You are on page 1of 16

**NOTE: As one of the Human Rights Campaign’s most successful op-eds, this article received front page placement

on Huffington Post, earned well over a quarter million hits on the site, and lead to Candace making multiple appearances on MSNBC’s “Countdown with Keith Olbermann.”
Candace Gingrich Author, GLBT advocate Posted: November 22, 2008 02:22 PM

A Letter to My Brother Newt Gingrich
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/candace-gingrich/a-letter-to-my-brother-ne_b_145739.html?view=print Dear Newt, I recently had the displeasure of watching you bash the protestors of the Prop 8 marriage ban to Bill O'Reilly on FOX News. I must say, after years of watching you build your career by stirring up the fears and prejudices of the far right, I feel compelled to use the words of your idol, Ronald Reagan, "There you go, again." However, I realize that you may have been a little preoccupied lately with planning your resurrection as the savior of your party, so I thought I would fill you in on a few important developments you might have overlooked. The truth is that you're living in a world that no longer exists. I, along with millions of Americans, clearly see the world the way it as -- and we embrace what it can be. You, on the other hand, seem incapable of looking for new ideas or moving beyond what worked in the past. Welcome to the 21st century, big bro. I can understand why you're so afraid of the energy that has been unleashed after gay and lesbian couples had their rights stripped away from them by a hateful campaign. I can see why you're sounding the alarm against the activists who use all the latest tech tools to build these rallies from the ground up in cities across the country. This unstoppable progress has at its core a group we at HRC call Generation Equality. They are the most supportive of full LGBT equality than any American generation ever -- and when it comes to the politics of division, well, they don't roll that way. 18-24 year olds voted overwhelmingly against Prop 8 and overwhelmingly for Barack Obama. And the numbers of young progressive voters will only continue to grow. According to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning, about 23 million 18-29 year olds voted on Nov. 4, 2008 -- the most young voters ever to cast a ballot in a presidential election. That's an increase of 3 million more voters compared to 2004. These are the same people who helped elect Barack Obama and sent a decisive message to your party. These young people are the future and their energy will continue to drive our country forward. Even older Americans are turning their backs on the politics of fear and demagoguery that you and your cronies have perfected over the years. This is a movement of the people that you most fear. It's a movement of progress -- and your words on FOX News only show how truly desperate you are to maintain control of a world that is changing before your very eyes.

Then again, we've seen these tactics before. We know how much the right likes to play political and cultural hardball, and then turn around and accuse us of lashing out first. You give a pass to a religious group -- one that looks down upon minorities and women -- when they use their money and membership roles to roll back the rights of others, and then you label us "fascists" when we fight back. You belittle the relationships of gay and lesbian couples, and yet somehow neglect to explain who anointed you the protector of "traditional" marriage. And, of course, you've also mastered taking the foolish actions of a few people and then indicting an entire population based on those mistakes. I fail to see how any of these patterns coincide with the values of "historic Christianity" you claim to champion. Again, nothing new here. This is just more of the blatant hypocrisy we're used to hearing. What really worries me is that you are always willing to use LGBT Americans as political weapons to further your ambitions. That's really so '90s, Newt. In this day and age, it's embarrassing to watch you talk like that. You should be more afraid of the new political climate in America, because, there is no place for you in it. In other words, stop being a hater, big bro.

 

A Blog of Our Own
aaconservative who has since “come out” as conservative who has since “come out” as ally for LGBT rights.... an an ally for LGBT rights.... For whatever reason, Peter LaBarbera of Americans for Truth Against Homosexuality seems to like to spar with me…. Part of his efforts related to “exposing” the agenda is to attend events like Chicago’s International Mr. Leather (on multiple occasions) undercover in leather gear to take pictures — to inform his readership, of course. Now how can I not write about that? A busy blog and a day job … How do you do it? Lots of coffee? No coffee, but quite a bit of English breakfast tea, and a few Chessman cookies! The grind of writing 5-7 articles a day is taxing. Do you think the majority of mainstream journalists now understand the power of the blog? They’re your most avid readers, right? Journalists are reading the blogs, but don’t quite understand them very well yet. It’s still somewhat of a wild west out here in blogtopia. There are no deadlines — we’re out here 24/7, analyzing and comparing stories, digging up facts and inconsistencies, that makes it difficult to compete. On the other hand, most bloggers are quite dependent on the mainstream media to do the original reporting — we do analysis and folfollowup. It’s It’s a symbiotic relationship. lowup. a symbiotic relationship. The bottom line is that many talented bloggers don’t have the ad revenue, infrastructure or corporate expense account to travel and do original reporting that the mainstream press has. Are you optimistic that more lesbians will launch blogs? Any advice to those who do?
continued on page 31 continued on page 31

