Tuesday, June 30, 2009

NADA Says EPA Decision to Grant Calif. Waiver is Troubling

/PRNewswire/ -- In response to the action taken today by the Environmental Protection Agency to allow California and 13 other states to implement their own fuel economy and greenhouse gas program, John McEleney, chairman of the National Automobile Dealers Association, issued the following statement:

"EPA's decision to reverse its 2008 denial of California's request for a pre-emption waiver is sadly a triumph of politics over good common sense.

"NADA has commended President Obama for his announcement last month recognizing and addressing the 'patchwork' aspect of California's greenhouse gas rules. We also recognize that California has stated its willingness to conform its rules to the President's forthcoming national program.

"However, NADA remains concerned that today's action risks a series of negative results if that conformity never occurs. These include the potential for triple regulation of major manufacturers such as General Motors and Toyota.

"Moreover, with its action today, the Obama administration has effectively ceded the long-term setting of national fuel economy standards to unelected California regulators. The administration has now created the framework for three fuel economy standards, administered by three different agencies and under three different sets of rules. As a result, consumers in the future risk facing significantly reduced new vehicle choices and substantially higher new vehicle prices."

Political News You Can Use

Monday, June 29, 2009

New Bill Could Divert Billions in Small Business Contracts to Corporate Giants

/PRNewswire/ -- For the second time in the last year, the House of Representatives Small Business Committee has passed legislation that will change the definition of a small business to give some of the nation's wealthiest investors billions of dollars in federal small business contracts.

The bill, H.R. 2965, the Enhancing Small Business Research and Innovation Act of 2009, was introduced to reauthorize the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, which is set to expire on July 31st of this year. However, language in H.R. 2965 will change the definition of a small business from the current definition of "independently owned" to include businesses owned up to 49.9 percent by a single venture capital firm, or 100 percent owned and controlled by multiple venture capital firms or syndicates. (http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h111-2965)

H.R. 2965 is almost identical to similar legislation introduced last year to reauthorize the SBIR program, and again is being quarterbacked by House Small Business Committee Chair, Nydia Velazquez (D-NY). (http://www.allbusiness.com/company-activities-management/business-climate-con ditions/9077284-1.html)

The legislation is being supported and pushed by groups like the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) and the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA), but for the second time, not one single small business organization supports this legislation. Small business groups like the American Small Business League (ASBL) are outraged that the committee has again ignored the voice of small businesses and passed legislation that will divert billions of dollars from small businesses and the middle class economy. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NZdI0Tw_n_Y)

Critics of Chairwoman Velazquez point to the fact that since 2003, a series of over a dozen federal investigations have shown that Fortune 500 and other clearly large firms are the actual recipients of billions of dollars in small business contracts, yet she has never introduced and pushed for legislation to address the ongoing abuses in small business contracting programs. (http://www.asbl.com/documentlibrary.html)

"H.R. 2965 is the most disgusting example of what is wrong with our government today," said ASBL President Lloyd Chapman. "Groups like the NVCA and BIO give large campaign contributions to members of Congress, like Velazquez, and now we see them being paid back with legislation that will give them billions of dollars in small business contracts. I have never seen a more blatant example of Congress selling legislation."

Political News You Can Use

Saturday, June 27, 2009

CREW Requests Ethics Investigation of Gov. Sanford

(BUSINESS WIRE)--Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a complaint against South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford with the South Carolina Attorney General and the State Ethics Commission, requesting an investigation into activities surrounding a surreptitious trip the governor made to Argentina. Earlier this week, Gov. Sanford publicly admitted that he visited a woman with whom he has been engaged in an extramarital affair, now-reported as Maria Belen Chapur. Gov. Sanford said he has known the woman for eight years, and the two began a sexual relationship approximately a year ago.

In its letter, CREW alleges Gov. Sanford may have violated the South Carolina law in conducting his affair.

Gov. Sanford apparently did not apprise any South Carolina officials, including Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer, of his whereabouts or provide truthful information to his staff, his security detail, or any responsible state government official regarding his destination, nor was anyone able to reach him by telephone or electronically for at least five days. According to Gov. Sanford, he “creat[ed] a fiction” by telling members of his staff that he planned to go hiking on the Appalachian Trail when he was actually traveling to Argentina.

By leaving the state without informing Lt. Gov. Bauer he had the authority to act as governor, Gov. Sanford may have endangered the state and violated the South Carolina Constitution, which provides “in the event of the temporary absence of the Governor from the State, the Lieutenant Governor shall have full authority to act in an emergency.”

Based on reports the governor used a state vehicle to reach the Columbia airport to catch his flight and that a government aide picked him up from the Atlanta airport upon his return, CREW also asked for an investigation into whether Gov. Sanford illegally used additional state funds, equipment, or personnel to conduct the affair.

Melanie Sloan, executive director of CREW, said today, “The only sound decision Gov. Sanford appears to have made recently was to resign his post as chair of the Republican Governors Association. Why is the governor incapable of leading the RGA, but still fit to lead the state of South Carolina? Clearly, Gov. Sanford should resign, but whatever he does, it is incumbent upon South Carolina’s Attorney General and the State Ethics Commission to hold the governor accountable.”

Political News You Can Use

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Top 10 Facts on Why Speaker Pelosi's National Energy Tax Is a Bad "Deal" for America

Democratic leaders have announced a so-called “deal” to bring House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) national energy tax up for a House vote on Friday. Senior Democrats have already started to tout a number of trivial concessions and compromises that made this “deal” possible. But, the fact is, the consequences of this “deal” are no different from the consequences of the initial legislation introduced by Democrats earlier this year. It still amounts to jobs-killing policy that will increase costs for every American and will further harm our economy and American workers at a time when they can afford it least. Following are the Top 10 Facts about the House Democrats’ so-called “deal” to bring Speaker Pelosi’s national energy tax to the House floor later this week:

1. Speaker Pelosi’s National Energy Tax Will Impose a National Energy Tax on Every Single American. If you drive a car, buy food or a product manufactured in America, or have the audacity to flip on a light switch, you’ll pay more under Speaker Pelosi’s national energy tax. Here’s what Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) had to say about the tax: “Nobody in this country realizes that cap and trade is a tax. And it’s a great big one.” And of course, President Obama agrees, saying that electricity rates will “skyrocket” under this scheme.

