a service of NPRI

August 11, 2005 
Vol. 1, No. 25


Death Tax
No More Hiding

By Bill Frist
Wall Street Journal

Imagine working your entire life to build a family business -- a farm, store, motel or restaurant. Every hour you work and every decision you make is with the express goal of growing your business, so you can provide for your family and pass something on to your children. Dutifully, you pay your taxes owed, you weather the droughts, survive the downturns, and, in the end, you come out ahead.

Now enter the death tax. The reality is that the business you've worked so hard to pass on to your family may have to be sold. This may be the only recourse for your loved ones to pay the burdensome taxes on your estate.

Think about it: Your employees will lose their jobs, your community will lose a valuable service, and in a time of grief, your family will be forced to part with a piece of their heritage. This is the harsh and unfair reality of the death tax, and it's why Congress must act soon to permanently repeal it.

Commentary: No More Hiding This article will be available to non-subscribers of the Online Wall Street Journal for up to seven days after it is e-mailed.

Conservation could make us more reliant on foreign oil

By Austan Goolsbee

Every administration since Richard Nixon’s has railed against foreign oil—at least when prices are high. President Bush recently called our dependence on the stuff a "foreign tax on the American dream." Indeed, the promise of energy independence helped the Energy Bill land on President Bush’s desk at the end of July. As Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist chimed in, "When we rely on other nations for more than half our oil supply, we simply put our security at risk."

A basic tenet underlying such comments is that, quite apart from the need to stimulate new domestic energy sources, we must reduce our overall demand for oil if we are to reduce our dependence on foreign sources of the stuff. To that end the bill provides more than $1 billion of subsidies for hybrids and home energy conservation. But there’s a problem with this line of thinking. It ignores the way oil pricing really functions, and put simply, it won’t work. The costs of pumping oil in the U.S. are among the highest in the world, and the costs in the Middle East are the lowest. So in fact any significant reduction in U.S. demand would hit domestic sources hard but do little to change the amount of foreign oil we buy.


AFL-CIO crackup
Blowing up the union to save the union

Will Breakaway Labor model itself on the AARP?

By Matt Miller

Andy Stern's walkout from the AFL-CIO is being cast variously as a clash of egos, the latest death knell for organized labor, or trouble for the Democrats. After all, he was followed by 4.6 million workers from the Teamsters, the United Food and Commercial Workers, and his own Service Employees International Union. The truth is, Stern's move is possibly the most significant economic event of the year. Not simply because Stern, 54, is the only leader in recent memory to actually grow a union, but because he is in the early stages of something truly ambitious: forging new organizing models and public policies to reward work fairly. And here's the surprise: If CEOs can get over their natural fear of meeting with him, they might find an unlikely partner in making America more competitive and more just.

Okay, I'm gushing. But Stern really does see the big picture. Unlike your typical union boss, who seethes as workers get screwed and fat cats take care of themselves—end of analysis—Stern gets the irreversible economics of globalization. And that understanding is driving him to ideas that could take the labor movement far beyond the workplace. "We've had this one-size-fits-all union model built in the 1930s," he says. It had a great post-war run, but its momentum ended more than a generation ago. Do we try to revive that model, he asks, "or do we say, The economy is different now, and workers need different kinds of organizations?"

There's a model for the kind of new workers' group Stern has in mind: AARP. Imagine a new national membership and advocacy organization for millions of working people that wielded the clout in Washington that AARP now enjoys. Suppose the new "union"—or perhaps it would be one of a dozen such worker associations organized around major industries—took over benefits like health care, pensions, and training, and companies contributed a predictable amount into a pool (as opposed to, say, ever-soaring health costs) for those purposes. Or suppose the new association mounted a major campaign on behalf of health coverage for every American. Or for a mega-version of wage supplements like the earned income tax credit that lifted the effective minimum wage to $10 without putting the full burden on employers, which would kill jobs.

Stern believes a labor group like that could be hugely appealing to the 92% of private-sector workers who...


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Yucca Mountain
Junk-science experts
tweak Harry Reid

By Steven Miller

If U.S. Senator Harry Reid honestly thinks human beings would be at serious risk under the Environmental Protection Agency’s new radiation standards, he should immediately start clamoring for an emergency program for the U.S. Capitol, where radiation exceeds those standards, say junk science specialists at the Cato Institute.

Reid lambasted newly proposed EPA standards Tuesday as the product of "voodoo science and arbitrary numbers," calling the criteria “the latest attempt by the Bush Administration to ignore sound science and disregard the health and safety of Nevadans."

