AAA to AA Plus, What Does It Mean?

Posted on August 8, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

By Carl Chancellor

For the first time in history America’s top-tier triple-A credit rating has been downgraded, which could potentially impact mortgage and credit card interests and jobs.

Standard & Poors, which had been warning of a possible downgrade in the nation’s credit rating if a debt ceiling deal were not reached, nonetheless pulled the trigger Friday despite a debt limit agreement having been brokered days earlier.

“The downgrade reflects our opinion that the fiscal consolidation plan that Congress and the Administration recently agreed to falls short of what, in our view, would be necessary to stabilize the government’s medium-term debt dynamics,” said S&P in a statement explaining the reasons for downgrading the U.S to a AA+ rating.

Refusing to follow suit the other two major rating agencies, Moody’s Investor Service and Fitch Ratings, maintained the country’s AAA rating.

As expected the Democrats blamed the Republicans who in turn blamed the Democrats for the downgrade maintaining the level of partisan acrimony that characterized the weeks-long debt limit battle. Ironically, S&P specifically cited political gridlock and disharmony on the Hill as one of the reasons for lowering the nation’s credit rating.

Since we are entering uncharted waters with a rating downgrade for the U.S. it is difficult to accurately predict the precise fallout, but here are some likely scenarios:

• Interest rates on American debt could increase up to 0.5 percentage points resulting in higher borrowing costs for everyone
• Interest rates to increase on most consumer and business credit lines—mortgages, student loans, credit cards
• Downgrade could slow the economy—people spend less when they have to pay more—some experts predict GDP, key indicator of a country’s economic health, could drop 1 percentage point.
• Less economic activity means less demand for workers, which could increase unemployment

On the bright side, other nations have had their credit ratings downgraded with few lasting negative consequences. Japan, Canada and Australia have all been downgraded in the past with no detrimental impacts on their economies.

Turner GPA is one of the premier, highly respected government and public affairs firms in the nation. Turner’s state-of-the-art advocacy has earned them respect and acclaim from the media, clients, policymakers and even their competitors! Turner advocates on behalf of cutting edge businesses, municipalities, and non-profits that wish to ensure their perspectives and needs are taken into account in Washington, in state capitols and in City Hall, as well as in the media. The firm creates and implements intensely focused and targeted advocacy campaigns designed to meet and exceed its client’s expectations and goals. For more information on Turner GPA, visit www.turnergpa.com or call 202-466-2511.

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Staying Positive Despite Debt Ceiling Dysfunction

Posted on August 3, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , |

“Stay Positive”, urges my son, through this debt ceiling dysfunction. “Okay, kid… I’m trying!”
Here are some of the things of which and for which I am positive… other than the kids, family and friends like you!

a. With debt ceiling done, things should begin moving in DC. We are ready.
b. “Super Committee” of 12 is the new “Appropriations Committee”. Each committee member is a “cardinal”. We recommend Immediately reaching out to those you think will be on the Super Committee, (start with Gang of Six from Senate and then make some other strategic picks, such as Ryan in the House).
c. If you are looking for federal dollars, have a look at the grants that are still flowing.
d. President Obama’s 50th birthday bash / fundraiser tonight costing $35,800 per couple is distasteful to most in the nation. Especially the folks at Merck, Borders, Cisco, Lockheed Martin, Boston Scientific and Goldman Sachs, who are laying off thousands this week.
e. We are recommending that you build out your state and grass roots capabilities in the states from which the super committee members reside.
f. Also, it would be a good idea to thank your Congressmen and women for hanging in there during this tough time. (I know you don’t want to but do it anyway!)
g. This is a game changer! So put your boxing gloves back on!
h. President Obama needs to sign up for Chester Karrass’ Negotiating Classes…

We are also thrilled about the following…

Former Rep. Harry Teague of New Mexico is now officially signed on with Turner GPA as a consultant! Harry will provide Turner GPA with expertise in alternative energy, as well as traditional oil and gas. We are absolutely thrilled to have him and we are sure you will enjoy working with him too!
We are thrilled to be building an extensive state network of government affairs experts. More about that later, but if you have worked with someone on the state level with whom you were happy, please refer them!

We are thrilled that On August 18th we are sponsoring an hour long webinar conversation with the brilliant and fascinating Andrea Shalal Essa, Reuters correspondent. The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act as well as aviation will be the focus of her most current research and writing. Please join me and Andrea and ask away.

Please call or email me if you have questions.

Caren Z. Turner
202-466-2511

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Last Minute Deal Avoids Federal Default

Posted on August 3, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

By Carl Chancellor

In the words of Maxwell Smart: “Missed it by that much.”

