Saturday, October 31, 2009

Pelosi, Boehner Statement on Security Breach Relating to Confidential House Materials

/PRNewswire/ -- Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Republican Leader John Boehner released the following statement today on a security breach relating to confidential House materials:

"In response to a recent data breach associated with the use of peer to peer applications on a non-House computer, we have directed the Office of the Chief Administrative Officer's (CAO) Information Security Department to perform an immediate and comprehensive assessment of the policies and procedures for handling sensitive data. CAO Information Security Policy prohibits the use of peer-to-peer applications on House Computers. We are working diligently to provide the highest level of data security for the House in order to ensure that the operations of House offices are secure from unauthorized access."

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Westmoreland: Opponents of Government Takeover Will Have Voices Heard

Today, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats unveiled their final 2,000-page health care plan (HR 3962) after weeks of Democrat-only, closed-door negotiations.

“Apparently, because this is health care legislation, the House Democrats thought doctor-patient confidentiality rules should apply to their secret negotiations,” U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland said. “The voices of those opposed to a government takeover of health care have been shut out of this debate. We got a taste of how strongly people feel on this issue during the August town halls, and I think those voices that Pelosi ignored will be heard loudly in the coming days.”

Westmoreland took issue with House Majority Leader’s Steny Hoyer’s assertion that the legislation meets an “urgent” need.

“Republicans and Democrats agree that we have too many uninsured Americans and too many family tragedies related to health care costs,” Westmoreland said. “But let’s be clear: This legislation won’t meet those needs urgently. In fact, benefits don’t take affect for three more years. The only thing that the Democrats think is ‘urgent’ enough to enact immediately are the tax hikes and mandates that will kill off even more jobs in this ailing economy.”

Westmoreland cites several tenets of the bill as problematic:

· $500 billion in cuts to Medicare, which Westmoreland sees as either ‘phantom cuts’ that will never take place or catastrophic for seniors’ health care coverage.

· Bill contains the word “shall” 3,425 times – that’s a lot of government mandates.

· Expanding eligibility for Medicaid, which will hike costs for budget-strapped state governments.

· Tax hikes on small business owners, whom we’re relying on to create new jobs in this economy.

· Mandates on business to provide coverage to all employees or face penalties, creating a “tax on jobs” that will lead to fewer jobs.

· A government-run ‘public option’ that will eventually crowd out private plans, causing many Americans to lose their current coverage.

· The legislation’s financing will cost much more than advertised, placing yet another burden on our national debt. The legislation comes in below $1 trillion over 10 years only because 1) Democrats moved the cost of paying Medicare fees to doctors (more than $200 billion) into another bill and 2) they count 10 years of revenues but only seven years of expenses.

Westmoreland points out that, contrary to Democratic claims that the Republicans are simply the “Party of No,” the GOP has offered an alternative called the Empowering Patients First Act. This legislation, HR 3400, would 1) make access to coverage affordable for all Americans; 2) make coverage truly owned and controlled by the patient; 3) improve the healthcare delivery structure; and 4) rein in out-of-control costs, including through robust liability reform.
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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Taxpayer Group Launches Petition to Ask Sen. Ben Nelson to Keep His Pledge

PRNewswire/ -- Today, Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) continued its pressure on Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) by releasing an online petition asking him to oppose the Senate healthcare bill because it violates the Taxpayer Protection Pledge.

The petition, found at, urges Sen. Nelson to be a "no" vote on any procedural votes and/or final passage votes on this anti-taxpayer piece of legislation. The petition also reminds him that a failure to do so would be a breach of trust between him and the people of Nebraska.

"Sen. Nelson has shown the courage of his convictions. He is alone among Senators to have taken the Pledge as a Democrat," said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. "The pressure is building now to break that Pledge, however. Majority Leader Harry Reid is pressing his caucus to deliver a healthcare bill, and it appears more and more likely he will not have a single Republican to lend a 'bipartisan' label to the government healthcare bill. Sen. Nelson needs encouragement to know that he's not standing alone in the face of this pressure."

The petition follows up on ATR's recent launch of a series of television ads encouraging the Senator to oppose the healthcare bill. The ads will run on both local and national news and commentary broadcast for three weeks, reflecting the significance of Sen. Nelson's vote to prevent tax increases as part of the healthcare bill.

"It's clear with Harry Reid's decision to include the public option in any healthcare legislation going to the floor that every Democrat vote is required to pass cloture. Now is the time for Sen. Nelson to follow through on the promise he made to get elected and stand by the Taxpayers," continued Norquist.