2. Speaker Pelosi’s National Energy Tax Will Cost American Jobs, Shipping Them Overseas to China & India. According to a study by the National Black Chamber of Commerce, Speaker Pelosi’s national energy tax will cost 2.3 to 2.7 million jobs each year, even after the creation of new “green” jobs. It will impose tough new requirements and increased costs on American manufacturers – higher costs that they won’t face overseas, in places like China, India, or Mexico. This will cost American jobs in two ways: either domestic manufacturers will move overseas directly, or American companies in energy-intensive industries will be driven out of business by overseas rivals that undercut their prices. These job losses, and their ripple effects throughout our economy, were excluded from an incomplete analysis recently completed by the Congressional Budget Office. The Brookings Institute recently released a report that confirmed a national energy tax would reduce economic growth, increase costs, and kill jobs.

3. Speaker Pelosi’s National Energy Tax Will Cause Electricity Bills to “Skyrocket.” Speaker Pelosi’s national energy tax will increase electricity bills for every American and small business. President Obama even admitted that it would cause electricity rates to “necessarily skyrocket.” And Duke Energy, a major utility company that would receive free allowances under the Democrats’ plan, has already requested a rate hike of 13.5 percent in anticipation of the energy tax.

4. Speaker Pelosi’s National Energy Tax Will Hurt Family Farmers & Rural America. Rural Americans would be disproportionately impacted by this burdensome, jobs-killing tax. They travel 25 percent farther than urban residents to go to work and run errands. They spend 58 percent more on fuel than urban residents as a percentage of their income. And electricity is far more costly to deliver to rural households than to urban homes across America. The end result: if Speaker Pelosi’s national energy tax becomes law, family farmers and rural small businesses will pay much, much more. That’s why an increasing number of rural organizations are opposing this harmful policy.

5. Speaker Pelosi’s National Energy Tax Will Not Improve the Environment. Even supporters of the national energy tax concede that unilateral American action will do nothing to improve Earth’s environment unless global competitors like China and India curb their emissions, too. The response from overseas? Don’t hold your breath. According to the Washington Post, “But, after their talk this week, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said China would not agree to reduce its emissions… Spokesman Qin Gang said…“[I]t is natural for China to have some increase in its emissions, so it is not possible for China in that context to accept a binding or compulsory target.’” And according to Xinhua News, Shyam Saran, India’s principal negotiator on climate change, discussed India’s reluctance to capping its greenhouse gas emissions, saying, “[W]e don’t want to announce targets which we have no intention of achieving.”

6. Speaker Pelosi’s National Energy Tax Will Cause Gasoline and Diesel Prices to Spike Further. Gasoline prices have spiked in recent weeks, yet Speaker Pelosi’s national energy tax will make gasoline and diesel even more expensive for families and small businesses. The Heritage Foundation estimates that it will raise inflation-adjusted gasoline prices by 58 percent. Not only is that troubling to middle-class families trying to make ends meet, but small businesses – such as America’s truck drivers who are responsible for transporting food and other products across the country – are especially vulnerable during an economic recession. In fact, Tommy Hodges, First Vice Chairman of the American Trucking Association, recently warned that Speaker Pelosi’s national energy tax on America’s truck drivers will leave America’s truck drivers, exposed to dramatic and sudden fuel price spikes.

7. Speaker Pelosi’s National Energy Tax Will Be A Bureaucratic Nightmare. Speaker Pelosi’s national energy tax is a bureaucratic nightmare that would create a slew of new government programs overseen by a long and confusing web of government agencies. At the center of this web is the Environmental Protection Agency along with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the Commodities Future Trading Commission, the Department of Energy, the Department of Agriculture, the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, the Department of Labor, the Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Department of Treasury, the Department of State, the Forest Service, the Fish & Wildlife Service, the National Park Service, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the U.S. Geological Society, the Bureau of Reclamation, and the Bureau of Land Management – all with a hand in taking and redistributing trillions of dollars from family budgets and workers payrolls.

8. Speaker Pelosi’s National Energy Tax Will Send Billions of US Taxpayer Dollars Overseas. In addition to sending American jobs overseas, under Speaker Pelosi’s national energy tax, between 2012 and 2019, the United States will send $302 billion in taxpayers’ money directly to foreign countries for international offsets, international tropical deforestation, international adaptation, and international technology transfer. American taxpayers are tired of the bailouts. Why do Washington Democrats want to force them to bankroll another global bailout too?

9. Speaker Pelosi’s National Energy Tax Will Raise Food Prices. Speaker Pelosi’s national energy tax will drive up costs for gasoline and energy used by farmers and businesses across the country. One of the most troubling results? The cost to produce and transport food will be driven higher than ever. The Heritage Foundation says “The cost of producing everything from wheat to beef will increase. Indeed, the price deflator for private farm inventories goes up over 20 points by 2035. This increase gets quickly translated into much higher food prices for consumers at the grocery stores.” During a severe recession and further job losses, is this really the news small businesses and middle-class families want to hear?

10. Speaker Pelosi’s National Energy Tax Will Set the Stage for Another Market Meltdown. Mother Jones recently warned that if Speaker Pelosi’s national energy tax “is signed into law, it will generate, almost as an afterthought, a new market for carbon derivatives. That market will be vast, complicated, and dauntingly difficult to monitor. And if Washington doesn’t get the rules right, it will be vulnerable to speculation and manipulation by the very same players who brought us the financial meltdown.” Taxpayers have paid dearly as a result of the financial crisis. Are Democrats setting them up to pay once again?

Political News You Can Use

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

White House Meeting on Immigration 'Reform' Likely to Leave Out Interests of the American Public, Cautions FAIR

/PRNewswire/ -- Tomorrow's long anticipated and oft-delayed White House meeting on immigration will likely produce a blueprint for a massive illegal alien amnesty in exchange for hollow promises of future enforcement, warns the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). The plan being promoted by President Obama and Democratic congressional leaders is essentially the same one that the American people rejected in 2006 and 2007.

