Ron Haskins and Cassie Bevin of the House Ways and Means Human Resources Subcommittee and Bill Pierce, president of the National Council for Adoption discussed HR 867, the Camp-Kennelly Adoption Promotion Act of 1997. The bill seeks to remove roadblocks adoption. It is designed to address concerns that many children with unfit biological parents are being kept in foster homes when there are parents who want to adopt them because 1) current federal policy provides financial incentives (benefitting local governments and social workers) to keep kids from being adopted, and 2) current federal law is written so vaguely localities have the authority to prevent kids from being adopted. The bill provides mechanisms to insure that the foremost object of government policy is providing a child with a safe and loving home -- not trying repeatedly to restore a child to a home with unfit parents. It also rewards states with cash payments for every child they move from foster care to adoption. (The intention of this provision is to reduce states' financial incentive to keep kids in foster care.) Bill Pierce described an alternative bill which he does not support, the Chafee-Rockefeller "Safe Adoptions and Family Environments Act." Pierce criticized Chafee-Rockefeller as a bill to give the foster care/social worker industry "a couple of billion to do exactly what [they're] doing now." A 3 page description of Camp-Kennelly was distributed. Contact Ron Haskins and Cassie Bevin at 202/225-1025 and Bill Pierce at 202/328-1200. For a copy of the handout only, call Jon Meek at 202/543-4110 or visit http://www.nationalcenter.org under Hot Topics.
Jennifer Prazmark of the staff of Rep. Susan Molinari, Maureen Hogan of Adopt a Special Kid and Bill Pierce of the National Council for Adoption discussed Molinari's "Child Abuse and Neglect Enforcement Act." The bill is designed to help local authorities deal with child abuse by providing for paperwork relief for social workers, expanded child advocacy centers for more accurate questioning of alleged victims, making newborn drug testing in some circumstances a condition for receiving the Substance Abuse Block Grant and providing a system to allow state child protective agencies access to prior criminal convictions. Some discussion was held about the provision for newborn drug testing over the questions: 1) Should newborns be tested for drugs? and 2) If drugs are found, should the parents have to prove fitness? Prazmark reported that 25% of New York child fatality cases have occurred among children exposed to drugs in the womb. The bill compromises on this question, encouraging testing but not mandating the removal of addicted children from their homes. Hogan and Pierce spoke approvingly of the bill and the need for drug testing, with Hogan noting instances of kids being "systematically destroyed" by maternal drug use. Prazmark distributed a four-page description of the bill's provisions. Contact Jennifer Prazmark at 202/225-3371, Maureen Hogan at 202/544-3603 (http://www.aask.org), and Bill Pierce at 202/328-1200. For a copy of the handout only, call Jon Meek at 202/543-4110 or visit http://www.nationalcenter.org under Hot Topics.
Justin Matlick of the Pacific Research Institute discussed a major report he wrote on what he termed the 15 years of failure of California's foster care system. He called California (with Illinois and New York) one of the three worst states in the nation for foster care, and specified the problems that make this so. Matlick also discussed privatizing foster care, as was done in Kansas. Maureen Hogan noted that so few children are released from the California foster care system that there are 10 sets of parents available for every child the California foster care system lets out. Contact Justin Matlick at 415/989-0833 or [email protected] (http://www.ideas.org) and Maureen Hogan at 202/544-3603 (http://www.aask.org).
Jorge Amselle of the Center for Equal Opportunity distributed copies of CEO's "Parents' Guide to Bilingual Education." Amselle told stories about the way bilingual education is being used to segregate Hispanic children in this country today, including cases of kids being taught in Spanish for 5-7 years before being taught any English and kids who don't speak Spanish being put into Spanish-speaking classes where they fail to thrive. CEO is hoping to distribute many copies of its booklet to parents, schools and school boards, and Amselle gave a toll-free number which people can phone for a free copy of the booklet: 1-800-819-2343. He said also that CEO has issued a report on the bilingual education programs of the ten states with the largest Spanish-speaking populations, and the report is available at http://www.ceousa.org. Contact Jorge Amselle at 202/639-0803.
Dan Perrin of Eclipse Medisave America discussed an effort
to repeal six major provisions of Medical Savings Account legislation
-- provisions which limit the number of Americans who can take
advantage of this medical insurance/savings option. He noted the
interesting fact that the first proposals to expand MSAs under
the law are coming from Blue Dog Democrats and distributed a comprehensive
information kit on MSAs, including a information supplied by his
organization and a Wall Street Journal April 9 editorial saying,
in part: "Medical Savings Accounts are off to a rousing start."
Contact Dan Perrin at 202/682-9375.
The National Center for Public Policy Research released on
April 30 a statement questioning the Federal Trade Commission's
April block of a merger between Staples and Office Depot. The
National Center's Amy Ridenour notes that the FTC's view that
a Staples/Office Depot merger would create a monopoly is "simply
silly," because the combined market share of Staples and
Office Depot would account for only approximately 5% of the office
supply industry. The FTC based its decision on its own claim,
says Ridenour, that office supplies sold through office supply
catalogs with thousands of items for sale and mega stories like
WalMart, K-Mart, and Target should not count as part of the office
supply market. This, she said, is "an insane idea about how
The statement contains facts about the office supply market, evidence that a merger would result in lower consumer prices, and quotes from newspaper editorials and economists who disapprove of the way the FTC is operating. For instance, liberal economist Lester Thurow comments: "The [FTC] decision is a good case study of how agencies wander from their original purposes... Market forces will keep Staples-Office Depot on a very tight leash... Put simply, the FTC has run out of important cases to try." The Wall Street Journal says : "The Clinton Federal Trade Commission [is] acting these days like a virtual throwback to the Great Society."
The statement concludes: "The real truth is that the FTC crusade isn't about economics at all. It's about politics, power and the government-knows-best philosophy we've come to expect from Washington's regulatory agencies." Contact Amy Ridenour of The National Center for Public Policy Research at 202/543-4110 or [email protected]. For the statement only, call Jon Meek at 202/543-4110 or visit http://www.nationalcenter.org. *