Thursday, January 27, 2011

Ron and Rand Paul Introduce “Audit the Fed” Legislation in House and Senate

(BUSINESS WIRE)--Congressman Ron Paul and his son, Senator Rand Paul, today (January 26) introduced companion legislation in both chambers of the United States Congress to require a full and thorough audit of the Federal Reserve.

The bills, both titled The Federal Reserve Transparency Act of 2011, but known better as “Audit the Fed,” are numbered H.R. 459 in the House and S. 202 in the Senate and continue the efforts championed by Ron Paul last year that won 320 co-sponsors before passing the House and 32 cosponsors in the Senate before falling short on a floor vote.

H.R. 459 starts the session with 56 original bipartisan cosponsors, while Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) and Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) are original cosponsors for S. 202.

The Federal Reserve Transparency Act of 2011 would open up the Fed’s funding facilities, such as the Primary Dealer Credit Facility, Term Securities Lending Facility, and Term Asset-Backed Securities Lending Facility to Congressional oversight and audit by the non-partisan Government Accountability Office. Additionally, audits would include discount window operations, open market operations, and agreements with foreign central banks such as ongoing dollar swap operations with European central banks.

Public polling conducted by Rasmussen Reports in December 2010 indicated that 74 percent of the American People demand transparency at the Fed and support a full audit as called for in the Audit the Fed legislation. In 2009 and 2010, Campaign for Liberty generated over 2.5 million grassroots contacts to federal lawmakers in support of Audit the Fed.

“The Federal Reserve and its loose money, easy credit policies are the culprit for so many of the dire economic problems we face. Americans continue to demand transparency at the Federal Reserve, and Campaign for Liberty is proud to lead the fight to make this legislation the Law of the Land,” said Campaign for Liberty President John Tate. “All across the country, grassroots citizens are uniting behind Ron and Rand Paul and will demand this audit, this year.”

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Westmoreland Reacts to the State of the Union

As the U.S. Constitution requires, President Obama addressed a joint session of Congress to deliver his annual State of the Union speech. As was expected, the president’s address mainly centered on his goals for economic recovery. Although little of the speech included specific plans or initiatives, he focused his economic goals on increasing federal spending and growing the size of government as a response to the economic issues that continue to plague this country. Below is Congressman Lynn Westmoreland’s (GA-03) statement.

“This speech was President Obama’s opportunity to announce to Americans that he heard them at the polls in November and was ready to abandon his liberal agenda and shift to a more fiscally responsible style of governing. Instead, he used his State of the Union address as a means to continue to promote his unpopular idea that more government is good government and perpetuate his mantra of ‘spend now, pay later.’

“He can use as many different words as he would like. I own a thesaurus too. And I know that every time the president promoted the importance of federal ‘investment,’ he was actually promoting increased government spending. Our national debt is already more than $14 trillion and is well on its way to becoming larger than the size of our entire economy. Increasing spending, which, by the way, really means increasing borrowing from countries like China who we are currently competing with in the global market, is irresponsible, plain and simple.

“I believe in the power of the free market. I believe private industry grows the economy and creates jobs. I believe the hard work of Americans striving to be better, to improve their lives, to make this country better for our children and our grandchildren – I believe those are the things that fuel our economy. Growing government only stifles economic development, innovation, and job growth. This country grew to the number one economy in the world three times over by promoting growth in private industry – not relying on the federal government,” stated Westmoreland.

Small Business Group Responds to President Obama's State of the Union

/PRNewswire -- In response to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address, the nation's leading organization dedicated to promoting entrepreneurship and protecting small business issued the following response:

"Entrepreneurs are heartened to hear that President Obama wants to make the U.S. the best place on earth to do business. Indeed, across the globe, nations are cutting taxes, simplifying their tax systems and reducing regulations to make it easier to start up and grow a business. Developed and emerging countries alike have quickly adapted to the competitive environment and are reaping rewards in their aggressive efforts to attract capital and business investment. President Obama has awoken to this realization, and mere rhetoric alone will not change the competitive dynamic. Entrepreneurs and investors must now see dramatic changes on the policy front. This means, immediately locking in a pro-growth tax system, restraining the regulatory tide that is sweeping over every sector of our economy and reducing government spending," said Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council (SBE Council) President & CEO Karen Kerrigan.

SBE Council chief economist Raymond J. Keating added: "While the President's pro-business rhetoric is encouraging, other specifics in his speech were disappointing. First, his explicit call for a tax increase on upper-income earners showed that he still fails to grasp that such a tax hike on entrepreneurs and investors would be bad for the economy. Second, his call, in effect, for higher taxes on oil companies in order to subsidize other energy sources reveals a desire for politics to overrule markets, with the result being higher costs in the end. And third, he took one step forward on trade, by urging Congress to approve the South Korea trade deal, but two steps back by failing to push ahead now with the Panama and Colombia accords."