HRC BACK STORY by Christopher Johnson
A lot happens in the GLBT community – and at the Human Rights Campaign – every single day. Some of this news gets covered by the gay and mainstream media and some by our local and state partners across the country and, more recently, by bloggers who constantly discuss and spread the word about what’s going on in our community. Over the past several months, we’ve been working hard to strengthen our ties to the blogosphere by reaching out to many of the most influential GLBT and progressive bloggers in the country. In June, we launched HRC’s own blog,

some perspective and commentary and hopefully add to the daily dialogue happening across the country. We see this as yet another important way to communicate with our members and supporters. We also use our blog to highlight and link to some of the people (i.e., state equality groups, respected local bloggers) who are directly making an impact in the fight for GLBT civil rights, especially on news and developments that we may not issue a press release on but are just as important. HRC’s blog also strives to tell another side of the organization that people may not immediately know about. It’s one thing to see the equal sign logo or look at our building in downtown D.C. and wonder what HRC is all about; it’s another thing to be able to read and hear from real people inside that organization about what’s going on and to be able to get a sense of all the important work we’re involved in. The blogosphere can be a rough-andtumble domain, as everyone has their opinions on what the gay groups should be focusing on as their top priorities. We feel that if we just continue putting information out there that’s informative and helpful, people will be able to come to their own conclusions about who’s really doing the hard work out there.

Back Story, so we could directly weigh in on the news, issues and events that people are talking about. Through our daily work, we acquire valuable inside information by working behind the scenes in the states and in Congress on issues affecting the GLBT community. Our blog allows us to give our take on what’s really happening and how things get done – or don’t. That’s why we called the blog “back story” – to help tell the important story behind the headlines. As you can tell from the significant amount of media coverage we’ve earned for our efforts over the years, we’ve been successful in establishing HRC as the authority on GLBT issues in the gay and mainstream media. Our blog takes the next step in moving our message forward by allowing us to weigh in on issues that we’re all talking about, provide

Christopher Johnson, HRC’s director of public affairs and interactive communications, is the lead writer for HRC’s blog, Back Story at www.hrcbackstory.org.

WWW.HRC.ORG

FALL 2007

17

Human Rights Campaign And Immigration Equality Hail Introduction Of Uniting American Families Act
WASHINGTON — Today, Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese and Rachel Tiven, executive director of Immigration Equality, hailed the reintroduction of the Uniting American Families Act. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Jerrold Nadler, DN.Y., and Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., will allow citizens and legal residents in samesex relationships to sponsor their partners for immigration purposes. One of the fundamental principles of U.S. immigration law is the notion of family unification. Approximately 75 percent of the 1 million green cards or immigrant visas are currently issued to family members of U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Tragically, same-sex couples are not recognized as “families” under U.S. immigration laws, and are unable to sponsor their partners. “For too long Congress has ignored the heart-wrenching real life consequences this policy has had on same-sex couples in committed, lifelong relationships,” said Solmonese. “Thousands of same-sex couples are separated or live in constant fear of being stopped by officials who demand to see documentation and threaten detention.” The Uniting American Families Act applies the same standards to same-sex couples that the United States applies to opposite-sex couples where one member is seeking to bring a foreign partner into the country. “We thank Senator Leahy and Representative Nadler for their continued leadership on an issue that is vitally important to so many same-sex couples in the U.S.,” continued Solmonese. “We also commend Immigration Equality for their ongoing legal support to these couples struggling to keep their families together because of this unjust policy.” “Dividing loving families, simply because they are gay or lesbian, is un-American,” said Tiven. “We call on Congress to end the very real separation that thousands of same-sex couples and their families must endure because of this unequal treatment by our immigration system.” “The promotion of family unity has long been part of federal immigration policy, and this bill promotes that principle by providing all Americans the opportunity to be with their loved ones,” said Leahy. “Our immigration laws treat gays and lesbians in committed relationships as second-class citizens; this injustice needs to change. It is the right thing to do for the people involved, it is the sensible step to take in the interest of having a fair and consistent policy and I hope that Congress will act to help demonstrate our nation’s commitment to equality under the law.” “Our bill recognizes that American families come in all shapes and sizes,” said Nadler. “Our laws should work to keep loving families together and not tear them apart. This is a matter of basic fairness and compassion. I am proud to work with Senator Leahy on this issue. We simply ask that gay and lesbian Americans in loving, committed relationships receive the same treatment as everyone else.” In many cases, binational same-sex couples face prosecution, hefty fines and deportations by the Immigration and Naturalization Service. As a result, many U.S. citizens must often emigrate with their partners and families to countries with more fair-minded immigration laws. “We have struggled so hard to play by the rules,” states Kelly McGowan, a U.S. citizen who, along with her partner Natalie Fuz, a French citizen who competes internationally for the United States in kickboxing tournaments, is affected by the current immigration policy. “If Natalie were not so talented we would be out of options and be forced abroad. It’s great that her abilities have helped us remain in the U.S. together, but I know so many talented people who have been forced to leave the country because of these discriminatory laws. It’s such a waste.”

