Archive for May, 2013

In SC, an Unlikely Win for the Ethically Challenged Sanford

Posted on May 8, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

By Caren Z. Turner

CZT Bio Photo medium resizeIt is with deep disappointment that we faced the South Carolina loss of Elizabeth Colbert Busch.  This one is not about political points of view, it’s about integrity. In a tactic of bait and switch, Sanford “debated” a paper cut out of Nancy Pelosi. Though Clint Eastwood’s RNC debate with an empty chair was ridiculed, the technique of supplanting Nancy Pelosi for Elizabeth Colbert Busch worked.

In essence, voters were asked to hate the Democrats and Pelosi more than they hated the former Governor who was charged by the State Ethics Commission with 37 ethics violations, including spending taxpayer money on business-class flights, using state aircraft for personal travel and spending campaign funds for non-campaign expenses. It seems that paying $74,000 was enough to get him back in the graces of the South Carolina electorate.

Our fundraiser for Elizabeth Colbert Busch, which was accompanied and supported by her brother, Stephen Colbert, New York Reps. Steve Israel, Carolyn Maloney, Joe Crowley as well as Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, raised over $100,000 for a breakfast event. Though the Democrat Colbert Busch outspent her opponent 5 to 1, it wasn’t enough to defeat Sanford. Look for the Democrats to capitalize on this.  The party will brand this election as representative of Republican “values.” Debbie Wasserman Schultz is already on the airwaves decrying Republican values.

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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Talk of a “Red Line” Increasing Pressure to Act

Posted on May 8, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

By Carl Chancellor

John McCain at press conference in Washington on 18 AprilWith evidence mounting that Syria’s Assad regime has resorted to the use of chemical weapons, calls for the President to act are growing louder on Capitol Hill.

A number of U.S. lawmakers are using the President’s own words—“red line” and “game changer”— to pressure him to take stronger measures to address the increasingly chaotic and deadly conflict in Syria. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), pointing to the lack of response by the Obama administration to the chemical attacks, allegedly by Assad forces, has intimated that the president has backpedaled from his promise that such transgressions would trigger U.S. action.

“Firstly, he never should have drawn a red line. Second of all, the red lines were a green light to Bashar al-Assad to anything do anything short of that (chemical attacks),” said McCain. “Unfortunately, the red line that the president of the United States has written was apparently written in disappearing ink.”

While it isn’t clear if the reports of chemical use constitute a red line or if Israeli air strikes on targets in Syria are game changers, what is clear is that the American public isn’t clamoring for U.S. intervention in Syria. According to a recent Pew Research Center poll, just 45 percent of Americans favor intervention in Syria and nearly two-thirds are against arming the rebels.

What Americans of all political stripes want is for Congress and the Administration to finally take action on the red lines that have already been crossed in this country—the sequestration; the budget deficit; and gun violence in places closer to home such as Newtown and Aurora.

Yes, what is playing out in Syria and other hotspots in the world is important to address, but it is disingenuous for our leaders to be calling for action abroad while dragging their collective feet on dealing with the pressing issues here in the U.S.

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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Baucus Retirement: New Life for Tax Reform?

Posted on May 8, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

By Scott Orr

max-baucusSen. Max Baucus, the centrist Democrat who has long represented a conservative state, has shed the bonds of party and ideology to better enable him to sculpt his legacy in the form of a sweeping reform of the U.S. tax code.

Baucus, 71, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee announced last week that he will not seek reelection in 2014. The conventional wisdom is that Baucus will now be free to pursue the tax reform package he thinks is right, not the one his party demands.

It’s a goal he shares with House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.), who must relinquish his chair at the end of the current session of Congress.

“I’ll have a lot more time and energy to do it since I don’t have to campaign,” Baucus told reporters, in announcing his retirement.

On K Street, lobbyists are split over what Baucus’ new freedom means for tax reform and their cherished deductions and exemptions.

Baucus and other members of the panel have been working on a tax reform package for more than a year and it could be unveiled within a month or so.

“I’m not turning out to pasture because there is important work left to do, and I intend to spend the year and a half getting it done….At a national level, I will continue to work on simplifying and improving the tax code,” he said.

Calling Baucus a “true legislator,” Camp said he is raring to get going on tax reform.

“Max has made clear that his commitment to comprehensive tax reform that lowers rates and makes the code simpler and fairer for our families and job creators remains a top priority,” Camp said in a statement.

“I couldn’t agree more, and I share his vision for enacting real tax reform this Congress,” he said.

With two powerful lawmakers looking to create tax reform legacies, it would seem the planets are aligned for some historic action, but that oversimplifies things greatly.

First off, being a lame duck may free members from having to toe the party line, but at the same time it reduces their power to prod members to follow them. After all, neither Baucus nor Camp is going to have a powerful committee available to them next year to reward and punish members for their behavior on the issue.

And key staff are likely to bail while they’re still in power, heading to K Street where they will be involved in whatever lingering tax code issues are out there.

And don’t forget the power of K Street itself. Nowhere are lobbyists more active than on issues involving their clients wallets’, like tax policy.

Baucus’ retirement is a blow to centrists thinking on Capitol Hill, of course, but the idea that lame-duck status will somehow free him up to right the tax code’s many wrongs seems a bit overly optimistic.

It might help get a modest reform through, but we’re not expecting the major reform Baucus and his backers envision.

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 Boston Marathon Attack and Immigration Reform

Posted on May 7, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

By Scott Orr

sen.8.immigrationThe Boston Marathon bombing has awakened Americans to the deadly potential of killers in our midst, an undefined and unrelated segment of the American underground that may be quietly radicalized and preparing to attack.

There is a certain feeling of helplessness here, when you consider the ease with which Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were able to construct and deploy the deadly bombs that shattered the calm of one of America’s premiere sporting events.

In seeking answers, some are looking to immigration reform as a way to prevent foreigners from gaining U.S. citizenship.

Just look at the latest Quinnipiac poll on the subject. Support for giving immigrants who entered the country illegally a path to citizenship has dropped from 59 percent to 52 percent since the attack.

Here’s the shocking part, nearly one in four Americans believe allowing immigrants a path to citizenship will lead to more terrorism.

Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev came to the United States in 2002 and were granted asylum. While Tamerlan was a legal resident, Dzhokhar became a U.S. citizen in 2012.

Some of those involved in the ongoing immigration debate on Capitol Hill are yanking the reins insisting that the bombing casts a new light on the issue that must be considered.

Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), for example, urged lawmakers not to rush ahead without giving due consideration to the issues raised by the Boston bombings. He made the remarks during a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Later, Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), one of the so-called gang-of-eight who have unveiled a sweeping immigration reform proposal, said he believes the bombing should make immigration reform even more critical.

“What happened in Boston…I think should urge us to act quickly, not slower, when it comes to getting the 11 million [illegal immigrants living in the U.S.] identified,” Graham said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y), another backer of reform, agreed: “We are not going to let them use what happened in Boston as an excuse, because our law toughens things up,” Schumer said on the same show.

Immigration reform is still on the table and whether the Boston attacks move it forward faster, or slow it down, terrorism will certainly be a part of the debate.

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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