Archive for January, 2012

Obama’s Double Dare on Highway/Transit

Posted on January 25, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

By: TurnerGPA Staff

“Take the money we’re no longer spending at war, use half of it to pay down our debt, and use the rest to do some nation-building right here at home,” Obama said last night in his SOTU.

A senior administration official has confirmed the White House wants roughly $200 billion of the war savings to be used to pay for a long-term highway/transit reauthorization bill.

This won’t help solve the deficit problem because it takes funds that would have been spent (borrowed) on military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq and redirects them to transportation. But it would solve the bookkeeping problem Congress faces in trying to pass a reauthorization within the constraints of the Budget Control Act. It may require a waiver of the House rule against any further transfers of general revenue to the Highway Trust Fund (HTF), however.

In the meantime, Senate Finance Committee staff indicate they may have identified as much as $17 billion that could be used to help underwrite the costs of the Boxer 2-year Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) reauthorization. As usual, they are not offering any details.

The Senate Banking/Housing/Urban Affairs Committee plans to mark up the transit title of the Boxer bill next week.

The following are rumors, but are certainly worth noting.

Senator Boxer has been in discussions this week with the White House about how to move her 2-year highway/transit bill. President Obama’s promise in the SOTU to streamline project processing through Executive Branch action to revise transportation regulations could help deflect criticism that the Boxer bill won’t last long enough for its proposed process improvements to be implemented.

It is possible the Senate Finance Committee may mark up the revenue title for the Boxer bill as soon as next week, although this has not been confirmed. That would claim offsets for the Boxer bill before final choices are made about how to pay for the payroll tax/UI/Medicare doc fix bill. The Senate Finance revenue title could include language that would apply some of the war savings to transportation. The White House wants a longer reauthorization timeframe, but will settle for the Boxer 2-yr if that’s all that can pass.

Republicans are not likely to support action to apply war savings to anything other than deficit reduction or other defense programs, but such action by Senate Finance would put pressure on the House to come up with a viable alternative to pay for the Mica 5-year proposal.

The President indicated he wanted to use half the peace dividend to rebuild America, but so far that is being interpreted to mean solely surface transportation – not Clean Water Act or other infrastructure.

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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Manufacturing in America: An Interview with Congressman Manzullo (R-IL)

Posted on January 25, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

A Webinar Interview with “Mr. Manufacturing”

DATE:

Thursday, Feb. 2

TIME:

9-10am EDT

Click here to reserve your webinar seat.

 

Congressman Manzullo discusses Manufacturing in America:

Workforce Training (Skills Gap in Manufacturing)

Over-regulation

Export Control Reform

Energy Independence: How to get there

Corporate Tax Rate

Congressman Manzullo (R-IL) is continuing his mission to strengthen manufacturing in America. Manzullo serves on the House Financial Services and Foreign Affairs Committees. As Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, he is focusing his efforts on increasing export opportunities for American business owners while pressuring China and other Asian nations to play by the rules of fair trade.

 

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 at www.turnergpa.com.

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Keystone XL And Its Effects on Obama’s Re-election

Posted on January 20, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

At the recommendation of the State Department, the Obama administration rejected the application of TransCanada Corp to build the Keystone XL on Wednesday. In November, the State Department had tried to postpone the deadline for a decision until after the 2012 elections, citing the need for further study. However, In December, the GOP won passage of legislation that required U.S. President Barack Obama to make a decision on the pipeline within 60 days.

President Obama stated that “the rushed and arbitrary deadline insisted on by Congressional Republicans prevented a full assessment of the pipeline’s impact, especially the health and safety of the American people, as well as our environment”.

An early decision on the pipeline could have helped President Obama get ahead of the story before Thursday’s Republican debate in SC and next Tuesday’s State of the Union address.

The Administration could potentially have deflected blame if there is a significant increase in gasoline prices in the next few months. A significant jump in gasoline prices was anticipated this summer anyway, even before the problems with the Iran embargo began. The Administration is, understandably, very concerned about the potential for high gas prices to hurt their re-election effort.

The State Department further clarified that the book isn’t closed on this deal in a statement; “denial of the permit application does not preclude any subsequent permit application or applications for similar projects.” While disappointed with the outcome, TransCanada’s CEO, Russ Girling, remains committed to the construction of the Keystone XL and plans to complete a proposal for a new pipeline route by September or October.

