Archive for August, 2012

Dog days of August

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

By Caren Z. Turner

For those of us in the Capitol, it’s a time to watch for sneaky regulatory bombs that may be dropped (check the Federal Register regularly).  It’s also a time to regroup and speculate about our favorite parlor games.   What will be brought up during the lame duck?  Who is likely to win the election and by how many votes (popular and electoral). Who will Mitt choose for VP?  Who will Obama choose to replace Geithner, Schapiro et al?   If you have any interesting nominations for Cabinet level positions, please let us know!  We’d love to know why you think they would be a good choice too!

The consensus seems to be that there will be a tax bill during the lame duck.  No telling how large it will be or what will be in it… but it’s coming.  The continuing resolution (CR) is being drafted.  It’s only a 6 month plan to keep the government open for business.  The consensus is it will be a “clean” bill, no extraneous provisions.

The nastiness of the political advertising is unprecedented and seems to be a measure of the desperation of the candidates.  Not since one gubernatorial candidate resorted to calling another FAT have we seen this type of desperation.   Now we’ve got someone accusing a presidential candidate of murdering his wife???   What do they know about the polls we don’t know?

Enjoy.

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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Continuing Resolutions: A Continuing Tradition

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

By Scott Orr

In less than two months, we can say goodbye to fiscal year 2012 and hello to a new fiscal year and a brand new budget. Wait, not really.

It’s been decades since the U.S. started a fiscal year with a new budget in place. This year, like all others in recent memory, the government will continue to function by way of a continuing resolution (CR), which simply extends federal spending authority at current levels.

Before Congress left for recess there was some progress, as the Senate Appropriations Committee passed spending bills for the Pentagon and the legislative branch. Still, the budget process has been mired in dysfunction as always.

There are 12 major appropriations bills that are, theoretically at least, supposed to be approved by Oct. 1. They are the bills for Agriculture; Commerce, Justice and Science; Defense; Energy and Water; Financial Services; Homeland Security; Interior and the Environment; Labor, Health and Human Services and Education; Legislative Branch, Military Construction and Veterans; State and Foreign Operations; and Transportation and Housing and Urban Development.

The National Journal put out a telling chart last week, which showed that while the Republican-controlled House has been busy, the Senate has not passed a single appropriations bill. Despite the House’s ambitious work, those seven bills are not much closer to final passage since none of them have fans among the Democrats that control the Senate.

And unless the Senate acts to accept the House bills before the end of the year, which is highly unlikely in advance of the election as well during a lame duck session, all of the House’s work will be wiped out as the Congress kicks the can down the road through a CR.

Last week, House and Senate leaders gave their colleagues a little present as they headed for the doors and their home districts, the conventions and the campaign trail – an agreement to consider a 6-month continuing resolution in September to keep the federal government operating well past the election and the inauguration.

It may not seem like a big deal to just keep the government running as is for half a year, but remember, those spending priorities were set in 2011 and things have changed. For industries that rely on the federal government for contracts, it adds a needless tone of uncertainty.

For those of us who have been around Capitol Hill, CR’s have become a fall tradition like turning leaves and back-to-school. One of these years, we ought to take a look at ending it.

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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July Job Numbers Were Up, but Still Disappointing

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

By Carl Chancellor

In a word: disappointing. That is the only way to describe the employment numbers released by the Labor Department last week. Employers added just 163,000 jobs in July although the figure was slightly better than most analysts predicted and was an improvement on the monthly average for the year of 151,000 new jobs.

However, July’s puny new jobs number did nothing to put a dent in the nation’s stubbornly high unemployment rate, which actually rose to 8.3 percent up from 8.2 percent in June.  The number of unemployed Americans stood at 12.8 million in July.

So what do the latest jobs numbers mean for the upcoming election in November?

While July’s job gains weren’t much to crow about they were nonetheless an improvement over the previous four months, and as the White House pointed out—the private sector has added 4.5 million jobs in the past 29 months. However, July was the 42nd straight month that the jobless rate has been above 8 percent.

According to the Labor Department the jobs gains were across the board, including: 25,000 new manufacturing jobs; 14,000 temporary services jobs; 29,000 restaurant jobs; 38,000 in the education and health services sector; and some 7,000 in retail.

While the President can point to the latest job growth numbers and rightfully claim that the recovery has been chugging along steadily, the reality is that no president has faced re-election with unemployment above 8 percent since World War II.

“Let’s acknowledge, we have too many folks out there looking for work,” said President Obama just after the jobs numbers were releases. “We’ve got to do more work to do on their behalf.”

Naturally, the Romney campaign had its own spin on the job numbers.

“Today’s increase in the unemployment rate is a hammer blow to struggling middle-class families,” said likely GOP nominee Mitt Romney in a statement when the Labor Department released its numbers. “Middle-class Americans deserve better, and I believe America can do better.”

The latest polling data for August rating the President’s job approval shows that the nation is evenly divided on the question. And the most recent polling gives the President the edge over Romney if the election were held today— Obama by 10 points, Pew Research Center; Romney by 1 point, Rasmussen Reports; and Obama by 6 points, NBC News/Wall Street Journal.

As the New York Times recently noted: “…the (jobs) report is not a game-change, economically or politically.”

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 Congress, a Dysfunctional Summer

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

By Scott Orr

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont. (left) and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich.

It’s not like we haven’t been over this before, but here we go again with electioneering on Capitol Hill. Following historic precedent, the Congress spent the summer fully engaged in the November election, voting on symbolic issues they hope will help their parties in the fall instead of, oh, I don’t know, legislating in the public interest.

Everyone knows that in terms of legislating, these votes are worthless. But where they do have value is on the campaign trail, in political ads and on the talk shows.

Last week, the House passed a plan to extend all expiring individual income tax cuts that are due to expire at the end of the year. A rival Democratic bill, approved by the Senate, would maintain some lower tax rates but increase tax rates on the wealthiest. The bill passed largely along party lines, though 19 Democrats joined their GOP colleagues in backing the measure.

This bill is aimed at preventing the tax cuts enacted under former President George W. Bush in 2001 and 2003 from returning to their prior levels at year’s end. The Senate bill would extend the tax cuts only for those with income up to $250,000 and restores higher rates on income above that level. The House bill keeps the cuts in place for all Americans.

The House followed up its vote on tax cut measure with a vote calling for an overhaul of the entire tax code in 2013, which is certainly a good idea and one both parties support. Again, the dispute is over how to tax the richest Americans. The Republican plan would slash rates to a maximum rate of 25 percent for the highest earners.

Oh, and let’s not forget the House’s vote to overturn Obamacare, on that was so far removed from reality that it gave new meaning to the term “symbolic.”

But wait, the House wasn’t through there. In its final vote, the House could not even agree to adjourn, with all Democrats and a third of the Republicans voting against a motion to adjourn. Of course they all left town anyway.

When Congress returns, it will be in session for only three weeks before the Nov. 6 election and most of that period will be taken up passing a continuing resolution to avoid a government shutdown. That’s because the Congress failed, as it always does, to approve federal spending bill before the end of the fiscal year Sept. 30.

Not that anyone’s looking beyond the election, but there is a good chance that some interesting legislative drama is going to play out during a lame duck session, with the fate of the tax cuts at center stage. But predicting what will happen in a lame duck session is a fool’s game.

It doesn’t really matter who wins or loses, the outcome is going to prompt one party to push for action, the other to try to stop it. But at least the election will be behind us and, maybe, legislating will replace politicking up on the Hill.

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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