Activities at the March 4 Wednesday Strategy Lunches chaired by Paul Weyrich of the Free Congress Foundation and Rep. Ernest Istook (R-OK).
Rep. Bob Riley (R-AL) introduced participants to H.R. 3104, the Riley-Salmon Marriage Protection and Fairness Act. The bill would eliminate the marriage penalty by increasing the standard deduction and giving married couples two choices: 1) Find their taxable income in the back of the tax booklet (as they do now), and pay the corresponding tax for a married couple filing jointly, or 2) Cut their income in half, determine how much a single person has to pay in taxes on this amount of income, and then pay twice that amount. Riley distributed an information kit showing that 40% of married couples now pay a marriage penalty averaging an extra $1,400 per year in taxes paid by married couples just because they are married. Rep. Riley praised the Weller-McIntosh bill to end the marriage penalty, but explained why he thinks H.R. 3104 eliminates it in a simpler and more fair way. Riley said H.R. 3104 has 75 co-sponsors, and more are being sought. Contact Jon Heroux at 202/225-3261.
Rep. John Hostettler (R-IN) discussed his Public Expression of Religion Act (H.R. 3288). The bill is designed to protect teachers, principals and school board members from personal liability when schools are sued because students engaged in voluntary religious expression. More specifically, the bill would: 1) Free local public officials from extortion-like threats of lawsuits arising from their expression of religion, 2) Foster the reading of the Constitution by local public officials, 3) Alert the public to the extent to which public expression of religion has been unconstitutionally hindered by activist judges in conjunction with profit-seeking lawyers, and 4) Defund lawyers who prey on officials who publicly express religion. He distributed a fact kit. Contact Tom Washburn at 202/225-4636.
Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) alerted participants to a renewed push for passage of his Tax Limitation Constitutional Amendment. The amendment would, if approved by the Congress and 3/4ths of the states, require 3/2rds approval of the Congress for tax increases, except in times of war or emergency. He distributed a fact kit and target list. Contact Samantha Jordan or Brandon Steinman at 202/225-2002.
Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK) reviewed Senate business, including amendments dealing with the EPA's clean air regulations and with removing racial/gender quotas from some federal contracting. He also discussed S. 1180, the Endangered Species Recovery Act, crediting a presentation led by Myron Ebell of Frontiers for Freedom at the October 22 Strategy Lunch (see Scoop #179) with alerting him to flaws in the legislation. Contact Senator Inhofe at 202/225-2211.
Stanton Meeting: Activities at the March 5 and February 19 Stanton foreign & defense policy meetings, chaired by Laszlo Pastor of Coalitions for America & Amy Ridenour of The National Center for Public Policy Research.
Jorge Amselle of the Center for Equal Opportunity reviewed March 4's one-vote-margin victory for Puerto Rican statehood in the House, and pending action in the Senate. He mentioned that the Puerto Rico statehood issue snuck up on the American public, which had little if any time to communicate with their representatives on the issue. He further noted that the Statehood Party of Puerto Rico looted Puerto Rican taxpayers' money to hire over 30 major consulting firms (among them, the firms of Bob Dole, Harold Ickes, Frank Luntz and Ralph Reed) to push statehood on Capitol Hill. Amselle said he has yet to hear a satisfactory reason why the House leadership supports it. The bill passed by the House requires votes by Puerto Ricans every ten years until either statehood or Independence wins. Statehood is likely to win, Amselle said, because the Commonwealth Party, which won the last (1993) referendum over statehood advocates, has announced that it will boycott future referendums in protest of the methods used to get this bill passed. Amselle said that the U.S. Senate needs to be told that the American grassroots opposes this, that lots of Puerto Ricans oppose it (including two of three Congressmen of Puerto Rican descent in the House), and the vast majority of GOP Congressmen oppose it. Amselle also pointed out that less than 60% of 3.8 million Puerto Ricans on the Island think of themselves as Americans, and most of the 3 million Puerto Ricans on the mainland want either Commonwealth status or independence. Amselle distributed an article he wrote on the subject in the August 11, 1997 National Review, and a March 3, 1998 John Fund op/ed on the politics of the issue from the Washington Times. Contact Jorge Amselle at 202/639-0803.
Former Castro political prisoner and Cuban freedom activist Dr. Emilio-Adolfo Rivero summarized arguments in favor of continuing the economic embargo on Cuba. He also distributed a copy of a letter he wrote to the Wall Street Journal, published on February 9, saying in part: "Castro offers foreign investors a non-striking labor force whose members work gratefully for dirt-cheap wages and who feel privileged when they receive soap, toothpaste and deodorant on payday. Castro imposes NO environmental regulations on businesses, offers lucrative tax benefits, and free repatriation of all income. Many potential American investors are impatient, dreaming of such a business 'haven' so nearby. So they lobby to change U.S. policy." Dr. Rivero also distributed six questions about the effectiveness of U.S. policy towards Cuba -- without answers -- which he suggested U.S. policymakers should ask themselves. Contact Dr. Rivero at 301-927-2167 or firstname.lastname@example.org (www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/7988).
Cliff Kincaid of the American Sovereignty Action Project of
Citizens United distributed information on several sovereignty
issues and discussed the United Nations' request for more funds
from the U.S. The U.N., he said, has failed to reimburse $6-8
billion in U.S. peacekeeping expenses incurred by the U.N. Said
Kincaid: "The Clinton Administration looted from Pentagon
military readiness accounts... What's just as bad, Speaker Gingrich
has endorsed repaying the phony $1 billion repayment to the United
nations. Fortunately, leading Republicans, including Armey and
DeLay, disagree with him on this." Kincaid also distributed
an article by Stephen Glass in the liberal New Republic
agreeing with Kincaid's view that Ted Turner's $1 billion gift
to the U.N. cannot legally be accepted. Glass also speculates,
said Kincaid, that billionaire George Soros will be the next to
give the U.N. a billion, perhaps for the purpose of encouraging
the U.N. to support drug legalization. Contact Cliff Kincaid via
Robert Paterno at 703/352-4788 (www.citizensunited.org).*