Friday, January 30, 2009

Gingrich: Michael Steele Will Be a Force for 'Real Change'

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich released the following statement upon hearing that the Republican National Committee elected Michael Steele as its Chairman.

"Michael Steele is a charismatic, energizing, conservative leader who will be a force for real change in America. I enjoyed working with Michael at GOPAC and now look forward to working with him at the RNC."

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RNC Expresses Support for Senator Coleman

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Republican National Committee (RNC) expressed support during its winter meeting in the nation's capital for Senator Norm Coleman's efforts to ensure every valid vote counts in the Minnesota Senate contest.

In General Counsel Blake Hall's report to the committee he placed into the record that the RNC and its members support and stand by Coleman and his efforts.

"Norm Coleman won on election night and after the canvassing, but the Democrats kept selectively counting votes until they achieved the result they wanted," stated Hall. "We are fighting to make sure that Norm Coleman retains the seat he won and will do everything within our power to ensure every legal, valid vote is counted in Minnesota."

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Libertarian Party Urges 'No' Vote on Holder

America’s third-largest political party urged the Senate Wednesday to reject the nomination of Eric Holder to be Attorney General, citing his record of hostility to Second Amendment rights.

“The Attorney General is expected to defend our Constitutional rights, not infringe them,” said Libertarian Party spokesman Donny Ferguson. “Gun owners value the precious rights protected by the Second Amendment, and they demand the Senate reject this nomination.”

Nominated by President Barack Obama to lead the Justice Department, Holder earned the ire of gun rights groups while Deputy Attorney General under then-President Bill Clinton, from 1997 to 2000.

Holder supported mandatory licensing and registration of gun owners, banning certain types of legal ammunition, waiting periods for handgun purchases, restricting law-abiding gun owners to purchase only one gun a month and regulations intended to drive gun shows out of existence.

Holder was also a key figure in a 2000 attempt by the Clinton administration to sue several firearms manufacturers who did not agree to restrict certain lawful sales, despite the fact Congress earlier rejected such proposed rules.

The companies were told the government lawsuits would be dropped if they agreed to restrict certain sales to lawful purchasers and stop manufacturing certain types of legal firearms. Only one, Smith & Wesson, agreed.

Holder also sided against gun rights in the Supreme Court’s 2008 District of Columbia v. Heller case seeking to overturn Washington, D.C.’s gun control laws. In a brief, Holder argued the Second Amendment confers collective rights on the government and does not protect individual rights of Americans. The Court ruled otherwise, declaring gun ownership to be an individual right.

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Treasury Moves to Restrict Lobbyists From Influencing Bailout Program

Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner issued new guidelines yesterday aimed at eliminating the influence of lobbyists on the $700 billion financial bailout program by restricting their contact with officials who are reviewing applications for money and deciding how to disburse it.

Click here to read The Washington Post article.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

CBO: Congressional Democrats' Trillion Dollar Spending Package "Falls Short of Obama Goal"

As the House prepares to debate the trillion dollar spending bill written by a handful of congressional Democrats, supporters of the bloated legislation have endured yet another harsh blow from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO). A Reuters story titled “Stimulus Bill Falls Short of Obama Goal-CBO Report” reports that the director of CBO has advised that fast-acting tax relief for families and small businesses – not the slow-moving and wasteful government spending that dominates the congressional Democrats’ bill – would have the greatest impact on the economy in the shortest amount of time:.......

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Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack Lays Out Priorities, Extends Comment Period for Payment Limitations Rule

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack yesterday announced he will extend the comment period for the 2008 Farm Bill Farm Program Payment Limitation and Payment Eligibility rulemaking process.

Vilsack discussed his priorities as Secretary of Agriculture during a teleconference call today with agriculture and other reporters across the country and said that as part of the regulatory review process outlined by the White House and Office of Management and Budget (OMB), he is directing the Department to extend the comment period for the payment limits rule for an additional 60 days.

"Let's be clear - in no way is this move a signal that we will modify the rules for the 2009 crop year," Vilsack said. "Sign up has begun and it's important that clear and consistent rules remain in place so that producers can prepare for the crop year and manage their risk appropriately."

To date, USDA has only received seven comments on the payment limits rule and Vilsack says that by extending the comment period additional farmers and other interested parties will have the opportunity to comment.

"In keeping with President Obama's recent pledge to make government more transparent, inclusive, and collaborative, I would like to pursue an extended comment period so that more farmers and other individuals can participate in this rulemaking process," he said. "I'm particularly interested in suggestions that would help the Department target payments to farmers who really need them and ensure that payments are not being provided to ineligible parties for future crop years."

Vilsack also announced that the Department does not plan to implement a proposal developed by the previous Administration that would have cut more than $3 million from the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, a popular program that promotes the growth of healthy fruits and vegetables.

Priorities Vilsack discussed with reporters include:

Combating childhood obesity and enhancing health and nutrition, indicating that the Department should play a key role in the public health debate and that nutrition programs should be seen as an opportunity to both alleviate hunger and prevent health care problems.
Advancing research and development and pursuing opportunities to support the development of biofuels, wind power, and other renewable energy sources, saying that USDA needs to make sure that the biofuels industry has the necessary support to survive recent market challenges while promoting policies that will accelerate the development of next-generation biofuels that have the potential to significantly improve our energy independence.

Making progress on major environmental challenges, including climate change. Vilsack said it's important that farmers and ranchers play a role with USDA in efforts to promote incentives for management practices that provide clean air, clean water, and wildlife habitat, and help farmers participate in markets that reward them for sequestering carbon and limiting greenhouse gas emissions.

Supporting the profitability of farmers and ranchers by providing a safety net that works for all of agriculture, including independent producers and local and organic agriculture, and enforcing the Packers and Stockyards Act.

Quickly implementing the 2008 Farm Bill; modernizing the food safety system; and investing in programs that alleviate hunger and suffering overseas and support long-term agriculture development.

Restoring the mission of the Forest Service as a protector of clean air, clean water, and wildlife habitat; a provider of recreation opportunities; a key player in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and carbon sequestration. Vilsack indicated that it is important that we appropriately budget for wildfires so that the Forest Service has the resources it needs for both wildfires and its other missions.

Vilsack also said he intends to move quickly on the major challenges facing the Department - modernizing USDA's computer systems and finally closing the sad chapter of the Department's struggle with civil rights.

"We need to do a better job of responding to challenges, apologizing for mistakes when we make them, empowering our employees to make decisions and drive change, and emphasizing a transparent and inclusive style of governing."

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Monday, January 26, 2009

Representative Jim Cole Named Senior Floor Leader

Governor Sonny Perdue today appointed Representative Jim Cole of Forsyth (District 125) to serve as Senior Administration Floor Leader in the Georgia House of Representatives.

Cole takes over the role from Representative Rich Golick who resigned his floor leader position to take the chairmanship of the Judiciary Non-Civil committee in the House.

“Jim is an honest, hardworking legislator that has earned the respect of his fellow House members,” said Governor Perdue. “While he is a fierce advocate for his district, he is also a statesman who understands the need to look at issues from a statewide point of view. I am proud to have Rep. Cole represent this administration in the House of Representatives.”

Elected in 2004, Rep. Cole’s district includes Jasper County and parts of Monroe, Jones and Lamar counties. His committee membership includes Appropriations, Rules, Judiciary Non-Civil and State Planning and Community Affairs.

Jim is also an active community leader, serving on the Board of Directors of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and the Monroe County Chamber of Commerce. A graduate of Leadership Georgia, Jim is also a member of Forsyth United Methodist Church, Director for the Georgia Industrial Children’s Home and the President of the Mercer University Booster Club. He is happily married to the former Gaylyn Lawson of Forsyth. Jim and Gaylyn are the proud parents of Caroline and Lawson.

