of the Colt AR-15 and the Kalashnikov AK-47; and, the "vest-busting" anti-armor handgun the FN Herstal Five-seveN 5.7mm pistol, known as the "cop killer" in Mexico.
The VPC has issued numerous studies on the increasing military-bred lethality of civilian firearms in the United States and on the lax regulation of the U.S. gun market. These are available at the website www.vpc.org.
"The U.S. gun market doesn't just make gun trafficking in military-style weapons to drug cartels and their criminal associates in the United States easy," said Diaz, "it practically compels that traffic. Lax regulation of the U.S. gun market and the gun industry's ruthless design choices fit like gloves on the bloody hands of the drug lords and their criminal gang associates."
Diaz told the subcommittee that President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder could immediately direct ATF to strictly exercise its statutory authority to stop the importation of all semiautomatic assault rifles as "non-sporting" weapons under existing provisions of the 1968 Gun Control Act.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
100,000 Americans Sign 'Freedom Not Fear' Petition While Congress Introduces Destructive 'Card Check' Bill
The petition reads:
We, therefore, petition the U.S. Congress to ensure that every worker has the right to a secret ballot when deciding whether to organize a union, as well as the right to ratify the contract terms of their employment, rather than be forced to accept a contract through binding arbitration.
"Congress is stunningly out of touch with reality if they think the American people will support this destructive, job-killing bill. It is a deliberate attempt by big labor bosses to undermine one of our most fundamental first principles - the right to vote freely without coercion," said Saul Anuzis, Chairman of American Solutions' Save American Jobs Project. "These 100,000 Americans are the first of many more we will recruit on a state-by-state basis to bring constituent pressure to bear on their elected officials to defeat Card Check."
Introduction of the Card Check legislation comes at a particularly unstable economic time when we can't afford to lose more jobs. In fact, according to the new study by noted economist Dr. Anne Layne-Farrar, An Empirical Assessment of the Employee Free Choice Act: The Economic Implications, an increase of 1.5 million union members in year one would lead to the loss of 600,000 jobs by the following year.
"Small business owners are struggling to keep their doors open, and the last thing we need is more federally imposed work rules which will reduce competitiveness and kill more jobs," Anuzis said. "Instead of trying to pass this destructive bill, Congress should focus on positive solutions to create jobs and get our economy back on the right track."
To learn more about the "Freedom Not Fear" petition drive, visit www.AmericanSolutions.com/FreedomNotFear.
Buffett's opposition to card check comes on the heels of the release of a new economic study showing that the card check scheme will eliminate 600,000 American jobs by 2010 and result in severe job losses in future years as the workforce becomes more unionized.
The study, which was conducted by noted economist, Dr. Anne Layne-Farrar, concludes that every three percent increase in unionization will lead to a one percent increase in unemployment.
The Coalition for a Democratic Workplace (CDW), the leading business coalition opposing card check, has launched an advertising effort this week in Capitol Hill newspapers to educate lawmakers about the negative impact that the Employee Free Choice Act will have on our economy.
"In a time of deep recession, the last thing Congress should do is pass legislation that will cost Americans their jobs. Card check is a poison pill for our ailing economy. President Obama would be wise to heed the warnings of Mr. Buffett," said Brian Worth with the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace.
Monday, March 9, 2009
In a letter to President Obama, the nonpartisan nonprofit Consumer Watchdog said policies developed by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), which runs the state's $6 billion stem cell research program, could be a model for federal policy.
"Your action will undoubtedly spur new gains in this vital area of medical research," wrote John M. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog's Stem Cell Project director. "Celebrating the change in policy is not enough, however. It is now necessary, more than ever, to examine the regulations governing the way federal funds are distributed to researchers. A change in those rules is needed and we call on you to work with Congress to implement reform of the Bayh-Dole Act."
Most of the federal funding for biomedical research is funneled through the National Institutes of Health. Basic scientific research is usually done at universities and non-profit research institutions, most of it with federal funds. Under the Bayh-Dole Act discoveries that are made at these institutions can be patented by them. They then license the patents to industry. The royalties go only to the universities and research institutions. Nothing is returned to the taxpaying public who funded the research.
"Under Bayh-Dole, the public pays twice for medical discoveries," said Simpson, "First we fund the research; then we are faced with high drug prices protected by the monopoly that the patent guarantees."
Consumer Watchdog said federal policies for public funding of scientific research should incorporate these four principles:
--When a discovery has been funded by the public, the public should share in any profits.