Americans for Tax Reform is a non-partisan coalition of taxpayers and taxpayer groups who oppose all tax increases. For more information or to arrange an interview please contact John Kartch at (202) 785-0266 or by email at

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Libertarians pleased by new federal marijuana policy

The Libertarian Party (LP) today expressed its approval of the Obama administration's new, more laissez-faire policy toward medical marijuana. The policy appears to end the practice of federal prosecution of medical marijuana patients and providers in states where medical marijuana is legal.

Wes Benedict, LP executive director, commented, "This is a small step in the right direction. The federal government currently wastes tremendous resources in the War on Drugs, creating a huge, vicious, violent black market. This new policy will reduce the damage and destruction, and it will hopefully end some of the unjust prosecution of peaceful medical marijuana providers and patients."

The LP has long called for the repeal of laws that criminalize the medicinal or recreational use of drugs.

Benedict added, "We urge the Obama administration not to stop with this small step, but to take further steps to end the destructive, unjust, unconstitutional War on Drugs."

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Massachusetts Becomes First State to Challenge Legality of DOMA

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts v United States

This past July, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging the constitutionality of the federal Defense Against Marriage Act (DOMA). While there have been several legal challenges against DOMA, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts v United States is the first suit filed by a state.

The lawsuit specifically alleges that the federal definition of marriage as a union between one man and one woman is unconstitutional and that DOMA has interfered with the state's "sovereign authority" to define and regulate marriage. The complaint also alleges that DOMA has resulted in a denial of rights and benefits to same-sex couples in Massachusetts, including employment and retirement benefits, social security payments and health insurance coverage.

Massachusetts became the first state to recognize the right of same-sex couples to marry in 2004. Since that time, the state has granted approximately 16,000 same-sex marriages.

Currently, only three other states recognize and grant same-sex marriages: Connecticut, Iowa and Vermont. New Hampshire will begin recognizing and granting same-sex marriages in January 2010. Maine may soon join the group as well, depending on the outcome of a November vote. New York and Washington, D.C. also recognize same-sex marriages from other states, but at present do not grant them.

The Defense Against Marriage Act (DOMA)

In 1996, President Bill Clinton signed DOMA into law. The Act served two purposes:

-- It provided a legal definition of "marriage" under federal laws as a union between one man and one woman and defined "spouse" as a husband or wife of the opposite sex

-- It provided that states did not have to give recognition to same-sex marriages granted by other states

DOMA was introduced into Congress following a 1993 decision by Hawaii's Supreme Court that held the state's decision to ban same-sex marriages might be a violation of the Hawaiian Constitution. Other states feared that if Hawaii legalized same-sex marriages, they would be forced to recognize those marriages in their own states under the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the US Constitution.

The Full Faith and Credit Clause requires states to give "credit" to the laws and judicial decisions of other states. For example, the federal government has held that this clause requires states to enforce protection orders and support orders issued by other states.

There also was a fear that if same-sex marriages became legalized in one state, other states and the federal government would have to provide the same type of protections and benefits to same-sex spouses as they currently do to traditional married couples, including Social Security benefits and income tax credits.

In order to prevent these outcomes from occurring, DOMA was quickly pushed through Congress and signed into federal law. Following the law's passage, many states adopted "mini DOMAs" that defined marriage as between a man and woman and explicitly stated that the state would not recognize same-sex marriages from other states. Currently, 37 states have mini DOMA laws in place.

Challenges to DOMA

The Massachusetts lawsuit against the federal government is only the first of many recent attacks on DOMA. In fact, the constitutionality of DOMA has been questioned since its passage. The law has been attacked as a denial of equal protection and due process rights under the federal and state constitutions. It has been argued that the federal government does not have a rational basis for denying marriage to same-sex couples and that the distinction between same-sex and heterosexual couples is arbitrary and discriminatory.

DOMA also has been attacked as an invasion of state rights by the federal government. The Tenth Amendment to the US Constitution leaves all powers not specifically granted to the federal government to the state governments. Traditionally, this has included legal decisions regarding family law issues and eligibility for federal entitlement benefits.

In February 2009, a 9th Circuit judge ruled that DOMA's prohibition of federal recognition of same-sex spouses legally married under state law was unconstitutional. In the Matter of Brad Levenson, the federal appellate court ruled that a court employee's same-sex spouse was entitled to be a named beneficiary on the employee's health insurance and other benefits under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Act (FEHBA).