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against GLBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all. Immigration Equality is a national organization that works to end discrimination in U.S. immigration law; to reduce the negative impact of that law on the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and HIVpositive people; and to help obtain asylum for those persecuted in their home country based on their sexual orientation, transgender identity or HIV status.

 

Bush Budget Again Underfunds Domestic HIV/AIDS Programs
WASHINGTON - Yesterday, in the same week as National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, President Bush put forth a budget request for fiscal year 2008 that largely underfunds the Ryan White CARE Act and other critical domestic HIV/AIDS priorities. The president’s budget request proposes largely flat-funding the Ryan White CARE Act over the funding levels included in the continuing resolution for fiscal year 2007 that was put forth by the new fair-minded leadership and approved by the U.S. House of Representatives last week. The president's proposal did contain a small, but insufficient, increase of $25 million for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program while keeping most of the CARE Act at level funding. “Barely two months after the president signed a bill to reauthorize the Ryan White CARE Act, his new budget request short-changes this vital program,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “The president has paid much rhetoric to the problem of HIV/AIDS among minority communities in the United States. It’s time for the president to put his money where his mouth is and request funding for domestic HIV/AIDS programs that keeps pace with the real need.” The president’s request also included an increase of $28 million for unproven abstinence-only-untilmarriage programs that discriminate against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth and fail to give young people the information and resources to protect themselves from HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. “It is unconscionable that in the same week that the nation commemorates the HIV/AIDS crisis in the African-American community, President Bush puts forth a budget that fails to meet the challenges posed by today’s epidemic,” Solmonese continued. “With the Centers for Disease Control reporting that 46 percent of African-American men who have sex with men in five major U.S. cities are already HIV-positive, it is simply unacceptable that the president can find more money for anti-gay abstinence-until-marriage programs and neglect so many other domestic HIV/AIDS priorities.” National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is observed on Feb. 7. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, of the 1.2 million Americans living with HIV/AIDS, approximately 500,000 are AfricanAmerican. Furthermore, only 14 percent of African-Americans living with HIV/AIDS have access to private health insurance while 59 percent rely on Medicaid and 22 percent are uninsured. The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against GLBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

   