Kerrigan concluded: "We look forward to working with President Obama and Congress in the critical areas of reducing regulation and simplifying the tax system. Leadership and action are desperately needed on these issues if the U.S. is to become more competitive in the global economy. Furthermore, small business owners have substantive ideas for improving the health care overhaul bill that was enacted into law. We only hope the Administration will listen to our solutions this time around."

SBE Council is a nonpartisan, nonprofit advocacy and research organization dedicated to protecting small business and promoting entrepreneurship. For more information, please visit: .

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Libertarian response to State of the Union and Republicans

This evening (January 25), Libertarian Party Executive Director Wes Benedict spoke in response to the addresses from President Barack Obama and Congressman Paul Ryan.

A transcript of Mr. Benedict's speech follows:

Good evening and thank you for your interest in the State of our Union.

My name is Wes Benedict. I'm the executive director of the Libertarian National Committee here in Washington, DC. The Libertarian Party stands for free markets, civil liberties, and peace.

Tonight we heard from President Barack Obama and a response from Republican Congressman Paul Ryan.

President Obama says he wants a freeze in non-security, discretionary spending. In the unlikely event that happens, it won't really matter, because to make a real dent in the deficit, it's necessary to cut spending on the military and entitlements. The president promised big government in the past, and he delivered. I expect more of the same.

However, Obama has truly been a hypocrite on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. As a candidate, he promised to end them. Tonight we heard more hollow promises. The fact is, as president, he has kept those wars going, and has greatly escalated the war in Afghanistan. As a percentage of GDP, military spending is higher now than it was during any year of the George W. Bush administration.

Unlike President Obama, Libertarians would bring our troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan, and reduce the military budget.

On the Republican side, I found Congressman Paul Ryan's hypocrisy appalling. He claims to want big cuts in government spending. But he didn't seem to be too worried about cutting spending when Republicans were in charge. He supported the huge Medicare expansion in 2003, and the expensive No Child Left Behind Act in 2001. He supports the expensive War on Drugs. In 2008, he put hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars at risk by voting for the massive TARP bailout, and he even voted to spend billions on the GM and Chrysler bailout.

Just one month ago, Congressman Ryan voted for the tax compromise that included a big increase in unemployment spending, and even extensions of government spending on ethanol.

Republicans don't want to cut spending -- they want to talk about cutting spending.

Congressman Paul Ryan is a perfect example of why Republicans are bad for America.

Republicans' plans for Social Security and Medicare are little more than a distraction. It's time for someone to have the guts to tell seniors the truth: You were promised way too much, and now we've got to make major cuts. I'm asking retirees to think about the enormous debts piling up on your children and grandchildren.

Libertarians would stop spending billions on bailouts, the War on Drugs, federal education programs, and we would end mandatory Social Security and Medicare.

Today, America is a country that attracts hardworking immigrants from Mexico and around the world, leaving countries that are less free and prosperous. Libertarians welcome these immigrants warmly. But I often wonder if -- in 20 years -- America will still be a great place to live, or if it will be another declining civilization fraught with poverty and abuse that your children want to leave.

The future of America may depend on the Libertarian Party steering us towards liberty and away from tyranny.

The Libertarian Party is America's third-largest party, and one of the most successful alternative parties in American history.

We are recruiting bold, principled men and women dedicated to freedom to fill leadership positions and to run for office as Libertarians.

You don't have to agree with every single Libertarian position to join the Libertarian Party. You can still make a difference and help us move our country towards freedom.

The Libertarian Party has more information at our website, Please visit and join the Libertarian Party today.

Thank you and good night.

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Military Families Seek Injunction Against Department of Defense Over Therapy Denied to Children With Autism

/PRNewswire/ -- Military families have filed a motion for an injunction to mandate that the Defense Department's insurer, TRICARE, cover medically necessary care needed by military families' children with autism. The motion seeks a mandate that TRICARE cover the cost of Applied Behavior Analysis therapy, or ABA, which is effective in treating children with autism spectrum disorder.

According to the military families, without ABA therapy at an early age, children with autism will suffer irreparable harm. The motion alleges that numerous studies and medical professionals confirm the effectiveness of ABA therapy, yet the Defense Department continues to reject military families' claims for the therapy, relying on shifting rationales.

The case is entitled Berge v. United States of America, et al., No.10-cv-00373-RBW (D.DC), assigned to Judge Reggie B. Walton.

The military families allege that for approximately 10 years the Defense Department and TRICARE have avoided paying for ABA therapy by incorrectly claiming it was "special education" and therefore not payable under the military insurance program. After the military families demonstrated in their written arguments that the Defense Department's position was incorrect, the Defense Department shifted and began claiming that ABA therapy is not proven to be "medically or psychologically necessary."