The American people have little reason to believe that any commitments to protect their interests would be honored. Since taking office, the Obama administration has all but abandoned enforcement of U.S. immigration laws. Worksite enforcement has been dramatically curtailed, implementation of E-Verify requirements have been scuttled, cooperation with state and local law enforcement has been scaled back, while the Department of Justice has made it easier for illegal aliens to remain in the country. Ironically, tougher enforcement efforts implemented during the final 18 months of the Bush administration had, for the first time, begun to reverse the flow of illegal immigration.

"The only thing comprehensive about so-called comprehensive immigration reform would be the amnesty for people who have violated our laws," observed Dan Stein, president of FAIR. "While millions of illegal aliens would be rewarded, struggling American workers and overburdened taxpayers would pay a heavy price were Congress and the administration to repeat the mistakes of the 1986 amnesty."

Some of the questions likely not to be addressed at tomorrow's White House summit include:

-- What impact would a massive amnesty have on already soaring
-- How would a repeat of the massive fraud that took place in 1986 be
-- How would adequate background checks be carried out on the estimated
12 to 15 million illegal aliens who would be eligible?
-- How many additional relatives, now living outside the U.S., would be
eligible for amnesty?
-- How would future illegal immigration be averted when the
administration refuses to implement existing systems to prevent
employment of illegal aliens?
-- How would state and local governments - some already teetering on
bankruptcy - pay for services required by newly legalized aliens and
their families?

"The American people have some very clear ideas about the priorities President Obama and Congress need to address - and a massive illegal alien amnesty isn't one of them," said Stein. "The public wants our immigration system fixed, but they expect their interests, not the interests of the people who broke our laws, to be paramount. Unfortunately, the public interest will at best be an afterthought as the president and congressional leaders pursue a politically driven, narrow interest immigration agenda," concluded Stein.

Political News You Can Use

Americans Fear the Consequences of a New Government-Run "Public" Health Plan

Democrats who support a government takeover of health care are citing the latest New York Times/CBS News poll, which they claim shows support for a government-run system. Yet that very same poll shows widespread concern about potential consequences of a government-run health plan on the relationship Americans have with their doctor and the quality of care they receive – facts which have been reflected in other polls. For example, the New York Times/CBS News poll shows that:

63 percent were concerned that their own health care would get worse under a government-run system of health care;
68 percent believed a government-run system would limit their access to treatments and quality care; and
53 percent were concerned they would have to give up their own doctor under a government-run system.
What’s clear is that Americans overwhelmingly oppose the consequences of a government-run health system. They want access to their doctor, they want access to the quality care they are accustomed to, and they want access to the medical treatments they need when they need it rather than being subject to the whims of a government bureaucrat that makes health care decisions at the expense of patients and doctors. All would be jeopardized under a government-run scheme being proposed by congressional Democrats.

Here are the Top 10 facts about the House Democrats’ health care proposal and the consequences it will have for the American people and their health care:

Costs Middle-Class Families and Small Businesses Billions
Forces Tens of Millions Out of their Current Health Care Coverage
Destroys Millions of American Jobs
Puts Bureaucrats in Charge of Key Medical Decisions
Costs Future Generations Money They Don’t Have
Cuts Seniors’ Key Medicare Benefits and Limits Choices
Places a New Mandate on Individuals
Raises Taxes on Families, Small Businesses
A Missed Opportunity to Reduce Health Care Costs
Harms Small Businesses, Costs Jobs

Congressional Democrats can continue to ignore these consequences if they choose, but the facts are not on their side. The House Democrats’ plan could force more than 100 million Americans off of their current health care plan and onto the government rolls, according to a Lewin Group study published earlier this year. A Congressional Budget Office report said a similar plan authored by Senate Democrats that would force at least 23 million Americans off of their current plans. And according to the Associated Press, even the White House admits that the President’s promises about allowing the American people to keep their health care shouldn’t be taken literally.

House Republicans have a better solution: a plan that ensures all Americans who like their health care coverage can actually keep it. The plan outlined by the House GOP Health Care Reform Solutions Group, led by Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO), is designed to:

Make quality health care coverage affordable and accessible for every American, regardless of pre-existing health conditions.
Protect Americans from being forced into a new government-run health care plan that would eliminate the health care coverage that more than 100 million Americans currently receive through their job.
Let Americans who like their health care coverage keep it, and give all Americans the freedom to choose the health plan that best meets their needs.
Ensure that medical decisions are made by patients and their doctors, not government bureaucrats.
Improve Americans’ lives through effective prevention, wellness, and disease management programs, while developing new treatments and cures for life-threatening diseases.

Political News You Can Use

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Americans United for Life: Obama's Disbanding Bioethics Council Raises Troubling Questions

/PRNewswire/ -- Americans United for Life (AUL) criticized President Obama's recent decision to disband the President's Council on Bioethics and replace it with a new bioethics commission having a mandate to offer "practical policy options."

The President's Council on Bioethics was created in November 2001 by President Bush after his decision to allow human embryonic stem-cell research for the first time while limiting the research to existing cell lines.

"Why try to fix something that wasn't broken?" said AUL's President & CEO Charmaine Yoest.

Daniel McConchie, AUL Vice President of Government Affairs said, "This was the most balanced bioethics council in history with two leaders, Leon Kass and Edmund Pellegrino, who went out of their way to ensure the council was reflective of all the major perspectives on the issues," he said. "We have to ask why the President has disbanded this effective and well-regarded council. Is this a move toward a council that is more of a rubber stamp of his administration's priorities, rather than a group that actively debates current issues with all perspectives having a seat at the table?"

AUL Senior Counsel Clarke Forsythe said it was "a shame" that the council was dismissed. "The council leaves a rich legacy of reflection on the ethical and legal aspects of the most important questions of biomedicine and biotechnology facing the country. But despite the council's balance -- or perhaps because of it -- many liberals and libertarians never appreciated the important books and reports published by the Council. When it conducted wide-ranging discussions of important bioethical issues, they dismissed it as a 'debating society.' And when, after such discussions, they issued policy recommendations, they dismissed it as 'political.'"