The Washington Post provides a good summary of reasons as to why this decision will be a non-issue for re-election of the Administration.

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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Gaga Vs. Google: The Super Lobbyists

Posted on January 18, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

By Caren Z. Turner

Ahh, democracy in action. We never worry about lobbyists’ undue influence of Congress or the Administration. We’ve been through too many legislative battles on Capitol Hill to fear “special interests”. In fact, as any of us inside the Beltway know, for every special interest in favor of a measure, like Sir Isaac Newton’s Third Law of Motion, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

So we move to the battle of SOPA and PIPA. As noted in Politico, “If you think SOPA sounds like Mexican soup and PIPA is the fetching sister of a certain princess, you can be excused for wondering why Wikipedia, Reddit and thousands of other websites are blacking out in protest Wednesday.” You may also wonder why Anonymous has threatened the likes Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, Kim Kardashian, and Taylor Swift. They are just some of the celebrities who endorse SOPA.

Here is a primer of what is going on. Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is the House bill H.R. 3261. Protect IP Act (PIPA) is the Senate bill S. 968. The legislative goals are worthy, in our opinion. Major supporters are the US Chamber of Commerce, the music industry (RIAA), Hollywood and the movie industry (Motion Picture Association), along with big pharma (stop counterfeit drug sales) and luxury goods manufacturers (get rid of the internet luxury knockoffs). Their aim is to stop what is reported to be $130 billion in lost sales from online clicks on pirated websites, unlawful copies of movies and recording artists’ work. Strange bedfellows indeed!

On the other side of the fight is Silicon Valley including Google, Ebay, Wikipedia, Craigslist, public interest groups such as Public Knowledge the Electronic Frontier Foundation and some First Amendment Constitutional law professors, such as the well-known, Harvard Law Professor, Lawrence Tribe (yes, he DID write the book). Here is their beef; according to the bills, the legislation will allow either the Department of Justice or a private entity to seek judicial review and assessment of potential online piracy. A judge may then order an Internet Service Provider to cut access to an “offending” website. In addition, search engines may be ordered to delete “offending” links. Doesn’t sound too bad. However, when you think about it, this gives the Department of Justice (DOJ) unprecedented powers to shut down websites, even for political reasons. It also gives commercial entities a new legal hammer to cripple their competitors through the courts.

The Senate vote is slated for January 24th. The President is stuck in a tug of war with Silicon Valley and Hollywood, each pulling him in a different direction. Darrell Issa (R-CA) is slated to introduce his own new version, “Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade (OPEN)” today.

And you thought this would be easy?? HAH! That is the week’s big lobbyist battle!
Have a great day!

For a funny and accurate explanation of the “independence” of super PACs please have a look at Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert on Tuesday, January 17, 2012.

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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What Do The Tea Party and OWS Have In Common with Iceland?

Posted on January 17, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , |

By Caren Z. Turner

To some extent, the “Occupy” and “Tea Party” movements stem from the same route cause – a systemic diseased relationship with money. Our economic institutions and governmental systems have different strains of the disease, but disease nonetheless. The Occupy Movement seems to have developed as a response to Wall Street and the 1% hoarding it, possibly disregarding the rules of the game in order to acquire it. The Tea Party sprung up as a response to governmental spending of that which they don’t have. Both Tea Party Republicans and the Occupy folks probably agree that bailing out the largest banks in the nation is the wrong course of action.

This is all quite relevant now as Morgan Stanley Smith Barney’s value may have shriveled by 30%. Bank of America Corp. has told U.S. regulators that it is willing to retreat from some parts of the country if its financial problems deepen, according to people familiar with the situation. Finally, President Obama and the US Congress are having an encore performance of the debt ceiling dance. The House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on Wednesday.

We, as a nation can only crystal ball what would have, could have, and might have happened, if we did not bail out our nation’s banks. However, the Washington Post today provides some insight into how the story might have ended a bit differently. It also provides us with some guidance regarding how we may consider our economic choices a bit differently than we have in the past. Enter Iceland!

Iceland is the “demonstration project” the US should study carefully. As noted in the Post, “Iceland did what the United States chose not to do — allow its biggest banks to fail and force foreign creditors to take a hike. It did what troubled European nations saddled with massive debts and tethered by the euro cannot do — allow its currency to remain weak, causing inflation but making its exports more desirable and its prices more attractive to tourists”.

