Think tanks wrap-up

Jan. 7, 2003 at 5:03 PM
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WASHINGTON, Jan. 7 (UPI) -- The UPI think tank wrap-up is a daily digest covering opinion pieces, reactions to recent news events and position statements released by various think tanks.

The National Center for Public Policy Research

(NCPPR is a communications and research foundation dedicated to providing free market solutions to today's public policy problems, based on the principles of a free market, individual liberty and personal responsibility. NCPPR was founded to provide the conservative movement with a versatile and energetic organization capable of responding quickly and decisively to late-breaking issues, based on thorough research.)

CHICAGO -- 10-second response -- Fast facts on the environment: new year likely to bring another ANWR showdown

by Chris Burger

Background: The stage is being set for another Senate confrontation over drilling in the Artic National Wildlife Refuge, known as ANWR. Pro-drilling senators are considering adding an ANWR provision to the fiscal year 2004 budget reconciliation bill. As reconciliation bills cannot be filibustered under Senate rules, supporters would need 50 rather than 60 votes for passage. Last year, ANWR drilling failed in the Senate by a vote of 46 to 54. Eight Republicans voted against tapping these oil reserves while five Democrats broke ranks to support it.

Any pro-drilling ANWR effort is likely to be accompanied by a public education campaign, as a late 2002 CBS-New York Times and CNN-USA Today-Gallup poll found that 55 percent of Americans oppose ANWR drilling, while 39 percent support it.

10-Second Response: The American people have been misled by the environmental left about the benefits and safety of oil exploration in ANWR. This would be an important component of our energy independence as we fight the war on terrorism.

30-Second Response: While 78 percent of Alaskans support exploring for oil in ANWR, the environmental left has engaged in an aggressive campaign to misinform the public about the facts surrounding the issue. Drilling would lead to an additional 735,000 jobs, it would decrease our dependence upon foreign oil and it can be done in an environmentally safe manner.

Discussion: Environmentalists who are against oil exploration in ANWR claim the oil there would last only six months. This assumes we would use no other source of oil from any anywhere in the world during those six months. The reality is that oil produced in ANWR could:

-- Replace 20 years of oil currently imported from Iraq;

-- Replace one half of all the oil that comes from the Persian Gulf for 36 years or

-- Replace all oil imported from Saudi Arabia for 30 years.

If approved, drilling would take place on 2000 of ANWR's 19.5 million acres -- 0.01 percent of the total area. Ice-based roads, bridges, drilling pads and airstrips would leave virtually no trace of their existence on the tundra after the spring melt. The Clinton administration's Department of Energy found that ANWR drilling would be environmentally safe.

(Chris Burger is a program coordinator at the John P. McGovern, M.D. Center for Environmental and Regulatory Affairs at the National Center for Public Policy Research.)

The Institute for Public Accuracy

(The IPA is a nationwide consortium of policy researchers that seeks to broaden public discourse by gaining media access for experts whose perspectives are often overshadowed by major think tanks and other influential institutions.)

WASHINGTON -- Comments from Denis Halliday, former U.N. official, in Iraq

-- Denis Halliday is a former head of the U.N. oil-for-food program and a former U.N. assistant secretary-general. Over the last few days he has met with Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz, Foreign Minister Naji Sabri, and Trade Minister Mohammad Saleh, as well as the heads of UNICEF and U.N. Development Program in Iraq, two Iraqi families and numerous shopkeepers he knew from his earlier time in Baghdad.

"The majority of Iraqis are staying together with families at home, there's little sign of a mass exodus as there was in 1991. The government has distributed three months of the oil-for-food program supplies. There's concern the United States would bomb food facilities, as it did here in 1991 and in Afghanistan. The other major concern is water. The people who can afford it are hoarding bottled water. The government is drilling water wells. I can find no preventive arrangements for healthcare of young children after the expected collapse of electricity, water and sewage treatment as happened in 1991. No shots for cholera, typhoid, and other various waterborne diseases that will likely break out if the United States bombs electrical and water facilities as it did in 1991.

"There are some 30 air raid shelters around Baghdad, but given the U.S. bombing of the Al-Amiriya shelter in 1991, people do not want to use them. Most Iraqi homes do not have basements; they will be in their homes and quite vulnerable ... There's little awareness of the health effects of the United States potentially using depleted uranium in a city of 5 million ... There's a desperation regarding the economic sanctions. Some Iraqis even hope that war will bring an end to the sanctions; not that they want war, but they are desperate after 12 years of suffocating sanctions ... Iraqis do not expect serious assistance from Arab neighbors or from Europe; no one who has power will protect them. The majority of Iraqis don't understand what they could possibly have done to deserve the military aggression of the United States. There's a sense that if the American people really want to prevent the massacre of civilians, then they have to stand up and do so ... Regular people here do not believe that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. The idea that Iraq is a threat to the United States is widely regarded as just laughable. They see three reasons for Bush's militaristic stance: U.S. imperialistic ambition, control of Iraqi oil and support for Israeli expansion."

WASHINGTON -- Bush's plan: Paying dividends to whom?

The following IPA analysts commented on the "growth and jobs" plan put forward today by President Bush.

-- Randy Albelda, professor of economics and chair of the Public Policy Ph.D. program at the University of Massachusetts at Boston.

"With unemployment rates climbing, the income and wealth gaps between the rich and poor reaching 1920s levels, and states facing $80 billion worth of budget deficits, we desperately need a stimulus package that puts people to work, helps close the income gap and substantially prevents states from laying off workers and cutting valuable public services ... Cutting dividend taxes and accelerating income tax cuts amount to a $600 billion reduction in federal coffers over the next 10 years. Almost half of that will go to the richest 1 percent of the American people, a group that saw their fortunes soar in the 1990s."

-- John Miller, professor of economics at Wheaton College in Massachusetts, is a contributing editor of Dollars & Sense magazine.

"Eliminating taxes on dividends will do little to stimulate business investment ... With so much of the benefits going to the best off in our society, who spend a smaller portion of their income than the rest of us, repealing dividends taxation is an ineffective way to increase consumer spending ... The administration claims its proposal is nonetheless fair because it ends the double taxation of dividends. But this is so much doublespeak; double taxation is a fact of life for every taxpayer, not just dividends collectors. Most workers, for instance, pay Social Security payroll taxes and income taxes on their wages, and then sales taxes when they spend what remains of their paycheck."

-- Diana Zuckerman, president of the National Center for Policy Research for Women & Families.

"The Bush administration has suggested tax cuts on dividends, which would provide small benefits to most Americans and impressive benefits to our wealthiest families. House Democrats have suggested tax breaks for small businesses, which are unlikely to provide much bang for the buck in terms of helping either the economy or most workers. Why not stimulate the economy by creating more jobs and larger paychecks in ways that will help many families ... "

-- Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

"The vast majority of stockholders hold most of their stock in retirement accounts, such as 401(k)s or IRAs. Under the president's proposal, these people will continue to pay taxes on their stock dividends. The tax break will only apply to stock held outside of retirement accounts, the vast majority of which is held by the rich. The president apparently views weak economic growth and rising unemployment as yet another opportunity to give more money to rich people."

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