Archive for March, 2012

Cold Political Winds Thawing

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

Well, the daffodils are up in DC and the cold winds of winter seem to be thawing. Of course, I mean the cold political winds.

It’s not just my imagination that the Capitol Hill climate is warming. Rep. Shelley Berkley, who is currently running for the Senate from Nevada, in her recent remarks in New York, confirmed that it’s not just our rose-colored glasses that see movement. Transportation legislation and small business bills are getting traction. However, progress in Congress does not seem to extend to the presidential race.

Commencing with the inexplicable – both Republicans and Democrats seem to be cannibalizing THEMSELVES. The OFA (Obama for American) and DNC have recently told Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, “there would be no cash transfers” to the two organizations designed to get Democrats elected to the House and Senate (DCCC and DSCC). Essentially, the President is hanging the “do nothing Congress” including the Democrats, out to dry. Mr. President, do you really think you will be able to work with congressional Democrats once you’ve done everything in your power to repudiate them? It’s a set up for an Obama Administration gridlock.

Now the Republicans – Eric Cantor seems to have the right idea, from our perspective. Get the party leaders to endorse, push and support one candidate as quickly and possible and stop the death of all Republican presidential candidates by a million paper cuts. It’s inexplicable that the Republican leaders are allowing this fight to continue to fester. Democrats are just sitting by and thanking them as they kill each other.

Another political “thank you for being a jerk” (my words, not hers) came from Nancy Pelosi. On Monday, Nancy Pelosi openly thanked Rush for his hostility. She believes it will push the Independents back to the left. From our perspective, Sandra Fluke and Rush Limbaugh seem to have created a Rosa Parks, defining moment of 2012.

And finally, in remarks to the Tri-State Maxed Out Women, Bill Clinton noted that Romney, if he were the nominee, should have a serious look at New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez as a running mate. Things are coming back to life on Capitol Hill and the agencies. If you have an issue or concern, please reach out and call me! We want to know your thoughts and how we may help.

Best,

Caren Z. Turner
(202) 466-2511

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 Strategic Petroleum Reserve, Should We Tap It?

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

By Scott Orr

Americans are, once again, feeling the squeeze of high gas prices and, with their clout enhanced during this election year, asking their representatives in Washington what the heck they are going to do about.

Some say we need to do more drilling, or build new pipelines like the Keystone XL, or require more fuel-efficient cars, or take other steps to limit energy consumption. But none of those things will bring down the price of gasoline, at least not right away.

But there is a sure-fire way the government can bring down gas prices swiftly: it can tap the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and sell off 20 million barrels or so to increase world supplies and stabilize prices on the world market. And what better time than an election year to do something to put a few bucks back in voters’ pockets?

But what exactly is the Strategic Petroleum Reserve? The SPR was created in 1975 after oil supplies were threatened during the Arab oil embargo to insure against supply disruption. Maintained by the Department of Energy, the SPR currently consists of approximately 727 million barrels of oil stored deep below the earth in artificial caverns at four sites along the Gulf of Mexico. That’s enough oil to meet U.S. oil consumption needs for 34 days.

President Obama tapped into the reserve last June, when the Arab Spring revolution sparked fears about oil supply instability. The price of gasoline quickly dropped about 8 cents per gallon, but then bounced back.

The administration of Bush W. Bush sold off 11 million barrels in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, when Gulf oil supplies were threatened. His dad sold 17 million during the first Gulf War. Congress authorized the sale of 28 million barrels in 1996 for deficit reduction.

If Obama were to sell off SPR oil now, it would be seen as an election year ploy and it probably would be. Still backers of a sale say it could offset instability caused by a decline in Libyan production or disruption in supplies caused by Iran. The reserve would still be 90 percent full after a modest sell off, they argue.

Opponents say the reserve is meant for emergencies, and Obama’s reelection is no emergency.

Is gasoline at $4.50 per gallon an emergency? How about $5? Maybe, maybe not, but if an increase of that magnitude were to threaten America’s economic recovery an argument could be made that a sale is warranted even if it looks like crass political brinksmanship.

Still it seems unlikely Obama would act without a really good reason, like an Iranian blockade of the Strait of Hormuz which could cause a global oil crisis among other serious problems.

Having all that oil stored underground should be a solid comfort for Americans, which, after all, is its purpose. We hope the President will not tap it for short-term political gain.


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: The Prohibitive Favorite? Yes.

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

By Scott Orr

The consensus among political pundits and others with an interest in seeing the GOP primary season extended is that Mitt Romney cemented his position as the front-runner in Super Tuesday voting, but failed to become a prohibitive favorite.