--If the public has paid for key discoveries, then government policies should guarantee affordable access to cures and treatments resulting from those discoveries.
--If the government has funded an invention, but the patent holder does not commercialize it, the government should be able to license the invention to someone who will.
--The results of all federally funded research should be available to all U.S. researchers for further research without a licensing fee. Once taxpayers pay to develop a technology, all researchers should have free access to it for further non-commercial research.
"When venture capitalists provide money to companies they require clearly spelled out conditions and expectations," said Simpson. "There is no reason it should be any different when taxpayers put their hard-earned dollars on the line to fund research."
The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) was created by the voters of California under Proposition 71 to partially fill the void created when President Bush imposed the stem cell funding restrictions. Its $6 billion program makes it the world's largest funder of stem cell research.
Key elements of its Intellectual Property Policy regulations are provisions for a payback to the state. For example, if there is revenue to a research institution as the result of publicly funded research, 25 percent goes back to the state's general fund. The IP policy also has provisions to help ensure affordability and access by uninsured people to cures and treatments that were developed with public money.
National Multiple Sclerosis Society Commends President Obama's Initial Steps in Removing the Bans on Embryonic Stem Cell Research
President Obama has taken a major step in removing the barriers to a promising path of responsible scientific research and the Society commends him for the new hope and optimism he brings to the millions of people living with chronic and debilitating diseases or disabilities.
Says Weyman T. Johnson, Jr., Chair, National MS Society's board of directors:
"As an MS advocate and someone living with the disease, I applaud President Obama's actions. The lifting of the ban on embryonic stem cell research now allows our best scientific minds the opportunity to pursue all avenues that can speed more effective treatments and we hope, eventually, find a cure for the over 400,000 people in America living with MS."
Adds Dr. John Richert, Executive Vice President for Research and Clinical Programs, National MS Society:
"The National MS Society believes that all promising avenues that could lead to the cure or prevention of MS, or relieve its symptoms by repairing MS damage, must be explored - including expanding the number of stem cell lines that are available for federally funded research. President Obama's actions to alleviate restrictions on the use of embryonic stem cells represent an important step that will allow us to move forward with greater speed and effectiveness in exploring potential new areas for treatment, not only for MS but for many chronic diseases."
We are opposed to the Employee Free Choice Act because it would strip American workers, including most workers in the agricultural industry, of the right to participate in federally supervised private ballot elections and replace it with a system where their choice of whether or not to join a union is no longer private, the coalition said in an open letter to Congress last week.
"This bill is bad policy. It is bad for employers and employees," said Western Growers President and CEO and ADW Co-Chair Tom Nassif. "It would have the opposite effect of economic stimulus. Card check is a job killer at a time when American businesses are struggling to keep their doors open and avoid further reductions of the workforce."
President Barack Obama has publicly supported the EFCA, but the ADW is hopeful Mr. Obama will recognize that this legislation would hurt the development of job growth in the U.S.
Barry Bedwell, president of the California Grape and Tree Fruit League and co-chair of the ADW, added, "With the binding arbitration tenant of the EFCA and the new costs that could be levied on employers, no wonder millions of employers and workers are rallying to fight it. This bill provides no means to stimulate our economy, hinders U.S. efforts to grow business, and will undoubtedly usher in more job losses."
American agriculture stands united in opposition to the EFCA and hopes the country's elected officials will stand with them.
"Congress should oppose legislation that takes rights away from American workers -- such as the right to cast a private vote on whether to certify a union or the right to vote on a union contract at all," said California Farm Bureau Federation President and ADW Co-Chair Doug Mosebar. "If our senators and members of Congress truly want to support America's work force, they will stand with farmers and agricultural business people and oppose the EFCA."
Last month, ADW, this new coalition of national, regional and local agricultural associations covering virtually every sector of the industry launched a campaign to oppose the EFCA. ADW unveiled its Web site (www.coalitionforagriculture.org) with information and tools for coalition members to fight the battle against the introduction and passage of the EFCA.
Friday, March 6, 2009
The tax would take effect in 2009 and tax emissions at a rate of $15 per ton of carbon dioxide and increase by $10 each year (or by $15 each year if needed to keep emissions falling fast enough). It would be virtually revenue-neutral, with over 95% of carbon tax revenues used to cut payroll taxes to help Americans with higher energy prices.
