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UPI's Capital Comment for May 5, 2003

May 5, 2003 at 1:57 PM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, May 5 (UPI) -- Capital Comment -- Daily news notes, political rumors and important events that shape politics and public policy in Washington and the world from United Press International.

Political Ed-ucation...

The speculation that high-powered Washington lobbyist Ed Gillespie is about to depart K Street for the chairman's office at the Republican National Committee is being dismissed as "conjecture" by some close to the issue. On Monday, Roll Call, a newspaper that covers events on Capitol Hill, ran with an item suggesting that Gillespie, a former Bush campaign aide, was in the process of being chosen a new chairman, replacing former Montana Gov. Marc Racicot, who the story said was headed to a high post in the president's as-yet unformed re-election committee. A source close to Gillespie says the speculation is "a typical Washington parlor game" and that if any changes are contemplated in the RNC's leadership, he is unaware of them.

"There are a lot of folks who think he would be a terrific chairman," the source says, "but until there's a vacancy then any discussion of who might replace Racicot is just idle chatter."

Is 50 the "Red" anniversary? ...

For two years as chairman of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, Sen. Joseph McCarthy, R-Wis., led sensational inquiries into allegations of Communist subversion and espionage inside the United States government. Now, on the 50th anniversary of those hearings by the Wisconsin Republican, the heretofore-unpublished transcripts of the committee's executive sessions have been released.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, authorized the Senate Historical Office in January 2001 to begin preparing the documents for release. After the committee gavel passed in June 2001, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., approved publication of the records by the General Printing Office.

"These hearings are a part of our national past that we can neither afford to forget nor permit to recur," write Levin and Collins in the preface to the five-volume set.

"I am pleased that these historically important documents are finally being released to the public," Collins said. "Senator Margaret Chase Smith said 50 years ago, 'Those of us who shout the loudest about Americanism in making character assassinations are all too frequently those who, by our own words and acts, ignore some of the basic principles of Americanism.' The McCarthy transcripts will help ensure that we do not forget this important lesson, and that we remain vigilant in upholding the constitutional rights and democratic principles that are the strength of this nation."

Addicted to love...

Former U.S. Education Secretary and Drug Czar William Bennett is not, says wife Elayne, addicted to gambling, nor has he lost millions of dollars at casinos in Atlantic City, N.J., and Las Vegas. Stories began to circulate Friday that Bennett, the author of a number of best-selling books including The Book of Virtues, might have lost millions while gambling on video poker and slot machines. The Washington Monthly and Newsweek magazines, saying they had examined internal casino documents, reported the former Reagan and Bush 41 administration official received preferred customer status at four casinos and that he had amassed losses running into hundreds of thousands of dollars.

On Sunday Elayne Bennett told a USA Today reporter that her husband was "not addicted" to gambling. The Bennett family, she said, is "financially solvent" and that "all our bills are paid."

Future soft for wares...

The Information Technology Association of America, a leading trade group, says the technology sector will continue to experience a jobless recovery in 2003 unless there is a dramatic turnaround in the national economy.

A telephone survey conducted for ITAA of 400 hiring managers from IT and non-IT companies nationwide found demand for hiring IT workers has reached an historic low.

The 493,000 positions over the next 12 months that can expected to be filled is down from 1.6 million at the start of 2000 and less than one-half of the predicted 1.1 million positions needed at the start of 2002. Sixty-seven percent of those interviewed said they thought hiring demand would stay the same or decline over the next 12 months.

Companies are also moving more positions overseas, ITAA says, with 12 percent of IT companies and 3 percent of non-IT companies saying they have already opened up overseas operations. Large IT companies were most likely to say they've made this move -- 22 percent have already moved work offshore. Additionally, 15 percent of IT firms say they will, or are undecided about, moving jobs overseas in the next 12 months, while 4 percent of non-IT firms say the same.

The ITAA annual survey placed the size of the U.S. IT workforce at 10.3 million, with hiring and terminations amounting to less-than-one-percent growth during first quarter of 2003, with the IT workforce growing by 86,000.

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