“I can't express how honored I am to take over the Senior role in the Floor Leader’s Office,” Rep. Cole said. “Governor Perdue is a great leader and has taught me valuable lessons in how to govern this state from a long-term perspective. That perspective is to make Georgia a great place for our future generations to live, work and raise a family. I look forward to the challenge of advancing his vision and agenda.”
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Isakson Votes No on Treasury Nominee

U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., today released the following statement regarding Timothy Geithner’s confirmation to head the Treasury Department. Geithner was confirmed by a vote of 60 to 34. Isakson voted against confirming Geithner.

“Timothy Geithner is a talented and able man. However, that fact does not outweigh the fact that Mr. Geithner failed to pay payroll taxes on two years income at the IMF, even after the IRS audited his returns for the two succeeding years and discovered his failure to pay. It was only days before his nomination that he came forward to pay the other two years. That was more than a mistake for someone nominated to oversee the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service. I cannot support his nomination.”

President Obama Promises 'New Era' of Energy, Environmental Policy Built on Foundation of Energy Efficiency

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Stating emphatically that "No single issue is as imperative to the economy as energy," President Obama today began to lay the foundation -- rapid and widespread deployment of energy efficiency -- for a new, clean energy era for the nation, the Alliance to Save Energy noted.

President Obama's quick action, taken after less than one full week in office, was hailed by Alliance President Kateri Callahan. She, along with Alliance Director of Policy Lowell Ungar and other environmental and efficiency leaders from across the country, were invited to the White House to witness what appears to be a paradigm shift in the federal government's approach to energy and environmental policy and a new commitment to achieving the full potential of energy efficiency in order to improve our nation's energy security.

"President Obama is fulfilling his campaign promise to create a clean energy economy with incredible speed and determination of purpose," said Callahan. She added, "He is moving full-steam-ahead on energy efficiency, not despite but because of the fragile state of the economy."

President Obama signed memoranda at a White House ceremony today directing the Transportation Department to establish higher fuel economy standards for vehicles by model year 2011 and directing the Environmental Protection Agency to reconsider the bid by California and 13 other states to set tailpipe carbon dioxide emission standards that also would require greater fuel economy.

In his statement, Obama also confirmed his intent to weatherize 2 million homes over the next two years; make significant energy efficiency upgrades to 75 percent of federal buildings, saving taxpayers $2 billion in avoided energy costs; double the country's renewable energy resource base; and create nearly 500,000 new "green jobs."

President Obama stated clearly and forcefully that today's action is but the first salvo in what he described as a "steady, focused, and pragmatic approach" to a new energy future.

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Senator Collins to Oppose Treasury Secretary Nominee's Confirmation

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- U.S. Senator Susan Collins today announced that she will oppose the confirmation of Timothy Geithner, who was nominated to be U.S. Secretary of the Treasury. The Senate is expected to vote on the confirmation tonight circa 6:00 p.m.

Senator Collins placed this statement in the Senate Record:

Mr. President, I rise today to state my opposition to the confirmation of Timothy Geithner to be Treasury Secretary.

Our current economic crisis is, in part, a crisis of confidence. If we are to return to prosperity, the American people must have confidence in those who would chart our course. Mr. Gauthier's professional background and experience should inspire that confidence. They are overshadowed, however, by the personal issues regarding his own tax returns.

When these issues first arose, they were cited as examples of the baffling complexity of our tax code and of the need for reform. They were described by the nominee himself as "careless mistakes." As more details have emerged, it has become clear to me that this is not merely a matter of complexity leading to mistakes, but of inexcusable negligence.

Mr. Geithner failed to pay self-employment taxes while working for the International Monetary Fund. He failed to make these tax payments despite the fact that the IMF repeatedly reminded him of this obligation. He signed paperwork acknowledging this obligation. He received extra compensation that he acknowledged at the time was for the purpose of paying this obligation. Yet when he filed tax returns for the years he was employed at the IMF, he did not pay self-employment taxes.

After working for the IMF for three years, Mr. Geithner was audited by the Internal Revenue Service in 2006, which discovered that he had failed to pay his self employment taxes. Mr. Geithner was ordered to correct his tax returns for 2003 and 2004, and he paid the amount that he owed for those years.

But Mr. Geithner had made the same omission in 2001 and 2002, years that were outside the scope of the audit. Yet having been informed by the IRS of his omission for 2003 and 2004, Mr. Geithner took no action to correct the deficiency from 2001 and 2002 -- years for which the statute of limitations had already run. In fact, Mr. Geithner chose not to make the payments until he was being considered for this position at the end of 2008.

A similar failure to correct omissions when informed of them occurred when the accountant who prepared Mr. Geithner's tax returns in 2006 informed him that certain deductions Mr. Geithner had taken for three earlier years were not allowed. These deductions involved writing-off overnight camps as child care expenses. Mr. Geithner did not attempt to claim the deduction for 2006, but did not correct his returns for the previous years. And again, this deficiency was not addressed until late last year, when Mr. Geithner was being considered for this Cabinet position.

Mr. President, throughout the State of Maine and indeed throughout the nation, millions of hard-working Americans pay their taxes on time and in full. Our taxation system is essentially an honor system that depends on self-assessment and honesty. When taxpayers make mistakes, they are expected to correct them promptly and completely. How can we tell the taxpayers that they are expected to comply fully with our tax laws, when these laws have been treated so cavalierly by the person who would lead the Treasury Department and, ultimately, the Internal Revenue Service, when he was applying them to himself?

Therefore, Mr. President, I must oppose this nomination.

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Libertarian Party asks Congress to Give Everyone a “Tim Geithner Tax Break”

Congress should give all taxpayers a “Tim Geithner tax break” by significantly simplifying the Internal Revenue Code, Libertarian National Committee chairman Bill Redpath said Monday.

“Congress should make sure what happened to Mr. Geithner, a finance professional, won’t continue to happen to millions of average folks,” said Redpath.

“If the man running the IRS can’t understand the tax code with a computer helping him, how can the average taxpayer hope to do his taxes without breaking the law?,” asked Redpath.

“This should be a clear signal the Internal Revenue Code is broken beyond repair and must be repealed. Millions of taxpayers hope this new administration will bring meaningful change to federal tax laws,” said Redpath.

Redpath asked Congress to scrap the Internal Revenue Code and replace it with a fair, simple system that doesn’t require professional accountants or complex software.

Geithner faces criticism for not paying self-employment taxes while working as a contractor for the International Monetary Fund. Geithner claims it was an honest error made while calculating his taxes using a popular tax preparation software program.

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Friday, January 23, 2009

UCLA School of Law Alumna Kirsten Gillibrand Appointed U.S. Senator

/PRNewswire/ -- UCLA School of Law alumna Kirsten Gillibrand '91 has been appointed today by New York Governor David A. Paterson to fill the United States Senate seat vacated by Hillary Rodham Clinton. Prior to her appointment, Gillibrand had been serving her second term as U.S. Representative to New York's 20th congressional district, representing counties across upstate New York.

"I am delighted that one of our alumni has been selected to serve in the United States Senate," said UCLA School of Law Dean Michael H. Schill. "Senator Gillibrand is an active member of the UCLA Law family. She embodies much of what this law school is about-service to the public and the broader community."

In 2006, Gillibrand, who had never held public office, defeated a well- known four-term Republican incumbent to win her seat in Congress. She served on the House Armed Services Committee and the Agriculture Committee. In addition to her committee assignments, Gillibrand founded the Congressional High Tech Caucus, with Representative Michael McCaul (R-TX), with the goal of ensuring that the United States remains at the forefront of emerging technologies and high tech industries.

During President Clinton's administration, Gillibrand served as special counsel to former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Andrew Cuomo. She later joined the law firm Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP, where in addition to her responsibilities at the firm she maintained an extensive pro- bono practice, working on behalf of abused women and children and tenants seeking safe affordable housing.

"Senator Gillibrand's UCLA School of Law family proudly wishes her well in her newest endeavor," said Schill.

