Kelsey Zahourek

ATR Urges President Obama to Move Forward with US-Korea FTA

Posted by Kelsey Zahourek on Tuesday, June 16th, 2009, 10:30 AM PERMALINK

The US-Korea FTA would open markets for U.S. goods, benefit consumers
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, President Barack Obama is set to meet with South Korea’s President Lee Myung-Bak to discuss several issues, including the stalled free trade pact between the two countries. The U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (FTA) was negotiated, from the spring of 2006 through March 2007 but has yet to be passed by Congress.
The agreement would abolish 95 percent of tariffs on all industrial and consumer goods within three years, and remove most of the lingering 5 percent within a decade. According to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, today South Korea is the world’s 10th-largest economy and America’s seventh-largest trading partner.
“It is time to implement the US-Korea FTA. This agreement benefits taxpayers by increasing product choice and lowering prices,” stated Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform,A tariff is nothing more than a tax on international commerce. Since tariffs and trade barriers amount to government-imposed costs on both companies and consumers, eliminating these barriers in a free trade agreement amounts to a significant tax cut for both countries.”
The U.S. International Trade Commission estimates that enacting the FTA would increase U.S. exports by $10–11.9 billion. To put this fact into another numerical perspective, the agreement would increase the countries' $75 billion annual bilateral trade with Korea by an additional $20 billion. 
“A free trade agreement with South Korea will not only create new markets for U.S. goods, but will also be an important step in maintaining security on the Korean Peninsula,” continued Norquist, “The benefits of this deal will have an important and lasting positive impact on the economies and people of both nations.”


Click here to view pdf version of release

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Obama's Plan to Increase Taxes and Cut American Jobs

Posted by Kelsey Zahourek on Friday, June 5th, 2009, 4:21 PM PERMALINK

The unemployment rate has hit a 25 year high, now standing at 9.4 percent and since President Obama has taken office the U.S. has lost 2.2 million jobs. How does the Administration and tax-writers in Congress plan to remedy this? Well, by implementing policies that will ship more jobs and capital out of the U.S. and into foreign countries. That’s how.
In an interview this week with Bloomberg News, Microsoft Corp. CEO Steve Ballmer announced the company would move jobs overseas if Obama’s plan to tax the foreign profits of American companies goes through. As Bloomberg reports:
“It makes U.S. jobs more expensive,” Ballmer said in an interview. “We’re better off taking lots of people and moving them out of the U.S. as opposed to keeping them inside the U.S.”
…This comes the same week Ballmer said that, while the Obama proposals would preserve expense deductions related to research and experimentation costs, the overall deduction limits for companies that defer tax on foreign profits would raise the cost of employing U.S. workers. Fiduciary responsibility to shareholders would require Microsoft to cut costs, he said, meaning many jobs would be moved out of the country.
Imposing higher taxes on foreign profits to protect American workers is nothing more than a form of protectionism that will ultimately fail and cost the U.S. more jobs as companies follow Microsoft’s lead.


Surprise! Buy American is Backfiring

Posted by Kelsey Zahourek on Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009, 5:16 PM PERMALINK

Great op-ed in New York Times today on the effects of the “Buy American” provision included in the stimulus. Turns out Obama’s assurances that these provisions wouldn’t start a trade war aren’t quite holding up. As the article points out:
“But as states and municipalities start spending stimulus money, the idea is starting to look as counterproductive as it should have looked from the beginning. It is sparking conflict with American allies and, rather than supporting employment at home, the “Buy American” effort could ultimately cost American jobs…
Meanwhile, representatives of Australia, Brazil, Canada, the European Union, Japan and Mexico have been consulting about how to respond to the United States’ protectionist drive. After Canadian companies were barred from bidding for American business, news reports say that some 12 Canadian cities passed ordinances against buying American. And the Federation of Canadian Municipalities is expected to discuss a possible coordinated response at its meeting this month.”
Now that the Administration and Democrats in Washington are consumed with implementing bad health care and energy policies, free trade has been put on the backburner, only to the detriment of the economy.  At a time of global economic uncertainty, now is not the time to violate our commitments to the World Trade Organization and offend our key trading allies. The retaliation by foreign countries implementing their own protectionist policies would halt US exports and hurt the very same workers and businesses this spending package is attempting to benefit.

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Price Controls on Medicines Not the Answer

Posted by Kelsey Zahourek on Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009, 1:51 PM PERMALINK

Today, the Senate will vote on an amendment (SA 1229) which would import price controls on prescription medicines into the United States. This amendment to H.R. 1256, the “Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act,” would endanger every American (especially seniors), cripple research and development on the miracle cures of the future, infringe on the constitutional property protections of U.S. companies, and be a giant leap forward toward socialized medicine. For these reasons, ATR strongly opposes the drug importation amendment to H.R. 1256, and urges all Senators to vote against it.