Political News You Can Use

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

AMA Supports Health System Reform Alternatives Consistent With Principles

AMA Supports Health System Reform Alternatives Consistent With Principles of Pluralism, Freedom of Choice, Freedom of Practice and Universal Access for Patients

/PRNewswire/ -- As the American Medical Association (AMA) works for health reform this year that provides all Americans with affordable, high-quality health coverage, new policy states that the AMA "support health system reform alternatives that are consistent with AMA principles of pluralism, freedom of choice, freedom of practice, and universal access for patients."

"The AMA is committed to health reform this year, and we are focused on ending our nation's uninsured crisis," said AMA Immediate-Past President Nancy H. Nielsen, M.D. "We will stay engaged with Congress and the administration to ensure that health reform proposals meet the AMA's criteria so that health reform makes a positive difference in the lives of our patients."

"We welcome and will thoughtfully consider all proposals consistent with AMA principles to provide Americans with affordable, high-quality health coverage," said Dr. Nielsen. "We look forward to the day when all Americans have health care coverage."

Political News You Can Use

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

In Obama's Town Hall Agenda, What's Missing?

/PRNewswire/ -- President Obama's Town Hall on immigration reform -- canceled a second time last week and awaiting a new date -- includes no proponent of the most viable real-world option: The Red Card Solution. Helen Krieble, small business owner and author of the Solution, is working to change that.

Wednesday, June 23, Krieble hosts a bipartisan morning briefing at the Library of Congress to explain The Red Card Solution to congressional staffers. That afternoon, she'll debut a new Red Card Solution documentary at the National Press Club Building and lead a panel of experts in national economics, politics, security, and media.

"Labor and business are starting to come together to support a non-immigrant worker program that can help achieve border security and supply the country's economic needs," said Krieble, whose equestrian farm in Colorado suffers like thousands of small businesses unable to find sufficient temporary workers. "The Red Card Solution is not about citizenship, it's about work. It's about workers and employers and the ability to come together legally," she said.

Currently millions of undocumented foreign workers cost U.S. citizens billions of dollars annually in border patrol, uncollected taxes, and education, health care, and corrections expenses. To expand on The Red Card Solution's taxpayer benefits:

-- Taxes are collected on wages paid to legal, temporary workers.
(Currently, in most cases, no taxes are collected.)
-- Temporary workers paying taxes will cover their fair share of social
services currently provided at taxpayers' expense.
-- Money and resources currently pouring into border security will be
better used as border patrol agents focus less and less on the fewer
illegal workers and more on criminals and terrorists.
-- The costs of the private-sector program are entirely funded by user
fees, not tax dollars.

One of the solution's strongest features is that its funding source is private enterprise.

"The Red Card Solution is underwritten when employers pay to list jobs with the private employment services opening offices in foreign countries," Krieble said. "That means business, not taxpayers, will foot the bill. Free markets are freed do what they do best: link employers who need a service with workers who can provide it."

Historically Viable

The Bracero Program after World War II opened Mexican workers to temporary, legal entry into the United States for farm jobs. The program was limited in scope and, some say, failed to protect the workers from abuse. But in one important area -- security -- the plan made a clear impact:

"In the Bracero Program era, apprehensions of illegal aliens coming into the United States from Mexico dropped to almost nothing, from more than a million a year to only 35,000. After the program was abolished, the number returned to a million-plus," Krieble said. "Then as now, the question is: why risk work here illegally if you can do it legally?"

Not about Amnesty

The Red Card Solution matches workers and employees through private agencies outside U.S. borders:

-- The U.S. government authorizes private employment agencies to grant
temporary non-immigrant work permits. Foreign workers apply in their
own countries for the permits.
-- Job applicants are matched to current, unfilled U.S. jobs; temporary,
non-immigrant workers fill a specific job for a specific time and may
return home when the job ends.
-- Permits are in "smart card" biometric data, enabling border
authorities to see that temporary workers enter legally for pre-agreed
employment and return when the work ends.
-- All permit holders must pass criminal background checks in their
home-country databases and in U.S. databases.

"The Red Card is not about amnesty," Krieble said. "Illegal workers already in the U.S. may go outside U.S. borders to apply and return legally for available U.S. work."

Political News You Can Use

Monday, June 15, 2009

Backgrounder: As Obama Makes Pitch to AMA, the Group Tries to Call in its Political Investment in Congress

/PRNewswire / -- The American Medical Association has spent $204.4 million to influence Congress and Administrations over the last ten years, and another $26.2 million in campaign contributions over the last two decades, according to a Public Campaign Action Fund review of data at the Center for Responsive Politics website.

"When President Obama addresses the AMA today, he will be speaking to a group that is acting more like a typical Washington special interest than one that is concerned about the health and well-being of all Americans," said David Donnelly, national campaigns director of Public Campaign Action Fund.

The AMA announced its opposition to a public health insurance option last week, a central part of the health care reform legislation emerging in Washington, and a provision backed by President Obama.

The data review by Public Campaign Action Fund found that the AMA historically has given most of its money to Republican candidates and committees, but shifted its giving towards the Democrats by 48% between 2006 and 2008.

"That the AMA's PAC dramatically changed its donation pattern in just two years shows that they know they were girding for a fight against health care reform in this Congress," added Donnelly. "After nine straight elections in which they gave more to Republicans - they are making up for lost time to build relationships with Democrats. We'll see how that has worked in the weeks and months to come."

The AMA's lobbying expenditures have steadily increased over the past several years, but fell off slightly in 2008 from a high point of $22.1 million in 2007. The AMA has already spent $4.4 million in the first quarter, and its expenditures are expected to climb as the debate picks up in Congress.

