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Entries in ALG (1555)

Saturday
Jun262010

ALG Condemns House for Passing First Amendment Restrictions, Urges Senate to Block Bill 

"House Democrats have been relentless in restricting and intimidating political speech for most groups while carving out explicit exemptions for special interests that favor their policies.  It is up to the Senate to rise above these crony politics that guided the passage of the DISCLOSE Act, and instead to allow the First Amendment to stand, protecting political speech for all without regulation."—ALG President Bill Wilson

June 25th, 2010, Fairfax, VA—Americans for Limited Government (ALG) President Bill Wilson today condemned the House of Representatives for passing the DISCLOSE Act that Wilson described as "an egregious violation of First Amendment rights, requiring most corporations and non-profits to comply with labyrinthine regulations while improperly exempting media organizations, the NRA, AARP, the Sierra Club, most unions and others."

"Despite all of the flak about special carve-outs for certain organizations, House Democrats embraced some of the most onerous restrictions on political speech in the history of the Republic while handing out special licenses to the highest bidders," Wilson said.

"The legislation also leaves in place the outdated blanket exemption for media organizations, which can say whatever it is they want about candidates, for or against, without any regulation or disclosure at all," Wilson added.

According to 2 USC 431 (9) (B) (i), the 1971 Federal Election Campaign Act: "The term 'expenditure' does not include any news story, commentary, or editorial distributed through the facilities of any broadcasting station, newspaper, magazine, or other periodical publication". This media exemption to campaign regulation is reinforced in the DISCLOSE Act's language on page 22.

"No bribery crisis of elected officials has ever emerged over editorial endorsements by newspapers or any other media outlet, and yet they have long been exempted from disclosure. Meanwhile, we assume that such a crisis exists with all other speech," Wilson has previously stated.

After criticism from both sides of the aisle, the NRA carve-out was broadened to exempt organizations meeting the following criteria: at least 500,000 dues paying members (down from 1 million), members in all 50 states, receives no more than 15 percent of total funding from corporations or labor organizations, and doesn't use corporate or union money to pay for campaign-related expenses.

Unions also received an exemption since only aggregate contributions of over $600 would be disclosed — most union dues are less than that.

The Act's disclosure requirements include any expenditures in excess of $10,000 of express advocacy for or against a candidate, which must be reported to the FEC within 24 hours.  The disclosure requirements extend to 120 days prior to the first presidential primary or caucus, and 90 days before the first Congressional primary or caucus, and extend through general election day.  Anyone who invests or donates $1,000 or more to the company or organization that engages in express advocacy of a candidate, except for media organizations, would have to have their names submitted to the FEC. 

Wilson said that Congress was not consistently applying First Amendment protections.  "The exemptions that are in place for media, the NRA, AARP, the Sierra Club, and unions are the protections that should be in place for everyone.  The First Amendment protects political speech from restriction, even if backers of ads do not wish to have their pictures featured in ads," Wilson explained.

Wilson pointed to Supreme Court precedent protecting anonymous donations made to groups that solely make independent expenditures in NAACP v. Alabama (1958).  Then Justice Harlan's majority opinion stated, applying the First Amendment via the Fourteenth to Alabama, "We hold that the immunity from state scrutiny of membership lists which the Association claims on behalf of its members is here so related to the right of the members to pursue their lawful private interests privately and to associate freely with others in so doing as to come within the protection of the Fourteenth Amendment."

Wilson urged the Senate to reject the legislation, concluding, "House Democrats have been relentless in restricting and intimidating political speech for most groups while carving out explicit exemptions for special interests that favor their policies.  It is up to the Senate to rise above these crony politics that guided the passage of the DISCLOSE Act, and instead to allow the First Amendment to stand, protecting political speech for all without regulation."

Attachments:

Disclosure is Overrated, by ALG News Senior Editor Robert Romano, June 21st, 2010.

Friday
Jun252010

ALG - Gulf Coast Rebuilding Expert Paul Conway criticizes the Administration's inactions

Gulf Coast Rebuilding Expert Paul Conway criticizes the Administration's inactions on the Gulf oil spill in an exclusive interview with ALG.

 (Standard and high definition clips available.)

 

The former head of the office charged with rebuilding the Gulf Coast criticized Obama Administration efforts in the Gulf Coast oil spill in an exclusive interview with Americans for Limited Government (ALG).

 

 Paul Conway served two stints as acting federal coordinator for The Office of the Federal Coordinator for Gulf Coast Rebuilding, while retaining his role as chief of staff to the office from April 2007 to April 2009.