"Congressman Larson has shown great leadership in introducing this bill and ramping up the debate on carbon pricing in this Congress," said Charles Komanoff, co-director of the Carbon Tax Center. "It's a debate we urgently need to have. President Obama took a big step forward in proposing carbon pricing in his budget. The strong consensus among economists is that a carbon tax is the quickest, most effective and most transparent approach. Now that we have a well-crafted carbon tax bill to work with (and more such bills in the pipeline), Congress will be able to compare the details of actual carbon tax and cap-and-trade bills, and debate them on the merits. As that debate unfolds, you'll see a groundswell of support and eventual consensus line up behind a carbon tax proposal like Rep. Larson's."
"Representative Larson is making an important contribution to the debate about how to reduce global warming pollution," said Brent Blackwelder, president of Friends of the Earth. "A key part of the solution will have to be a price on carbon. If passed, the bill introduced today by Representative Larson would establish this price, strengthening our economy and helping head off catastrophic climate change, while avoiding some of the pitfalls of previous bills that would have led to windfall profits for corporate polluters."
Unlike cap-and-trade proposals, the Larson bill calls for taxing carbon at the source, such as oil refineries and coal mines for domestic fuel, or shipping terminals for imported fuel. A total of $100 billion over the first 10 years, equivalent to three percent of the revenue, would be dedicated to tax breaks for clean energy, while another $41 billion, equivalent to one percent of the revenue (more in the initial years, less in later years) would be used for transitional assistance for workers in industries directly impacted by the carbon tax.
All of the remaining carbon tax revenue - over 95% - would be spent on cutting payroll taxes, offsetting increased energy prices for working families, and helping stimulate job growth. This would amount to a tax shift rather than a tax increase. In fact, most working families will actually come out ahead if they conserve energy modestly.
As chair of the House Democratic Caucus, Rep. Larson is the fourth-ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives and sits on the Ways and Means Committee, which will have primary jurisdiction over a carbon tax. At a hearing of the Committee held February 25 to compare the effectiveness of a cap-and-trade scheme vs. a carbon tax, NASA chief climate scientist James Hansen said, "This [carbon] tax, and the knowledge that it would continue to increase in the future, would spur innovations in energy efficiency and carbon-free energy sources... Carbon emissions will plummet far faster than with alternative top-down regulations."
America's Energy Security Trust Fund Act of 2009 is supported by Rep. George Miller (D-CA) who has co-signed a "Dear Colleague" letter announcing it. Additional carbon tax measures are being drafted by other members of Congress on both sides of the aisle, including Rep. Bob Inglis (R-SC).
Thursday, March 5, 2009
The House Energy and Commerce Committee today set Congress on a course to take truly historic action to reduce tobacco use by approving legislation granting the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authority over tobacco products. Today's 39-13 vote underscores the broad, bipartisan support for this legislation. Coming early in the new Congress, it sends a powerful signal that this year Congress will finally enact into law this long-overdue legislation to protect our children from tobacco addiction and save lives. Few actions would make a bigger difference for our nation's health than the regulation of tobacco products, the number one cause of preventable death in the United States.
We applaud House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Representative Todd Platts (R-PA) for their leadership in introducing this strong legislation and quickly moving it forward. Enactment of this legislation into law would represent a tremendous victory for America's health and a bipartisan achievement for the new Congress and President Obama, who co-sponsored the bill while a senator.
This legislation has strong, bipartisan support across the nation and in Congress. It has been endorsed by more than 950 public health, faith, medical and other organizations (see list at www.tobaccofreekids.org/reports/fda/organizations.pdf). A poll last year found that FDA regulation of tobacco products is supported by 70 percent of American voters (see details at www.tobaccofreekids.org/fdapoll/). It has been endorsed by scientific authorities including the Institute of Medicine and the President's Cancer Panel. The House of Representatives in July approved the legislation by an overwhelming vote of 326 to 102, and it had 60 Senate sponsors in the last Congress.
This legislation is urgently needed. Tobacco use kills more than 400,000 Americans and costs the nation $96 billion in health care bills each year. Every day, another 1,200 Americans die from tobacco use and another 1,000 children become new regular smokers. Yet tobacco products are virtually unregulated to protect public health. This lack of regulation allows tobacco companies to market their deadly and addictive products to children, deceive consumers about the harm their products cause, make changes to their products without disclosing them (such as manipulating nicotine levels in cigarettes) and resist any meaningful change to make their products less harmful.