Political News You Can Use

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Isakson Co-Sponsors Legislation to Force GM, Chrysler to Reimburse Rejected Auto Dealerships

Bill Also Gives Dealerships At Least Six Months to Sell Off Inventories

U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., announced Friday that he is co-sponsoring legislation by U.S. Senator Bob Corker, R-Tenn., that would require Chrysler and General Motors to use any funding they receive from the U.S. Treasury while they are in Chapter 11 bankruptcy to fully reimburse their rejected dealerships for their inventories of vehicles and parts. GM and Chrysler have sent letters to hundreds of dealerships across the country announcing that their dealership contracts will not be renewed.

“When you close your dealerships, you're firing your sales force, because these dealers are not a liability. They're an asset,” Isakson said. “In some cases, these dealers were asked to make additional purchases of products in order to save these companies. It’s only right that we help ensure the promises to these dealerships are fulfilled and they are reimbursed for their inventories of vehicles and parts.”

Specifically, the Automobile Dealers Assistance Act of 2009 would require GM and Chrysler to use any funding received from the U.S. Treasury while in a Chapter 11 bankruptcy to fully reimburse all GM and Chrysler rejected dealerships for the cost of all parts and inventory in the dealership's possession on the date of the bankruptcy filing, treating them the same as if the dealers chose to terminate their existing franchise agreements or dealer agreements. In addition, GM and Chrysler would be required to reimburse the dealerships for all other obligations owed by GM or Chrysler under franchise agreements or dealer agreements.

The legislation specifies that a bankruptcy court cannot allow GM or Chrysler to obtain access to debtor-in-possession funding unless the credit agreement or agreements expressly provide for this treatment of the dealerships.

The legislation would also allow rejected dealerships a minimum of 180 days to shut down their businesses and sell off their inventories.
Community News You Can Use
Follow us on Twitter: @gafrontpage

Thursday, June 11, 2009

President Obama's Solution to Iran Requires Missile Defense

/PRNewswire / -- Riki Ellison, Chairman and Founder of the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance (MDAA) www.missiledefenseadvocacy.org today advised on the need for missile defense in the Middle East as it relates to President Obama's outreach to the Middle East. He was also firm in the resolve to have the U.S. Homeland defended. His comments are as follows:

"President Barack Obama in his historic address to the Muslim world in Cairo, Egypt last Thursday, June 4, 2009 focused on reaching out to cooperate and form partnerships to address the four most prominent issues facing our shared cultures - terrorism, Israel, Iran and democracy. I would like to highlight and expand upon his third point which is his concern over Iran's persistent efforts to attain nuclear weapons and become a nuclear power."

"President Obama said this in his speech: 'It's about preventing a nuclear arms race in the Middle East that could lead this region and the world down a hugely dangerous path.'"

"In this instance, missile defense will play a vital role in the solutions that our two cultures will work together to develop in order to resolve this dilemma. There are three possible policies that we must consider with Iran: 1) Acceptance of Iran being a nuclear power; or 2) Military action and 3) Diplomacy to prevent Iran from becoming nuclear."

"There are consequences with each of these processes and their effects would involve the requirement to field and deploy effective missile defense systems for the national security of the United States homeland and throughout the Middle Eastern region and Europe as well as Russia."

"Diplomacy, the third option, requires a stable environment and cooperation between many countries and cultures, as the Sunni countries of the Middle East and Israel will be tempted to use military force or become nuclear in response to failed diplomatic efforts."

"Deployed missile defense systems can produce a stable environment necessary for diplomatic efforts which will require a steady hand against increased rhetoric, belligerent behavior and military testing of missiles and nuclear technology. The case for missile defense has been made, proven and continues to be proven to allow U.S. and international diplomacy to continue with North Korea without military intervention or nuclear proliferation. Japan and South Korea have restrained their actions due to their confidence of U.S. deterrence and belief in the current missile defense assets in place to protect them."

"This real life case study would have merit with the neighboring countries of Iran and those in the Middle East. The missile defense systems cannot just be based in the local region, but rather stem from the fundamental core belief that the U.S. homeland must be defended to allow the U.S. the credibility to assure defense of its allies and friends. This would entail the deployment of long range, medium range and short range missile defenses in the United States, the critical regions throughout the world and in Europe."

"It is of amazement or of political gamesmanship that the United States Secretary of Defense is attempting to convince the U.S. Congress that a reduction of 32 percent of long range missiles to defend the United States homeland is necessary, even though the threat has increased, the diplomatic need has increased and the U.S. assurance of our allies has increased. Moreover, the American taxpayer has paid for the majority of the system that the U.S. Department of Defense stated was necessary to defend the U.S. homeland from both Iran and North Korea. It would be hard to believe that the American people who support missile defense at close to 90% would accept a significant reduction in protection of their homeland that is being sold today to the U.S. Congress by the Department of Defense."

Ellison closed his comments saying "Think about it."

Political News You Can Use

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Statement of Robert Greenstein, Executive Director of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, on the President's 'Pay As You Go' Budget Proposal

/PRNewswire / -- The following is being released by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:

President Obama's proposal to require policymakers to fully pay for all new entitlement increases and tax cuts, rather than deficit-finance them, is an important first step to restore fiscal responsibility. Critics charge that the pay-as-you-go, or PAYGO, proposal is riddled with loopholes, would be ineffective, or is a gimmick. But they are fundamentally mistaken. In light of obvious political realities, the so-called loopholes actually increase the likelihood that the pay-as-you-go rule would be effective in preventing enactment of new policies that would increase the deficit. Those who support fiscal responsibility should embrace the President's proposal, rather than undercut it by calling for a "pure" pay-as-you-go rule that would be doomed to failure.

The last administration ignored pay-as-you-go discipline. It successfully pushed deficit financing of nearly all of its major initiatives, including the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts and 2004 prescription drug legislation. In sharp contrast, the Obama Administration proposes to bar deficit financing for its own top initiatives, like health care reform, even though this will make those initiatives harder to push through Congress. Proponents of fiscal responsibility should applaud the commitment to ensuring that policymakers fully offset the costs of universal health coverage, strengthened college financial aid, efforts to address global warming, and other initiatives.

