Archive for December, 2011

Update on Payroll Tax-Omnibus-Continuing Resolution

Posted on December 15, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , |

By Virginia Ainslie
December 14, 2011

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has denied Senator Reid’s request to take up the House version of the payroll tax extension/UI/Doc fix bill, insisting that “Congress’s first priority should be avoiding a government shutdown”. Reid offered to fast track a one week Continual Resolution (CR). McConnell said no. That exchange could make sense only in the current Senate environment.

But appropriation bills must be initiated by the House, and House Republican leaders appear to be coming to terms with the need for a short CR to keep fed agencies not covered by the recent minibus open past midnight Friday, December 16. Length of this CR would depend on the status of negotiations on the payroll tax bill.

However, there is growing support in the House Republican caucus for passing a month-long CR, then daring the Senate to pass its own version of a payroll tax cut extension/UI/Doc fix bill. This would delay tax extenders, but most could be done retroactively, although the doc fix gets really complex if delayed past January 1. The Senate would be under great pressure to take up that CR, but would be hard pressed to get any payroll tax extension package passed in coming months.

If the Democrats move their own such legislation in the Senate, it is likely to use as offsets the peace dividend from the end of major military ops in Afghanistan and Iraq, plus another small surtax on millionaires (this time with an exemption for small businesses) as offsets for the payroll tax extension/UI/doc fix. That approach, which fails to reimburse the Social Security Trust Fund as the House bill does, probably won’t get 60 votes in the Senate. But neither will a Republican payroll tax/UI/doc fix bill.

Senator Reid and Representative Pelosi have leverage on the omnibus. Representative Boehner needs House Democrats to get this bill passed in the House because at least 100 Republicans are expected to vote against it. Advantage goes to the Democrats because Republicans are divided. That advantage is lost the minute the omnibus is passed by the House. This is one reason the omnibus conference agreement is being “slow walked” by Democrats, with the blessing – some say at the instigation of – the White House.

McConnell and Boehner have leverage on the House payroll tax extension bill because Senate Democrats are divided on Keystone XL. Advantage goes to the Republicans.

Meanwhile, appropriators, who sweat blood to achieve near agreement on a nine-bill omnibus, are holding their breath hoping their hard work results in enacted legislation. The EPA FY 2012 appropriation is said to provide greater funding than a CR, but we don’t know yet how these funds would be distributed among environmental programs.

There are ugly environmental and other riders in both the omnibus and House payroll tax extension package. Final rider language may depend on which bill moves first. It is possible that a compromise payroll tax package could get added to the omnibus if a deal is within reach this week or next. That fate of such a mega-bill could rest on which riders are included.

There also is a possibility for a short government shutdown if McConnell continues to insist that he will not allow a short-term CR to be considered in the Senate. I don’t know if his Senate Republican colleagues will go along with that stance in the face of an imminent shut down, however.

Behold the year-end madness.

Turner GPA is a leading D.C.-based national lobbying and government affairs firm dedicated to delivering cutting edge policy advocacy for the manufacturing, defense, aerospace, health and energy industries. Members of our professional policy team can be reached at (202) 466-2511. We are also on the Web at www.turnergpa.com.

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No Budget, NO PAY

Posted on December 13, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

By Caren Turner

Today, the activist group, No Labels released a sweeping congressional action plan called Make Congress Work.   One of the strongest parts of the plan is to penalize Members of Congress, financially, if they do not make spending and budget decisions on time.  Turner GPA supports this plan.  Too many times during the past year the nation has been thrown into brinksmanship and last minute dealing to determine whether the government will remain open or shut down.  Too many times an interim deal has been cut to “kick the can down the road” and keep the government open for just a few weeks.  No good.

It is our opinion that this is just not enough.  We as citizens, and yes, even as lobbyists, have an obligation to hold the government and Congress to the standards that we, ourselves must be held.

Turner GPA is a leading D.C.-based national lobbying and government affairs firm dedicated to delivering cutting edge policy advocacy for the manufacturing, defense, aerospace, health and energy industries. Members of our professional policy team can be reached at (202) 466-2511. We are also on the Web at www.turnergpa.com.

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National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2012

Posted on December 13, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

The Conference Report and Statement of the Managers to accompany the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2012 are linked below. Although (quite a few ) days late and many dollars short of ideal, it is filled with information that nearly every defense contractor needs to know. Please do not hesitate to reach out if you have any questions or need clarification on any of the provisions.