This legislation would grant the FDA the authority and resources to effectively regulate the manufacturing, marketing and sale of tobacco products. Among other things, it would:
-- Restrict tobacco advertising and promotions, especially to children.
-- Stop illegal sales of tobacco products to children.
-- Require larger, more effective health warnings on tobacco packages and
-- Ban misleading health claims such as "light" and "low-tar" and
strictly regulate all health claims about tobacco products to ensure
they are scientifically proven and do not discourage current tobacco
users from quitting or encourage new users to start.
-- Require tobacco companies to disclose the contents of tobacco
products, as well as changes in products and research about their
-- Empower the FDA to require changes in tobacco products, such as the
removal or reduction of harmful ingredients or the reduction of
We urge both the House and the Senate to quickly enact this legislation into law and to resist all efforts to weaken it.
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
The Association for Healthcare Philanthropy (AHP) opposes the proposal in the President's budget that would impose new limits on charitable tax deductions.
AHP applauds the President's overall efforts in the budget to revive the economy, reform health care, revise energy policy and tackle other important issues affecting the country.
However, the budget also contains a proposal that sends the wrong message at the wrong time to those who support charitable causes. It puts forward a scheme that would effectively devalue charitable gifts made by the very people who are in a position to make substantial donations at a time when they are sorely needed. For those who earn more than $250,000, the proposal would limit the federal tax deduction they may take for their generosity to 28 percent. Currently, they may claim up to a 35 percent deduction.
In these challenging economic times, charities and nonprofits already are finding it difficult to fulfill their altruistic missions because of reduced donations and resources. Yet, in times of economic trouble, it is charities and nonprofits that do much to augment the work of the federal, state and local government in meeting the needs of the American public through their vital programs and services. In fact, charities currently are being asked to provide even greater levels of assistance. The federal government, therefore, should seek ways to bolster charitable giving--as opposed to requiring charities to do more with less.
In fact, research published by the Congressional Budget Office from 1997, the Urban Institute from 2001, the Association for Healthcare Philanthropy from 2008 and the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University from 2009 all state that giving is sensitive to price incentives provided by after-tax costs. The question that remains is: by how much?
A report by Indiana University "suggests that had these proposals been in place in 2006, total itemized charitable giving by households would have dropped by 2.1 percent." And that number fails to take into account the current large decline in America's personal wealth. Americans' generosity in support of nonprofit hospitals and health care systems is substantial, totaling $8.35 billion last year according to AHP's Report on Giving 2007. This report reveals an important insight concerning the importance of public backing for the nonprofit health care community: Almost 83 percent of all donors last year were individuals. Individuals provided 61 percent of all donations. Can American hospitals afford to lose 2.1 percent or more in contributions from these families?
Probably not. And, unfortunately, the growth rate of giving to the health care sector is slowing down and the number of donors is flat. According to a 2007 Chronicle of Philanthropy article, "Contributions to health-care institutions rose last year (2006) by 8.3 percent, adjusted for inflation, compared with a 12.9-percent rise from 2004 to 2005." The same conclusion was drawn from an AHP-sponsored study released in September 2008, by John Volpe, Ph.D., collegiate professor at the University of Maryland University College. In Economic Cycles and Charitable Giving Volpe concludes that a slowing of the growth in Gross Domestic Product and disposable personal income, as well as uncertainty over the economy are likely to contribute to weakness in charitable giving through 2009.
Yet such charitable giving is and will remain vital to the hospitals and systems to which it flows. According to the American Hospital Association (AHA) November 2008 Report on the Economic Crisis, the capital crunch is making it difficult and expensive for hospitals to finance facility and technology needs. The AHP Report on Giving indicates that more than 45 percent of charitable giving was put to use to upgrade infrastructure, including often long-overdue construction and renovation projects and equipment purchases. An additional 25 percent supported important functions such as community benefit programs, charitable care, research and teaching, and hospice, long-term and nursing care. About 14 percent went to general operations.
These accomplishments were achieved through fundraising and its outreach efforts to grateful families. While the Nation's health care needs are increasing, we must avoid creating obstacles that will diminish and discourage philanthropy.
The steep decline in personal wealth, especially if coupled with proposed limitations on tax deductions, make the outlook for philanthropy over the next 18-24 months bleak. For philanthropy to continue to fulfill its role in the American health care system, this is not the time to drastically change standards for fundraising.