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Andrew Cuomo, John M. Finan Remain in the Senatorial Race for New York State in the Aftermath of Caroline Kennedy's Withdrawal

Andrew Cuomo, John M. Finan Remain in the Senatorial Race for New York State in the Aftermath of Caroline Kennedy's Withdrawal; Finan Also Announcing Mayoral Bid in Contention to Michael R. Bloomberg

/PRNewswire/ -- In an official January 22nd communique to Governor Paterson, John M. Finan has officially Stated: "Dear Governor Paterson; In making your final decision for replacing Senator Clinton I would like for you to have this pertinent information for your review and consideration: For your confidential review (ONLY) is the detailed patent information on the High Mileage vehicle and Vertical Wind Turbine (Attachments A and B) as outline in my previous communique to your office, copy of which is at the following web address.

Additionally, you will find communication that I have had with Congressman Rangel, Chairman House Ways and Means Committee, regarding our plans for the manufacture of either the vehicle or the turbine technologies in northern Manhattan, providing many good jobs. (Attachment C) It is important for you to know that it is my intent to announce, shortly after you announce your Senatorial choice, my Mayoral Candidacy for New York City. If selected for the Senatorial position, I feel that I could capture the Democratic and Libertarian nomination as well as the large Liberal Republican vote that exists in New York City. I will win. It is a certainty.

In the event that you do select me there will be several benefits that I see for New York, Our Country, and You. First and foremost is the fact that my intent to run for Mayor would allow for a free election by The People for the New York Senatorial Seat allowing all qualified candidates time to prepare and campaign. As we all agree, with the exception of a certain gentleman in Chicago and a certain gentleman in New York City, free elections are essential to Democracy. Regarding New York City, It is essential for the success of the Obama administration that the illegal attempt at a third term by Mayor Bloomberg be thwarted. It is essential that the State of New York be unified and the financial epicenter of the country not be controlled by elitists illegally manipulating the free electoral process and court system via illegal influence and illegal control of City Officials and Judges.

If The People are left to believe that a person such as Mayor R. Bloomberg can avoid a referendum and in a very Illegal, Dictatorial, Napoleonic fashion enforce his will on us, it will be very damaging to the psyche of The People of the City of New York, The State of New York, and ultimately The Nation.

Governor Paterson, Selecting me as US Senator will make you widely popular with The People and ensure the success of Our State, Your Success, The Success of the Obama Administration (Attachment E Nov 14th, 2009) and The Success of The United States of America. YES WE CAN!! LIVE FREE!!

Regardless of the fine decision that I know you will make, my plans remain as outlined above and I enlist your support and, always, you can count on mine.

CC: President Barack Obama"

With original correspondence attached were:

1. CONFIDENTIAL Patent Information on High Mileage Vehicles(A)Vertical
Wind Turbines(B)
2. Letter To Congressman Rangel - January 13, 2009 (C)
3. Letter To Attorney General Andrew Cuomo - July 4th, 2008 (D)
4. Communique to President and First Lady Barack Obama - November 14,
2008 (E)

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Georgia Republican Delegation Calls on Obama to Allow Offshore Drilling, Development of Oil Shale Fields

The nine Republican members of Georgia’s congressional delegation today called on President Obama to scrap plans to halt exploration of our domestic energy resources. News reports say Obama plans to re-impose a ban on offshore drilling and to rescind a plan to develop oil shale fields in the western United States.

The letter to Obama was signed by Senators Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss as well as by U.S. Representatives Jack Kingston, Tom Price, Lynn Westmoreland, Phil Gingrey, Paul Broun, Nathan Deal and John Linder. The text of the letter is below:

January 22, 2009

The President
The White House
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

We write in regards to recent news reports that your Administration is considering ordering a hold on an executive order issued by President Bush to allow offshore drilling in previously banned areas. These same news reports indicate that the Department of Interior will rescind a plan to develop oil shale fields in the western United States. We respectfully write to ask that you not reinstate an executive moratorium on offshore energy exploration and production and that you not rescind the Department of Interior plan for oil shale exploration and recovery.

Environmentally responsible offshore oil and natural gas exploration and recovery, as well as oil shale exploration and recovery, are essential components of a comprehensive energy policy that will enable the United States to become energy independent. Exploration and recovery of these resources is critical to our national security and economic wellbeing. We believe allowing for exploration in these areas is also consistent with your priorities of economic growth and environmental protection.

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Closing Guantanamo and Keeping America Safe: New Policy Brief

Closing Guantanamo and Keeping America Safe: New Policy Brief From The Century Foundation Urges New Administration to Return to Pre-9/11 Laws to Deal With Detentions, Trials, and the 'Global War'

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Barack Obama has just signed an executive order to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, but many controversies remain over how to proceed, how long that process should take, and what should happen to current and future detainees. In a new policy brief from The Century Foundation, Guantanamo and Beyond: What to Do about Detentions, Trials, and the "Global War" Paradigm, Stephen J. Schulhofer, the Robert B. McKay Professor of Law at New York University, writes that, while the issues are complex, the immediate need to address Guantanamo and the broader imperative to find a framework for the future can be met by a straightforward principle: the acceptance of pre-September 11 rules of international law and domestic due process. In particular, this would include the Geneva Convention governing the treatment of prisoners of war, the obligation to refrain from using military force against civilians, and the right of all individuals facing detention to contest the allegations against them in court, with the assistance of counsel.

This approach means restoring the domestic and international principles traditionally applicable to armed conflict: preserving law-of-war powers in regard to ordinary combatants, but reinstating and fully respecting the essential distinction between combatants and civilians. Schulhofer writes that pre-September 11 principles do not preclude reliance on our military, but they require recognition that military deployments are often justified where the legal framework of warfare is not. For instance, the United States has long used military personnel to deliver earthquake relief and to apprehend fugitives from civilian justice, as in the seizure of the terrorists responsible for hijacking the Achille Lauro.

In the report, Schulhofer addresses the frequently voiced concerns that international terrorism makes civilian conceptions of due process impractical -- concerns that he says are based on myth, misinformation, and exaggeration. He states that the nation's law-enforcement and judicial institutions possess ample resources to cope with modern terrorism. He notes that federal courts are not bound by geographical limits and, in fact, have jurisdiction over worldwide terrorist activity and over defendants captured abroad, even when forcible abduction is used to bring them here. Contrary to the mythology, Miranda warnings are not required on the battlefield or when public safety concerns prompt the questioning, and the rules for authentication of evidence are flexible; they have never posed a barrier to prosecution in a terrorism case. Similarly, the rule against using hearsay is subject to a host of exceptions; many out-of-court statements are routinely admitted in criminal trials. Classified evidence never has to be presented in open court, and for decades, the Classified Information Procedures Act has successfully protected sensitive information while providing redacted summaries sufficient to meet legitimate defense needs.

Schulhofer concludes that an approach that turned back the clock to pre-September 11 execution of the law would solve the conundrums of Guantanamo and the broader "global war" quickly, economically, and effectively, with tools of well-established legitimacy. He adds that restoring that framework quickly has broad strategic importance, because the United States cannot maintain a credible commitment to due process values if it simultaneously claims the right to invoke the prerogatives of warfare against shadowy enemies who live among civilians throughout the world.

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Isakson, Conrad Introduce Legislation to Investigate Near Collapse of Banking System

U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Kent Conrad, D-N.D., today introduced legislation to create a Financial Markets Commission that will be charged with fully investigating the near collapse of the banking system and the loss of tens of trillions of dollars.“When Enron and WorldCom failed at the start of this decade, Congress rushed to legislate and regulate without all the facts,” Isakson said. “We need to make sure we don’t repeat that reaction as we seek to recover from today’s financial crisis.”

“If our nation is going to learn from history, we must know exactly what happened and why. We need to take a long hard look at how our financial system spiraled downward so far so fast. And if there was any criminal wrongdoing, people need to be held accountable,” Conrad said. “The final report of this commission will help create the rules that will help shore up our national economy and help make sure this does not happen again.”
The seven-member, bipartisan Financial Markets Commission will be modeled after the 9-11 Commission, which thoroughly and independently investigated the failures leading up to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and made sound recommendations on where we needed to improve to prevent another attack in the future.