At a hearing before Judge Walton on November 15, 2010, Department of Justice lawyer, Adam Kirschner conceded: "Special education was not the basis of" our denial of the therapy. Thus, after a decade of taking the position that ABA was "special education," the Defense Department has now abandoned that position and has contrived a new, equally erroneous, reason to not pay for the care.

Former Michigan State Senator, David Honigman, an attorney for the families, emphasized: "The Defense Department's shifting rationales for denying this therapy exposes the hollowness of its position. Time is of the essence for these children. Studies on ABA therapy emphasize that there is a small window of opportunity for these children to obtain maximum benefit from this therapy. If left to its own devices, the Defense Department would continue to keep this window of opportunity closed to these children."

Gerard Mantese, another attorney for the families, stated: "The Defense Department and the Department of Justice should do their homework and read the studies and reports, including the Defense Department's own internal documents, showing that ABA is the most effective therapy for treating autism. It is a slap in the face to these military families to deny therapy needed by their children, while these families are risking their lives for our country." In September 2010, Mr. Mantese was awarded the State Bar of Michigan's Champion of Justice Award for his work in taking legal steps to assist children with autism to access coverage for ABA therapy.

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Protect Our Elections Calls on Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas to Step Down in Light of His Admission That He Falsified Twenty Years of Financial Disclosure Forms

/PRNewswire/ -- Yesterday, the watchdog group asked the U.S. Justice Department to bring criminal charges against Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas for making false statements on his AO 10 Financial Disclosure forms every year since 2003 by falsely swearing under criminal penalty that his wife Virginia had no non-investment income. Within six hours of the group's request, Justice Thomas announced that he had now amended not seven but 20 years of financial disclosure forms to include his wife's income. Justice Thomas said that he "misunderstood" the filing instructions which asked him to check whether his wife had any non-investment income, and had checked "none."

Virginia Thomas worked at the Heritage Foundation from 2003 through 2007 and earned at least $120,000 each year, according to the foundation's IRS Form 990s. She then went to work for Liberty Central in a paid position according to CEO Sarah Field. Last Friday, Common Cause revealed Thomas's false statements in a letter to the Administrative Office of the Courts. Coverage by the Los Angeles Times failed to note the criminal nature of the matter.,0,2413407.story

Each of the AO 10 Financial Disclosure forms signed by Justice Thomas states in Section IX that it is certified under oath as follows:

"I certify that all information given above ( including information pertaining to my spouse and minor or dependent children, if any) is accurate, true, and complete to the best of my knowledge and belief, and that any information not reported was withheld because it met applicable statutory provisions permitting non-disclosure." (Emphasis added.)

Under the signature box in bold capital letters is the following:


According to the Department of Justice Handbook on Prosecutions, persons with expertise in law are presumed to act "knowingly and willfully," and a defendant's signature on a document can help establish willfulness and knowledge. See United States v. Tucker, 133 F.3d 1208, 1218 n. 11 (9th Cir. 1998) (noting that signature proved knowledge of contents of return); United States v. Mohney, 949 F.2d 1397, 1407 (6th Cir. 1991) (holding that signature is prima facie evidence that the signer knows the contents of the return); United States v. Drape, 668 F.2d 22, 26 (1st Cir. 1982) (finding that defendant's signature is sufficient to establish knowledge once it has been shown that the return was false).

If charged, Justice Thomas could face up to one year in prison and a criminal fine for each false statement charge, and a civil fine of up to $50,000 under 5 U.S.C. appendix section 104.

Justice Thomas's conduct is similar to that of an FBI employee who oversaw background investigations for the agency in San Francisco. Rachelle Thomas-Zuill stated on a financial disclosure form that she owned three properties with an outstanding mortgage debt of $866,000, when in fact she owned six properties and had a debt of more than $2.2 million. Thomas-Zuill, who joined the FBI 13 years ago, pleaded guilty last week to making false statements to a government agency, a felony. She will be sentenced April 7th by U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel in San Jose.

The Department of Justice civilly prosecuted two other recent false statement cases. In United States v. Dr. William L. Smith , a NASA scientist was charged with violating 18 U.S.C section 208(a), and he settled the case for a substantial fine. In United States v. John R. Van Rosendale , a DOE employee failed under 5 U.S.C. app. section 104 to file a termination financial disclosure report when he left his Government position. He was also fined.