Given the potential devastating impacts of this budget provision on charitable giving, AHP strongly opposes any provision that would impose new limits on charitable deductions. AHP is joined in this opinion by the Association for Fundraising Professionals (AFP).
"For too long, American taxpayers have had to foot the bill for unnecessary, and costly projects that have served only to line the pockets of contractors," said AFGE National President John Gage. "It is clear that President Obama is taking seriously his commitment to a better, stronger government by ensuring that federal programs are not driven by private interests."
"This administration intends to stop contracting out government services that should be performed by federal employees," continued Gage. "We hope this is the end of the era of privatization during which agencies were forced to contract out regardless of cost or quality, and at the expense of integrity and accountability of federal programs."
President Obama's direction builds on Section 736 of Division D of the FY09 Omnibus Appropriations Bill that requires all agencies to establish plans to insource new and outsourced work, particularly inherently governmental work wrongly contracted out, work contracted out without competition, and work contracted out that is poorly performed.
"From our VA hospitals where former President Bush's privatization agenda has undermined the care that our veterans receive, to the Social Security Administration where contracting out has jeopardized Americans' privacy, AFGE embraces President Obama's measures to reform how the government does business," concluded Gage. "AFGE and its dedicated members stand ready to help make the government run smoothly and efficiently."
"President Obama should be commended for his continued pledge to invest in clean-coal technology and to build five commercial-scale, coal-fired power plants. However, that commitment seems like mere lip service to the coal industry when considered in the context of his larger proposed investment in renewable energy thanks to an extraordinary 'energy tax' on America's coal operators.
"Again, President Obama has sent a clear signal to coal producers and the thousands of Ohioans who work in the coal industry about his long-term agenda of dramatically restricting the use of coal for electricity. While increasing the role of renewable energy is a laudable goal, it simply is not a comprehensive solution to addressing our nation's rapidly growing demand for electricity.
"Regardless of the final provisions of this proposal, one thing is certain: consumers will pay more for electricity. And during an economic crisis, that's about the last thing our working families need. Even supporters of the plan - including the President himself - acknowledge there will be significant price increases for electricity customers.
"Coal provides electricity at about half the cost of other fossil fuels. In Ohio, we have an almost 250 year supply of coal, and clean-coal technology is the key to maximizing the use of those reserves.
"Furthermore, domestic coal holds the key to our nation's long-term energy security - a goal that cannot be overlooked during this time of unprecedented economic instability.
"Access to reliable, affordable energy supplies is a core tenet of economic growth, and any U.S. energy policy change must be feasible to implement, economically beneficial and environmentally sound."
A consensus on the need for financing reform is emerging among many organizations that represent elders and people with disabilities. All agree that a program must promote consumer choice and personal responsibility while offering broad access. Recently, the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations (LCAO) and the Coordinating Council for Disabilities (CCD) jointly endorsed principles reflecting these beliefs. Together, the two coalitions represent more than 150 organizations of elders, people with disabilities and providers of health, housing and supportive services.
In the last two Congresses, Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) introduced the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports, or CLASS Act. This legislation closely aligns with the principles endorsed by the LCAO and the CCD. We urge the inclusion of similar provisions in any health reform legislation this Congress considers.
Every family faces the potential costs of long-term services and supports, and every family needs a structure for personal planning with the protection of a public program as well. AAHSA and its members look forward to working with Congress and the Administration on a comprehensive and badly-needed reform of our entire health care system that will address long-term services and supports and make it affordable to care.
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
"The United States decision to deploy missile defenses in Europe for the protection of the American Public, U.S. Armed Forces and U.S. Allies is about Iran's growing capability, intent and national will of nuclear ambition coupled with ballistic missiles. Any and all influences that can prevent and stop Iranian efforts to build nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles should be fully endorsed and supported. For the United States of America to stop the deployment of the missile defense system in Europe without complete verification that the Iranian nuclear program is dismantled and destroyed as well as the termination of development and deployment of long and medium-range ballistic missiles would put in jeopardy and risk the lives of the American public, the European public and the U.S. Armed Forces deployed in Europe and the Middle East."
"It would be foolish and remiss to believe that President Obama and his National Security Team would not choose to defend the American public, U.S. Military Forces and our Allies from an Iran that will soon develop nuclear strategic missiles. To that extent, movement towards deployment of missile defense systems in Europe must proceed."