While the Icelandic krona lost more than half its value against other currencies, the government was kicked out of office; the nation with over 99 percent literacy rates is quickly on the mend. Far more quickly than its counterparts in Italy, Greece and yes, even the US.

“Iceland’s journey from financial ruin to fledgling recovery is a case study in roads not taken and choices not made by other countries faced with economic calamity in recent years”.

Having recently returned from a wonderful (and bargain basement priced) trip to Iceland, I can tell you first hand that the streets ARE brimming with thriving restaurants, tourists and Blue Lagoon expeditions.
Maybe the US should take a look at our Viking founders for some economic lessons too? What do you think??

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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Success Despite the Gridlock!

Posted on January 10, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

By Caren Z. Turner

Welcome to a New Year! Who says Congress is gridlocked? We are very proud of our own Ginny Ainslie for securing an increase in one critical, internationally important platform from $300 million to $924 million. KUDOS to Ginny, Laura, Renu and the team! To achieve success despite the gridlock, please call me, personally, at (202) 466-2511. We will help you craft a plan for success!

In the news, never has a non-incumbent candidate taken both Iowa and New Hampshire. Ultimately, slow-and-steady Romney will take the kingdom, at least according to our crystal ball. We all wish there was some way to speed up the calendar and just go straight to November! For 2012, here are some other predictions. The DOD will be overhauled through the President’s budget; aerospace platforms are likely to be, more or less, safe, ground vehicles, less so. Energy and EPA are already being pitted against each other. Reid wants to expand the role of electric vehicles. Inhofe is complaining that EPA rules regarding sulfur standards for gasoline could add 25 cents per gallon at the pump. These are not mutually exclusive goals, but will need to be worked out.

Congress will flirt with tax reform, but will focus on laying the groundwork for 2013. It is important to stake your position on tax reform now. We predict earmarks will be more or less dead, but federal grants will have increased clout. Reach out to us for grant strategies. Dodd-Frank financial implications will continue to be a thorny mess that will need clarification.

Healthy and Happy Year!

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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Prospects Brighter for Longer Term Payroll Tax Cut

Posted on January 10, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

By Scott Orr

Last month’s stronger than expected economic news did more than buoy investors’ spirits and brighten President Obama’s reelection chances, it also improved the chances Congress will act on a longer term extension of the middle class payroll tax cut.

Obama, cautious about sounding too optimistic about the state of the economy, focused instead on the tax cut extension in remarks at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau where its new director, Richard Cordray, was welcomed.

“We’re making progress. We’re moving in the right direction. And one of the reasons for this is the tax cut for working Americans that we put in place last year,” the president said. “When Congress returns they should extend the middle class tax cut for all of this year, to make sure we keep this recovery going,” he added.

Obama made the remarks as newly released unemployment data showed a December job increase of 200,000 that bested the predictions of analysts and brought the unemployment level down to 8.5 percent, its lowest level in almost three years.

House Republicans were forced to back down on the tax cut issue in late December when some GOP House members defected and pressure from Republicans in the Senate became too great. Still, Congress only agreed to a two month extension, essentially punting the issue into this year.

The measure extended the two-percentage-point payroll tax cut for 160 million U.S. workers and made adjustments to unemployment benefits and Medicare.

With the president pointing to the payroll tax cut as a contributor to recent good news on the economy, the Republicans could be in an even weaker position to try to amend the measure this year.

Still, some House Republicans, like Rep. Allen West of Florida, vowed to continue to fight the tax cut.

“When we get back to D.C., the first House GOP conference, we’re going to have some serious discussions about how do we get ourselves on the same sheet of music, because we really felt that our leadership did not stand against the Senate Republican leadership who kind of sold us down the road,” he said.

Polls have shown increased public anger over congressional dysfunction since the conservative wing in the House, led by newly elected Tea Partiers, began flexing its muscle on a range of issues.

But with the election just nine months away, the GOP can hardly afford to appear as the party of “no,” especially on an issue like cutting taxes.