"Yesterday, we asked the Department of Justice to bring criminal charges against Justice Thomas for his knowing and willful false statements under oath," said attorney and Protect Our Elections spokesman Kevin Zeese. "In response, Justice Thomas admitted that he made false statements on 20 years of disclosure forms, but that it was just a simple misunderstanding. How many criminal defendants have said the same thing but were not offered the same opportunity to correct or amend their statements before being prosecuted? How many cases has Justice Thomas sat in judgment of where people were charged with similar conduct? How many lawyers would have asked for Justice Thomas's recusal had the disclosure forms been accurate? Supreme Court Justices are supposed to know the law. Yet, Justice Thomas wants to be treated differently than others who committed similar conduct. His 'misunderstanding' excuse should be argued before a federal jury rather than to a committee that has no authority to grant him immunity from prosecution. No, Justice Thomas cannot be allowed to merely amend his forms without full accountability. We call for him to step down as Supreme Court Justice and for a complete independent audit of all cases in which he sat to determine if his lack of disclosure created a conflict of interest or undermined the fairness of the judgment. We also call for a criminal investigation by career prosecutors at the Department of Justice and an ethics investigation. Anything less would make a mockery of financial disclosure law, undermine respect for the law, and create the appearance that those in powerful positions can violate the law with impunity."

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Monday, January 24, 2011

Mayors, Martin Luther King III and Family Members of Gun Violence Victims Urge Congress to Fulfill Intent of Historic 1968 Gun Law and Fix Nation's Broken Background Check System

/PRNewswire/ -- The bi-partisan coalition of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, led by New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino, was joined by Martin Luther King III and dozens of survivors and family members of gun violence victims to launch a national campaign urging Congress to take two simple but critical steps to fix our nation's broken background check system: 1) fulfill the letter of the historic 1968 gun law and ensure that all names of people prohibited from buying a gun are in the background check system; and 2) fulfill the intent of the historic 1968 gun law by subjecting every gun sale to a background check.

"The time has clearly come to finally fulfill the intent of the common sense gun law passed after the 1968 assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy, by creating a loophole-free background check system for the sale of firearms," said Mayor Bloomberg. "Every day, 34 Americans are murdered with guns – and most of them are purchased or possessed illegally."

"There are those who fail to truly read the 2nd amendment," said Mayor Menino. "They ignore the need for a common sense approach to guns in our communities. The best way to respond to the heinous acts of violence we have seen in our nation's history is to prevent them from ever happening again. Lax screening in response to these tragic shootings is no virtue."

"For decades we have tolerated senseless gun violence, which has struck down too many of our fellow citizens, particularly our young people," said Martin Luther King III, President and CEO of the King Center. "If we want to create a nonviolent society, we must enforce our public safety laws to keep the angry and dangerous few from destroying the peace and harmony of the many. I wholeheartedly join Mayor Bloomberg in calling on the President and Congress to finally deliver on the long unfilled promise to make sure that every gun buyer passes a background check. It is unconscionable to do anything less."

"President Kennedy and Senator Robert Kennedy, my uncle and my father, dedicated their lives to serving their country," said Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, former Lieutenant Governor of Maryland and eldest child of Robert F. Kennedy. "But because of assassins armed with guns, they both made the ultimate sacrifice, and their lives of service were cut short. The 34 Americans whose lives are cut short by a gun each day may not be presidents or senators, but each life is a future cut short, a life of accomplishments left undone, and a family torn apart. We owe a duty to each victim to make their life, and their sacrifice, a part of the national movement to fix our gun background check system so it is thorough, complete and comprehensive."

"We've learned from recent shootings that it is vital that the federal gun background check system have accurate and complete information on people prohibited from possessing firearms," said former Attorney General Michael Mukasey. "President Bush supported and Congress passed a piece of the necessary reform in 2007 after Virginia Tech, and it has had a significant impact by more than tripling the number of mental health records in the system. But it is clear, particularly after Tucson, that it was just one step on a longer path toward the effective and comprehensive background check system we need. I applaud America's mayors for their efforts to build a better system."

"As Governor of Vermont, I received an A-rating from the NRA and I strongly support the right of law-abiding Americans to own a gun," said Howard Dean. "I also believe with equal strength that felons, drug abusers, and the mentally ill have no right to guns. In fact, that's been the law in our country for 43 years since the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy. What we need now is a background check system that works to enforce the law – one that ensures that every record is in the system that belongs there and that every gun buyer goes through a background check. I stand with America's mayors in their effort to make the system work."

Historic 1968 Legislation

In 1968, after the assassinations of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Senator Robert F. Kennedy, Congress, at the urging of President Johnson, passed a law establishing the common-sense concept that certain categories of people including convicted felons, the mentally ill, and known drug abusers should not be allowed to possess or purchase guns.

Because no system was created for actually translating its intent into reality, the effectiveness of the 1968 act was undermined. It was not until 1993, when President Clinton signed the Brady Bill, that a national instant background check system, designed to prevent mentally unbalanced people from obtaining firearms, was created to help enforce the 1968 law.