Likewise, the Financial Markets Commission will have one year to investigate all the circumstances that led to this financial crisis. The panel will have the authority to refer to the U.S. Attorney General and state attorneys general any evidence that institutions or individuals may have violated existing laws. At the end of its investigation, the Commission will report to the President and to the Congress its recommendations for statutory or regulatory changes necessary to protect our country from a repeat of this financial collapse.

This bipartisan Commission shall include two appointees by the President and one appointee each from the Speaker of the House, the House Republican Leader, the Senate Democratic Leader, the Senate Republican Leader and the Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.
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Blunt Votes Against Releasing Additional Taxpayer Funds, Supports Accountability Report

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Missouri Congressman Roy Blunt today voted against releasing the second installment of funds under the government's financial rescue package, called the Troubled Assets Relief Program.

"Congress passed a financial rescue package with taxpayer protections last year but that package has become nothing more than a bailout," Blunt said. "I agree with the majority of Americans and Missourians that we cannot release the second installment of taxpayer funds."

The House voted on a "resolution of disapproval," meaning Blunt's yes vote would block access to the bailout funds.

Blunt yesterday voted for an amendment requiring the Treasury Department to obtain information from TARP fund recipients on how the money was allocated and conduct an analysis on the use of the funds. The original package passed by Congress, and negotiated with Treasury officials, contained taxpayer protections and outlined how the funds could be used. The Treasury Department, however, used the funds in ways not intended or discussed during negotiations.

"I am disappointed that the administration of this program has failed in its most basic goal of granting more credit for deserving families and businesses," Blunt said. "There has been too much irresponsibility in the management of the first installment and I believe the Treasury owes it to the American taxpayers to disclose how their money was spent.

"The second half of these funds will ultimately be used. I hope that it is used for the program's original intent and not as an unaccountable handout that doesn't do what we intended to help our economy."

Under the guidelines of the package Congress passed last year, both the House and Senate would have to pass the disapproval resolution for additional funds to be stopped. The Senate has already voted to allow the release of the second TARP installment.

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Pelosi Statement Following House Passage of TARP Reform and Accountability Act

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Speaker Nancy Pelosi released the following statement on the House passage of Chairman Barney Frank's TARP Reform and Accountability Act, which bolsters transparency, accountability and addresses the foreclosure crisis directly. The House approved the measure late yesterday afternoon by a vote of 260 to 166.

"President Obama and Congress are committed to seeing that funds under the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) are used responsibly, with full accountability and transparency, and that help is provided to Americans in danger of losing their homes. Chairman Frank's bill achieves these objectives and ensures that the TARP functions as Congress originally intended.

"The TARP Reform and Accountability Act will help ease the credit crunch for workers and small businesses, provide at least $100 billion to help homeowners avoid foreclosures, and end golden parachutes for executives whose banks receive TARP assistance.

"The American people deserve a government that is a fierce watchdog of their hard-earned tax dollars. Congress and the new Administration will ensure that TARP funds are used for lending to American workers and small businesses -- so we can lift our economy out of recession -- and not for the enrichment of a privileged few."

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

National Movement to Protect Secret Ballots in State Constitutions: Save Our Secret Ballot Launches in GA, OK, SC, SD and ND

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- With Congress poised to act to end the secret ballot rights of employees choosing representation, a national movement to protect the secret ballot in state constitutions launched today in Washington DC and in five states. Entitled SOS Ballot - Save Our Secret Ballot - the new group announced its efforts to place before voters a secret ballot constitutional amendment in Georgia, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota and North Dakota, with the expectation that additional states will be announced in the coming weeks.

SOS Ballot National Advisory Board Chairman and former Congressman Ernest Istook said, "Most of us assume voting by secret ballot in America is a constitutional right that has always existed and always will. But neither is the case. With America's right to a secret ballot under serious threat, I'm proud to be part of a citizens' movement to give voters the opportunity to vote by secret ballot, to amend state constitutions to guarantee the right of a secret ballot. We know some in Congress and some from big labor will fight this effort or even arrogantly say the people do not have a right to vote to protect their secret ballot. But rather than deter us, we take this as the proof that we must work diligently in every state to protect and re-affirm our secret ballot rights. The more vocal the opposition, the more every voter will see why we must act immediately, lest we lose the secret ballot and return to the time when voter intimidation and even physical harm were common place."

The initiative language was written by noted attorney and constitutional scholar Clint Bolick, director of the Goldwater Institute's Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation. The Goldwater Institute has pledged its efforts for legal defense of the language if challenged. The 47-word amendment says:

"The right of individuals to vote by secret ballot is fundamental. Where state or federal law requires elections for public office or public votes on initiatives or referenda, or designations or authorizations of employee representation, the right of individuals to vote by secret ballot shall be guaranteed."

The SOS Ballot National Advisory Board Members include*
Ernest Istook, Chairman, Former member of Congress
Gilbert Baker, Arkansas State Senator, Former ARGOP Chair

Clint Bolick, Goldwater Institute, Director Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation

Jonathan Johnson, President,
Adam Hasner, Florida House Majority Leader
Paul Jacob, Citizens in Charge, Founder US Term Limits
John Loudon, Missouri State Senator
Mark Meierhenry, Former South Dakota Attorney General
Brian M Johnson, Executive Director, Alliance for Worker Freedom
Sydney Hay, President, Arizona Mining Association

* associations used for identification purposes only, please check for contact info for state leaders

Secret Ballot History

The secret ballot was used locally as an act of post-Civil war southern reconstruction, first as a way to impose a literacy requirement on newly freed slaves. But the secret ballot also protected mostly black voters who faced physical intimidation, even lynching depending on how their vote was cast. Secret ballots were first used statewide in the Massachusetts governor's race 1888 and nationally in 1892 to elect President Grover Cleveland.

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Timothy Geithner's Claims Contradicted by the Facts; Obama Must End 'Distraction' of Nomination as Banking Crisis Deepens

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Peter Flaherty, President of the National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC), today made the following statement:

"Timothy Geithner paid his payroll taxes for 2003 and 2004 after being audited, but did not pay for the years 2001 and 2002, relying only on the statute of limitations. He later paid them after being considered for the Treasury post by Barack Obama. These very simple circumstances should disqualify anyone from a high government post, especially service as the Treasury Secretary, who oversees the IRS.

"Geithner claimed today that his failure to pay his taxes was 'completely intentional.' This is contradicted by the facts. In the wake of his IRS audit three years ago, a conscious decision had to be made not to pay taxes for 2001 and 2002.

"Our banks are in deep trouble. Government actions so far, which Geithner has had a major role in formulating, have not succeeded in solving the problem. Barack Obama should focus on confronting this spiraling crisis, and end the distraction of the Geithner nomination.

"Is Obama guilty of the crime of hubris? He comes in with a broad mandate and significant good will. He is apparently seeking to ram through Geithner because he believes that he can do so. This is the kind of arrogance that could come back to haunt him later.

"Obama has promised to raise taxes for millions of middle-class taxpayers. He has also promised to provide rebates to lower income taxpayers for their payroll taxes, even though those taxes are collected for the purpose of funding social security, from which the same taxpayers will eventually collect benefits. I don't think he ever promised to allow Wall Streeters like Geithner to beat the payroll tax, as well."

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Obama's Inauguration Speech

My fellow citizens:

I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents.

So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land - a nagging fear that America’s decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many.

They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America - they will be met. On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted - for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things - some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.

For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth. For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn. Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.

This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions - that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act - not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions - who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.

What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them - that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works - whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account - to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day - because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control - and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our Gross Domestic Product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart - not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience’s sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort - even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus - and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect.

To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society’s ills on the West - know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world’s resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us today, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages.

We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment - a moment that will define a generation - it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.