Like the hapless television secret agent who by dumb luck routinely escaped impending disaster, Congressional leaders and the White House were able to strike a deal at the last possible moment to raise the federal debt limit. By agreeing to increase the nation’s debt ceiling by $2.1 trillion—a mere 24 hours before the nation faced the prospect of not having enough money to pay its bills—federal leaders averted an unprecedented default and the resulting economic catastrophe that would ensue.

The deal reached by Republican and Democratic leaders late Sunday night and signed into law Tuesday by President Obama, will cut federal spending by at least $2.1 trillion over the next 10 years, while raising the debt ceiling by roughly the same amount. The bill, which was approved overwhelmingly by the Senate, 74 to 26, was passed by the House Monday night by a vote of 269-161, garnering the support of 174 Republicans and 95 Democrats. The House vote was highlighted by the return of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz who cast her first vote in Congress since she was seriously wounded in a January shooting in Tucson.

A relieved President Obama said the deal “will allow us to avoid default and end the crisis that Washington imposed on the rest of America. It ensures also that we will not face this same kind of crisis again in six months, or eight months, or 12 months. And it will begin to lift the cloud of debt and the cloud of uncertainty that hangs over our economy.”

Calling the process “messy” and the time required to reach an agreement taking “far too long,” the President nevertheless said he wanted to thank the leaders of both parties for finding “their way to compromise.”

The compromise has lead to a less than ideal agreement, which has sparked deep anger among Democrats and Republican’s alike. Arizona Democrat Rep. Raul Grijalva, quoted in USA Today said the deal “trades people’s livelihoods for the votes of a few unappeasable right-wing radicals.”

On the other side of the aisle, Rep. Jim Jordan, a freshman Republican from Ohio, told the Associated Press that the deal “opens the door to dangerous national security cuts and raises the possibility that six Democrats and one misguided Republican could put tax increases on the table.” He was referring to the 12-person special committee—made up of six Democrats and six Republicans—charged with identifying further spending cuts by Thanksgiving. The special committee would have to propose $1.2 trillion spending cuts to achieve that amount of deficit reduction over 10 years. The committee could overhaul the tax code or find savings by cutting Medicaid, Medicare or Social Security.

However if the special committee can’t reach an agreement or Congress rejects it’s recommendations, then automatic across the board cuts both to defense and non-defense spending would go into effect.

In addition to the special committee here are the other key elements of the deal as compiled by the Los Angeles Times:

• Debt ceiling is increased in stages by up to $2.4 trillion, while providing a dollar-for-dollar exchange in spending cuts. The package would resolve the issue until 2013, after the presidential election.
• Gives President Obama authority to immediately increase the debt by $400 billion. It also establishes procedures to raise the debt ceiling by an additional $500 billion as soon as September, for a total of $900 billion.
• The initial increases are offset by $917 billion in spending cuts through caps on discretionary spending through 2021.
• The deal also requires that the House of Representatives and the Senate vote before the end of 2011 on a joint resolution proposing a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, though passage is not required.
• If the automatic across-the-board cuts are triggered, they would not take effect until January 2013, giving Congress time to revisit the issue and agree on other budgetary or tax reforms. Given that neither party nor the White House supports $50 billion in annual cuts to defense spending, the framework is designed to give all sides motivation to negotiate.

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Americans Not Happy With Capitol Hill

Posted on August 2, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

By Carl Chancellor

Enough—that is the simple one word message that No Labels, a group of Republicans, Democrats and Independents formed last year to elevate the nation’s political discourse, has for our federal leaders.

In a commercial currently airing on cable stations nationwide, No Labels echoes the sentiment shared by the vast majority of voters across America—we are fed up with the partisan gridlock in Washington.
The contentious, uber-partisan debt limit debate, the “Washington-made crisis” that nearly drove the country into default and to the brink of economic disaster, created unnecessary anxiety for the nation.

A recent Associated Press story reported that no matter their political view, frustration about the debt debate among Americans was near universal. Voters were so incensed by the games of brinkmanship being played on the Hill that in the last few days of the debt debate, as the Aug. 2 deadline neared, they flooded lawmakers with thousands of phone calls and emails calling for compromise. Several GOP House members said that their websites crashed and the House’s technology center reported that telephone lines serving House office numbers neared capacity last week and over the weekend.

Fortunately, those pleas got through and a debt limit deal was struck late Sunday night, mere hours before the deadline.