The Dorgan/ Snowe/ McCain amendment would mandate that drugs be filtered into the U.S. medicine supply that are not FDA approved for safety. These potentially-dangerous drugs could come from any one of thirty countries, and originate anywhere in the world. Consumers would not know if they were ingesting a miracle cure or a beaker full of death. The effect and real intent of the amendment is price controls to score political points.
The government telling manufacturers of innovative new medicines how much they can charge is shortsighted. It sucks all future venture capital away from research for the miracle cures of the future, and freezes in time current medical technology. AIDS, Parkinson’s, and other diseases can only be cured tomorrow by investing in research today.
Price controls are one of the hallmarks of socialized medicine. Government-mandated price dictates are bad policy, especially when people’s lives are at stake.
Click here to read pdf of alert.  Property Rights Alliance's alert opposing the amendment can be read here.

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Sotomayor and Property Rights

Posted by Kelsey Zahourek on Thursday, May 28th, 2009, 3:30 PM PERMALINK


The 5-4decision by the Supreme Court in Kelo v. New London allowed for private lands to be confiscated for private economic development. The public outcry in response to Kelo demonstrates the opposition of a majority of Americans to eminent domain takings and property rights abuses. Now with the retirement of Justice David Souter and the recent nomination of Sonia Sotomayor many are wondering where she might fall in respect to property rights. Well, if this article in Forbes by Richard Epstein is any indication, it’s not looking good.
Epstein looks at the Second Circuit case Didden v. Village of Port Chester in which Judge Sotomayor was a panelist. As Epstein explains:
The case involved about as naked an abuse of government power as could be imagined. Bart Didden came up with an idea to build a pharmacy on land he owned in a redevelopment district in Port Chester over which the town of Port Chester had given Greg Wasser control. Wasser told Didden that he would approve the project only if Didden paid him $800,000 or gave him a partnership interest. The "or else" was that the land would be promptly condemned by the village, and Wasser would put up a pharmacy himself. Just that came to pass. But the Second Circuit panel on which Sotomayor sat did not raise an eyebrow. Its entire analysis reads as follows: "We agree with the district court that [Wasser's] voluntary attempt to resolve appellants' demands was neither an unconstitutional exaction in the form of extortion nor an equal protection violation.”
It appears that Sotomayor may have even less respect for property rights than the justices who voted against Suzette Kelo. Americans from around the country continue to voice their strong opposition to eminent domain abuse. As the nomination moves forward, Senators would do well to scrutinize this case and any others like it.


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ATR and PRA Join Coalition in Letter to TX Legislature Urging Real Eminent Domain Reform

Posted by Kelsey Zahourek on Thursday, May 14th, 2009, 3:04 PM PERMALINK

The following is cross-posted at

ATR and PRA have joined a broad coalition of signatories to a statement sent today to the Texas State Legislature urging legislators to follow three key recommendations in the prevention of eminent domain abuse. The thirteen signatories first advised the Texas House of Representatives to accurately address the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Kelo v. City of New London (2005) by supporting House Joint Resolution 14. The second recommendation was for the Texas House of Representatives to amend Senate Bill 18 so that it includes definitive language and addresses the central issue of Kelo. The coalition also expressed their strong opposition towards Senate Joint Resolution 42, a constitutional amendment that seeks to correct eminent domain abuse, but would actually worsen the situation.

The statement concludes:
"We believe that these measures are crucial if Texas is to once and for all solve its Kelo problem. Eminent domain abuse is a problem that affects all Texans, but it disproportionately impacts lower-income individuals, minorities, and small business owners. No one is asking for anything other than that the constitutional right to be secure in our homes and businesses be upheld. The citizens of this great state deserve nothing less."

Click here to view pdf version of the coalition letter

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Clean Water Restoration Act Latest Regulatory Land Grab

Posted by Kelsey Zahourek on Wednesday, May 13th, 2009, 2:29 PM PERMALINK

Among the worst violators of Americans' property rights are out-of-control regulators who enforce federal environmental laws. This trend only seems to be increasing as Congress looks to pass the “Clean Water Restoration Act” (S.787). S. 787 would infringe on the rights of property owners across the nation and result in an unprecedented expansion of the regulatory authority of the federal government.