Sincerely,

Caren Z. Turner

The Rules Committee will hold an emergency meeting tomorrow, Tuesday, December 13, 2011 at 4:00 p.m. in H-313 Capitol on the following measure:

* Conference Report to Accompany H.R. 1540 – National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012

Please find the following linked documents in preparation for the Rules Committee Meeting:

Conference Report to Accompany H.R. 1540 (H. Rept.112-329) – National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012

Text of the Joint Statement of Managers

Conference Report Highlights

Future Pentagon purchases of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter from Lockheed Martin will have to be based on fixed-price contracts under a defense authorization measure approved on Monday by a joint congressional panel. [Click here to read more]

Turner GPA is a leading D.C.-based national lobbying and government affairs firm dedicated to delivering cutting edge policy advocacy for the manufacturing, defense, aerospace, health and energy industries. Members of our professional policy team can be reached at (202) 466-2511. We are also on the Web at www.turnergpa.com.

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Can You Smell The Jet Fuel?

Posted on December 7, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Happy Holidays!

It’s the  season in Washington, but it’s also a season of uncertainty, a time when questions outnumber answers. As one lawmaker noted about the current climate on Capitol Hill: “You need to be comfortable with uncertainty.” The failure of the Super Committee and the resulting sequestration have left us facing a series of daunting questions. Will the F-35 be discontinued? Will the traditional tax “extenders” be extended? Will the “doc fix” be fixed? The door is open for suggestions from all corners on how these challenges will be met. For its part, the House leadership has remained tight-lipped about what they will and will not do during the next two weeks.

The pressure is on and as one Republican lawmaker noted, “We can smell the jet fuel. Everyone wants to hurry up, finish up and go HOME”. Our wish is that some of these questions will be answered first.

We want to thank Congressman Moran, Congresswoman Hahn and Lee Slezak, DOE Vehicle Systems Manager of the Vehicle Technologies Program, for their support and encouragement for the use of electric vehicles! Their participation in our client’s, 350 Green (a project developer of electric car charging stations), recent ribbon cutting ceremony was “charged” with energy and good will!

We are hopeful that the energy tax credit for alternative energy sources will be extended beyond the December 31, 2011 deadline.

Third party candidate? What do you think? Americans Elect and No Labels have increased the likelihood of working around the broken caucuses and primary systems. Former EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman is urging Jon Huntsman to throw his hat into that ring. Senators Lieberman and Murkowski succeeded as independents. Are we ready for that nationwide?

All the best for a Happy and Healthy Holiday Season!

CZT

Turner GPA is a leading D.C.-based national lobbying and government affairs firm dedicated to delivering cutting edge policy advocacy for the manufacturing, defense, aerospace, and energy industries. Members of our professional policy team can be reached at (202) 466-2511. We are also on the Web at www.turnergpa.com.

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A Worthy Clean Energy Investment

Posted on December 7, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

By Scott Orr

It’s hard not to love the 1603 program, it seems to have everything.

The clean energy tax credit program creates jobs, it advances technology, it’s good for the environment and it lessons our dependence on foreign energy sources. By any measure, the program is as green as can be. The question now is will the federal government come up with the green it will take to keep it going.

Unless Congress acts — and despite the rumblings of some Democrats, there has been little indication it will –the two year old program will laps at the end of the year. Facing a budget crisis of generational proportions, lawmakers have been reluctant to line up behind a program that gives tax breaks to big companies.

The program is costly to be sure, paying out $3.3 billion last year. But that investment leveraged about $34 billion in clean energy spending in the U.S. and according to Treasury Department estimates, the program helped fund 22,747 projects to date, including solar, wind and other alternative energy initiatives.

In a recent letter to congressional leaders, more than 760 smaller alternative energy companies pleaded for a continuation of the program saying it will “create jobs, spur economic growth and promote private sector development of energy technologies.”

The letter said allowing the program to lapse would half the financing available for energy projects, stifle job creation and severely cut back on investment in new domestic energy projects.

“The 1603 Treasury Program is an efficient finance mechanism that allows taxpayers and small businesses to maximize the return and value of existing energy tax incentives, and is technology neutral so it encourages the development of a wide variety of domestic energy technologies,” the companies wrote.

While small companies like those that signed the letter are the ultimate clean and green beneficiaries of the program, it also gives benefits to some of America’s biggest and richest companies. Search engine giant Google, for example, got a significant tax break which enabled it to invest more than $820 million in renewable energy projects and companies.

According to an independent study by EuPD Research for the Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA), extending the grant program through 2012 would result in the creation of an additional 37,000 jobs in the solar energy industry alone next year.

Ok, we get it, cutting the budget deficit is job one in Washington. But, at the same time, policymakers have to take a holistic look at spending programs to see if they are a net winner or loser across economic sectors.
We think 1603 is a winner and should be renewed before it expires. Let’s let our lawmakers know before it’s too late.

Turner GPA is a leading D.C.-based national lobbying and government affairs firm dedicated to delivering cutting edge policy advocacy for the manufacturing, defense, aerospace, and energy industries. Members of our professional policy team can be reached at (202) 466-2511. We are also on the Web at www.turnergpa.com.

