Archive for July, 2013

Off to the Races

Posted on July 11, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

By Caren Z. Turner

CZT Bio Photo medium resizeReady for Hillary is picking up steam and organizing throughout the nation. In an effort to draft Hillary Rodham Clinton and (possibly) preempt others from joining the field, the organization, headed by Allida Black, is pushing forward full steam. In addition to James Carville, Harold Ickes, Jennifer Granholm and Under Secretary of State Ellen Tauscher, the group just added 270 Strategies, the former Obama grassroots organizers to the growing army. 

Within days, the second quarter financial numbers will be released. We anticipate that the $1 million target will be easily surpassed.

Of concern for all, the student loan interest rates have doubled from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent. Even mortgage rates (which have recently jumped) are significantly lower than the Stafford loans. Private activity bond legislation, despite having over 100 bi-partisan sponsors in the House last year, is awaiting reintroduction. That means fixing our sewers and water infrastructure nationwide. This is WATER guys… let’s get it DONE!  

Texas, Texas…Wendy Davis has been catapulted to the national stage for her stand (in Mizuno running shoes) on stopping an abortion bill. With Rick Perry announcing he will not seek another term, rumors are Texas could go BLUE. 

Enjoy the summer! 

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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Revisiting the Voting Rights Act

Posted on July 10, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

By James Scott

voting rights actHere we go again. The Supreme Court issues a controversial decision, but it’s Congress that is going to have clean up the mess.

This time we’re talking about the court’s gutting of the Voting Rights Act of 1964. The court, essentially, said there’s not that much voter discrimination any more, so the federal government no longer needs to oversee state voting laws.

Like many of its decisions, the Supreme Court didn’t so much settle the dispute as hand the ball over to Congress to decide what to do next.

Congressional leaders are now in the position of deciding if they want to simply accept the high court’s opinion, or if they want to try to rewrite the law in a way that could pass constitutional muster.

Democrats, who have traditionally benefitted from minority votes, are eager to move forward with new language and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat Leahy (D-Vt.) has expressed concern about the ruling and has scheduled hearings to seek a fix.

On the GOP controlled House side House side, Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) has also scheduled hearings, but he sounded a bit more non-commital: “We will look at what the Supreme Court was talking about in terms of old data. We’ll look at what new data is available and we will make sure that people’s freedom to vote in elections in this country is protected,” he said on CNN.

Still, Republicans may want to help rewrite the law, as the party has recognized that it can no longer rely so heavily on older, white voters and must make inroads among minorities.”

The part of the law struck down by the court required nine states with histories of discriminatory voting practices to gain Justice Department approval of changes to voting laws. The covered states are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia.

In some of these states lawmakers are already moving to enact new voters restrictions. In Texas, for example, a voter id law that had been blocked by the Justice Department went into effect immediately. Other restrictions, like prohibitions on early voting, also are back on the table.

In the most recent ABC/Washington Post poll, just one-third of respondents said they backed the court’s decision, while 51 percent disagreed. And while minority members voiced the loudest disagreement, whites disapproved of the court’s ruling 48 to 33 percent.

The Congress should listen to public opinion and find a constitutional way around the court’s ruling to protect the rights of all voters.

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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Turning the Corner on Gay Rights

Posted on July 10, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

By James Scott

gay-pride-flagThe Supreme Court’s decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act last month was a resounding victory for marriage equity, but it also was a signal that the nation may have turned a corner in the way it treats gay Americans.

It was a big step, certainly, in expanding gay rights, but it is still only the first step. This corner turning business means a lot, but once it is turned America needs to keep moving forward along the road to genuine equality.

Polls show a majority of Americans either support gay marriage or don’t really care who marries whom. But the shrill minority who are strangely fixated on the bedroom habits of others are fighting on, insisting from shrinking stages that their kind of love is the only kind that should be allowed.

The court issued not one, but two, blows to the anti-gay marriage agenda. On the same day it struck down the marriage equity act, it also threw out a California’s ban on gay marriage.

But states can still ban gay marriage and refuse to recognize same-sex unions that are legal in other states. So the fight at the state level will go on, with some states likely to continue to be unfriendly to gay couples for some time.

It is true that most states still do not allow same-sex marriage and workplace protections are lacking in most states and under federal law.

But things are changing, along with public opinion. Forty years ago, the majority of Americans still believed homosexuality to be morally wrong. Today, the majority back same-sex marriage and three states voted to approve same-sex marriage last year alone.

And while LGBT workers lack government protections, corporate policies banning discrimination based on sexual orientation are becoming more and more common everyday.

Certainly, discrimination against LGBT couples will continue in many corners, including the workplace, whether same-sex marriage is permitted or not. One way to change this would be for Congress to add protections for gay rights to the Civil Rights Act, though here you’d be setting the stage for one epic battle on Capitol Hill.

Yes, America has turned a corner, but, as often is the case, it may take a while before Congress does the same.

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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Drawing the Line on Government Surveillance

Posted on July 10, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

By James Scott

snowdenPresident Obama pretty well summed it up last month when he said: “You can’t have 100 percent security and also then have 100 percent privacy and zero inconvenience.”

The question is, where do you draw the line between keeping Americans safe while at the same time protecting their civil liberties and privacy.

Of course, we’re talking here about Edward Snowden, the 30-year-old former National Security Agency contractor who is on the run after laying bare some of the government’s top-secret intelligence gathering techniques.

Snowden famously leaked documents to the Guardian and The Washington Post about NSA surveillance programs, including the collection of phone records and online communications. Among the targeted platforms, we learned, were widely popular Web services like Google, Facebook and Skype.

This was met with outrage from privacy advocates, who noted that it’s not just the bad guys, but everyone who came under scrutiny by the government. And this would seem to go against everything American.

But spying and keeping secrets is American too, and Gen. Keith Alexander, the head of the NSA, defended the programs saying they have helped to thwart dozens of terrorist attacks and that law-abiding Americans have nothing to fear.

While we are troubled by the massive size of the operation, which trapped records of millions and millions of phone calls, emails and other communications, counterterrorism personnel can’t keep Americans safe if they are stripped of the tools they need to keep up with the terrorists.

There’s got to be a way to make the data collection a bit more targeted. Just because the government has the capacity to monitor everything, it doesn’t mean it has to. If it has the technology to watch so much stuff at one time, it also has the technology to filter down the monitoring to focus more on communication that might have actual value in tracking terrorists.

While Snowden claims to be some kind of self-styled freedom fighter, he is hardly innocent in this affair. After all, he betrayed the vows he took when he was granted a government security clearance, tipped terrorists off to U.S. communications monitoring capabilities and may well have put lives at risk.

As he continues to elude authorities in search of a country to grant him asylum, Snowden is no hero.

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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