Some critics complain that the proposal would exempt the costs of extending the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, alternative minimum tax relief, the current estate tax rules, and current policies that prevent deep cuts in the fees that Medicare pays to doctors from taking effect as scheduled. But, the inclusion of these exemptions strengthens, rather than weakens, prospects that the proposal will start to restore fiscal responsibility.

To be sure, we would much prefer that the President and Congress offset the cost of extending these current policies. But, it has become painfully clear over the past few years that there is no chance that Congress will pay for such extensions and no chance it will allow these policies to expire.

Suppose new statutory PAYGO requirements were applied to these current policies. Congress would unquestionably issue a series of waivers of the PAYGO rules, undermining their credibility within months of enactment and making it much harder to prevent waivers for other legislation to institute new entitlement expansions and tax cuts. Rather than make a transparently phony fiscal responsibility promise that would evaporate whenever 60 Senators support an entitlement or tax cut but don't want to pay for it, we need a PAYGO rule that Congress will adhere to. The Administration's proposal would erect a pay-as-you-go rule that acknowledges the additional costs that everyone knows will be incurred in extending current policies (and everyone knows will not be offset), and makes a commitment to draw the line at new policies that would increase the deficit.

Consider the estate tax, for example. If the Administration proposed a PAYGO rule without exemptions for current policies and Congress needed to waive the rule just to maintain today's estate tax rules in coming years, then Congress surely would enact such a waiver. That would leave no additional statutory barrier to going well beyond today's rules and eviscerating much of the estate tax that remains, and thereby digging the deficit hole even deeper. The sky would be the limit here. In contrast, if a new PAYGO rule draws the line at today's estate rule tax parameters --- so that extending them does not violate the rule but any effort to remove more of the tax does violate it -- then policymakers will have a better chance of holding the line and avoiding still more deficit financing here. As this example illustrates, the Administration's proposal will likely be more effective at maintaining fiscal discipline than an all-encompassing PAYGO rule that applied to extending current popular policies -- and that Congress waived willy-nilly.

An analogy may help here. If a boulder has begun to slide down a hill, standing at the top of the hill and exhorting the boulder to roll back up -- or building a barrier at the top of the hill -- won't do much good. But marching part way down the hill to where the boulder currently sits and erecting a barrier to prevent the boulder from sliding further can be effective.

To be sure, PAYGO rules will not close the daunting budget gaps we face. Policymakers must take other steps to begin addressing them. But erecting an effective barrier to forestall new policies that would make the problem worse is an important first step. The nation's fiscal situation would be far healthier had policymakers adhered to such policies over the past decade. The Obama Administration and the "Blue Dog" coalition of lawmakers (a group of conservative-to-moderate House Democrats), as well as others who support the President's efforts, should be commended, rather than chastised, for pursuing this action.

Political News You Can Use

Monday, June 8, 2009

'Tax Deferral' Change Would Cause U.S. Job and Investment Loss, New Economic Report Projects

/PRNewswire / -- A repeal of the rules governing the way the United States taxes the foreign earnings of U.S. companies could have dramatically adverse effects on U.S. jobs and investment and leave U.S. companies less competitive in global markets, according to a new economic report released today.

The report, authored by Robert J. Shapiro, a former Clinton Administration economic official, and Aparna Mathur, a Research Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, found that as many as 2.2 million American jobs could be affected by a repeal, or effective repeal, of "tax deferral."

The report, commissioned by the Technology CEO Council, also found that:
-- Besides affecting jobs, investments in the United States in plant,
equipment and property could fall by as much as $84.2 billion.

-- Repealing or sharply limiting deferral would not generate large tax
revenues, since substantial job losses, wage cuts and lower
investments would reduce tax revenues.

Congress is now considering legislation that would sharply limit the "deferral" rules that protect U.S. businesses from bearing much higher tax burdens on their earnings abroad than their foreign competitors in the same markets.

The key to these results is evidence showing that in modern global companies, new investment and job creation in foreign subsidiaries are closely linked to new investment and job creation by the parent companies in the United States. These close linkages mean that while reducing or repealing deferral may be tempting politically, it would produce significant, negative economic consequences. The policy goal of changing deferral is ostensibly to make the United States a more desirable place for investment and job creation, but these changes would have the opposite effect of reducing domestic investment and jobs.

"The current proposal to substantially restrict 'deferral' would end up reducing American jobs and investment and could impair our economic recovery," said Dr. Shapiro, who has advised U.S. President Bill Clinton and British Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown as well as other leaders and private companies.

"The Obama Administration deserves credit for many initiatives to promote investment and innovation," said Bruce Mehlman, Executive Director of the TCC, a group made up of high-tech CEOs focused on policies that strengthen American competitiveness. "But we cannot expect to lead the world in high tech by marrying the world's best innovation infrastructure with the world's most confiscatory corporate tax structure."

The report concludes that the Administration and the Congress should conduct a serious review of the tax code and identify broad reforms that take account of the actual dynamics of the global economy and the need to support the integrated operations and international competitiveness of American companies.

Political News You Can Use

Friday, June 5, 2009

Boehner: Washington is Hanging the Middle Class Out to Dry

Political News You Can Use

FEW Salutes House for Passing Paid Parental Leave Bill (HR 626); Urges Senate to Follow Suit

/PRNewswire/ -- Federally Employed Women (FEW) salutes the House of Representatives for passing last evening HR 626, the Paid Parental Leave Act sponsored by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-14-NY). "Passage of a Paid Parental Leave bill is a top legislative priority of FEW's," stated Sue Webster, FEW's National President. "This measure will greatly help attract and retain younger workers to the federal government to take the positions of the vast numbers of retirees expected to leave over the next five years," Webster added. FEW is now calling on the Senate to do the right thing and pass the bill in the Senate and send the measure to the President for signature.

The legislation provides four weeks of paid leave for federal workers following the birth or adoption of a child. Currently federal employees must use annual or sick leave to be with their new children. "Quite simply, new parents should be with their children and enjoy one of the most important moments in their lives," Cecelia Davis, FEW's National Vice President for Congressional Relations asserted. "They deserve these four weeks of paid leave to ensure that their children receive all the needed attention and doctors' visits essential to the child's healthy beginning," she concluded.

