President Obama’s Clean Energy Agenda Taking Some Hard (And Unfair?) Hits

Posted on September 23, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , |

By Caren Z. Turner

“To build a future of energy security, we must trust in the creative genius of American researchers and entrepreneurs and empower them to pioneer a new generation of clean energy technology. … The United States is committed to strengthening our energy security and confronting global climate change. And the best way to meet these goals is for America to continue leading the way toward the development of cleaner and more energy-efficient technology.”

So said the President in his State of the Union address. Only it wasn’t President Obama. The words were spoken by his predecessor, George W. Bush, during his 2008 State of the Union address.

The “green” agenda that President Obama has been pursuing is a continuation (and evolution) of the clean energy vision and commitments advanced by former President Bush. And as our history has demonstrated for over a century-and-a-half, major direction changes in new industry and technology come with inherent investment risks. Such is the nature of exploration and discovery.

Which is why it is necessary to question whether recent criticism of the President is somewhat (though not entirely) unfair.

With the recent failure of California solar panel company Solyndra, criticism of President Obama on his green energy and green jobs initiatives has sharply increased. Among the more vocal recent critics is Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. He is even holding a hearing today titled “How Obama’s Green Energy Agenda is Killing Jobs.”

A recent report released by Issa’s committee strongly criticized the President’s push for green jobs by stating that “the metric of a ‘green job’ is nothing more than a propaganda tool designed to provide legitimacy to a pre-determined outcome that benefits a political ideology rather than the economy or the environment.”

The report concluded that “three years and nearly a hundred billion dollars later, taxpayers have received little return from President Obama’s investments in ‘green jobs.’”

Yet while the Obama Administration continues to get hammered on the issue, it remains steadfast in its defense of its investments in clean energy and green jobs.

“Our investments in clean energy innovation are creating hundreds of thousands of jobs around the country, developing entire industries and supply chains, and helping to make American companies to be more competitive,” said Deputy Energy Secretary Daniel Poneman in a statement yesterday. Poneman is scheduled to testify at today’s hearing.

It is worth noting that while Issa continues what appears to be politically motivated pummeling of the White House, it was recently discovered that he has sought government loans in the past for clean energy projects in his home state of California, including a hybrid-car company and a lithium-ion manufacturer.

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 http://www.turnergpa.comor call 202-466-2511.

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Enter President Obama’s Debt Reduction Plan, Stage Left

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

by Caren Z. Turner

Can a politician be practical and do politics at the same time? You bet.

President Obama outlined his $3 trillion debt reduction plan on Monday, which Republicans instantly criticized as “class warfare,” in spite of the fact that polls continue to show that Democrats and many independent voters support raising taxes on the wealthy and oppose reducing Medicare and Social Security benefits. The details of the President’s plan were what we expected, discussed in our post Monday: the creation of $1.5 in revenues largely by increasing taxes on the wealthy, and $1 trillion in savings through cuts and reforms to Medicare and Medicaid over the next ten years.

While the plan pleased Democrats, what utterly thrilled and reinvigorated President Obama’s Democratic base was his defiant stand against any potential Republican obstruction to his plan. To many, it was a “Well it’s about time Mr. President!” moment. The President has been criticized since taking office as being weak for compromising with Republicans on a number of key issues including healthcare, Bush-era tax cuts, and Wall Street reform.

The President’s shift, which many feel presents a sound policy direction, is also politically smart: President Obama cannot get reelected without the support of his base, which has been seriously displeased with him for a long time. The President’s new defiant energy – if he sustains it – may be the start of a new and critical trend by the President in his hopes for winning reelection.

“If he refuses to compromise, he’ll win,” said Dan Cantor, executive director of New York’s labor-backed Working Families Party, which led a drive last year for a similar “millionaire’s tax.” “It’s economically sensible, politically popular and morally just.”

On another note, Monday marked the final nail in the coffin for “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) which also excited Democrats and liberals across the country.

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 http://www.turnergpa.comor call 202-466-2511.