Yet, while the nation breathes a collective sigh of relief, Americans are more frustrated than ever. The debt deal battle clearly illustrated the view stated by President Obama when said during a national address—compromise has become a dirty word in Washington. Further, Americans are angry that as a result of the protracted debt limit debate no attention is being paid to the nation’s number one concern—the economy.

Yes, dealing with the deficit is important, but with unemployment stuck at above 9 percent, with 14 million Americans jobless, and more than 400,000 people filing for unemployment benefits every week, creating jobs is priority number one.

A recent Gallup poll indicated that voters list the economy and unemployment/jobs as the nation’s top problems with deficit/debt reduction running a distant third. When asked to respond to the questions: What do you think is the most important problem facing the country today?—58 percent indicated the economy and unemployment/jobs as the nation’s most pressing concern. Only 16 percent of those surveyed said that the federal budget deficit/debt is America’s biggest problem.

Having just averted economic disaster coming out of the debt limit debate, the No Labels’ commercial probably best sums up the national mood—“We are Republicans, Democrats and Independents. But above all we are Americans. We deplore that extreme partisan politics has trumped our patriotic duty. We have one word for our elected officials: Enough.”

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The Debt Debate and 2012

Posted on August 2, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

By Scott Orr

Political handicappers are watching closely to see how the toxic debate over the debt limit impacts next year’s presidential race. To be sure, leaders of both parties have sustained damage, but President Obama clearly has more to lose than the Republican hopefuls, all of whom are commenting on the debt debacle from afar.

A recent poll from Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted July 20-24, among 1,501 adults and 1,205 registered voters, finds President Obama’s once double-digit lead slipping to just one point. The poll found 41% of registered voters would like to see Barack Obama reelected, while 40% say they would prefer to see a Republican candidate. The drop may not be tied exclusively to the debt debate, since polls also show increasing voter anxiety over the slow pace of the recovery and high unemployment rates.

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Deficit Deal Update: A Little Tweak Here and a Little Tweak There

Posted on July 28, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

Reid said today that it would be easy to alter Boehner’s proposal, if it passes the House, by amending it to insert the new Reid bill language using the “amendment in the nature of a substitute” procedure. It would be difficult for Senate Republicans to object to consideration of the Boehner bill.

If the Boehner bill fails in the House, Reid will use a different House-passed bill as the legislative vehicle for moving his Senate Democratic debt limit bill. Republicans would be more likely to object to consideration of the underlying House bill, however, and could force a cloture vote just to get it to the Senate floor. For this reason, House passage of the Boehner bill may help Reid get his own bill through the Senate.

Boehner doesn’t yet have 217 Republican votes to pass his 2-Step debt limit bill in the House.
But, the Boehner bill is gaining ground among House fiscal conservatives this afternoon. Several Dems are considering voting for this bill also, although none have committed to doing so.

Meanwhile, according to Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-(IL), Reid is continuing to talk to McConnell and Boehner in hopes of negotiating a bipartisan, bicameral compromise that can pass both chambers this weekend.

There are rumors today of a bipartisan compromise that might be developed at the last minute if both the Boehner 2-step plan and the new Reid bill fail.

There is also a rumor of a 30-day fix to allow more time to work out a compromise bill that would reduce the deficit by at least $2.7 trillion over 10 years. At this point, I don’t know if these rumors relate to the same bill, or represent two different fall back options.

The Reid bill, which CBO also found to save less than claimed, is being tweaked to bring its spending cuts up to the amounts specified in the original new Reid proposal.

The reason why both the Boehner 2-Step bill and the new Reid proposal needed to be amended following CBO scoring is the fact that all negotiations so far, even as far back as the Biden Group, were based on the January budget baseline.

In contrast, CBO is obligated to score the fiscal impact of legislation based on implementation of all current law, including extension of the Bush-era tax cuts only through 2012 and the spending cuts included in the FY 2011 CR.

Therefore, CBO uses a different baseline which does not count some of the spending cuts claimed by both Reid and Boehner in their respective original bills.

Turner GPA is one of the premier, highly respected government and public affairs firms in the nation. Turner’s state-of-the-art advocacy has earned them respect and acclaim from the media, clients, policymakers and even their competitors! Turner advocates on behalf of cutting edge businesses, municipalities, and non-profits that wish to ensure their perspectives and needs are taken into account in Washington, in state capitols and in City Hall, as well as in the media. The firm creates and implements intensely focused and targeted advocacy campaigns designed to meet and exceed its client’s expectations and goals. For more information on Turner GPA, visit www.turnergpa.com or call 202-466-2511.

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Has Obama Lost His Base?