Repeal of Discriminatory HIV Travel and Immigration Law Heads to President’s Desk
WASHINGTON – The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, praised the U.S. House of Representatives today for approving the repeal of our nation’s discriminatory law barring HIV-positive visitors and immigrants. Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and Gordon Smith (R-OR) secured a provision to repeal this ban in the Senate’s legislation to reauthorize PEPFAR, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. The PEPFAR bill passed the Senate last week with the Kerry-Smith provision by a vote of 80 to 16. Today, the House approved that Senate-passed bill by a vote of 303-115 and it now heads to the president’s desk. “Congressional backing for the repeal of this unjust and sweeping policy that deems HIV-positive individuals inadmissible to the United States is a huge step forward for equality,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “The HIV travel and immigration ban performs no public health service, is unnecessary and ineffective. We thank our allies on the Hill who fought to end this injustice and now call on President George W. Bush to sign the PEPFAR bill into law and ask Secretary of Health and Human Services Leavitt to remove the remaining regulatory barriers to HIV-positive visitors and immigrants.” HRC has been a lead organization lobbying on Capitol Hill for the repeal and will continue to work to ensure that Department of Health and Human Services’ regulations are changed. The Human Rights Campaign has worked closely with the offices of Sens. John Kerry and Gordon Smith, as well as Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), the sponsor of an effort to repeal the ban in the House of Representatives. Both Sen. Kerry and Rep. Lee participated in a national media conference call held by HRC in March. In addition to action alerts urging members to contact their Senators, HRC and Immigration Equality drafted a coalition letter on behalf of more than 165 organizations in support of the Kerry-Smith provision in the PEPFAR bill, and has directly lobbied numerous Senate offices on the repeal measure. In December of 2007, Senators Kerry and Smith introduced legislation, the HIV Non-Discrimination in Travel and Immigration Act (S. 2486), to repeal the ban. In the House, U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) introduced similar the legislation, H.R. 3337, in August 2007. The travel and immigration ban prohibits HIV-positive foreign nationals from entering the U.S. unless they obtain a special waiver, which can only allow for short-term travel. Current policy also prevents the vast majority of foreign nationals with HIV from obtaining legal permanent residency in the United States. “I am so pleased that we were able to eliminate the unjust and discriminatory policy banning HIV/AIDS positive people from entering the United States,” said Rep. Lee. “It’s far past time we got rid of this shameful policy. I’m glad we were able to remove the statutory ban and pass this bill less than two weeks before the International AIDS Conference in Mexico City.” The ban originated in 1987, and explicitly codified by Congress in 1993, despite efforts in the public health community to remove the ban when Congress reformed U.S. immigration law in the early 1990s. While immigration law currently excludes foreigners with any “communicable disease of public health significance” from entering the U.S., only HIV is explicitly named in the statute. For all other illnesses, the Secretary of Health and Human Services retains the ability, with the medical expertise of his department, to determine which illnesses truly pose a risk to public health. The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against GLBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all. -30-

 

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Urges Bishops to Err on the Side of Inclusion and Restraint
WASHINGTON — The leadership of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America stopped short of voting to change the denomination’s policy to remove the requirement of celibacy for openly gay clergy during its biennial assembly in Chicago on Saturday. They did, however, fully authorize Lutheran bishops to ignore this policy in their synods and went so far as to urge bishops to refrain from invoking the policy until after the Churchwide Assembly in 2009 voted on the measure as part of an extensive commissioned study on sexuality. Saturday’s vote was spurred by the removal of the Rev. Bradley Schmeling from the ELCA clergy roster on July 2, 2007, for being open and honest about his relationship with his same-sex partner. Schmeling is the popular and dynamic pastor of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Atlanta, one of the fastest-growing ELCA congregations in the Southeast. Unfortunately, Saturday’s ruling will not retroactively reinstate Schmeling in the ELCA, but will hopefully prevent other pastors from suffering a similar fate. “We are encouraged and empowered by the decision reached today,” said Human Rights Campaign Religion and Faith Program Director Harry Knox from the ELCA’s Churchwide Assembly in Chicago. “Our feelings are mixed, but this is a substantive change in the direction of full inclusion. On the one hand, the ELCA’s formal urging of bishops to lean on the side of inclusion and flexibility shows that they are listening to the Holy Spirit and have recognized the abundant ministerial gifts of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in their midst. They witnessed firsthand in Chicago the prophetic witness of 82 pastors who have come out as GLBT people within the Lutheran denomination and they saw the reform spirit of Martin Luther working through GLBT people of faith and allies. On the other hand, we are saddened that they did not summon the courage to fully overturn a clearly discriminatory policy and we grieve for the congregations and pastors who continue to suffer because of this unjust policy.” “This has been an incredible learning and growing experience for our faith community. Ultimately we will be stronger and more whole as a community because of these hard won lessons about faith and fairness,” said Schmeling. “HRC commends our colleagues at Lutherans Concerned and the Goodsoil Coalition for their consistent, strategic and thoroughly loving leadership,” continued Knox. “God’s beloved community is working through this mighty coalition and the whole church and GLBT people everywhere have been strengthened and encouraged by their efforts. The seeds of change have taken root in Chicago and with faith and hard work we will see them blossom.” HRC’s Religion and Faith Program gives voice to the fair-minded faithful; opens hearts and minds to new ways of viewing gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people; and effectively works to reclaim the faithbased debate from the intolerant and radical right. The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against GLBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all. -30-

 

