Archive for April, 2012

Spring is in the Air!

Posted on April 12, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , |

By Caren Z. Turner

I sincerely hope that each of you had a wonderful holiday, and/or spring break. Cherry blossoms are in full bloom here, the Smithsonian museums are offering free jazz concerts along with special Japanese-American exhibits. The Sackler Gallery was particularly inspiring! Spring is in the air!

On to politics! Now that the Republican crown has been firmly placed upon Mitt Romney’s head, we can finally move forward to the general election! Rumors abound regarding who he will choose for a running mate. One thing seems to draw consensus – the decision will be well thought out, candidates will be thoroughly vetted and the experience and /or list of accomplishments of Romney’s running mate will be significant. As one Republican noted, this won’t be like the Palin decision. On the other hand, there still seems to be an enthusiasm gap re: Romney.

Pretty much everything that happens in the nation’s capital has implications for the presidential race.

In this month’s newsletter we look at three seemingly unrelated issues: the Supreme Court’s consideration of the constitutionality of Obamacare, the conservative federal budget package proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and the latest extension of the highway bill.

All important issues in their own rights, but they become even more critical when considered in the context of a presidential race. Let’s face it; nothing in Washington is easy even in off years. In presidential election years, every political divide is magnified ten-fold.

We were thrilled to help host a wonderful event for the Women’s Campaign Fund (WCF). It was our distinct privilege to honor Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown Law student who was verbally bludgeoned by Rush Limbaugh. Sandra joined a WCF dinner hosted by Mayor Mike Bloomberg and Diana Taylor. Other notable guests included Lilly Ledbetter, Marsha Mason, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Florida Congressional hopeful, Val Demings, and Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME). Please have a look at some of the WCF candidates… We ALL need more women in government!

On the B to G front, we are helping an unprecedented number of companies who wish to sell products and services to the government. If you need help marketing your products to the federal government, we can help!

Finally, we are pleased to announce that we have signed a strategic alliance with the firm, Van Scoyoc Associates. This affiliation will allow us to offer a wider breadth of services and additional areas of subject matter expertise!

All the best and please call if you need help devising a legislative strategy or interaction with the government on any level.

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 at www.turnergpa.com.

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The Ryan Budget’s Political Impact

Posted on April 11, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , |

By Scott Orr

The GOP-controlled House passed a sweeping overhaul of federal spending priorities championed by Wisconsin Republican Rep. Paul Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee.

This bill, of course, is going nowhere and normally it would be dismissed as a meaningless piece of political posturing. But this is an election year and the so-called Ryan budget has presented a new platform for argument and a juicy target for the Obama campaign in its strategy to paint the Republicans as unfriendly to America’s middle class.

It’s very difficult to see how Ryan believed he was helping his party and its presumptive presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, by issuing a budget document that is far outside the mainstream of current budgetary and political thought.

As expected, the president attacked the budget, and by extension Romney, who has been endorsed by and campaigned with Ryan. Obama appeared to relish the chance to highlight the Ryan plan and his criticism was sharp:

“It’s a Trojan Horse. Disguised as deficit reduction plan, it’s really an attempt to impose a radical vision on our country. It’s nothing but thinly-veiled Social Darwinism,” the president said in a speech at the Associated Press luncheon in Washington.

He said the budget would slice funding for education, research and other federal programs needed to build the economy while preserving advantages for big business and the wealthy.

The next day, Romney replied saying Obama’s remarks contained “so many things that I found to be distortions and inaccuracies it’s hard to give a full list.”

Both Romney and Ryan said the president’s dire predictions that the GOP plan would cut Head Start benefits for 200,000 kids or end 4,500 federal anti-crime grants, is based on an incorrect assumption that the cuts would be distributed evenly across the board.

The House approved Ryan’s $3.5 trillion fiscal 2013 budget by a strictly partisan vote of 228-191. The plan would overhaul Medicare and cut food stamps, Pell grants and other programs for the poor, while reducing taxes on the rich.

It is true that the Ryan plan does not make specific cuts to federal programs and priorities like education and law enforcement which could escape the axe. But this is also one of Obama’s criticisms: The plan calls for broad spending cuts, but lack specifics on exactly how those savings would be realized.

Whether or not the Ryan plan is the answer to America’s deep budget problems, it is certainly a new platform for election year debate and a nice target for attack for the Obama campaign.

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 High Court’s High Stakes Health Care Ruling

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

By Scott Orr

The U.S. Supreme Court appears poised to put its stamp on the 2012 race for the White House. And the signals are not good for President Obama.