That is nonsense. Sure, wins in Tennessee, Oklahoma and North Dakota will keep Rick Santorum in it, and Gingrich will soldier on after taking the majority of the delegates in his home state of Georgia, but the odds are now so stacked in Romney’s favor that he is not only the prohibitive favorite, he is nearing presumptive nominee status.

There are two reasons why: delegates and money.

First let’s look at the delegates. Santorum has now won six states, those he picked up on Super Tuesday, plus Iowa, Minnesota, and Colorado: all states with relatively small delegate counts and all states in which he shared delegates with Romney.

Look at Super Tuesday. In Tennessee, Santorum got 25 delegates, Romney got 10; in Oklahoma he got 14 to Romney’s 13 and in North Dakota he got 11 to Romney’s 7. Now look what happened in Massachusetts, Virginia, and Idaho: 113 delegates for Romney, zero for Santorum.

After Super Tuesday voting, Romney leads Santorum 404 delegates to 161. Gingrich has 105 and Ron Paul has 61. It takes 1,144 delegates to secure the nomination, so Romney is more than one-third of the way there.

Now let’s consider money. Romney won Ohio on Super Tuesday and took home 35 delegates to Santorum’s 21. It was considered the big prize of the day and rightfully so. Santorum had been enjoying a double-digit lead in Ohio just a few weeks ago. So what made the difference? Money. Romney outspent Santorum 4-to-1 over the last few weeks in the Buckeye state.

There are 29 primary states yet to be contested, including the delegate rich states of New York, California, Texas, Pennsylvania and Illinois, which also are among the most expensive states in which to advertise. (Pennsylvania would normally be considered a sure thing for favorite son Santorum, but remember, the Keystone State voted to oust Santorum from the Senate in a 2006 landslide).

So, yes, money matters. A lot. And Romney has way more of it than any of his rivals.

To remain competitive Santorum is going to need a huge influx of campaign dollars. But, in politics, donors like to give to candidates who can win and Santorum’s showing on Super Tuesday certainly robbed him of momentum.

In prior years, this race might have been considered over. But in 2012 there is a wild card in the Super PACs, where huge influxes of cash could come flowing into the race on behalf of any candidate at any time.

In the run-up to Super Tuesday, Super PAC spending was totaling millions of dollars per day, primarily from Restore Our Future which supports Romney, the Red, White and Blue Fund formed to support Santorum and Winning Our Future which is connected to Gingrich. Here too, Romney’s Super PAC appears to be the richest.

So we’re not going to declare Romney the winner, or even the presumptive nominee, but the nomination is certainly his to lose.

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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For Transportation Bill, Gridlock

Posted on March 6, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , |

By Scott Orr

It’s difficult to decide which transportation related cliché to invoke to describe the status of the multibillion-dollar transportation bill pending before congress – derailed, on a bumpy road, off-course, train wreck, stalled, and gridlocked are a few that come to mind.

At the end of last week, Senate Democrats sounded confident they would be able to gain passage of a measure that passed committees in bipartisan fashion. Obstruction by Republicans, who are loath to hand Democrats anything resembling a victory, would be politically risky in this election year given that millions of jobs depend on passage.

But in the House, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is again having difficulty corralling the troops, with Tea Party conservatives demanding huge spending cuts. At this point, Boehner may be considering spurning the Tea Party members and instead forming a coalition with Democrats to get the job done.

Already, Boehner has been forced to abandon an ambitious $260 billion, five-year bill in favor of a more manageable 18-month package. But the House needs to take swift action, since the existing measure expires at the end of the month.

Helping to sink the House GOP bill was bipartisan opposition from urban lawmakers angered at the bill’s proposed end to the practice of dedicating 20 percent of highway trust fund dollars to support public transit, which has been done for the past three decades.

The bill in question is a reauthorization package that dictates how the Department of Transportation (DOT) spends money for highways, transit and other needs. The funding comes in large part from the federal gasoline tax of 18.4 cents a gallon.

The last five-year authorization package expired in 2009, but DOT programs have been kept alive through temporary extensions. The latest of these is the measure that expires at the end of March.

We agree with Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, a former Republican House member, who last week called for a political cease fire on the transportation measure. The critical infrastructure improvements and jobs it provides, he said, are too important to be threatened by election-year grandstanding.

“Take the politics out of transportation,” LaHood said in urging members of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials to rally behind the Democratic Senate’s two-year, $109 billion transportation bill.

“It’s not a bad place to start. It’s comprehensive way to start. The money’s there. It’s paid for. No excuses. We’ll pass it and put our friends and neighbors to work.”

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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