For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter’s courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent’s willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends - hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism - these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility - a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship.

This is the source of our confidence - the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.

This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed - why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America’s birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:

“Let it be told to the future world…that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive…that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it].”

America. In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children’s children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God’s grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

National Day of Renewal and Reconciliation, 2009

A proclamation by the President of the United States

As I take the sacred oath of the highest office in the land, I am humbled by the responsibility placed upon my shoulders, renewed by the courage and decency of the American people, and fortified by my faith in an awesome God.

We are in the midst of a season of trial. Our Nation is being tested, and our people know great uncertainty. Yet the story of America is one of renewal in the face of adversity, reconciliation in a time of discord, and we know that there is a purpose for everything under heaven.

On this Inauguration Day, we are reminded that we are heirs to over two centuries of American democracy, and that this legacy is not simply a birthright -- it is a glorious burden. Now it falls to us to come together as a people to carry it forward once more.

So in the words of President Abraham Lincoln, let us remember that: "The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature."

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim January 20, 2009, a National Day of Renewal and Reconciliation, and call upon all of our citizens to serve one another and the common purpose of remaking this Nation for our new century.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twentieth day of January, in the year of our Lord two thousand nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-third.

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Libertarian Party Congratulates President Barack Obama

“Congratulations to President Barack Obama on his inauguration as the 44th President of the United States," says Libertarian Party National Chairman William Redpath. "I think all Americans ultimately want what libertarians want—peace, prosperity and freedom. If President Obama and the 111th and 112th Congresses succeed in bringing us all that, they will truly be heroes to this nation."

“However, because so many people, including libertarians, are skeptical that they will do so with the current and proposed public policies," says Redpath, "the Libertarian Party will continue to exist and grow, and propose and diligently work for the policies that we think will bring this nation peace, prosperity and freedom.”

“I hope President Obama is extremely serious about terminating government programs that are found to be ineffective, as he stated in his inaugural address," Redpath continues. "He’ll have to be to succeed in doing that. If fair judgments are made about all federal government programs, we should see a reduction in the size of the federal government that the Republican Party was never able to achieve.”

“I also was heartened to see President Obama speak of respect for market economies and responsibility to oneself before responsibility to the nation and the world," says Redpath. "But, to induce the American people to be more responsible, they will need to be given more freedom from government coercion. Responsibility and freedom are the two sides of the same coin.”

“President Obama has distinguished himself as a great orator, and in that regard, I respectfully ask him to do one thing: not to cheapen the word ‘freedom,’ as so many of his predecessors have done. While I am not suggesting that the United States become something other than a democratic republic, past presidents have suggested that because we have a democracy that we are 'free.' Freedom means living one’s life as one chooses, as long as one does not harm other people or their property, and the simple existence of democracy does not guarantee that. Only proper public policies will," Redpath explains.

“If President Obama pursues policies of economic freedom, which is the historical fundamental reason of this world’s prosperity, and personal freedom, we will have a prosperous, harmonious and just society—and he would go down as a great President,” says Redpath.

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Monday, January 19, 2009

The Washington Times Lands Exclusive Pre-Inaugural Statement by President-elect Obama

PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- President-elect Barack Obama has written an Inauguration Eve essay exclusively for The Washington Times that calls on Americans to embrace the values of their heroes - from Thomas Jefferson to Martin Luther King - and to "break free from rigid ideology and small thinking" to work together to conquer this generation's greatest problems.

The essay is showcased on the front page of today (Monday's) editions of The Times and can also be viewed at Monday's edition of the newspaper also features an exclusive essay by Martin Luther King III examining his father's legacy and Obama's role in fulfilling The Dream.

The exclusive essay to The Washington Times follows in a tradition begun by then President-elect Clinton, continued through President-elect George W. Bush and now President-elect Obama.

Today's exclusive essay gives a historical perspective through Presidents Jefferson, Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt and Kennedy, references today's challenges and states that in these times of great challenge and great change, "...while our problems may be new, what is required to overcome them is not. What is required is the same perseverance and idealism that our Founders displayed. What is also required is that we break through from rigid ideology and small thinking, and together grab hold of this opportunity to bridge partisan divides and delivery change for the American people."

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Obama Stimulus Plan Breaks Campaign Promise to Small Businesses

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- On February 22, 2008, Barack Obama released the following statement:

"It is time to end the diversion of federal small business contracts to corporate giants."


The statement was made in response to more than 12 federal investigations, which found billions of dollars in federal small business contracts had been diverted to Fortune 500 corporations, their subsidiaries and thousands of other large businesses in the United States and Europe.

Report 5-15 from the Small Business Administration (SBA) Office of Inspector General stated, "One of the most important challenges facing the SBA and the entire Federal government today is that large businesses are receiving small business procurement awards and agencies are receiving credit for these awards." (

Since the exposure of this issue in 2002, nearly every major newspaper in the United States has covered the diversion of federal small business contracts to Fortune 500 firms.

Now, in the face of one of the most catastrophic economic disasters in U.S. history, President-elect Obama has failed to include any provision in his economic stimulus plan to stop the diversion of billions of dollars in federal small business contracts to Fortune 500 firms.

President-elect Obama's refusal to take decisive action to stop the diversion of up to $100 billion a year in federal small business contracts seems to be a direct contradiction to everything he has said about taking "dramatic action" to "put people back to work."

Many of the nation's most respected experts on the economy like Dr. Laura Tyson and Carly Fiorina agree the best way to stimulate our nation's failing economy is to direct federal infrastructure funds to small businesses. Tyson is the former Chair of the U.S. President's Council of Economic Advisers during the Clinton Administration and is currently an economic adviser to President-elect Barack Obama. Fiorina is the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard and McCain campaign economic advisor.

President-elect Obama's refusal to stop the fraud and abuse in federal small business contracting programs will only result in more lost jobs at middle class firms across the nation.

"It does not make sense to throw nearly a trillion of hard earned taxpayer dollars at an economic stimulus plan and then ignore fraud and abuse in longstanding federal programs specifically designed to create jobs and stimulate the middle class economy," President of the American Small Business League Lloyd Chapman said. "It would take one sentence in this bill to create thousands of jobs and to redirect billions of dollars in federal contracts to legitimate small businesses all around the country. My advice to President-elect Obama is that if he sincerely wants to create jobs in America he needs to include this one line in the stimulus package, 'The federal government can no longer report awards to publicly traded companies as small business awards.'"

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Saturday, January 17, 2009

Senator Seabaugh to Host Page Day at Capitol

State Senator Mitch Seabaugh (R-Sharpsburg) will host his annual Page Day at the Capitol for students from his district, sixth grade and above, on Thursday, February 12, 2009. The students will serve as pages for the Senate on that day.

“I encourage students, particularly those interested in civics and government, to take advantage of this excellent opportunity to experience the legislative process first-hand,” Sen. Seabaugh said. “This is a chance for students to experience American politics and watch the state legislature work.”

Pages are granted access to the Senate Chamber for the day and are responsible for delivering messages to the senators on the floor. They may also be called on by senators to run special errands. Each page is sponsored by their local senator. They will receive a certificate, $10 honorarium and are scheduled to have their pictures taken with Lt. Governor Cagle and Senator Seabaugh.

Parents and teachers who would like to nominate students to serve as pages should contact Sen. Seabaugh’s office at 404-656-6446. Students must be 12 years of age or older. The day will count as an excused absence from school. Please submit any page requests as soon as possible. There are only five slots that remain available this year and students will be considered on a first come, first serve basis.
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More Than 10,000 National Guard Members to Support Inauguration

More than 10,000 National Guard members will support President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration Jan. 20, the Guard's largest contribution to an inauguration in its 372-year history.

"The National Guard will help to ensure a safe and secure environment for all attendees," Manny Pacheco, spokesman for the National Guard Bureau, said. "National Guard members are a force multiplier to a variety of federal and state agencies and military task forces."