It has become clear that the Brady Bill was not enough to fulfill the intent of the historic 1968 gun law. The Columbine High School shooters used guns that were purchased without a background check at a gun show. The Virginia Tech shooter passed a background check when he should have failed it due to his record of mental health problems.

In April 2007, after the Virginia Tech massacre which claimed the lives of 32 people, Congress passed the NICS Improvement Act to submit all the required records into the background check system. Congress has failed to provide enough funding to support these efforts. In FY 2010, Congress allocated $20 million to support state initiatives to submit records to the background check system, only 5% of the $375 million authorized by the NICS Improvement Act.

Millions of records of individuals who are prohibited by law from buying guns are still missing from the database. Ten states have not submitted any mental health records to NICS and 18 states have submitted fewer than 100 mental health records.

Two Simple Ideas

Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a bipartisan coalition of more than 550 mayors, proposes that the U.S. fulfill the intent of the 1968 law by fixing the broken background check system.

First, the system should contain all the records of felony convictions, domestic violence incidents, drug history, and determinations of mental illness that would prevent those categories of troubled people from buying guns. The new Congress should set a goal of getting this job finished within three years.

Second, Congress should subject every gun sale to a background check by closing the loopholes that permit guns to be sold without them. Licensed gun dealers are covered by the Brady Bill. But "occasional sellers," for example those that sell firearms at gun shows, through classified ads or even on the internet, do not have to conduct background checks. The only way to prevent guns from falling into the hands of violent criminals, the mentally unstable, and other already prohibited dangerous persons is through a comprehensive national background check system with no loopholes. Reasonable exceptions would include, for example, transfers of guns within families, or by wills, or to people who have a valid state-issued gun permit issued within the last five years that meets or exceeds the Federal background check standard.

The Mayor and Martin Luther King III were joined by a number of survivors and family members of gun violence victims to call attention to the fact that 34 people in the United States lose their lives to gun violence every day. Among them were: Tom Mauser, father of Daniel Mauser, a victim of the 1999 Columbine High School tragedy; Omar and Randa Samaha, whose sister was shot and killed at Virginia Tech in 2007; Lynnette Alameddine, whose son was killed at Virginia Tech in 2007; Lori Haas, whose daughter survived 2 gun shots in the back of the head at Virginia Tech; and Jeannette Richardson, whose son was killed in the front yard of her home in Virginia in 2003; Toby Hoover, whose husband, Dale Stone, was shot in 1973 in Ohio; Sally Sheasby, whose son was shot and killed in Ohio in 2005; Deborah Sohovich, whose son was shot and killed in Columbus, Ohio; Rebecca Pryor, whose friend was shot and killed in Pennsylvania; Rev. Donald and Kim Odom, parents of Steven Odom who was shot and killed in 2007; and Bryan Miller, brother of Mike Miller, an FBI agent who was shot and killed in 1994 and director of public advocacy for Heeding God's Call.

New York City area family members and survivors include: Steven and Patty McDonald, Steven is a NYPD police officer who was shot in the line of duty, his wife, Patty McDonald, is the Mayor of Malverne, NY; Vada Vasquez, a student at Bronx Latin High School who was shot as she walked home from school in 2009; Tatyana Timoshenko, mother of Russel Timoshenko, an NYPD officer who was shot and killed in 2007; Kenny McLaughlin, a teacher at Grand Street Campus High School in Brooklyn, who was shot during a 1996 mugging in Brooklyn; Arlene and Jack Locicero, parents of Amy Locicero Federici, who was shot and killed in the 1993 Long Island Rail Road massacre; Gloria Cruz, whose 10-year niece was shot and killed, and established the Bronx chapter of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence; Devorah Halberstam , whose son was murdered in 1994 in a terrorist attack on the Brooklyn Bridge; and Shaina Harrison, whose cousin was shot and killed in 2009 and is working with New Yorkers Against Gun Violence.

Also, joining the group was Rev. James Coen, Pastor of the Oak Ridge Presbyterian Church, where Phyllis Schneck, one of the Tucson victims was an active member.

www.fixgunc h

Mayors Against Illegal Guns today launched a new online advocacy campaign, to call attention to the glaring problems in our nation's gun background check system, and allow citizens to join a movement to fix it.

Poll Finds Strong Support for Common Sense Improvements

The week after the Tucson shooting Mayors Against Illegal Guns released the results of a poll conducted jointly by Momentum Analysis, a polling firm with Democratic clients, and American Viewpoint, a polling firm with Republican clients. The poll reveals that Americans and gun owners strongly support a sensible approach to gun laws that protects the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans while also keeping criminals and other dangerous people from accessing firearms.