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President Obama Prepares Jobs Speech

Posted on August 31, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

by Caren Z. Turner

In less than one week President Obama will deliver his highly-anticipated major speech on the economy, with a main focus on job creation. While the details of the President’s initiative are still being ironed out, labor leaders and many Democrats are urging him to lay out strong proposals that are solution-oriented rather than proposals designed to appease political opposition in Congress.

“Will he commit all his energy to offering bold solutions, or will he continue to work with the tea party?” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka at a recent breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor. “If he falls into nibbling around the edges, history will judge him and working people will judge him.”

It is as yet unclear what direction the President will take: advancing limited initiatives which will have a greater chance of passing the Republican-led House, or offering a broad stimulus plan that will appeal to his Democratic and liberal base.

Administration officials who are aware of developments indicate that the President is considering a tax cut that would directly reward companies for hiring new employees. He may also consider clean-energy tax cuts, as well as new spending for green construction and for rehabilitating schools.

Among other initiatives the President is considering:

• Programs to deal with long-term unemployment including a plan similar to Georgia’s unemployment insurance program that      pays employers to hire workers who have been unemployed.
• Economy-stimulating refinancing programs to help revitalize the housing market.
• Possibly renewing and expanding payroll tax cuts.

As the President continues to finalize his plan, black leaders are increasing their pressure on him for not doing enough to address high joblessness among African Americans.

On August 16, while President Obama was on his three-day Midwest economic bus tour, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) questioned the President’s visit to a nearly all-white Iowa community to discuss jobs.

“Our people are hurting,” said Waters. “Unemployment is unconscionable. We don’t know what the strategy is. We don’t know why this trip that he is on in the United States now, that he’s not in any black communities.”

Some say that the President’s reticence to give specific outright attention to African American concerns is politically wise, in that it serves to stave off any appearances of favoritism to a particular segment of the American people.

“The president is smart enough to know he’s the first African-American, and I think he’s concerned — I would say afraid — that people are going to think he’s favoring African-Americans,” said Rep. Laura Richardson (D-CA), who represents several predominantly black Los Angeles-area neighborhoods.

Adding to the pressures on the President, House Republicans are preparing their own initiatives to tackle the joblessness issue in a legislative agenda that will focus on regulatory and tax relief.

“When we return next week, the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction will begin meeting to take an additional incremental step toward addressing our debt crisis. During this time, it is essential that the House continue our focus on the jobs crisis,” wrote Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) in a memo being sent on Monday to House Republicans.

Cantor’s memo further describes efforts to go after “10 job-destroying regulations” which are “reflective of the types of costly bureaucratic handcuffs that Washington has imposed upon businesspeople who want to create jobs.”

Among the regulatory rules House Republicans will focus on are new EPA standards for cross-state air pollution from power plants, boilers, coal ash in mining-heavy states, cement production, and farm dust. We covered this topic recently in an article titled “Saving Jobs: Washington Must Invest In Consistent Approach.”

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 http://www.turnergpa.com or call 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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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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Judge Okays Stem-Cell Research

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

Giving a victory to supporters of stem-cell research, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit that would have banned government funding of research on human embryos.

Upholding the Obama Administration position, a federal judge on Wednesday ruled against two scientists who claimed that the National Institutes of Health was in violation of the law by allowing research that resulted in the destruction of embryos.

The White House immediately issued a statement applauding the judge’s ruling, calling it a “step in the right direction.”

“While we don’t know exactly what stem cell research will yield, scientists believe this research could treat or cure diseases that affect millions of Americans every year. That’s why President Obama has long fought to support responsible stem cell research,” read the statement.

Shortly after coming to office President Obama signed an executive order that ended an 8 ½ year ban on government funding of embryonic stem cell research imposed by former President George Bush.

In opposing the lawsuit lawyers for the Obama administration argued that significant ongoing research being underwritten by the NIH would be terminated if federal funding were blocked.
Wednesday’s ruling will give stem-cell scientists confidence that their research will be able to continue.

It is hoped that stem-cell research will some day lead to treatment for a range of diseases including diabetes, cancers, Parkinson’s and spinal cord injuries.

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 http://www.turnergpa.com or call 202-466-2511.

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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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