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Grinch Won’t Steal Payroll Tax Cut This Xmas

Posted on December 7, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |

By Carl Chancellor

Despite the Senate’s failure to pass an extension of a payroll tax cut, look for Congress to stick a big bow on some sort of compromise tax break measure and deliver it to taxpayers during the holidays.

Last Thursday, lawmakers in the upper house rejected two competing proposals to extend the Social Security payroll tax cut, which reduced the payroll tax rate from 6.2 percent to 4.2 percent. The tax cut, which went into effect this year and is set to expire Dec. 31, gave a worker earning $50,000 a year a $1,000 tax break.

Democrats are looking to not only extend the payroll tax cuts, but want to expand it as well. Republican leaders, understanding the potential fallout of letting the tax break expire and effectively increasing taxes on 160 million working Americans, say they are committed to passing an extension.

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., appearing on “Fox News Sunday”, said that he fully expects the payroll tax cut extension to pass. And earlier in the week, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, was quoted by the Associated Press saying renewing the payroll tax cut would “boost” the lagging economy.

The problem, however, for GOP leaders is twofold—rallying a Republican rank-and-file that is divided and crafting a compromise measure that Democrats can support.

The Democratic plan, defeated in the Senate, would have lowered the payroll tax to 3.1 percent saving a family with an income of $50,000 more than $1,500 next year. The cost of the tax cut would be paid for by 3.25 percent surtax on incomes exceeding $1 million.

The GOP proposal, which also received thumbs down from senators, would have been a simple extension of the existing law and would have been paid for by freezing the salaries of federal workers through 2015 and reducing the federal workforce by 200,000.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., could introduce compromise legislation to extend the payroll tax cut that would have White House backing sometime this week. Meanwhile, House Republicans plan a closed-door meeting to discuss what to do and are unlikely to vote until next week.

Republican leaders are desperate for a compromise with Democrats that would keep the payroll tax rate at 4.2 percent, but reject the Democrats’ plan to pay for the extension by charging a surtax on people who make more than $1 million a year.

One idea being floated by the GOP to entice their most conservative members is to package the payroll tax extension with a provision to jump start construction on the controversial Canada to the Gulf Coast oil pipeline.

For his part, President Obama turned up the heat in support of a payroll tax extension saying during his weekly radio address: “We’re going to keep pushing Congress to make this happen. They shouldn’t go home for the holidays until they get this done.”

Sen. Reid said he expects the Senate to vote on a revised Democratic proposal by the end of the week.

Turner GPA is a leading D.C.-based national lobbying and government affairs firm dedicated to delivering cutting edge policy advocacy for the manufacturing, defense, aerospace, and energy industries. Members of our professional policy team can be reached at (202) 466-2511. We are also on the Web at www.turnergpa.com.

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GOP Game of Presidential Musical Chairs Continues

Posted on December 6, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

By Carl Chancellor

The recent announcement by businessman Herman Cain that he was suspending his campaign is once again completely reshuffling the deck of GOP presidential hopefuls.

Cain, the one-time front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination who struck a chord with his straight-forward style and “9-9-9” tax plan, suspended his campaign in the wake of allegations of a 13-year extramarital affair with an Atlanta woman. That allegation only added to his troubles stemming from earlier charges of sexual harassment.

With Cain’s departure, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich immediately surged to the top spot inching just ahead of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who has consistently been at or near the top and the only constant in this ever shifting field. Likewise, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum are all looking for their political fortunes to get a major boost from Cain’s exit.

With the first big test of the GOP presidential campaign coming on Jan. 3 at the often “make or break” Iowa caucuses, Gingrich is leading Romney. According to an NBC News poll, Gingrich has the support of 26 percent of likely Republican caucus participants in Iowa compared to 18 percent for Romney.

Still Iowa is seen by most pundits as “being anyone’s game” at this point. Clearly, Perry, Bachmann and Santorum have gone all in for the caucuses, although none of them has registered more than single-digit support in any of the recent polls prior to Cain’s departure. A poor showing by any of the three in Iowa could spell the end of their campaigns. The good news is, at least according to most polls, a majority of Iowa Republicans have yet to settle on a candidate.

Despite his recent showing in the polls, Gingrich is a late comer to Iowa, only opening his first campaign office in the state on Nov. 30, which puts him at a disadvantage.

Prior to his exit, Cain was in a dead heat with Gingrich, Romney and Congressman Ron Paul of Texas in the Iowa caucuses—all of them standing at around 20 percent. Cain is expected to throw his support behind Gingrich, who is a friend and a fellow Georgian.

Turner GPA is a leading D.C.-based national lobbying and government affairs firm dedicated to delivering cutting edge policy advocacy for the manufacturing, defense, aerospace, and energy industries. Members of our professional policy team can be reached at (202) 466-2511. We are also on the Web at www.turnergpa.com.
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