The poll of over 1,000 registered voters was conducted the week after the Tucson shooting. According to the poll, 90 percent of Americans and 90 percent of gun owners support fixing gaps in government databases that are meant to prevent the mentally ill, drug abusers and others from buying guns. Also according to the poll, 86 percent of Americans and 81 percent of gun owners support requiring all gun buyers to pass a background check, no matter where they buy the gun and no matter who they buy it from.

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Friday, January 21, 2011

Members of the Bipartisan Policy Center's National Transportation Policy Project Call for New Approach to Transportation Funding

/PRNewswire/ -- A new report released today, authored by two members of the Bipartisan Policy Center's (BPC) National Transportation Policy Project, called on the Administration and Congress to change their approach to transportation policy saying that "the nation can no longer afford to support poorly targeted investments when the needs are so great and public resources are so constrained." The report authors, Douglas Holtz-Eakin and Martin Wachs, spoke at a press conference to release the report in Washington, D.C.

"The future of transportation policy is central to economic policy. Despite what has long been argued, investments in transportation infrastructure are not guaranteed to create jobs and simultaneously grow the economy. We must ruthlessly focus on economic growth, immediately and in the future," said Dr. Holtz-Eakin. "The need for investment is clear: our roads are deteriorating and our transportation systems are not equipped to handle increasing capacity. Still, we cannot devote additional dollars, much less borrowed dollars, to transportation programs that provide an uncertain number of jobs and no lasting economic benefit."

The report, Strengthening Connections Between Transportation Investments and Economic Growth, outlines three specific policy changes the Administration and Congress can make to ensure that scarce public dollars are spent wisely and, at the same time, create employment opportunities in the short-term and contribute to the nation's economic recovery in the long-term.

First, the report recommends that no new funds be allocated to existing transportation programs if they provide questionable job-creation, unclear long-term benefits or if the programs are solely an effort to increase short-term employment. Second, investments should be directed to programs that are both "shovel-ready" and provide long-term benefits. These investments can help ease unemployment while also building the nation's economic future. Finally, federal transportation investments should not be constrained by the silos and restrictions that dominate the federal government's existing surface transportation program. "Instead of focusing on how the money is spent – that is, on whether funds go to operations versus capital or to highway versus transit – the focus must shift to the outcomes being achieved with a particular expenditure," said the report. "If the most pressing outcomes at this point in time relate to job creation and long-term economic recovery, both of those outcomes should drive decisions about how to allocate federal resources and measure progress."

"In addition to addressing long-term transportation-related objectives including safety, energy independence, and environmental sustainability, Congress should consider investments that result in higher productivity," said Dr. Wachs. "These investments will improve economic well-being by increasing connectivity and accessibility to jobs while reducing congestion. Ideally, there is an approach to transportation investment that advances both goals - enduring productivity gains and immediate job creation. To do this, there must be flexibility within the system to pursue the highest returns on spending."

The BPC's National Transportation Policy Project is a group dedicated to reforming federal surface transportation policy in a way that ensures federal investments are held accountable for demonstrating results toward the achievement of national goals. Its members include former Republican and Democratic members of Congress, local-elected officials, business and civic leaders, and transportation stakeholders and experts. The project released its blueprint for surface transportation reform, Performance Driven: A New Vision for U.S. Transportation Policy, in June 2009.

"We have repeatedly argued that not all transportation investments are equally effective, and that future transportation spending must be driven by considerations of economic merit and guided by clearly articulated federal goals, including economic growth, metropolitan accessibility, environmental protection and energy security, and safety," said JayEtta Hecker, Director of Transportation Advocacy at the BPC. "The report released today emphasizes the need for long-term returns rather than just short-term gains."

Read the full report at

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The Libertarian Party of Georgia Welcomes Changes To Handling Drug Offenders, Favors Decriminalization Instead of Growing Government

In his inaugural speech, Governor Nathan Deal addressed an issue that the Libertarian Party of Georgia has long been aware of, the unusually high number of residents currently tracked by the Department of Corrections. “One out of every 13 Georgia residents is under some form of correctional control,” said Deal, adding that the total operational cost of the Georgia Department of Corrections is approximately $3 million a day. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the state of Georgia has about 53,000 residents currently in jail, and 1,500 of those have a prevailing offense of possession of methamphetamine, crack, or cocaine. Reducing the number of nonviolent drug offenders currently in the state’s custody would dramatically reduce the operating costs of the corrections department.

The program the Governor has in mind to reduce these numbers is an expansion of the state’s 28 drug courts, one of which his son, Hall County Superior Court Judge Jason Deal, is in charge of. While it is true that the operating costs of the drug courts are drastically lower than the operating costs of processing the same offenders in the state’s prisons (a report from the Department of Audits in 2005 lists that savings as $10,293 per individual), the expansion of the courts themselves is an expansion of the state’s government, an expansion that would cost money to establish, and one that the Libertarian Party of Georgia opposes.