Posted on July 27, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Since taking office, President Obama has endured an unrelenting barrage of attacks from Congressional Republicans, the Tea Party, Fox News and a plethora of right-wing pundits, all of whom can’t find enough bad things to say about him and the job he’s doing. So it has to come as a real blow to the President to find out that his biggest supporters are turning on him as well.

A new Washington Post/ABC News poll released Tuesday reports that the President’s backing from liberal voters and African Americans is plummeting. According to the Post/ABC survey taken earlier this month “the number of liberal Democrats who strongly support Obama’s record on jobs plunged 22 points from 53 percent last year to 31 percent. The number of African Americans who believe the president’s actions have helped the economy has dropped from 77 percent in October to just over half (50 percent) of those surveyed.”

The President’s inability to turn around the economy and create jobs is leading to growing disillusionment among his core supporters. While the nation’s unemployment rate remains stagnant at around 9 percent, the unemployment rate for African Americans is a staggering 16 percent. And while nearly everyone is feeling the economic strain, with exception of a few folks on Wall Street, minorities and in particular African Americans have been hammered by the downturn.

According to a recent analysis of census data conducted by the Pew Research Center, the recession and faltering recovery has erased decades of economic gains for minorities, so much so that the average white American has 20 times the net worth of African Americans and 18 times that of Hispanics. The Pew findings, released this week, noted that the median wealth of white U.S. households was $113,149, compared to just $6,325 for Hispanics and $5,677 for blacks. The disparity—roughly an 18-1 ratio for Hispanics and a 20-1 ratio for African Americans—is attributed to the fact that both groups experienced major home value declines and unemployment resulting for the economic meltdown created by Wall Street.

What is so disheartening about those numbers is that with the economic expansion of the 1990s minorities had began to close the wealth gap. In 1995 the wealth gap was at its lowest at 7 to 1 for both groups.

Still, despite growing disappointment with the President’s progress, the reality is that liberal, progressive, and minority voters—Obama’s base—have no other viable choice. So while they will vote for the President in 2012, what isn’t as certain is their level of financial support and willingness to volunteer in the campaign, elements that were crucial to his victory in 2008.

C.Z.T.

Turner GPA is one of the premier, highly respected government and public affairs firms in the nation. Turner’s state-of-the-art advocacy has earned them respect and acclaim from the media, clients, policymakers and even their competitors! Turner advocates on behalf of cutting edge businesses, municipalities, and non-profits that wish to ensure their perspectives and needs are taken into account in Washington, in state capitols and in City Hall, as well as in the media. The firm creates and implements intensely focused and targeted advocacy campaigns designed to meet and exceed its client’s expectations and goals. For more information on Turner GPA, visit www.turnergpa.com or call 202-466-2511.

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Is Compromise Really A Dirty Word?

Posted on July 26, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

Last night in his address to the nation, President Obama said that Washington has become “a town where compromise has become a dirty word.” He was of course referring to the ultra-partisan, political jockeying and ideological grandstanding that have become part and parcel of the debt ceiling debate that has taken the country to the brink of economic calamity.

The lack of compromise, the inability to find common ground in order to craft real solutions to our nation’s shared problems—jobs, climate change, health care just to name a few—is why nothing of substance is getting done on Capitol Hill. No wonder the American public is angry and fed-up.

When I listen to the Democrats and Republicans arguing with one another, each side acting like spoiled little children screaming at the top of their lungs while at the same time covering their ears, I think of that iconic line from the movie Cool Hand Luke—“What we got here is a failure to communicate.”

We, at Turner Government and Public Affairs, understand the absolute necessity of effective communication—of successfully selling an idea or a position to both sides of the aisle. We pride ourselves in our proven ability to advance the priorities and goals of our bipartisan client base, and we do that because among other things, we understand that communicating effectively is predicated on establishing common ground, which is at the heart of compromise.

At Turner we have established a culture of accomplishment working with Congress and regulatory agencies in Washington. We know how to bridge complex constituencies and form strategic alliances with government and industry leaders to achieve success for our clients.

That is why I find what’s playing out in Washington these days so personally frustrating.

As President Obama noted in his speech last night, Americans may have voted for a divided government, but what they didn’t vote for was a dysfunctional government.

It’s time that our so-called leaders in Washington find common ground, hammer out a doable “compromise” and get to finally doing what we elected them to do—find real solutions to our nation’s concerns. In a word—GOVERN.

C.Z.T.