 

To read ALG's story about the Administration's lack of action towards the Gulf oil spill and disaster, and for additional comments from Paul Conway, click here.

 

 Who: Gulf Coast Rebuilding Expert Paul Conway and Americans for Limited Government (ALG) Communications Director Rick Manning.

What: Comments about the federal government's lack of knowledge and action to clean up the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Paul Conway video quote 1:

"This is a crisis this is not a political campaign.  Soundbites don't cut it.  Action on the ground and results on behalf of people, that's what matters right now.  America is watching; what are you going to do?"

Time: 0.10/ 56.1MB (HD version) 

Click the following link to preview this clip on YouTube.

Click here for your FREE broadcast HD quality download for your TV station:

http://www.algnews.org/videos/Gulf%20Crisis/Gulf_Oil_P_Conway_1.mov

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http://www.algnews.org/videos/Gulf%20Crisis/Gulf_Oil_P_Conway_1-SD.mp4

 

Rick Manning video quote 1:

"We can no longer excuse Obama's inactions as incompetence.  It's deliberate negligence."

Time: 0:07/30.2MB (HD version)

Click the following link to preview this clip on YouTube

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http://www.algnews.org/videos/Gulf%20Crisis/Gulf_Oil_R_Manning_1.mov

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http://www.algnews.org/videos/Gulf%20Crisis/Gulf_Oil_R_Manning_1-SD.mp4

 

Paul Conway video quote 2:

"After two months I think the American people would say not good enough.  And I think the person who's accountable—there's one person in the country accountable for the crisis response and that's the President of the United States.  I think he needs to ask himself, have you done a great job?  Am I campaigning or am I managing?  I think most people would say, at this point he's not managing but he sure sounds a lot like campaigning."

Time: 0.21/ 116.5 MB (HD version)

Click the following link to preview this clip on YouTube

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Paul Conway video quote 3:

"You have a federal workforce that's been engaged for four years after Katrina that's got expertise on how to help people on day one.  They exist at the Small Business Administration, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Labor, the Department of HHS.  All these folks could have been utilized and they haven't been. That's the failure of leadership from the President and his appointed staff."

Time: 0.17/ 97.9 MB (HD version)

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Friday
Jun252010

NRN - Must Reads for June 25, 2010

Americans for Limited Government President Bill Wilson's quote of the day in reference to House Democrats being unable to produce a budget: "Pelosi and Hoyer should be held accountable for the words of their own Budget Committee Chairman John Spratt who infamously stated in 2006, 'if you cannot budget, you cannot govern'… Their failure to produce a budget due to political concerns is a dereliction of duty at a time when our nation needs heroes to step up to meet this crisis, not wannabe leaders who cower in fear and hope it goes away."

Read more at NetRightDaily.com.

Friday
Jun252010

ALG Blasts Treasury Mortgage Modification Program as a "Tragic Failure" 

"[W]e are at risk of repeating the same policy mistake that got us into this mess."

Former chief credit officer of Fannie Mae Ed Pinto.

June 24th, 2010, Fairfax, VA—New testimony before a House oversight committee today revealed that a $75 billion Treasury program modifying mortgages has fallen well short of its goal to "help as many as 3 to 4 million struggling homeowners avoid foreclosure."

The testimony, delivered by former chief credit officer of Fannie Mae, Ed Pinto, before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, outlined several government causes for the program's failure, which Pinto said would only "yield about 275 thousand successful long-term modifications, with perhaps another 100 thousand successes from future trial modifications."

Pinto said there would be a 40 percent re-default rate for the attempted 340 thousand active permanent modifications.  He also cited another 468 thousand active trial modifications, of which "perhaps only 75 thousand will become successful long-term permanent modifications." 

Americans for Limited Government President Bill Wilson today said, "At best, the Treasury program will hit 9.4 to 12.5 percent of its original goal.  For a $75 billion program, that's a remarkable, tragic failure.  Put another way, it cost approximately $200 thousand for each of the 375 thousand modifications for the money that was allocated.  What a waste."

Pinto said that the Treasury program "hopelessly tied the modification process up in knots" noting that private sector modifications had been rising rapidly in 2008 and the first quarter of 2009, until the program "reversed the upward trend in the numbers of modifications."

Pinto noted that under the private sector modifications, "[r]e-default rates after three months dropped by more than half from 35.1 percent in [the 4th quarter of 2008] to 14.7 percent in [the 3rd quarter of 2009]." He said, "This success was before HAMP [Home Affordable Modification Program] permanent modifications had any impact."