“Decriminalization of simple possession of marijuana does not equate to legalizing the substance,” explained the Libertarian Party of Georgia’s Executive Director, Brett Bittner. “Decriminalization would be treated by our legal system in a manner similar to a speeding ticket, where the offender, possessing less than a predetermined limit, would be required to pay a fine before his or her court date. The removal of six words from Georgia's Official Code would keep officers from arresting those in possession, judges from adjudicating bail hearings, county jails from being overrun with those who await trial, and allow the police, courts, and prisons to do what they were designed to do, which is find and keep the violent criminals behind bars.”

Reducing the number of Georgia residents behind bars for nonviolent offenses is a move the Libertarian Party supports, but not in a way that expands the current reach of the state’s government. Their position is that decriminalization would be more effective in that reduction, while also reducing costs as well as the size and scope of government in the state.

The Libertarian Party is Georgia’s third largest political party and the only party in Georgia promoting fewer taxes, less government and personal liberty for all Georgians. To learn more, please visit

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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Secretary of State Kemp Reminds Voters of Early Voting Period in State House Districts 136 and 178 Special Elections

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp reminded voters today that early in-person voting has started for the Tuesday, February 15 Special Elections to fill the vacancies in state House Districts 136 and 178. Early in-person voting ends on Friday, February 11. The deadline to request a mail-in ballot is Friday, February 11; mail-in ballots must be received by the voter’s county elections office by the close of polls on Election Day.

The elections are non-partisan Special Elections with no party primary. However, each candidate’s party affiliation, if any, will be listed on the ballot.

The election for state House District 136 will occur in Crawford County and portions of Bibb, Houston, Lamar, Monroe, Peach and Upson Counties. The election for state House District 178 will occur in Brantley and Pierce Counties and a portion of Wayne County.

Secretary Kemp reminded voters to utilize the Secretary of State’s My Voter Page (MVP) voter education website before participating in the Special Election. The MVP website allows voters to view their sample ballot, find the early voting locations in their county and their Election Day polling location, check their registration status, track the status of their mail-in ballot and more. The MVP website can be accessed at

Secretary Kemp also encouraged Georgians to assist his agency with preventing election fraud. The Stop Voter Fraud website allows Georgians to report questionable election activity online or via the Stop Voter Fraud hotline. Citizens who witness questionable election-related activity can submit a Stop Voter Fraud form at or call the Secretary of State’s Voter Fraud Hotline at 877-725-9797.

Voters who cast their ballot early in-person or on Election Day will be required to show one of the following forms of photo ID:

· A Georgia driver’s license, even if expired;

· Any valid state or federal government issued photo ID, including a free Voter ID Card issued by your county registrar or Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS);

· Valid U.S. passport;

· Valid employee photo ID from any branch, department, agency, or entity of the U.S. Government, Georgia, or any county, municipality, board, authority, or other entity of this state;

· Valid U.S.. military photo ID; or

· Valid tribal photo ID.

If a voter does not have one of these forms of photo identification, they can obtain a free voter ID card at their county registrar’s office or the Georgia Department of Driver Services. Photo identification is not required when voting by mail. For additional information about Georgia’s photo ID requirement please visit

Polls will be open from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, February 15.

Brian Kemp was sworn in as Secretary of State in January 2010. Among the office’s wide-ranging responsibilities, the Secretary of State is charged with conducting efficient and secure elections, the registration of corporations, and the regulation of securities and professional license holders. The office also oversees the Georgia Archives and the Capitol Museum.
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Monday, January 10, 2011

Georgia Tax Reform Report a Taxpayer Protection Pledge Violation

/PRNewswire/ -- Today Americans for Tax Reform announced that a vote in favor of the recommendations of the 2010 Special Council on Tax Reform and Fairness for Georgians would violate the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, as it constitutes a net tax increase. 55 Georgia lawmakers, including Governor Nathan Deal, House Speaker David Ralston, and Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers have signed the Pledge, a written promise to constituents to oppose and vote against or veto all tax increases.

While the Council proposes some pro-growth reforms, such as the gradual reduction of personal and corporate income tax rates, they are more than offset with net tax increases. The income tax reductions amount to roughly $750 million in savings for Georgians, but tax increases on groceries, tobacco, communications services, the Internet and other services approach $2 billion. ATR believes that tax reform is a noble goal, but not when it constitutes a net revenue increase for state government.

ATR President Grover Norquist issued the following statement:

"In its current form, last week's tax reform proposal should be a non-starter for fiscal conservatives in the Georgia Legislature. While tax reform is indeed a laudable goal, it should not be presented in a way that increases the net burden on taxpayers and raises even more money for state government. Unfortunately, this report recommends just that.