Turner GPA is one of the premier, highly respected government and public affairs firms in the nation. Turner’s state-of-the-art advocacy has earned them respect and acclaim from the media, clients, policymakers and even their competitors! Turner advocates on behalf of cutting edge businesses, municipalities, and non-profits that wish to ensure their perspectives and needs are taken into account in Washington, in state capitols and in City Hall, as well as in the media. The firm creates and implements intensely focused and targeted advocacy campaigns designed to meet and exceed its client’s expectations and goals. For more information on Turner GPA, visit www.turnergpa.com or call 202-466-2511.

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It’s Not the Deficit, It’s Jobs

Posted on July 25, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

If you have been reading us faithfully then you know that our mantra has been – job creation is priority number one.

Clearly, the rest of America agrees with us. A new Gallup poll, which was released last week, indicated that voters list the economy and unemployment/jobs as the nation’s top problems, with deficit/debt reduction running a distant third.

When asked to respond to the question: What do you think is the most important problem facing this country today?—31 percent of Americans indicated that it is the economy in general with an additional 27 percent specifically citing unemployment and jobs. That’s a total of 58 percent who see the economy and unemployment/jobs as the country’s most pressing concerns. Only 16 percent of those surveyed said that the federal budget deficit/debt is America’s biggest problem.

Further, the Gallup poll indicated that the “percentage of Americans naming jobs as the top problem has been on the rise” since April, “increasing 8 percentage points” from 19 percent to 27 percent.

On the same day that the Gallup poll was released the U.S. Labor Department reported that the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits had increased from 408,000 to 418,000 a week. What’s more, 30 percent of America’s jobless—4.4 million people—have been out of work for more than a year.

The ugly truth is that U.S. employers only managed to create 18,000 jobs in June at a time when unemployment stands at 9.2 percent and more than 14 million Americans are jobless.

Despite those appalling numbers our lawmaker’s are spending all their energy battling over raising the debt limit, something that had, in the past, been done almost routinely.

Clearly, Congress and the Obama Administration have strayed away from the one issue the majority of American’s care about—JOBS. When all of the political posturing is finally done and both sides are patting themselves on the back for “averting a crisis” by crafting a deal to raise the debt ceiling, American’s are still going to be asking what they have been asking all along—Where are the jobs?

Turner GPA is one of the premier, highly respected government and public affairs firms in the nation. Turner’s state-of-the-art advocacy has earned them respect and acclaim from the media, clients, policymakers and even their competitors! Turner advocates on behalf of cutting edge businesses, municipalities, and non-profits that wish to ensure their perspectives and needs are taken into account in Washington, in state capitols and in City Hall, as well as in the media. The firm creates and implements intensely focused and targeted advocacy campaigns designed to meet and exceed its client’s expectations and goals. For more information on Turner GPA, visit www.turnergpa.com or call 202-466-2511.

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The Ultimate Enforcement Guarantee

Posted on July 22, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

For more information contact TurnerGPA at 202-466-2511

Boehner and Obama are discussing trigger mechanisms that would threaten each party with the loss of their most cherished priority if Congress fails to achieve specified deadlines and savings in their $3.7 trillion deal.

Obama is pushing for inclusion of an automatic tax increase for persons with annual incomes over $250,000 as the penalty for Congressional failure to adhere to timelines and spending cut targets. Boehner is pushing for simultaneous repeal of critical portions of the health reform law – including the individual mandate – if such automatic tax increases are triggered.

These enforcement mechanisms reflect the conviction of both Obama and Boehner that only draconian consequences can force Members of Congress to work together sufficiently to achieve real debt reduction.

Key questions at this juncture are what smaller amount of new revenue might Obama and the Democrats accept, and what amount of Medicare savings and reform will be withdrawn in return?

The President has offered to increase the Medicare eligibility age to 67, and greatly increase the number of seniors subject to higher Medicare Part B premiums through means testing. But these changes may be off the table if Boehner and House Republicans won’t agree to significant amounts of new revenue.

How costs and savings are counted becomes critical as we approach the final stages of negotiation.
Which baselines are used? How will CBO scoring procedures influence deal? How fast will tax and entitlement changes be phased in?

You will know Congress and the President are getting serious when spreadsheets start circulating.

We are far from that point this morning.

Turner GPA is one of the premier, highly respected government and public affairs firms in the nation. Turner’s state-of-the-art advocacy has earned them respect and acclaim from the media, clients, policymakers and even their competitors! Turner advocates on behalf of cutting edge businesses, municipalities, and non-profits that wish to ensure their perspectives and needs are taken into account in Washington, in state capitols and in City Hall, as well as in the media. The firm creates and implements intensely focused and targeted advocacy campaigns designed to meet and exceed its client’s expectations and goals. For more information on Turner GPA, visit www.turnergpa.com or call 202-466-2511.

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