    Contact: Rob Griner (202) 225‐2939     Congressman David Scott Reacts to State of the Union Address       WASHINGTON, Feb 2, 2005 ‐ Today Congressman David Scott issued the    following statement in response to President Bush’s State of the Union address:       “Following tonight’s State of the Union address, I join with President Bush in  celebrating Sunday’s election in Iraq as an extraordinary victory. Our soldiers in  Iraq and those who lost their lives are the real heroes. I congratulate the President  on his leadership and commend the brave people of Iraq who persevered in the face  of threats and violence to cast their votes.     “Tonight we heard President Bush reiterate his desire to privatize Social Security.  I’m concerned that his private accounts will do nothing to save Social Security but  will only add $2 trillion to the deficit and be a burden to young people and future  generations.     “In addition, I think it is very unfortunate that the president recently used the lower  life expectancy of African‐Americans in order to sell his Social Security privatization  plan to blacks. Not only is the President relying on bad advice and citing inaccurate  statistics, he is ignoring the true problems involved. If he wants to address life  expectancy disparities in the African American community, he should commit to  addressing the underlying problems such as high infant mortality, young adult death  rates, and poor access to health care that causes blacks to die earlier than the  general population. I am disappointed that instead President Bush unwisely chose  to exploit these disparities for political gain.     “If we are really going to find a lasting solution to Social Security, we must set aside  such political games and truly work together in a bipartisan manner.”    

Contact: Rob Griner (202) 225-2939

Scott Backs Protecting Military from Investment Scams WASHINGTON, June 29 - Congressman David Scott (D-GA) voted to crack down on the predatory sales tactics of firms marketing high-cost and outdated investments to young recruits on military bases. The measure, the Military Personnel Financial Services Protection Act (HR 458), passed the House Tuesday by 405-2 after the predatory sales practices of insurance agents—many which were former military personnel—on military bases were first exposed by a series of New York Times reports last summer. The Military Personnel Financial Services Protection Act bans the sale of so-called contractual mutual funds, an investment that nearly disappeared from the civilian market due to steep sales commissions in the buyer’s first years of contributions. The bill also authorizes state insurance regulators to oversee insurance sales on military installations, and would create a list of individuals banned from doing business on military bases. “When this issue first came to light last summer, I was shocked and disgusted that military commanders had colluded with certain shady insurance agents to take advantage of young recruits who were training to defend our country. It was even more scandalous to learn that this scheme had apparently been going on for years and I called for the Defense Department to account for why these agents were repeatedly allowed onto bases. What message does it send when our soldiers are dedicating their lives to protect our nation and yet are being robbed and exploited by the very people they are trained to trust? I’m glad we passed this bill to put a stop to this abuse,” said Congressman Scott. The Military Personnel Financial Services Protection Act was sponsored by Rep. Geoff Davis, R-KY, after the House Financial Services Committee approved the bill by voice vote in March. The House passed a similar version of the bill last October with broad support on a 396-2 vote. That measure stalled in the Senate, which did not take up the issue before the 108th Congress ended last December. H.R. 458 now heads to the Senate for consideration.

 

Contact: Rob Griner (202) 225-2939

Congressman David Scott Fights Against Predatory Lending WASHINGTON, May 24 - Congressman David Scott continued his campaign to stop predatory lending by urging passage of The Responsible Lending Act today at a joint hearing of the Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity and the Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit. Congressman David Scott is a co-sponsor of The Responsible Lending Act (H.R. 1295), introduced by Congressmen Bob Ney (R-OH) and Paul Kanjorski (D-PA). The bill includes Congressman Scott’s provision for a nationwide toll-free number to receive complaints and provide information about predatory lending and credit counseling. “Because predatory lending is a targeted abuse against specific groups, usually the elderly, minorities, and low- income borrowers, this legislation targets assistance and funding to the most vulnerable groups. I am especially pleased that The Responsible Lending Act includes my provision for a fully-staffed, toll-free number that consumers can call and get the help they need,” said Congressman Scott. Borrowers with fair to good credit ratings generally obtain home loans in the “prime” mortgage market, with the lowest interest rates and costs. Americans with lower credit scores, inadequate proof of income or little cash reserves for down payments more often rely on the secondary “subprime” market, where borrowers pay higher rates and servicing costs to offset greater risk to lenders. A recent study by the Center for Community Change, entitled “Risk or Race? Racial Disparities and the Subprime Refinance Market” found a geographic concentration of subprime lending in minority neighborhood and to borrowers of color at all income levels. Abusive sales practices, commonly referred to as “predatory lending,” involve home mortgages, mortgage refinancing, home equity loans, and home repair loans with unjustifiably high interest rates, excessive fees, prepayment penalties, and balloon payments. In January, Congressman Scott introduced H.R. 200, The Prevention of Predatory Lending Through Education Act, to authorize the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to provide funding to states for counseling and education programs designed to help stop predatory lending. H.R 200, which is currently pending in the Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity, also establishes a tollfree number for complaints regarding predatory lending. Congressman David Scott is a member of the House Financial Services Committee.