"A significant reduction in marginal tax rates is long overdue in Georgia, which is wedged between two states – Tennessee and Florida – that levy no personal income tax at all. But if the goal is to use such reductions to mask bigger tax increases on groceries, tobacco, and a variety of services, it is not even worthy of a conversation.

"This is akin to shards of glass in a delicious creme brulee. It is a bit of desirable tax reform ruined by an overall tax hike. Thankfully, Taxpayer Protection Pledge signers run state government in Georgia. Because they have taken tax increases definitively off the table, I am confident that we can move past this initial foray into tax reform and begin a serious conversation about reducing the size and scope of state government in Atlanta." 

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Friday, January 7, 2011

Taxing the Internet

Remember the days when state taxes were not paid when you ordered that favorite item online?  It seems like times are changing.  How soon before all states tax the internet?  What do you think about this?

Internet Tax Bill Passed in Illinois

/PRNewswire/ -- The Internet Tax Bill (HB 3659) was passed in the Illinois Senate on January 5, by the House of Representatives on January 6 and brought to the Governor, who may sign it into a law as early as Friday, January 7.

The tax legislation relates to out-of-state merchants like and that do not have a physical presence in Illinois but have relationships with Illinois advertisers and publishers like By this law, these merchants are deemed to have a presence (nexus) in Illinois and are therefore required to collect Illinois sales tax.

The goal of this is to increase tax revenue for the state, but what has happened in the four states that have passed similar laws (New York, Colorado, North Carolina and Rhode Island) is that instead of collecting sales tax, these merchants have severed their relationships with publishers in that state. Twelve other states have rejected similar legislation.

Statement from Scott Kluth, Founder and President of

"Needless to say, we are disappointed by the passing of the legislation today. It was disheartening that both Houses passed this bill in 30 hours without a full and fair opportunity for the voice of Illinois small businesses to be heard. CouponCabin has been rapidly growing for the past several years; in fact, in November, we were only 12% behind Groupon's monthly traffic. For the third straight year, our staff has doubled in size and has already grown by 12% in the first week of 2011. Unfortunately, this bill will do significant harm to our growth by cutting our business by nearly one-third. Chicago has been an amazing home for CouponCabin for more than seven years. We are grounded in the community with our business and our charitable work and have no plans to leave. We hope the State will see that this bill will fail to achieve its revenue-raising goal, and instead cause drastic hardship for small businesses like ours. We know from other states' experience that the tax revenue does not materialize. Should this bill become a law, Internet affiliate jobs will be lost with no increase in state revenue. The other states that have passed this are moving to repeal it for this exact reason. We hope consideration will be given to the impact on small businesses before this bill becomes a law."

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Thursday, January 6, 2011

Libertarian Party of Georgia Announces Legislative Priorities for 2011 General Assembly Session

The Libertarian Party of Georgia announced their focused priorities for the 2011 legislative session. With four major areas of focus, Tax Reform, Budget Process Reform, Election Reform, and defeating the Prescription Monitoring Act, the third largest political party in Georgia lays out how they hope to influence the legislative session that begins January 10th. Available on the Party's website,, a four page document outlines their focus for the session.

"Georgia faces serious problems in the areas of taxation and spending, and the people of Georgia deserve serious solutions," said the Party's Legislative Director, Jeff Sexton. "The Libertarian Party of Georgia is committed to offering those solutions, working to allow voters genuine choices at the ballot box including the recall of officials the voters deem are not living up to expectations."

With a heavy focus on reforming taxation and budgetary processes, the Libertarian Party of Georgia demonstrates their commitment to lowering taxes for Georgians and limiting the size and scope of government. Urging the elimination of the corporate income tax, reform of SPLOST regulations, and lower tax rates with fewer exemptions make up the bulk of their Tax Reform proposals.

As one might expect, the Party also advocates for greater access to the ballot for all candidates, noting the strictest ballot access laws in the nation status that Georgia has received in recent years. They propose a bill similar to one introduced last session by Alan Powell (R-Hartwell), Rusty Kidd (I-Milledgeville) and Mark Hatfield (R-Waycross), which eliminated the need to collect petition signatures in order appear on the ballot. Such a bill would allow independent and "third party" candidates the same access to the ballot as their Republican and Democratic counterparts.

"Our focus is to make Georgia a better state," said Brett Bittner, the Executive Director of the Libertarian Party of Georgia. "We see these areas as places to accomplish that. Lower taxes, more choices, and smaller government are issues from which every Georgian can benefit, and we're working to achieve those objectives in our focused efforts this legislative session."

The Party also notes that they support the sale of alcohol on Sundays and oppose enacting the health care legislation, passed last year by the Federal Government, in Georgia.

The Libertarian Party is Georgia’s third largest political party and the only party in Georgia promoting fewer taxes, less government and personal liberty for all Georgians. To learn more, please visit

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