S. 787, re-introduced by Sen. Russell Feingold, seeks to re-establish the nearly unlimited powers of the Clean Water Act lost due to U.S. Supreme Court decisions in 2001 and 2006. While the bill aims to restore protection of wetlands and waterways, S. 787 mandates all waters be placed under regulatory control of the federal government, leaving property owners vulnerable to a potential federal “land grab”.
By placing all waters under the regulatory control of the federal government, this legislation goes way beyond the original intent of the Clean Water Act. Placing restrictions on the management of private land impinges on Americans’ abilities to utilize their land in the way they see fit. Farmers, Ranchers, and homeowners will be subject to the ever-widening reach of federal bureaucrats who will be concerned with every last drop of water that touches their land. Under this legislation, it would not be unfounded that a landowner wake up one morning after a heavy rain to find his property now useless because his ditches have been flooded and are now declared a wetland.

In sum, landowners will see their property value diminish due to increased land use restrictions, economic development and infrastructure projects will be curtailed due to delays in securing federal permits, and outdoor recreation enthusiasts will find new restrictions on both public and private land.

Click here to view a pdf version of the letter sent by Property Rights Alliance to Senators urging opposition to S. 787.

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Free the Panama Trade Agreement

Posted by Kelsey Zahourek on Tuesday, May 5th, 2009, 3:38 AM PERMALINK

Since taking office, President Obama hasn’t exactly been a beacon for trade liberalization and open markets. Instead, he has pandered to his protectionist, no faith in America’s competitive advantage allies in Congress, allowing them to pass legislation that sparked a trade war with Mexico, our third largest trading partner, and could reduce imports of steel and other manufactured goods.
However, there could be some positive news for supporters of free trade as the Administration has signaled it may send the Panama Free Trade Agreement to Congress for approval. Panama could be the starting off point for passage of the other pending agreements currently being held up, Colombia and South Korea. 
Below are just a few reasons why the Panama FTA should be approved without delay:
  • Levels the playing field by removing trade and investment barriers that have hindered American exports to Panama. While more than ninety percent of imports from Panama are duty free, U.S. products still face tariffs when entering Panama. The Panama FTA will eliminate this trade barrier and open new markets for U.S. product 
  • Opens up $5.25 billion in contracts American firms will be allowed to compete for when Panama begins the expansion of the Panama Canal.  
  • Lowers taxes for Americans and Panamanians. A tariff is nothing more than a tax on international commerce. Since tariffs and trade barriers amount to government-imposed costs on both companies and consumers, eliminating these barriers in a free trade agreement amounts to a significant tax cut for both countries.
And maybe Panama could export a little tax reform to the U.S. Say simplifying the tax code ala President-elect, Ricardo Martinelli?  

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Counterfeiting and Piracy Harms Global Economy

Posted by Kelsey Zahourek on Thursday, April 30th, 2009, 3:25 PM PERMALINK

Today, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative released its annual “Special 301” report on worldwide intellectual property rights and enforcement.

In this year's report. for the first time, Canada has been elevated from the Watch List to the Priority Watch list, meaning they “do not provide an adequate level of IPR protection or enforcement, or market access for persons relying on intellectual property protection.” Also, for the first time, Korea has been removed from the Watch List due to the country’s improvement in IPR enforcement.
Strong intellectual property enforcement is key to long-term economic growth and prosperity. Intellectual property rights can boost trade and foreign investment dramatically, but first, global piracy and counterfeiting must be stopped or significantly reduced for the economies of developed and developing nations to thrive.
As highlighted in the 2009 edition of the International Property Rights Index (IPRI), people in countries that protect their physical and intellectual property enjoy a GDP per capita up to nine times greater than those without legal protection. Countries that protect property rights provide an essential foundation for peace, stability and prosperity, the Index shows: its calculations cover 115 countries, representing 96 per cent of the world’s GDP.
In the U.S. alone intellectual property is valued at $5.5 trillion and accounts for more than half of all U.S. exports, driving 40 percent of this country’s economic growth. Additionally, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigations, counterfeit and pirated goods cost the U.S. $200-250 billion each year in lost sales.


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Tire Quota Would Run Over Free Trade

Posted by Kelsey Zahourek on Monday, April 27th, 2009, 9:55 AM PERMALINK

First, there was the “Buy American” provision in the stimulus bill prompting foreign leaders to threaten to enact their own protectionist legislation. Then, there was the closure of the border to Mexican trucks, sparking retaliation by Mexico to increase tariffs on 90 U.S. imports. Now protectionists in Washington are pushing the Obama Administration to cap imports of Chinese manufactured tires by nearly half.

The United Steelworkers, who strongly backed Obama during the election, filed a petition with the International Trade Court to impose import quotas on rubber tires from China. The reason? American tire manufacturers are losing to cheaper imports coming from China, $3 to $74 cheaper. So rather than remaining competitive with their Chinese counterparts, the anti-trade steelworkers want to force American drivers to pay more for the goods that could be purchased more cheaply abroad.  
The US has been down this protectionist road before.  The Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930 was also introduced as a means to protect American workers and businesses and reduce imports during a global recession.  What followed?   The Great Depression.    

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