This employee benefit would not only help current federal employees, but also would be a great new incentive for younger generations to work for the federal government. Without new employees entering the federal workforce, many services that we all rely on might have to be cut back including mail delivery, Social Security assistance and help for our nation's most needy. According to a March 2004 report by the Office of Personnel Management, 58 percent of supervisory and 48 percent of non-supervisory workers will be eligible to retire by the end of fiscal year 2010.

There is an added burden in attracting new employees because of competition with the private sector that on average pays more than the federal government. Therefore, employment benefits in the federal government must be at least comparable to the private sector. More than 50 percent of companies in the United States offer some type of parental leave and 75% Fortune 100 firms offer working parents some paid time off when they have a child.

"The United States is the only industrialized nation that does not guarantee paid leave upon the birth or adoption of a child," advised Janet Kopenhaver, FEW's Washington Representative. "Yet this bill is pay-go neutral and will actually save the government money by reducing turnover and replacement costs which are estimated to be 25 percent of the worker's salary," added Kopenhaver.

Political News You Can Use

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Antiabortion Advocate Appointed to Senior Position at HHS

/PRNewswire / -- Jon O'Brien, president of Catholics for Choice, issued the following statement today about the appointment of Alexia Kelley to be Director of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships at the Department of Health and Human Services:

Alexia Kelley, co-founder and former executive director of the antichoice organization, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good (CACG), was today appointed to be Director of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships at the Department of Health and Human Services. Ms. Kelley's appointment is a defeat for reason and logic and calls into question whether President Obama's administration is serious about reducing the need for abortion. And, while it may not gain many headlines, the impact and significance of this appointment should not go unnoticed.

If Ms. Kelley had been appointed to another position in the administration, there might be less reason for concern. However, the Department of Health and Human Services is responsible for providing and expanding access to key sexual and reproductive health services. As such, we need those working in HHS to rely on evidence-based methods to reduce the need for abortion. We need them to believe in men's and women's capacity to make moral decisions about their own lives. Unfortunately, as seen from her work at CACG, Ms. Kelley does not fit the bill.

A look into Alexia Kelley's leadership of CACG reveals a vehement antichoice stance that is focused on reducing the number of, not the need for, abortions. In voter's guides the organization Kelley led characterized abortion as akin to war or torture. You can learn more about Catholics in Alliance here.

Alexia Kelley is on record with her support for restrictions on access to abortion, despite her organization's efforts to avoid the question of legalization at every turn. In an audio press conference prior to the 2008 election, Ms. Kelley agreed with other speakers who spoke out in favor of restrictions on abortion, saying, "Catholics in Alliance supports these restrictions as well."

In appointing an antichoice advocate to a key position in HHS we are seeing crucial principles abandoned -- principles upon which so many men and women rely to lead healthy lives.

Political News You Can Use

AJC Applauds Obama Cairo Speech

/PRNewswire / -- American Jewish Committee (AJC) warmly welcomed President Barack Obama's speech in Cairo today, which aimed at forging a new understanding between the United States and the Muslim world.

While addressing a range of issues, President Obama underlined that the rejection of anti-Semitism and the legitimacy of Israel were not negotiable.

"In the heart of a region where denial is routine -- denial of Israel's right to exist, denial of the historic link of Jews to their homeland, denial of the Holocaust -- President Obama spoke the truth with a clear, unwavering voice," said David Harris, AJC Executive Director.

Obama told his audience: "Six million Jews were killed -- more than the entire Jewish population of Israel today. Denying that fact is baseless, ignorant and hateful. Threatening Israel with destruction -- or repeating vile stereotypes about Jews -- is deeply wrong, and only serves to evoke in the minds of Israelis this most painful of memories while preventing the peace that the people of this region deserve."

Harris applauded Obama for reaffirming that America's "strong bonds" with Israel are "unbreakable," and for urging Arab states to "recognize Israel's legitimacy."

AJC praised President Obama for stating his personal commitment to pursue "with all the patience the task requires" a negotiated settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Toward that end, President Obama made clear that "violence is a dead end," as he called again on Hamas to "put an end to violence, recognize past agreements and recognize Israel's right to exist."

Harris praised Obama's focus on Iran's confrontation with the international community over its nuclear weapons drive -- a confrontation the President said has reached "a decisive point."

AJC is disappointed, however, that the President was not more explicit about the danger Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons poses to the entire Middle East and to global security.

"Iran's theocratic regime is a world leader in supporting terrorism, threatening moderate Arab regimes and orchestrating the chorus of extremists who deny Israel's right to exist," said Harris. "The U.S. has an obligation to more vigorously lead the international community in stopping the Iranian nuclear program."

President Obama also noted the democracy, human rights and gender equality deficits in the Muslim world, urging greater protection of religious freedom and respect for democratic values. Harris urged the President to press forward with these causes, saying, "The Middle East will only flourish when people of all faiths live in free societies that respect their dignity and unleash their creative potential. The pursuit of peace will be impeded as long as the region's one true democracy, Israel, is surrounded by dictatorships and theocracies."

Political News You Can Use

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Egyptian Public to Greet Obama With Suspicion

/PRNewswire / -- A new WorldPublicOpinion.org poll finds Egyptians continue to view U.S. foreign policy quite negatively and see President Obama as closely aligned with it. At the same time, Obama has much better ratings than Bush had, and there are signs of thawing feelings toward the U.S.

Asked how much confidence they have in Obama to do the right thing in international affairs, 39 percent say they have some or a lot of confidence -- up sharply from the 8 percent who viewed George W. Bush positively in January 2008. Views of the United States government have also improved with favorable views rising to 46 percent from 27 percent in an August 2008 WorldPublicOpinion.org poll.

However, there has been little change in the views of U.S. foreign policy. Sixty-seven percent say that the U.S. plays a negative role in the world.

Large majorities continue to believe the U.S. has goals to weaken and divide the Islamic world (76%) and control Middle East oil (80%). Eight in 10 say the U.S. is seeking to impose American culture on Muslim countries (80%). Six in ten say it is not a goal of the U.S. to create a Palestinian state. These numbers are virtually unchanged from 2008.