In addition to the 9th Circuit case, there was another case filed in California challenging Section 2 of the Act, which permits states to disregard same-sex marriages granted by other states. In Smelt v United States, same-sex couple Arthur Smelt and Christopher Hammer argued that their marriage should be recognized in other states. Their case was dismissed in August due to a filing error, but is likely to be re-filed in federal court.

There is also another case out of Massachusetts challenging the federal definition of marriage under DOMA. Gill v Office of Personnel Management et al was filed last March and the government's response to the case is expected in mid to late September.

The federal government's reply to the criticisms and legal challenges against DOMA has been mixed. President Obama has long been critical of the federal law, but the Department of Justice has continued to defend any legal challenges against the Act. Some political commentators believe that the only way DOMA can be reversed is through the court system because of the potential political implications for any president who took direct action to repeal the federal law.

Whether or not Massachusetts' current challenge to DOMA will be successful has yet to be seen. Regardless of the outcome, it is unlikely that the legal challenges against DOMA will stop anytime soon.

Article provided by David M. Gabriel & Associates

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Friday, October 2, 2009

South Fulton: Christian City to Host Candidates’ Forum

Event to be Held at Christian City on Thursday, October 8, 2009 at 4 PM

Robert L. Crutchfield, President/CEO of Christian City, announced today that there will be a candidates’ forum on Thursday, October 8, 2009 at 4 PM in Christian City’s Sparks Inn Auditorium. All residents of Christian City and Union City are welcome to attend.

The agenda will feature candidates for the following offices:
· Union City Mayor
· Union City council
· State Senate District 35

The meeting will begin promptly at 4 PM.

The forum will take place in Christian City's Sparks Inn Auditorium at 7290 Lester Road, Union City, Georgia 30291. The Sparks Inn Auditorium is the assisted living facility located in the heart of the Christian City campus.

Christian City is a non-profit, non-denominational organization. On our 500+ acre complex we help meet the needs of approximately 1,100 people in our Children’s Village, Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, Friendship Place (Alzheimer's Care), Sparks Inn Assisted Living/Personal Care facility, and Retirement Homes and Apartments.

Christian City invites the public to this event.

For more information on the event or Christian City, please contact
770-703-2636 or via e-mail at Visit Christian City’s website at
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Members of U.S. Congress Warn Hondurans New Elections Won't Be Recognized Unless Conflict is Resolved

/PRNewswire/ -- The Center for Democracy in the Americas (CDA) praised six senior Members of the U.S. Congress for their open letter to the Honduran Congress reminding Honduran authorities that without political progress in ending the crisis caused by the coup against President Zelaya the U.S. will not recognize the winner of that country's upcoming presidential elections.

"This timely letter speaks in clear and compelling language to the coup government and its supporters in the Honduran Congress," Sarah Stephens, executive director of the CDA said. "Unless the coup is ended, President Zelaya is restored, and violations of democracy and human rights are halted, no presidential election conducted in that environment will be recognized as free or fair or legitimate by the United States government and its senior leaders.

The letter signed by Representatives James McGovern, Bill Delahunt, Sam Farr, Gregory Meeks, Janice Schakowsky, and Xavier Becerra was sent to Honduras as four Republican Members of the Congress visited interim President Micheletti and communicated their support for the coup.

"Honduras's interim government should pay attention not to rump groups seeking publicity, but to senior Members of the Congress who stand with the Obama administration on behalf of democracy, diplomacy, and dialogue. We believe Honduras should act quickly and decisively to end this crisis and avoid entering a new presidency with this odious cloud hanging over its government."

The Center for Democracy in the Americas (CDA) is devoted to changing U.S. policy toward the countries of the Americas by basing our relations on mutual respect, recognizing positive models of governance in the region, and fostering dialogue particularly with those governments and movements with which U.S. policy is at odds.

Ms. Stephens testified before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere Affairs about the coup in Honduras on July 10, 2009.

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Alabama Congressman Parker Griffith Claims Loophole to Give Billions to His Top Campaign Contributors was 'Unintended’

Alabama Congressman Parker Griffith Claims Loophole to Give Billions to His Top Campaign Contributors was 'Unintended’, According to the American Small Business League

(BUSINESS WIRE)--The following is a statement by the American Small Business League:

Alabama Congressman Parker Griffith (D-AL-5) is claiming that a bill he wrote would carry the ‘unintended consequence’ of allowing the subsidiaries of some of his largest campaign contributors to receive billions of dollars in federal small business contracts.

During an interview with the Times Daily newspaper regarding H.R. 3558, the Small Business Fair Competition Act, Congressman Griffith claimed that it was not his intention to create loopholes to allow two of his largest campaign contributors, Boeing and Northrop Grumman to land billions of dollars in federal small business contracts.