After the Treasury program was implemented, the number of overall modifications dropped, and applications were sat on for months as servicers attempted to ascertain if applicants qualified for the program 800 separate requirements.  In the meantime, these applicants were put into trial modifications, which Pinto called "no doc modifications" since "[b]orrowers were allowed to enter a trial without qualifying on the basis."

According to the Wall Street Journal's James Haggerty, "Eager for quick results, the Obama administration last year prodded banks to start people on trials without first obtaining documents proving they were eligible.  That has led to many crushed hopes… While awaiting answers, some borrowers keep making payments, exhausting their savings in what may be a futile effort to save their homes.  They also incur fees from the banks and delay taking action that might give them a fresh start in a more affordable home."

Pinto said the slow process for approval encouraged the Treasury to weaken the standards for modifications, creating "alternative modifications," which were for properties with less than 80 percent loan-to-value wherein mortgage payments were reduced to below 20 percent of a borrower's income, and "the net present value test is no longer a constraint."

Pinto said, "Once again servicers are being required to re-evaluate the same borrower for the umpteenth time, but now the message is approve no matter the cost.  This appears to be an attempt to paper over the problems resulting from HAMP's clogged pipeline."

Pinto noted that with the alternative modifications, "we are at risk of repeating the same policy mistake that got us into this mess," citing government-mandated looser lending standards and Department of Housing policies that "made it difficult to turn down unqualified borrowers for a loan."

Pinto also testified that other unintended repercussions of the Treasury program included strategic defaults, pointing to research by the University of Chicago and Northwestern University that stated, "With more and more homeowners believing that lenders are failing to pursue those who default on their mortgages, there is a risk that a growing number of homeowners will walk away from their homes even if they can afford monthly payments."

Pinto also blamed the Treasury program for forestalling a market correction.  "HAMP has also slowed down foreclosure processes, pushing the level of heightened foreclosure activity out to 2013 or 2014 and likely extending the period for the market to correct."

Wilson concluded, "The only positive that can be drawn from Mr. Pinto's testimony is that it appears the Treasury modification program is winding down.  The Treasury program was just a big lie to pretend to 'prevent' foreclosures, when there will likely be another 4 million foreclosure filings this year.  It's time for government to get out of the way and let the market correct itself."

Attachments:

Testimony to House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Edward J. Pinto, June 24th, 2010



Friday
Jun252010

ALG - House Democrats Derided for Failure to Pass Budget 

"House Democrats' failure to produce a budget due to political concerns is a dereliction of duty at a time when our nation needs heroes to step up to meet this crisis, not wannabe leaders who cower n fear and hope it goes away."—ALG President Bill Wilson.

Basic Constitutional responsibility not met

June 24th, 2010, Fairfax, VA—U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, came under fire today after the announcement that the U.S. House of Representatives would fail to pass a budget.

Bill Wilson, President of Americans for Limited Government remembers, "Pelosi and Hoyer should be held accountable for the words of their own Budget Committee Chairman John Spratt who infamously stated in 2006, 'if you cannot budget, you cannot govern'."

The decision by House Democrats to leave the nation without a budget comes as some of the nation's pre-eminent economists and businessmen are warning about our nation faces an unsustainable debt burden.

Billionaire Warren Buffett places the debt burden directly in the lap of Pelosi and Hoyer in a May 1, 2010 Reuters story, where he worries that, "it won't work forever to run huge budget deficits and easy money,' Buffett warned.  He said if this causes problems, "Congress rather than the Federal Reserve should get the blame."

In a startling admission that re-election politics rather than the needs of the nation were the primary reasons behind the failure, Hoyer revealed weeks ago that it was unlikely that Democrats would produce a budget complaining, "It's difficult to pass budgets in election years because they reflect what the [fiscal] status is."

According to Wilson, "Hoyer's statement makes it clear that House Democrats are hoping to hide the financial hole caused by their wasting billions upon billions on stimulus after stimulus leading our nation to near financial ruin.   Their failure to produce a budget due to political concerns is a dereliction of duty at a time when our nation needs heroes to step up to meet this crisis, not wannabe leaders who cower in fear and hope it goes away."

In the three and a half years since Pelosi became Speaker in 2007, the nation's debt has climbed by $4 trillion dollars to more than $13 trillion.  It is little wonder that House Democrats don't want the people to see what the nation's "fiscal status is."