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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Romney May Win New Hampshire But Still Has Hill To Climb To Win Hearts

Posted on January 10, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

By Carl Chancellor

As expected, voters in New Hampshire gave Mitt Romney his second win in as many contests Tuesday in the first-in-the-nation presidential primary. He pulled in more than 39 percent of the vote outdistancing his nearest opponent in the GOP presidential sweepstakes, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas who got almost 24 percent of the vote, by more than 15 percentage points.

In his victory speech the former Massachusetts governor told his supporters “tonight we made history.” Indeed Romney is the first Republican candidate since 1976 to notch wins in both Iowa and New Hampshire.

For weeks the former Massachusetts governor has topped all of the Granite State tracking polls. As recently as Jan. 1, Romney was besting his nearest opponent by better than 26 percentage points (43 percent to Ron Paul’s 17 percent, Suffolk University Poll). However, after barely squeaking out a nine-vote victory in Iowa, Romney has seen his once overwhelming lead in New Hampshire steadily shrinking. The same Suffolk poll on Jan. 8 had Romney dropping 8 points, to 35 percent, while Paul surged to 20 percent, although in the end Romney gained momentum.

Just as telling, Rick Santorum, the former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, who finished second to Romney in Iowa, has seen a significant uptick in his poll numbers. On Jan. 1, the Suffolk poll had Santorum at 3 percent, by Jan. 8, that number had jumped to 8 percent with other polls putting him as high as 12 percent. In the end he finished in a virtual tie with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich for fourth-place with slightly more than 9 percent of the vote.

And while he came out on top in New Hampshire, many pundits are still saying there is an enthusiasm gap when it comes to Romney and Republican voters. Ruth Marcus, political writer with the Washington Post, wrote in her column last week about the ambivalent feeling many in the Iowa caucuses had for Romney. She wrote that many caucus goers displayed a “combination of grudging resignation and outright hostility” toward Romney. Further, she noted that many Iowans who voted for Romney did so even though their hearts were with different candidates. “Those who were Romney backers used words like ‘electable’ and “most likely to win,” wrote Marcus.

The same lukewarm embrace of Romney seems to be playing out in New Hampshire.

As late as Sunday, a poll conducted by the University of New Hampshire found that 8 percent of voters were still undecided, and only 44 percent said that they were definite about their final choice.

Next stop; South Carolina. With a good showing here on Jan. 21 Romney could seal the deal. According to a CNN poll taken Jan. 4-5, Romney is ahead in the polls, backed by 37 percent of those likely to vote in the South Carolina primary.

However, voters in this socially conservative state could upset the Romney apple cart by going strongly for Santorum, Gingrich or even Texas Gov. Rick Perry, each man having much more solid conservative credentials than Romney.

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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The Pentagon Budget Dilemma

Posted on January 9, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

By Scott Orr

“Our nation is at a moment of transition,” President Obama wrote in introducing his Pentagon budget plan for the coming fiscal year.

The transition the president referred to had to do with the winding down of U.S. operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and the move toward a leaner defense budget. But it also could have referred to an economic transition that will surely follow as the impacts of his planned defense cuts trickle down to contractors, sub-contractors and ultimately, American workers.

“We must put our fiscal house in order here at home and renew our long-term economic strength. To that end, the Budget Control Act of 2011 mandates reductions in federal spending, including defense spending,” Obama wrote.

The plan calls for the Pentagon to cut spending by 10 percent over the next decade and the administration is seeking to move away from preparing for ground wars and toward special ops and advanced technologies. The Army and Marine Corps would shrink the most.

The Pentagon is expected to announce cuts in major weapons systems soon, including delays in Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jet, one of the most costly weapons programs ever.

Even as Obama was readying his budget presentation, defense giant Boeing was apparently reading the writing on the wall, announcing it will shut down facilities in Wichita, a move that will cost more than 2,160 jobs and end the company’s generations-long presence in the area.

Protected under the plan are benefits for active and retired military personnel, funding to protect against attacks in cyberspace, and spending on intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

Opponents argue that the administration’s cuts would leave the U.S. military ill-prepared to respond to unpredictable future threats while at the same time damaging a huge sector of the American economy.

Backers of cutting defense spending acknowledge it will cost some contractors their biggest customer and many jobs will be lost, but in the long-term it will be less painful than cuts in some other areas like education and transportation.

Once again, the nation is caught in the tug and sway of a timeless predicament: Everyone agrees the budget must be cut, but finding the least painful place for the axe to fall is the problem.

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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