National Guard members from several states and the District of Columbia are working for Joint Task Force District of Columbia. "The number of National Guard members that will be used is larger than we've ever had in history," said Army Brig. Gen. Barbaranette Bolden, task force commander.

Citizen-soldiers and –airmen are providing communications, transport, traffic control and medical and logistical support – as well as playing music and marching in the inaugural parade.

"Those National Guard personnel will help quite a bit," Cathy Lanier, the District of Columbia's police chief, said last week. "[They] help us ... keep law enforcement focused on law enforcement."

The Guard's support to civilian authorities works well because relationships already are well-established through previous events and shared training exercises. "They know that we will be there and that we will perform professionally, no matter what the situation," Bolden said.

Members of the 257th Army National Guard Band are among 250 troops on duty from the District of Columbia. The band is providing ceremonial and inaugural ball support. "We're so proud of them," Bolden said. "This has never happened before, our Army National Guard Band participating in an inauguration."

More than 2,000 National Guard members from Maryland and Virginia are working in support of their states' lead law enforcement and transportation agencies to assist with traffic flow into and out of the District of Columbia.

The Iowa National Guard is supporting an inauguration for the first time, sending about 1,000 soldiers from the 34th Infantry Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team.

More than 200 members of the New York National Guard are helping with communications and traffic control.

In addition to about 400 soldiers and airmen, the West Virginia National Guard is providing specialized homeland defense and security units, airplanes and helicopters, and mobile satellite communications equipment in support of federal and local agencies to help manage the large crowds expected at the event.

Tennessee's contribution includes airmen from the 228th Combat Communications Squadron and the 118th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron and soldiers from the 117th Military Police Battalion.

The National Guard Bureau participates in Armed Forces Inaugural Committee efforts while coordinating the support provided by the National Guard with federal and state civil authorities. A joint operations center is being staffed around the clock through the inauguration.

The National Guard has a long history of supporting presidential inaugurations. Local militia units marched with George Washington as he proceeded to his first inauguration in New York on April 30, 1789, according to Guard historians.

"The National Guard is proud to continue this tradition of supporting and defending both the president of the United States, our constitutional form of government, and our American way of life," Pacheco said.

Guard members are proud of their role helping ensure a safe and secure environment for the event, Bolden said. "Every soldier and airman that comes here will be sharing this historic event with their families for many years to come," Bolden said.

(Author Army Staff Sgt. Jim Greenhill serves at the National Guard Bureau.)
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Friday, January 16, 2009

Isakson to Obama: Make F-22 A Priority, Continue Production

U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., today joined with dozens of his colleagues in calling on President-elect Barack Obama to continue production of the F-22 Raptor, citing its status as the world’s most sophisticated fighter jet and the only operational fifth-generation fighter aircraft in full-rate production.

Isakson sent a letter to Obama along with 46 other senators calling on the President-elect to certify continued production of the F-22 by March 1, 2009.

“The F-22A is the most sophisticated fighter jet in the world with the latest stealth technology to reduce detection by radar,” Isakson said. “The Raptor provides a priceless service to our Armed Services and its continued production is essential to our national security.”

The full text of the letter:

January 16, 2009

The Honorable Barack H. Obama
President-Elect of the United States
The President's Transition Team
Washington, DC 20270

Dear President-elect Obama:

The fiscal year 2009 National Defense Authorization Act requires your certification on continued F-22 production by March 1, 2009. We urge your certification of continued production of the F-22 Raptor. The F-22 Raptor is the nation’s most capable fighter and the world’s only operational fifth generation fighter aircraft in full-rate production. The F-22 is a model production line and, since full-rate production began, the unit flyaway cost has decreased 35 percent.

The F-22 is optimized to achieve the air dominance necessary to protect our joint fighting forces in any future conflict. However, a fleet of 183 aircraft, the current program of record, is insufficient to meet potential threats. After accounting for test, training, and maintenance aircraft, only about 100 F-22s would be immediately available for combat at any given time. Even those who don’t support continued production of the F-22 agree that to sustain the currently planned level of combat-coded aircraft over the life of the program will require an additional lot of aircraft. In fact, 30+ air campaign studies completed over the last 15 years have validated a requirement for far more than 183 F-22 Raptors to replace the original force of 800 F-15 A-D Eagles. Some have suggested filling the remaining F-22 requirement with other aircraft, like the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. However, the F-35 is designed for multi-role strike missions and not optimized for the air dominance missions of the F-22.

Further, we must not overlook the fact that our potential adversaries are increasing their air combat capabilities both in terms of technology and numbers of aircraft. Several have announced that they are developing stealthy, twin-engine, high-altitude, fifth generation fighters that will reach production within the next five to ten years. Additionally, sophisticated and highly lethal air defense systems such as the SA-20, and S-300/400 are proliferating worldwide resulting in the possible requirement to achieve air dominance in multiple theaters simultaneously.

The F-22 program annually provides over $12 billion of economic activity to the national economy, it fulfills a validated Air Force requirement, and it helps to sustain our strong national defense industrial base. If this certification is not provided, layoffs will begin as this critical supplier base shuts down, and it will quickly become expensive or perhaps impossible to reconstitute in the event the Department of Defense chooses to procure additional F-22’s at a later date. Furthermore, certifying continued production by March 2009 will enable production to continue while the Department undertakes a more in-depth analysis of the F-22 requirement in the 2009 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR).

Over 25,000 Americans work for the 1,000+ suppliers in 44 states that manufacture the F-22. Moreover, it is estimated that another 70,000 additional Americans indirectly owe their jobs to this program. As we face one of the most trying economic times in recent history it is critical to preserve existing high paying, specialized jobs that are critical to our nation’s defense.

With these things in mind, we urge you to expeditiously certify that continued production is in the economic and national interest of the United States of America.
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Libertarians: Most Dangerous Part of Bush Legacy is What Cannot Be Seen

America's largest third party says the most dangerous part of President George Bush's legacy is that which cannot be seen. "President Bush leaves office after eight years having pushed the idea that people should trust the government because it knows what's right for them," says Libertarian Party spokesperson Andrew Davis. "This is the most dangerous facet of the Bush legacy."

"In a matter of decades, we have gone from President Reagan who said the nine most terrifying words in the English language are: 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help,' to President Bush, who considers those words to be inspirational and rousing," says Davis.

"Americans, especially conservatives, have been brainwashed into trusting—without question—that the government will do the right thing," says Davis. "What have we gotten in exchange? A bigger, more powerful government that has shown no fidelity to civil liberties or the Constitution."

"Americans forgot that enemies of freedom are both foreign and domestic," says Davis.

"Bush leaves office with many Republicans looking at government the same as their Democratic colleagues," says Davis. "They see government as an agent of good in society, rather than an agent of corruption or iniquity. The economy can rebound and civil liberties can be restored, but ideas have lasting consequences. The idea that government can be unquestionably trusted will have disastrous consequences for liberty in the United States," explains Davis.

"The most terrifying phrase a citizen of a free country can hear is, 'In Government We Trust,'" says Davis.

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Stephen Halbrook Testifies Against Confirmation of Eric Holder for Attorney General at Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today the Senate Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing for the controversial nomination of Eric Holder to the position of Attorney General of the United States.

Independent Institute Research Fellow and attorney Stephen Halbrook is among the witnesses testifying, arguing that Holder's reputation as a steadfast opponent of Second Amendment rights makes him an unfit candidate for the job.

Halbrook, author of the new Institute book The Founders' Second Amendment: Origins of the Right to Bear Arms, filed an amicus brief on behalf of more than 300 members of Congress in the recent Supreme Court case District of Columbia v. Heller. But the landmark decision, affirming an individual right in the Second Amendment, conflicts with Holder's track record, claims Halbrook. In fact, Holder joined in a brief arguing that the Second Amendment only concerns the "State's operation of a well-regulated militia" and does not protect an individual right, a position at odds with President-elect Barack Obama's approval of Heller.