In the story, American Small Business League (ASBL) President Lloyd Chapman stated, "It is simply not believable that Congressman Griffith accidentally wrote a bill that is going to allow the subsidiaries of some of his largest campaign contributors like Boeing and Northrop Grumman to get small business contracts. It is absurd." (

The ASBL was the only organization to uncover the supposed accidental loophole. Yet, as opposed to thanking the organization, Griffith accused the group of seeking notoriety.

Recent data released by the Obama Administration indicates that Fortune 500 defense contractors in Congressman Griffith's district such as Boeing, Northrop Grumman and British Aerospace (BAE) are receiving federal small business contracts. Critics of Griffith and his bill believe that he was clearly trying to create a loophole to allow Fortune 500 corporations to continue to take contracts intended for small businesses.

Since 2003, over a dozen federal investigations have found that every year billions of dollars in federal small business contracts are diverted to Fortune 500 firms with a concentration on the defense and aerospace industry.

In 2005, the Small Business Administration Office of Inspector General referred to the diversion of federal small business contracts to corporate giants as, "One of the most important challenges facing the Small Business Administration and the entire Federal government today." (

Even President Obama weighed in on the issue, when in February of 2008 he released the statement, "It is time to end the diversion of federal small business contracts to corporate giants." (

"Congressman Griffith's excuse that the language in H.R. 3558, that would allow large businesses to continue to receive federal small business contracts, was an accident is simply not believable," ASBL President Lloyd Chapman said. "It's ludicrous. I think Congressman Griffith is just another crooked politician and a classic example of everything the public hates about Washington. I think the American people are sick and tired of large corporations buying legislation from members of Congress, like Parker Griffith, that damage the middle class."

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Thursday, October 1, 2009

Vice President Biden Announces End of Year Targets for Recovery Act Progress

Vice President Joe Biden today announced nine new targets for Recovery Act progress through the end of 2009. The nine spotlighted targets are just a few of the many objectives set for Federal agencies implementing the Recovery Act during the final 90 days of 2009. Included in the announcement was a new Administration-wide goal of obligating 60 percent of the CBO estimated $499 billion in spending under the Recovery Act by December 31, 2009.

"We’ve made great progress in the first seven months of Recovery Act implementation in 2009 – now we want to finish the year even stronger," said Vice President Biden. "We want to continue to be ahead of schedule on key metrics, doing all we can to create and save jobs, and building a lasting economic platform for our country."

Vice President Biden last set Recovery Act targets in early June as part of the Recovery Roadmap for the second 100 days of the Recovery Act. At the 200 day mark, he announced that every goal set as part of that effort had been met – and, in many cases, exceeded.

The year-end goals for the Recovery Act (targets to be met by December 31, 2009) that the Vice President announced were:

Batteries for Vehicle Electrification: By the end of the year, the Department of Energy will have put in place funding for battery manufacturing plants that can power 400,000 plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, each year.
Military Hospitals: The Department of Defense will begin 34 construction and modernization projects at hospitals and medical centers throughout the country over the next 90 days, for a total of 65 hospitals and medical centers with projects under construction since passage of the Act.
National Parks: The Department of Interior will begin on-site construction improvement work in 105 more national parks throughout the country over the next 90 days.
Small Business Assistance: The Small Business Administration will provide and leverage $5 billion in capital to over 12,000 small businesses through two key lending programs (7a and 504) in the next 90 days.
Fuel Efficient Bus Purchases: By the end of the year, the Federal Transit Agency will have awarded enough grants to enable the purchase of approximately 10,000 new transit vehicles across the country.
Housing Loans and Rehabilitation: By the end of the year, the Department of Agriculture and the Housing and Urban Development Department will have provided housing loans and capital funding to finance, build, or renovate over 100,000 households across America.
Renewable Energy: By the end of the year, the Departments of Energy and Treasury will help fund renewable energy projects that will generate enough alternative energy to power 900,000 homes in the United States once completed.
Road Projects: By the end of the year, the Department of Transportation will have obligated enough funds to support 10,000 highway projects.
The Recovery Act was signed into law on February 17, 2009 as the country faced the greatest economic crisis in a generation. The Act was designed to create jobs and drive economic growth through a combination of tax relief for individuals and businesses, aid to hard-hit families and state and local governments and funding for science, technology and infrastructure projects across the country. The Council of Economic Advisors estimates that the Recovery Act is responsible for approximately 1 million jobs so far.

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