"We fully support the outreach to Russia by this President and would hope that Russia is capable of halting Iran's national intent and their development of nuclear and ballistic missile programs. We would also want that Presidential outreach to be extended to collaboration and cooperation with Russia on their missile defense systems, of both sensors and interceptors, to help defend Europe, Russia and the United States if Iran chooses to ignore Russia's influence."
Disasters may increase hardships for seniors and people with disabilities. They are in the best position to plan for their own safety, as they are best able to know their own functional abilities and possible needs during and after an emergency or disaster. Emergencies and disasters can strike quickly and without warning and may force people to evacuate their neighborhoods or confine them to their homes.
To be ready, officials urge seniors and people with disabilities to:
Make prior arrangements with your physician or check with your oxygen supplier about emergency plans for those on respirators or other electric-powered medical equipment. Be sure to have electrical backup for any medical equipment.
Maintain a two-week supply of medications, both prescription and non-prescription.
Have copies of your medical records readily available.
Have copies of prescriptions for medical equipment, supplies and medications on hand readily available
Keep extra contact lenses and supplies, extra eyeglasses and extra batteries for hearing aids.
Make plans now to have accessible transportation in case of evacuation.
Shelters may be limited in accommodations to meet some of the needs of those with disabilities. Prepare ahead of time to ensure that you will have what you need.
Include your service animals and pets in your plans.
In addition, people with special needs should organize a network of assistance that includes care attendants, neighbors, friends, relatives and co-workers at home, school, work place, volunteer sites and any other places where they spend a lot of time. People should find out about special assistance that may be available in their community through their local emergency management coordinator.
All Washington state residents should assemble a kit with disaster supplies with basic items they anticipate needing to stay safe and comfortable during and after a disaster. This should include items such as water, food and first aid supplies.
More information regarding disaster plans and planning for special needs can be found at www.ready.gov and www.fema.gov.
FEMA leads and supports the nation in a risk-based, comprehensive emergency management system of preparedness, protection, response, recovery, and mitigation, to reduce the loss of life and property and protect the nation from all hazards including natural disasters, acts of terrorism and man-made disasters.
"The American people will not stand for Sebelius' disturbing and radical record of promoting abortion on demand," said Judie Brown, president of American Life League. "Sebelius, governor of Kansas - the late-term abortion capital of the world - is a threat to the health and well-being of our country and her appointment must be stopped."
American Life League's supporters are being activated to fight the Sebelius confirmation. Sebelius' record of unflinching support for abortion on demand has even led her to defend and even entertain notorious Kansas abortionist Dr. George Tiller - now on trial for performing illegal late-term abortions - at the governor's mansion.
"Sebelius, Obama's latest appointee has been using her high office to defend and promote one of the bloodiest, most lawless abortionists in the nation. Yet Obama thinks this woman should be in charge of American health and human services! What an insult to the people of this great nation, born and preborn," Brown said.
The American Life League "STOP Sebelius" Petition is available at: http://www.all.org/kathleen_sebelius.php
"President Obama's appointment of Gov. Sebelius for HHS Secretary is rock solid proof our new president has no concern for the health of Americans," the petition reads. "Rather, Obama's modus operandi has and will continue to be full-scale attack on the personhood of the weak, disabled and preborn."
American Life League asks the pro-life community and all right-thinking Americans concerned with the radical pro-abortion Obama administration, to join us in confronting this grave threat to the health and welfare of the nation.
The Small Business Act requires that a small business be "independently owned." Firms that are owned and controlled by venture capitalists are not considered small businesses in federal small business contracting and grant programs.
The venture capital industry, led by the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA), has spent millions of dollars lobbying members of Congress to change the current definition of a small business to allow even billionaire venture capitalists to own a controlling interest in a small business and still qualify as participants in federal small business programs. Small business advocates are concerned that such a change would set a dangerous precedent for venture capital participation in all federal small business programs, and lead to the diversion of billions more in federal small business contracts to wealthy venture capitalists.
The American Small Business League (ASBL) is concerned that President Obama may attempt to sell federal small business programs to the venture capital industry by pushing Congress to add language to the omnibus spending bill, making changes to existing Small Business Administration policy or by issuing an executive order.