"When Mr. Holder served as Deputy Attorney General (1997-2001) and Acting Attorney General (2001), the Department of Justice implemented policies hostile to Second Amendment rights," states Halbrook in his prepared written testimony. "In the establishment of the national instant criminal background check system ('NICS') in 1998, the Department claimed the authority to keep records on lawful firearm purchasers for an alleged 'audit log' for six months, despite the law's requirement that such records be destroyed and its prohibition on registration of firearm owners."

"In that same period, the Department circulated draft legislation that would be included in a bill introduced by Congressman John Conyers as H.R. 1768 (106th Cong., 1999). The bill would have: Imposed felony penalties on a person who planned a gun show without registering with and reporting to ATF; made it unlawful for persons under age 21 to possess firearms, even though they vote, serve on juries, and serve in the military; imposed a 3-day waiting period, and limited handgun purchases to one per month."

"After terrorists struck with box cutters on 9/11, Mr. Holder responded with an op ed arguing for 'background checks on all gun sales,' which would have extended felony penalties to the otherwise innocent, intrastate conduct of law-abiding private individuals. He added: 'Congress should also pass legislation that would give the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms a record of every firearm sale.' Under the guise of combating terrorism, every American firearm owner would thus be registered with the government," Halbrook states.

Continuing to reveal Holder as a staunch opponent of the Second Amendment, Halbrook concludes, "Eric Holder has taken a constricted view of Second Amendment rights. Millions of law-abiding Americans exercise the right to keep and bear arms. Mr. Holder's opinion is that the people have no such right unless they are commanded to exercise it in a formal militia, which renders the right meaningless... Many Americans have reason to be uneasy about Mr. Holder's nomination for Attorney General. They deserve to have a person in this role who is committed to upholding all parts of the Constitution, including the Second Amendment. Unfortunately, Mr. Holder has proven himself not to be that person."

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As Eric Holder Faces A Nomination Hearing For Attorney General, Will He Continue To Show A Lack Of Judgment And Independence?

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following was released today by the Republican National Committee:

In August 1999, President Bill Clinton Offered Clemency To 16 Former Members Of The Puerto Rican Terrorist Group The Armed Forces Of National Liberation (FALN). "The dustup began Aug. 11, when the President offered clemency to 16 former members of the FALN..." (Edward Lewine, "How Bill Chose Clemency," [New York] Daily News, 9/5/99)

-- FALN Was Responsible For Bombings In The 1970s And 1980s That Killed
Six People. "The FALN was responsible for a wave of bombings in the
late 1970s and early 1980s that left six dead, although none of those
freed were tied to any deaths." (Shannon McCaffrey, "Reno: Puerto
Rican Terrorists An 'Ongoing Threat'," The Associated Press, 10/20/99)

Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder Played A Major Role In The FALN Clemency Decision According To FALN Documents And Memos. "Holder, a Barbadian immigrant's son who grew up in Queens and received his law degree from Columbia, has played major roles in the probe of Democratic funny-money in the 1996 elections, the Sexgate scandal and the recommendation to President Clinton on whether to free FALN terrorists from jail. A list of FALN documents withheld from Congress shows that many memos on the FALN clemency decision went directly to Holder, while Reno's role was minimal." (Brian Blomquist, "Ailing Reno Yielding Reins Of Justice," New York Post, 12/1 5/99)

Although The FBI Opposed Clemency, Holder Supported Clemency For The FALN Members. "Although The New York Times reported that the FBI, Bureau of Prisons and U.S. state attorneys opposed clemency, Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder, the Justice Department official most involved with this issue, reportedly supported clemency. 'Eric Holder told me he was recommending that,' a high-ranking official said. Ruff also supported clemency, sources said. Holder declined to comment." (Edward Lewine, "How Bill Chose Clemency," [New York] Daily News, 9/5/99)

In 1997, Holder Met With Three Members Of Congress And Made Recommendations To Them About How The FALN Members Could More Easily Be Granted Clemency. "The committee's documents show that Mr. Adams and Eric Holder, the Deputy Attorney General, met on Nov. 5, 1997, with Representative Luis V. Gutierrez, Democrat of Illinois, and Representatives Jose E. Serrano of the Bronx and Nydia M. Velazquez of Brooklyn, both Democrats, to discuss the case of the Puerto Rican inmates. According to Mr. Adams's notes, Mr. Holder told the members of Congress that because the prisoners had not applied themselves for clemency this could be taken that they were not repentant, and he suggested that a statement expressing some remorse might help. In their testimony today, both Mr. Adams and Mr. Holder declined to answer several questions about how the clemency decision was reached, citing executive privilege. Both said, however, that the Justice Department had acted appropriately throughout the process." (Neil A. Lewis, "Records Show Puerto Ricans Got U.S. Help With Clemency," The New York Times, 10/21/99)

Holder Played A Major Role When President Clinton Pardoned Fugitive Marc Rich In His Final Week In Office:

During His Final Week In Office, President Bill Clinton Pardoned Marc Rich, An International Financer Who In 1983 Was Indicted For Evading Nearly $50 Million In Taxes. "As one of his last official acts, Mr. Clinton released a list of almost 140 people to whom he had granted pardons, which restore civil rights like voting, or commutations, which shorten prison terms. Many of the people from the metropolitan area were white-collar criminals who had committed financial fraud or similar acts, including Marc Rich, a commodities trader wanted for evading nearly $50 million in taxes." (Edward Wong and Sherri Day, "Former Terrorist Is Among Those Pardoned Or Freed In Clinton's Final Acts In Office," The New York Times, 1/21/01)

A Report By The House Government Reform Committee Said That Eric Holder Played A Major Role In The Pardon Of Marc Rich. "A forthcoming Congressional report on the last-minute pardons by President Bill Clinton says Deputy Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. was a 'willing participant in the plan to keep the Justice Department from knowing about and opposing' a pardon for Marc Rich, the financier. ... Mr. Holder, the report says, played a major role, steering Mr. Rich's lawyers toward Jack Quinn, a former White House counsel. Mr. Rich hired Mr. Quinn, whose Washington contacts and ability to lobby the president made the difference, according to the report. It says that Mr. Holder's support for the pardon and his failure to alert prosecutors of a pending pardon were just as crucial." (Allison Leigh Cowan, "Panel Says Top Justice Dept. Aide Held Information On Rich's Pardon," The New York Times, 3/13/02)

Documents Emerged That Indicated Holder Knew Of Pardon "Well In Advance" And Gave Rich's Lawyer Jack Quinn "Public-Relations" Advice. "New documents suggest ex-Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder knew about Bill Clinton's controversial pardon of fugitive felon Marc Rich well in advance - contrary to Holder's claims. The memos raise the question of why Holder failed to notify Manhattan U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White and the FBI in time for them to argue strongly against the pardon, as he knew they would. Rich's lawyer, Jack Quinn, Clinton's former White House counsel, released his own memos and e-mails yesterday. They buttress his claim that Holder supported - or at least didn't oppose - the pardon, met with Quinn to discuss it, and even gave Quinn public-relations advice on getting out the 'legal merits' of the case." (Brian Blomquist, "Memos Add To Furor Over Rich's Pardon," New York Post, 2/2/01)

-- Holder Had Close Relationship With Rich's Lawyer And Delivered
"Crucial" Endorsement Of Pardon. "The lawyer Mr. Rich selected, the
former White House counsel Jack Quinn, turned out to have the
connections that counted most. He had a close relationship with Eric
Holder, the deputy attorney general at the time. It was Mr. Holder who
delivered a lukewarm but crucial endorsement of the pardon in the
waning hours of the Clinton presidency." (Alison Leigh Cowan,
"Plotting A Pardon," The New York Times, 4/11/01)

-- Rich's Attorney Had Been In Touch With Holder About The Pardon.
"International financier Marc Rich's attorney said yesterday that he
told Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder two months ago that he would
be seeking a pardon for Rich and that Holder told him later that he
had no problem with the clemency plea." (James V. Grimaldi and Robert
O'Harrow Jr., "Recollections At Odds On Pardon," The Washington Post,