When asked about Obama's goals, Egyptians' views are almost exactly the same as their views of U.S. goals. Sixty percent say they have little or no confidence that Obama will do the right thing in international affairs.

"Egyptians appear to be saying to Obama, 'Show me you are really different,'" comments Steven Kull, director of WorldPublicOpinion.org, a project managed by the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland.

The poll was conducted through face-to-face interviews from April 25-May 12 with 600 urban Egyptians. The margin of error is 4.1 percent.

Political News You Can Use

Monday, June 1, 2009

More Than 80 College and High School Radio Stations From 29 States Urge U.S. Congress to Oppose Record-Label Supported Legislation

/PRNewswire / -- Colleges and high schools from across the country joined together to oppose federal legislation that would impose a fee on radio stations that play music, including on tuition- and fee-supported, student operated, noncommercial radio. In a letter to members of Congress delivered earlier today under the banner of the Free Radio Alliance and the College Broadcasters Inc. (CBI), faculty, staff, and students from more than 80 stations including Duke University, Harvard University, the University of Wisconsin, SUNY-Brockport, Rice University, Washington State University and Virginia Tech argued that "other serious threats" would result from the passage of the performance fee.

The letter states, "One oft-cited straw man argument made by recording industry lobbyists is that...educational institutions would fall within a special accommodation. Though, in the context of record industry profits, company executives might believe their proposal to be reasonably low, in the real world those proposed fees represent large portions of annual budgets for student-operated radio stations."

The letter continues, "Particularly in the present economic times as students, their families, and educational institutions face sharply increasing fiscal pressures, now is not the time to impose new fees on our small stations principally to benefit foreign-owned recording labels. The record industry executives clearly do not understand student-operated radio, which is obvious in the proposed legislation."

College Broadcasters Inc. President Warren Kozireski says that the performance tax legislation has hidden costs that would jeopardize many stations' ability to continue to exist. "The record labels are completely out of touch as to how college radio stations operate. The extensive recordkeeping requirements that will be required by the Copyright Royalty Board alone will add hundreds, if not thousands of dollars to the true cost of a performance fee," said Kozireski. "As families across the country continue to struggle to find ways to pay for school and as education budgets get tighter and tighter, the concept of a performance fee is outrageous - all to benefit foreign-owned record conglomerates at the expense of our students."

Political News You Can Use

Democrats Return to Washington Ready to Force Workers, Families, Small Businesses to Pay a National Energy Tax

Congress is returning to Washington after its Memorial Day recess, and among the top issues slated for House action in the coming weeks is the Democrats’ massive national energy tax to be paid by anyone who drives a car, buys a product made in America, or has the audacity to flip on a light switch. The tax could cost American families up to $3,100 per year and will send countless American jobs overseas to China and India at a time when U.S. workers can afford it least. With the Obama Administration taking responsibility for the future of General Motors today, how can Washington Democrats seriously claim they are looking out for the best interests of American workers at the same time that they’re advocating a significant new tax that will kill their jobs?

Republicans spent the Memorial Day recess sounding the alarm on the national energy tax – called “cap and trade” by the legislation’s supporters – in venues across the country, capped off with Governor Mitch Daniels (R-IN) delivering the weekly GOP address on Saturday to expose the Democrats’ scheme and highlight better solutions proposed by Republicans:

“The national energy tax imposed by Speaker Pelosi’s climate change bill would double electric bills here in Indiana, working a severe hardship on low-income families, but that’s only where the damage starts. In a state where we like to make things, like steel and autos and RVs, it would cost us countless jobs, many of them heading off-shore to China and India. Our farmers and livestock producers would see their costs skyrocket. And our coal miners would be looking for new work, while we leave affordable, homegrown energy idle in the ground.”

In summits held in Pittsburgh, PA, Indianapolis, IN, and San Luis Obispo, CA last week, the House GOP’s American Energy Solutions Group – led by Conference Chairman Mike Pence (R-IN) – highlighted the devastating impact a national energy tax would have on jobs and local economies. An editorial in this morning’s Wheeling (WV) Intelligencer highlights one of the consequences the Democrats’ national energy tax could have on that community: the downfall of both the coal and steel industries and the families who depend on them:

“Measures such as the ‘cap and trade’ proposal to limit carbon dioxide emissions have been covered widely by the press, including this newspaper. Much of the focus has been on coal-fired power plants. That is appropriate because of the drastic effect ‘cap and trade’ would have on the coal industry and customers of coal-fired power plants.”

“Not much has been said about the effect ‘cap and trade’ would have on other industries, however. Clearly, certain facilities used in the steel industry could be affected dramatically if the legislation is enacted…”

“The domestic steel industry has been hurt badly by a combination of government failure to protect it from unfair foreign competition, and enforcement of air pollution rules. We hope members of Congress do not allow ‘cap and trade’ to become one of the final nails in the coffin of the steel industry. We urge Wilson and other lawmakers representing this area to refuse to allow that to happen.”

At a time when our nation is struggling to save American jobs, is a national energy tax really the kind of policy that Americans are expecting out of the leaders in Washington? Shouldn’t they expect Democrats and Republicans alike to work on an “all of the above” plan that creates jobs, lowers energy prices, and cleans up the environment at the same time? That’s what Rep. Pence’s American Energy Solutions Group supports – and that’s what it has been advocating around the nation and in the halls of Congress. Cornerstones of the House Republicans’ “all of the above” strategy are:

Increasing environmentally-safe energy production on remote lands and far off our shores;
Promoting the use of alternative fuels that will reduce carbon emissions, such as nuclear, clean-coal, and renewable energy technologies; and
Encouraging increased efficiencies and cutting edge technologies to maximize America’s energy potential.

As Congress begins a four-week sprint toward the Independence Day recess, will Democrats stubbornly barrel ahead with their plan to saddle American workers, families, and small businesses with a national energy tax? Or will they work with Republicans to create jobs, protect the environment, and lower energy prices – all without raising taxes?

Political News You Can Use