 

Contact: Rob Griner (202) 225-2939

Congressman David Scott Questions HUD Secretary About Drastic Cuts in Housing Programs WASHINGTON, March 2 - Today, Congressman David Scott contested the elimination of popular housing and development programs in the Administration’s FY 2006 budget for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in a Financial Services Committee hearing on Capitol Hill. The budget proposes elimination of the HOPE VI program, cuts in Section 8 vouchers and Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds, and reduction in housing counseling funds. “Unfortunately, this budget cuts housing programs that serve low-income families, the elderly and disabled persons throughout Georgia,” Congressman Scott said. “I have heard from nearly every city and county in my district about the devastating effects that the cuts in CDBG funds and Section 8 vouchers will have on their communities,” Scott continued. The CDBG program is the largest source of federal financial assistance in support of state and local governments’ community development and neighborhood revitalization activities. The HUD FY2006 budget would be slashed by $3.85 billion, from $32.358 billion to $28.51 billion, or by 12 percent. Specifically, the Section 8 voucher program would face cuts of $90 million, CDBG would be reduced by 35% and transferred to the Commerce Department, and the HOPE VI program would be eliminated. “I am disappointed that the budget eliminates HOPE VI for the third straight year,” Congressman Scott said. “Both the housing authorities of Fulton County and Atlanta have used HOPE VI grants to raze old developments and replace them with mixed-income communities. If the Administration wants to create an ownership society then it should not cut HOPE VI.” The FY 2006 budget proposes to cut home counseling funding from $41.664 million to $39.7 million. “Given the devastating impact of predatory lending in many communities, Congress should not cut back on efforts to educate consumers about the home buying process,” Congressman Scott said. Congressman Scott is a member of the Financial Services Committee and Housing Subcommittee.

 

Contact: Rob Griner (202) 225-2939

SPECIAL COLUMN: Forts Gillem and McPherson Provide Critical Link for Troops Guest Column for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, May 30, 2005 WASHINGTON, May 30, 2005 - Fort Gillem and Fort McPherson have extraordinary and unique military value for our defense and national security. These two bases provide critical links for our troops abroad and at home as we face difficult military needs today and in the future. In the wake of the recent announcement that Fort Gillem and Fort McPherson are on the list of base closures, two key factors critical to our national security and defense were ignored: We are not at peace and our military force is becoming overextended because of a lack of recruitment. If we focus on the primary factor the Pentagon used for evaluating the bases — military value — the closure of Forts Gillem and McPherson would be a blow to our military mission and strategic mobility, a step backward in our recruitment efforts in time of war, and would hurt homeland security. Gillem and McPherson are ideally located to support the military's need for rapid deployment and strategic mobility. The forts are home to four major Army command headquarters that train, mobilize, deploy, sustain and reconstitute combat-ready active and Reserve forces directly engaged in the worldwide war on terrorism. The proximity of these bases to Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, as well as major rail and ground transportation, ensures the strategic mobility needed in today's rapid deployment of our forces to various hot spots around the world. Closing these bases and moving forces to more remote bases in the United States would severely curtail this ability. Gillem and McPherson are major components in the nation's ability to recruit and maintain an all-volunteer army, the backbone of which is the Army Reserves and National Guard units. These forts include the U.S. Army Reserve Command, which provides command and control for all assigned Army Reserve forces. In addition, the First U.S. Army ensures the training, mobilization, deployment, redeployment and reconstitution of Army Reserve and National Guard units in the eastern United States. The benefits of the metro Atlanta area in terms of affordable housing, employment and world-class transportation, educational, medical and recreational facilities are important factors in our nation's ability to recruit Army Reserve and National Guard units. The closing of these forts would further weaken our country's recruitment ability at a time when the military is overextended and is failing to meet recruiting deadlines. Finally, the forts provide a critical link to federal and state agencies directly engaged in homeland security, homeland defense and domestic disaster relief operations. The U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Laboratory based at Gillem provides worldwide forensic laboratory services and training for the

Department of Defense, Department of Justice and other authorized users. Also, regional headquarters, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Georgia Emergency Management Agency, and the Red Cross coordinate homeland security from Gillem. The proximity of these services to major infrastructure is crucial to our nation's ability to respond to a terrorist threat or attack at home. As a businessman, longtime elected official and supporter of the smart growth of this great region, I understand the eagerness to highlight the economic benefits that development could bring in peaceful times. But this is a time of war, and we cannot afford the cost to our military value if we shutter Forts Gillem and McPherson, critical military links for the war abroad and the security efforts at home.