Holder Was Involved In The Seizure Of Elian Gonzalez And His Return To Cuba:

Then-Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder Was Involved In The Seizure Of Elian Gonzalez And His Return To Cuba. "At issue ... legal advisor Eric Holder, a member of Obama's vice-presidential search committee who was deputy attorney general when the 6-year-old boy was seized by federal agents and returned to Cuba." (Beth Reinhard, "Elian Saga Might Hound Obama Visit," The Miami Herald, 6/19/08)

-- Holder Defended The Right Of The Federal Government To Seize Gonzalez
By Force. "The Justice Department yesterday warned the Miami relatives
of Elian Gonzalez that force could be used 'if it becomes necessary'
to return the boy to his father. 'We have that power,' said Deputy
Attorney General Eric Holder." (Richard Sisk, "Gov't Says Force An
Option Reunite Father, Son," [New York] Daily News, 4/7/00)

-- Holder Also Defended The Use Of Guns In The Raid. "Mr. Holder said his
agents were heavily armed when they entered the house because they had
'intelligence that the possibility existed there were guns in the
house. We had to make sure our people were protected and they were in
a position to protect people within the house. I don't know if there
were any guns in the house. I don't know if they found any guns. We
had to deal, however, with the intelligence we had that we got from
local sources and make sure everybody was adequately protected.'
Apparently no guns were found." (Jerry Seper and Clarence Williams,
"Holder Defends Sudden Raid For Elian," The Washington Times, 4/24/00)

Holder Also Engaged In Lobbying For A Controversial Company:

In 2002, Eric Holder Lobbied On Behalf Of Global Crossing After The Company Had Accumulated Nearly $12 Million In Debt. "Smelling blood in the water, Republicans now plan to pounce on another member of Obama's veep-selection committee, former Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder, for his lobbying on behalf of telecom giant Global Crossing. Holder lobbied for the company, which underwent one of the largest bankruptcies in American history after racking up nearly $12 million in debt, as it emerged from bankruptcy in 2002, Senate lobbying disclosure documents reveal." (Charles Hurt and Geoff Earle, "O's Veep Hunter Quits," New York Post, 6/12/08)

Eric Holder Helped Chiquita Secure A "Slap-On-The-Wrist Plea Deal" Related To Their Involvement With Columbian Paramilitary Forces:

As An Attorney At Covington& Burling, Holder Has Represented Many High-Profile Clients, Including Chiquita. "And if Holder's partners at Covington were listening -- a highly unlikely prospect -- there would have been a collective sigh of relief at his response; in seven years at the firm Holder has become a sought-after attorney, with high-profile assignments from the National Football League, Merck & Co. Inc. and Chiquita last year alone." (Andrew Longstreth, "Making History With Obama," The American Lawyer, 6/5/08)

-- "[H]older Helped Chiquita Secure A Slap-On-The-Wrist Plea Deal To
Charges That It Had Paid Off The Terrorists." (Andrew Longstreth,
"Making History With Obama," The American Lawyer, 6/5/08)

In 2007, Ohio-Based Chiquita Brands International Admitted To Paying $1.7 Million To "Right-Wing Death Squads That Have Killed Thousands." "Colombia's attorney general said Tuesday that his office would try to seek the extradition of eight executives from Chiquita Brands International, the Ohio banana company that last week admitted to paying $1.7 million to right-wing death squads that have killed thousands in this country's long civil conflict." (Juan Forero, "Colombia May Seek Chiquita Extraditions," The Washington Post, 3/21/07)

-- Chiquita Reached An Agreement With The Justice Department When The
Company Plead Guilty To Doing Business With The Paramilitary Group And
Paid A $25 Million Fine. "In deal with the Justice Department,
Chiquita last week agreed to plead guilty to doing business with the
United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia... In agreeing to pay a $25
million fine, the company characterized the payments as extortion that
helped protect banana workers in the northwest Uraba region near the
border with Panama." (Juan Forero, "Colombia May Seek Chiquita
Extraditions," The Washington Post, 3/21/07)

The Paramilitary Organization Had Been Declared An "International Terrorist Group" By The State Department In 2001. "Chiquita admitted making payments to the paramilitaries from 1997 to 2004, which Iguaran said violated Colombian law. On Sept. 10, 2001, the State Department declared the AUC, as the paramilitary coalition is known, an international terrorist group, making it a violation of U.S. law for a U.S. company to conduct business with the organization." (Juan Forero, "Colombia May Seek Chiquita Extraditions," The Washington Post, 3/21/07)

Chiquita's Case Was The "First Time A Major U.S. Company Was Charged With Having Financial Dealings With Terrorists." "In March of this year, Chiquita pled guilty to engaging in transactions with a terrorist group and agreed to pay $25 million in fines, the first time a major U.S. company was charged with having financial dealings with terrorists." (Laurie P. Cohen, "Chiquita Under The Gun," The Wall Street Journal, 8/2/07) .

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

New Chairman of House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Will Prioritize Oversight of Bailout Funds, Executive Compensation

/PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- U.S. Rep. Edolphus "Ed" Towns, recently named Chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform today outlined his plans on government oversight and investigations during a keynote address in Washington, DC. The panel discussion, sponsored by FTI Consulting, Inc. (NYSE:FCN) and its public affairs arm FD Dittus, also included the Honorable Richard A. Gephardt; The Honorable Roel C. Campos; Elizabeth Williamson of The Wall Street Journal; Allen D. Applbaum of FTI Consulting. The panel was moderated by Gloria Dittus, President and CEO of FD Dittus.

During Wednesday's event at the The Willard InterContinental Hotel, the distinguished panel offered their observations on the role the new administration and 111th Congress will take in corporate oversight, investigation and regulation, including the importance of government transparency, an issue that President-elect Barack Obama stressed during his Senate tenure.

In his address, Chairman Towns announced that as the new chairman of the House's chief investigative panel, he plans to make oversight of Wall Street one of his top priorities, emphasizing that he wants a full accounting of how the first half of the $700 billion in federal bailout funding was spent before the second half is released. Specifically, he plans to investigate how firms have spent federal bailout funds and whether any of the funds have been used for executive bonuses.

"We cannot continue to give money away and not hold somebody accountable for that money," said Chairman Towns. "It is an abomination that so many firms who are receiving government funds continue to reward poor performance."

In addition, he stated that he intends to further investigate government procurement and contracting processes, with a particular emphasis on ensuring that contractors delinquent on their taxes are not awarded new federal contracts.

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Obama Must Withdraw Geithner Nomination

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Peter Flaherty, President of the National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC), today made the following statement:

President-elect Obama should withdraw Timothy Geithner's nomination for Treasury Secretary. Obama says that middle-class families with incomes of $250,000 are wealthy and their taxes should be raised, but he wants a Wall Streeter who didn't pay his taxes to be his point man on the economy.

The amount of unpaid taxes -- $42,000 -- may sound like pocket change to Geithner and his Wall Street buddies, but it is a lot of money on Main Street.

Geithner's claim that he didn't know he was supposed to pay taxes doesn't pass the laugh test. It is true that American citizens who work for the IMF are responsible for the employer's share of the payroll tax, but IMF employment includes generous pay and a host of other perks. Anyone who has ever worked there is well versed on the details because it is such great deal.

Henry Paulson and Timothy Geithner are the architects of our bailout policies, where ordinary taxpayers are forced to subsidize the wealthy, who are not allowed to go broke, no matter how spectacular their failures. Geithner was a poor choice, and his failure to pay his taxes proves it.

Charles Rangel, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, did not report or disclose years of rental income on a Dominican Republic beach house and claims he did nothing wrong. His committee writes the tax laws. Now we have a Treasury nominee who for years failed to pay his payroll taxes and we are again told that he did nothing wrong. Will the same officials who plan to raise our taxes ever take responsibility for paying theirs?

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