According to MAPLight.org, the venture capital industry contributed more than $1.2 million to President Obama's campaign. Additionally, the venture capital lobby has focused its campaign to buy political influence on key democratic leaders like Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D - CA) and Senator John Kerry (D - MA). (http://www.maplight.org/map/us/interest/F2500)
Small business advocates point to the appointments of venture capitalist and Tootsie Roll heiress Karen Gordon Mills to run the Small Business Administration (SBA) and Julius Genachowski of Rock Creek Ventures to head the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as further indications that President Obama may support the interests of the venture capital industry over small businesses.
"Small businesses are the engine that drives this nation's economy in the car that takes Americans to work. That 'car' is responsible for nearly all-new jobs. President Obama needs to consider America's 27 million small businesses before he facilitates the wholesale diversion of billions of dollars in small business grants and contracts to some of our nation's wealthiest investors," ASBL President Lloyd Chapman said. "Legislation or policy that will allow venture capitalist-owned firms to participate in small business programs would damage our nation's small businesses, cost America's middle class billions and push our country further towards a depression. It is just not reasonable."
Two questions for President Barack Obama from the American Small Business League (ASBL):
How much longer will you allow Fortune 500 firms to take federal small business contracts?
Why didn't you push congress to allocate some of the stimulus bill spending to small businesses, the firms that create 97 percent of net new jobs?
Monday, March 2, 2009
"We are working to raise a unified voice in the pro-life/pro-family community against the confirmation of Gov. Sebelius," said Operation Rescue President Troy Newman. "Sebelius' close connections to the abortion lobby, especially late-term abortionist George Tiller make her unfit to serve."
Because many are unaware of Sebelius' extremist support of the most radical of abortion policies Operation Rescue has produced a website page that fully documents her abortion entanglements.
"The documentation we present proves that Sebelius should not be confirmed to any post that would affect abortion policy," said Newman.
The web page contains information about Sebelius' radical abortion support dating back over twenty years. It documents:
-- Sebelius' ties to Tiller, who currently faces 19 criminal charges of
having committed illegal late-term abortions. It lists shady campaign
contributions from Tiller and shows evidence of a secret party she
held in his honor.
-- Powerful video clips from The O'Reilly Factor with a shocking
interview of a former Tiller patient, and O'Reilly stating that
Sebelius is not fit to serve. The videos show her support of Tiller
places her at the leftist fringe of radical abortion policy.
-- Sebelius' politically-motivated meddling in a Medical Board
investigation of Tiller regarding the 3rd trimester abortion death of
-- Sebelius' defiance of the Catholic Church and Archbishop Joseph
Naumann's stern warning for her to refrain from Holy Communion until
she makes amends for her support of abortion.
-- Sebelius' poor judgment in choosing political partners and
appointments that have later been embroiled in charges of corruption.
-- Sebelius' opposition to common sense legislation that would have held
abortion clinics to standards of safety and cleanliness, and opposed
notifying women coerced into abortions of their right to refuse.
"With Obama's appointment of Gov. Sebelius to the Department of Health and Human Services, he might as well be appointing George Tiller, because Tiller is the one that will be pulling her strings," said Newman. "Sebelius' involvement in Kansas abortion scandals and her indebtedness to the corrupt abortion lobby makes her unfit to serve. We urge our supporters to begin contacting their Senators now to voice opposition to Sebelius' confirmation."
"The President's 'carbon tax' is the single biggest tax-increasing item in his budget, and the largest in history," says Steve Elliott, President of Grassfire.org. According to Grassfire.org researchers examining the official published documents on the budget, the $645 billion in carbon taxes pushes the total tax increases in President Obama's budget to a minimum of $1.64 trillion. Go here for a complete breakdown: http://www.resistnet.com/profiles/blogs/obama-budget-more-than-16
Elliott adds that $1.6 trillion is just the starting point: "The Obama budget only accounts for the portion of the carbon tax being allocated to so-called 'clean energy technologies' and the 'Make Work Pay' tax credit. If Congressional Budget Office estimates are correct, the actual carbon tax could be double what Obama's budget shows. That dramatically increases the new taxes in the Obama budget to $2.2 trillion," says Elliott.
Elliott also notes that Americans who are faced with tightening personal budgets are growing more and more intolerant of the spending ways of Washington. "The President is right that a 'day of reckoning' is coming, but that reckoning will take the form of citizens who are fed up with politicians expanding the tentacles of government deeper and deeper into our lives and our pocketbooks."
Many of those frustrated Americans have already added their names to a national Grassfire.org petition that has already rallied over 100,000 citizens urging Congress to "Stop the Spending." To view the petition: http://www.grassfire.org/112/petition.asp