Archive for February, 2012

From Super Bowl to Super PACs

Posted on February 8, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

By Caren Z. Turner

I hope this note finds you and your family well! Here’s what is going on.

The month of February seems rife with tests of Herculean strength. This is good. We need to get Washington, and the nation, moving forward. Bring it on!

The Super Bowl was just the first national show-down of the month. The long time alliance between Komen and Planned Parenthood suffered a rift nearly as large as the Great Rift Valley itself! The Santorum trifecta – wins in Minnesota, Missouri and Colorado – put new energy and life into his pro-life platform. From where we sit, now that President Obama has agreed to new standards for his own Super PAC, and his favorable numbers are inching upward, the Republicans need to find an end to the internecine arguing or face certain defeat in November. Nine months to go before Election Day!

Political unrest in the Middle East has made our work with the Consensus for American Security more daunting than ever. Back on the domestic front, the payroll tax deduction is coming up for renewal, (we think it will be renewed after much haggling). Transportation legislation is on the horizon, as are decisions about what to do with our aging infrastructure.

Happy and healthy Valentine’s Day!

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, health and energy industries. Members of our professional policy team can be reached at (202) 466-2511. We are also on the Web www.turnergpa.com.

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Komen Forgot Its Ultimate Mission

Posted on February 7, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

By Carl Chancellor

Instead of racing for a cure the Susan G. Komen Foundation is running to distance itself from an unnecessary controversy that has severely tarnished its once sterling image.

A seemingly politically motivated and clearly short-sighted decision to cease breast-cancer screening funding to Planned Parenthood swept up the nonprofit Komen foundation, the preeminent leader in the all-important fight against breast cancer, into a maelstrom of public outrage.

It didn’t have to come to this and it shouldn’t have.

For more than a week Komen and its leadership has been entirely in damage-control mode when frankly their energies would have better served women and their families — Komen’s core constituency — had they not listened to a handful of political ideologues and instead stuck to its laudable mission.

As it is, the backlash Komen and its leaders have been forced to deal with have pulled them far off message, made them address accusations of playing politics, and more importantly disappointed legions of once ardent supporters. Nancy Brinker, Komen’s founder, after several failed explanations finally made amends last Friday, saying; “We want to apologize to the American public for recent decisions that cast doubt upon our commitment to our mission of saving women’s lives.” She went onto say Komen was reversing its decision to defund Planned Parenthood.

Unfortunately, two organizations, Planned Parenthood and Komen — both dedicated to safeguarding the health and well-being of women — were unnecessarily at odds. Of course Planned Parenthood is used to controversy, the 95-year-old organization long the target of those opposed to a woman’s right of choice guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. However, Komen finds itself in unfamiliar waters. Hopefully, its cry to defeat breast cancer isn’t drowned out by this self-inflicted crisis.

Since its founding in 1982, Komen, which started with Brinker’s promise to her dying sister to do everything possible to fight breast cancer, has invested more than $1.9 billion to fulfill that promise. This is what this fight is about:

  • Without a cure, 1 in 8 women in the U.S. will continue to be diagnosed with breast cancer — a devastating disease with   physical, emotional, psychological and financial pain that can last a lifetime.
  • Without a cure, an estimated 5 million Americans will be diagnosed with breast cancer — and more than 1 million could die — over the next 25 years.
  • Without a cure, an estimated 25 million women around the world will be diagnosed with breast cancer — and 10 million could die — over the next 25 years.

Caught up in politics, Komen lost sight of the fact that Planned Parenthood is a key ally in its fight against breast cancer. It would do us all well to remember that it is dangerous and ultimately self-defeating when we jettison core beliefs — in this case supporting women’s health — in the narrow-minded pursuit of scoring political points.

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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Super PACs = Super Influence

Posted on February 7, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

By Scott Orr

They’re richer than the biggest donor, more powerful than a grassroots movement, able to leap decades-old spending limits with a single bound. Yes, the Super PACs are here and they’re promising to flex their muscles like never before in 2012.