The new EPA rules would limit exposure near the proposed Yucca Mountain facility in Nevada to 15 millirems a year for the next 10,000 years. Recently, researchers in Washington D.C. measured gamma radiation dose rates in a Capitol building hallway and outside the Thomas Jefferson Building. They found that individuals in those locations could receive anywhere from 60 millirems to 260 millirems of gamma radiation per year depending on the exposure scenario.

"These radiation dose rates are much higher than the EPA proposed to allow at the planned high-level nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada," noted Cato Institute researcher Steven Milloy, who administers the Institute’s junkscience.com website project.

"We hope that Sen. Reid will act immediately to protect Capitol building visitors, employees and future generations from this radiation hazard,” said Milloy.

“We've asked Sen. Reid to undertake a comprehensive radiation survey of the Capitol and recommended that radiation hazard signs be used until the radiation sources can be removed and disposed in accordance with hazardous waste regulations," he added.


Small business can
take this to the bank

By Jack Faris
National Federation
of Independent Business

Anytime the United States House of Representatives approves legislation by a margin of 424 to 1, that's a clear indication that the lawmakers believe some aspect of American law should be changed.

Such a resounding declaration occurred in May when lawmakers heeded small-business owners' pleas to remove a 70-year-old ban on allowing interest payments for business checking accounts.


LVCVA, R&R rebuked
at board meeting

By David McKee

You didn't do anything wrong -- but don't do it again.

That was the gist of an investigative report on the controversial handling of the "What happens here, stays here" slogan by the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority and its longtime PR agency, R&R partners.

The report, prepared by the San Francisco-based firm of Morrison & Foerster, was released at Tuesday's meeting of the LVCVA board of directors, presided over by Mayor Oscar Goodman.


Health costs
Medicaid fraud the price
for cutting red tape?

By Alexa Moutevelis

One of the most pressing issues related to the influx of illegal immigrants to the United States involves Medicaid fraud.

In fact, the U.S. Justice Department reports that 47 states allow Medicaid applicants to vouch for their own legal U.S. citizenship when applying for the benefits and more than half of those states produce no follow up in trying to verify the self-declarations.

Jack Martin, special projects director for the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), told Cybercast News Service that this can lead to ineligible illegal immigrants abusing the system.

"It is idealistic to expect that our 11 to 12 million illegal aliens in the country who have lied or broken our laws to get into our country are not going to lie about U.S. citizenship in order to access this benefit," Martin said. He added that "there's basically no way to know" how many people are getting Medicaid illegally."


IRS plans audits of "S" corporations

By Steven Mihailovich
LVBusiness Press

Owners of "S" corporations may have one more thing to worry about: The Internal Revenue Service is set to audit 5,000 of the smaller corporate entities as part of a three-year investigation of who pays income tax.

The audits will become part of the National Research Program launched in 2002. The agency suspects that the S classification, originally intended to help the little guy, has become a tax evasion haven for big operators.


Court: 'California redistricting measure stays off ballot'

By Steve Lawrence
The Associated Press

A state appeals court refused to put Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's attempt to change the redistricting process back on November's special election ballot, prompting the governor to charge the ruling "ignored the will of nearly one million Californians.

The governor's ballot initiative seeks to take away state lawmakers' power to draw congressional and legislative boundaries in California and instead shift that responsibility to a panel of retired judges.


Furniture mart visitors
avoid downtown hotels

The estimated 62,000 people who attended the recent opening of the World Market Center have left town, but few downtown Las Vegas hotels were the beneficiaries of the free-spending travelers.

Conventioneers stayed away from the aging offerings down the street, opting instead for the luxury resorts of the Strip. 


Appeals court: Illegals can't legally challenge Prop 200

By Melanie Hunter

An appeals court has rejected a bid by illegal immigrants to overturn Arizona's Proposition 200, which requires the state to verify the immigration status of people applying for benefits and services they are not allowed to receive under federal law.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed their challenge on the grounds that the illegal immigrants had no legal standing.


Teacher unions join
anti-Wal-Mart campaign

By Susan Jones

The nation's two largest teachers' unions are joining the anti-Wal-Mart campaign, urging Americans to buy their back-to-school supplies somewhere else.

At various press conferences around the nation on Wednesday, the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers joined other union officials in a campaign called "Send Wal-Mart Back to School."

It's part of the "Wake Up Wal-Mart" project, a union-inspired effort to pressure the large and profitable company that does not welcome union labor -- and promises "always -- low prices." Speakers at the press conferences were to present Wal-Mart with a failing report card.


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