Link to article at AJC.com: Forts a Valuable Link that Shouldn't Be Broken

 

Contact: Rob Griner (202) 225-2939 OP-ED: April is Financial Literacy Month: Social Security and Saving by Rep. David Scott WASHINGTON, April 13, 2005 - As we recognize April as Financial Literacy Month, it is more important than ever that Americans get on track with their retirement savings—especially if they have desires to be among the few who can retire early and truly enjoy it. Personal finance professionals often refer to Social Security, private pensions, and personal savings as the “three legged” stool of retirement income, but for many workers at least one of these legs is missing. Most commonly, retirees come to rely too heavily or solely on Social Security for their retirement income after not accumulating enough savings. For those with nest eggs, they are often little larger than the value of the family house. In recent weeks, there has been intense debate over the aging of the population and strain the “baby boom” generation will place on the Social Security system when they begin retiring over the next decade. America, by and large, is getting older. As the spike in the elderly population will soon place unprecedented pressure on the social safety net, younger American families must prepare to be financially self-sufficient during their golden years. The facts are daunting: in 2000, there were 35 million Americans age 65 or older, representing 12.4% of the population. By 2025, the Census Bureau projects that number will swell to 62 million people. As birth rates continue to decline and medical advances extend life expectancies, the elderly will have to increasingly rely on a shrinking working population to finance Social Security. With fewer workers paying into the system as more Americans retire, Social Security will ultimately be unable to pay 100 percent of benefits by 2041. President Bush has proposed tackling Social Security’s funding problems by allowing workers to divert up to 4 percent of their payroll taxes into personal investment accounts that could be invested in stocks and bonds. Yet despite a nationwide campaign to sell his plan, creating private accounts will do nothing to stabilize Social Security for the long term or sustain guaranteed benefits to retirees, a reality that even President Bush himself acknowledged recently. Further illustrating the problem, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan warned during his testimony before Congress in March that benefit cuts will almost certainly factor into saving Social Security. While the details about how to best save Social Security continue to be worked out, it is becoming increasingly apparent that the working population can expect to receive different government benefits over longer retirements than their parents and grandparents enjoyed. However, with the proper approach we can and must save Social Security as a vital component of retirement security. Surprisingly, the first step most people skip entirely is figuring out just how much money they’ll need in retirement, taking into consideration their desired retirement age and lifestyle. Do you want to travel extensively? Would you like to own a second home for frequent leisure and vacation time? What about anticipated health care costs? These are the first kinds of questions to consider when determining your retirement goals. You can begin planting the seeds for financial security in retirement today if you set goals for yourself, start saving now, and continue each year. There are many helpful resources to help you begin

planning for retirement available through the public library, financial advisors, and the helpful American Savings Eduction Council, at www.asec.org. Even if retirement isn’t far away, Congress has passed laws that provide new incentives and opportunities for you to catch up and increase your retirement savings. For example, a few years ago, Congress increased the amount you can contribute yearly to your IRA and 401(k), 403(b), or 457 plans. Many employers also allow workers age 50 and over to make an extra “catch-up” contribution each year to these plans. The most important point to remember is that it’s never too late to start saving and making smart decisions that move you closer to a comfortable retirement. For young people who are just starting out or have yet to enter the workforce, parents must lead by example and teach their children to design and stick to a plan for earning, spending, saving, and investing in a financial environment that is becoming increasingly complex. As the author of the Financial Literacy and Education Act, I am working closely with others in Congress to help teachers produce financially savvy adults by teaching money management at an early age. Although the Social Security debate is likely to continue over the next several years, with smart planning and saving you can build a foundation that provides a lifetime of financial security right through retirement.

Congressman David Scott is the representative for Georgia’s 13th Congressional District. He is a member of the House Financial Services Committee and Financial and Economic Literacy Caucus.