In a dispute with sweeping implications for the future of health care in the U.S. as well as the presidential race, the court has been listening to arguments on the constitutionality of the signature accomplishment of Obama’s first term, the health care reform package known as Obamacare.

If the court overturns the law, it would at once strip Obama of an important campaign issue and allow presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney to escape attack on an issue on which he is weak.

At issue: Did Congress overstep its constitutional bounds in requiring most Americans to buy health insurance or face penalties?

In questioning from the bench during three days of historic arguments, the high court’s five-member conservative majority appeared skeptical that the law passes constitutional muster. A united conservative vote would gut the law. If, however, one of the conservatives joins the four liberal leaning court members in backing the law, it will survive.

The court devoted three days of argument to review of the most important piece of social legislation in decades. The issue brought crowds of protestors from both sides of the debate to the steps of America’s top court house.

In controversial remarks last week, President Obama appeared to question the authority of the high court to meddle with a law that was duly passed by a majority in congress.

Obama said he was “confident that the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically-elected Congress.”

Then, later in the week, the administration was forced to issue a formal recognition of the court’s supremacy as Attorney General Eric Holder signed a three-page letter to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals which is hearing a separate challenge to the law.

“The power of the courts to review the constitutionality of legislation is beyond dispute,” Holder wrote, affirming the government’s belief that federal judges have the authority to decide the fate of the law.

That Holder himself was involved in responding to the court’s demand demonstrates how seriously the issue is being taken inside the Obama administration.

Many legal scholars believe the law, or at least the individual mandate component of it, is doomed. That doesn’t necessarily doom the president’s re-election, but it leaves his campaign without perhaps, one its most important accomplishments.

Turner GPAis 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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President Signs a 90-Day Extension of Highway Bill

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

By Carl Chancellor

On March 30, President Barack Obama signed a last-minute, three-month extension of a highway bill that allows the fed to continue collecting the 18.4 cent-per-gallon gas tax and prevents the shutdown of countless transportation projects.

Getting the bill to the president’s desk, however, was an extremely bumpy ride with more than its share of hairpin political twists and turns.

House Republicans and Democrats, playing what has become the all too familiar game of chicken, battled right up to the deadline set for the transportation bill to expire. Democrats wanted swift approval of a two-year, $109 billion transportation measure that passed the Senate on a bipartisan vote. Republicans in the House, however, didn’t like the bill’s funding mechanism and were instead pushing a five-year $260 billion alternative measure, which would have been paid for in part by oil drilling royalties and from taxes and fees linked to the controversial Keystone Pipeline project that most Democrats oppose.

Such bitter partisan rancor over the transportation bill is a sign-of-the political times. In the past Republicans and Democrats had little problem agreeing on transportation legislation due to highway projects being seen as good for business and creating jobs. Further, since every congressional district has roads, bridges, and railroads, everyone benefited.

Extensions to the highway bill have been routine, in fact, this was the ninth time that Congress has hammered out stop-gap legislation to extend the highway authorization bill, which expired in 2009. The 90-day reprieve means that Congress is going to have to wrestle with this issue again and some how reach an agreement on a final long-term transportation bill before the July 4 recess. Although, what is most likely to happen is that they will enact yet another extension.

The problem with “kicking the can down the road” is that the money needed to keep the nation’s transportation system running just isn’t there. Gas tax revenues, which fuel the Highway Trust Fund, have been falling steadily for years as Americans drive less and cars continue to become more fuel efficient. The last time the federal gas tax was raised was in 1993, which has meant the Trust Fund has run into funding problems over the years. Rather than seriously deal with the funding shortfall, Congress has stuck its finger in the dike and has juggled federal dollars around. Most recently, lawmakers dipped into general funds and stimulus money to keep the money flowing to road and bridge project. But funding gimmicks won’t solve the problem. By 2018 the Highway Trust Fund is predicted to be $80 billion in the red.

Some in Congress have suggested shifting the responsibility for our transportation infrastructure to the states. Where already cash strapped states would find the money is anyone’s guess. Clearly, the most obvious solution to the problem is to raise the gas tax. But even floating such an idea, particularly in a presidential election year, is political hara-kiri.

So in a matter of weeks Americans will again head down an all too familiar road—the same nasty, rutted, bone jarring road we’ve been forced to travel down to raise the nation’s debt ceiling, extend payroll tax breaks, and fund the FAA. Frankly, American voters are tired of the ride.

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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