Officially called “independent-expenditure only committees,” Super PACs are political action committees that can raise unlimited sums from individuals, corporations, unions and other groups to promote candidates and causes as they see fit.

Super PACs were born of a 2010 Supreme Court decision that said the government cannot prohibit unions and corporations from spending money on politics. The one rule: they cannot coordinate their expenditures with candidates or political parties.

Yeah, right. They may not be allowed to sit across the table from each other to lay out strategies, but candidates and parties are not prohibited from making their desires known to Super PACs through other means, like through the media.

It’s pretty obvious, for example, that the Super PAC Restore Our Future is backing Mitt Romney by attacking Newt Gingrich, while Winning Our Future is doing the same on behalf of Gingrich.

Just the other day, in an interview with Matt Lauer on the NBC’s Today Show, President Obama said he’d like to see Super PACs out of politics, but acknowledged that the courts have made it clear that they are not likely to be shut down anytime soon.

“There’s going to be just a lot of money floating around….And I guarantee you a bunch of that’s going to be negative,” Obama said. Later in the day, however, the Obama campaign let it be known that it was giving its blessing to the Democratic Super PAC Priorities USA Action.

Some saw these seemingly contradictory statements as hypocrisy, others as a refusal to unilaterally disarm in the dark money race. And the Democrats are far behind in that race: The top three conservative Super PACs have so far raised more than $50 million; the top three liberal funds have gotten around $10 million.

While it’s the Republican Super PACs that are dropping the big money now, there’s plenty of Democratic cash, including union money, that has to be mobilized.

How much are we talking about? Well, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, as of February 06, 2012, 313 groups organized as Super PACs have reported total receipts of $98,650,993 and total independent expenditures so far of $46,239,818 in the 2012 cycle.

If you don’t think Super PACs are going to influence who wins the presidential and congressional races this year, consider this: the expenditure by Super PACs are running twice the level they were at this point in 2008 and 95 percent of the political spending so far during the 2012 election cycle has come from Super PACs.

And if you’re feeling like that $100 donation you just made to your favorite candidate is made insignificant by the presence of Super PACs, well, you’re right.

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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Digging Into Coal Regulations

Posted on February 7, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

By Scott Orr

Operators of coal-fired power plants are watching anxiously as a federal appeals court considers a challenge to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR), which places strict and costly limits on sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions.

The court already has issued a stay of the rules, which were supposed to be implemented January 1, a deadline power generators said would not give them enough time to perform the retrofits necessary to meet the new regulations.

It’s a classic case of a universally endorsed goal – cleaner air – colliding with the economic reality of increased energy costs for American households and potentially wider impacts on the economy. But the issue goes well beyond the coal industry; all businesses that consume electricity should be watching closely as this and other federal regulations take effect.

Some coal-burning plant operators are saying “no” to costly retrofitting programs and simply shutting down, which will decrease the availability of energy and could lead to higher costs for consumers in some areas.

Cleveland-based FirstEnergy, for example, is planning to close six coal-fired units that operate in states where prices are driven in part by supply and demand. The Associated Press reported recently that those closures could nearly double the $126 per megawatt cost of electricity in those regions.

So while no one wants to see their electric bill increase, backers of the new regulations say the costs will pay off in cleaner air and improved health.

The EPA says the CSAPR will save up to 34,000 lives, prevent 15,000 heart attacks and even prevent 400,000 asthma attacks each year. That, the agency said, adds up to somewhere between $120 billion and $280 billion in annual health benefits for the nation.

It is important to note that the CSAPR is not the only new rule coming down on the coal industry. The EPA is also pushing for new tougher limits on mercury, acid gases and particulate matter that can include metals like chromium, selenium and cadmium.

The Columbus-based American Electric Power Company has said these rules will cost billions and force it to close parts of or all of 11 power plants. That may be true, but the EPA says all that spending will create thousands of jobs and boost the economy, while saving thousands of lives.

Though the administration has shown little interest in compromising with industry, how and when these new regulations are implemented are issues every business should be watching. We’ve got our eyes on them.

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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