Tag: Center for American Progress

‘Progressive’ Contempt for Congress and Policymakers

The left-leaning Center for American Progress, influential with the Obama White House, has presented a plan to the President for accomplishing “progressive” policy goals despite the results of the November elections. Congress won’t do the President’s bidding? Then ram through your policy agenda with Executive Branch actions. 

From “The Power of the President: Recommendations to Advance Progressive Change“:

Concentrating on executive powers presents a real opportunity for the Obama administration to turn its focus away from a divided Congress and the unappetizing process of making legislative sausage. Instead, the administration can focus on the president’s ability to deliver results for the American people on the things that matter most to them.

What the Center for Amercan Progress is dismissing with the tired Bismarckian line about sausage-making is, in fact, the writing of laws that govern the American people, the making of policy by our elected representatives. 

The group is headed by John Podesta, former White House chief of staff under President Clinton and the head of the Obama/Biden transition team. He writes:

It would be a welcome relief from watching legislative maneuvering to see the work of a strong executive who is managing the business of the country through troubled times, doing more with less, each day working to create a stronger economy and a more effective government.

But Podesta is guiding the Administration down a path the President already chose to tread. Congress rejected cap-and-trade, so the EPA seeks to accomplish the same policy ends through greenhouse gas regulation under the Clean Air Act. Congress stopped the jobs-killing Employee Free Choice Act, so the President appoints members to the National Labor Relations Board to enact Big Labor’s agenda piece by piece, decision by decision. A majority in Congress refuses to demonize and abandon fossil fuels, so the Department of Interior just bans drilling.

Who really cares if Podesta and his activist crew at the Center for American Progress are tired of all the “legislative maneuvering” that interferes with their restructuring of American society and the economy? We have a system of government in which Congress is the policymaking branch of government. We live in a nation of laws. That’s America, not sausage.

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Demonizing vs. Democracy: Chamber Wins the Argument

The White House and DNC attacks against the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for daring to criticize the Administration over policy matters have failed miserably. With no evidence at all — just the bugaboo of “foreign money” – they accused the Chamber of wrongdoing, implying criminal violations and then demanding the Chamber prove itself innocent.

Failing to restrict political speech through passage of the unconstitutional DISCLOSE Act, the partisans turned from legislation to intimidation. That decision harmed public discourse and showed the Obama Administration willing to use the Office of the Presidency for personalized, demagogic attacks.

The Chamber has ably defended itself, and all but the most partisan of media outlets have found the political charges to be overheated, at best. The New York Times cut the White House’s ground of under it in the Oct. 8 report, “Topic of Foreign Money in U.S. Races Hits Hustings“:

The issue of the chamber’s funding first gained notice this week when ThinkProgress, a blog affiliated with the Center for American Progress, an influential liberal advocacy group, posted a lengthy piece with the headline “Exclusive: Foreign-Funded ‘U.S.’ Chamber of Commerce Running Partisan Attack Ads.”

The piece detailed the chamber’s overseas memberships, but it provided no evidence that the money generated overseas had been used in United States campaigns. Still, liberal groups like MoveOn.org pounced on the allegations, resulting in protests at the chamber’s offices, a demand for a federal investigation by Senator Al Franken, Democrat of Minnesota, and ultimately the remarks by Mr. Obama himself.

White House officials acknowledged Friday that they had no specific evidence to indicate that the chamber had used money from foreign entities to finance political attack ads.

Bob Schieffer, host of CBS’s “Face the Nation,” in a response to White House official David Axelrod’s accusations: “I guess I would put it this way. If– if– if the only charge, three weeks into the election that the Democrats can make is that there’s somehow this may or may not be foreign money coming into the campaign, is that the best you can do?” (continue reading…)

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A Myth About Manufacturing

Manufacturers disagree with Treasury Secretary Geithner’s  comments this afternoon at an event sponsored by the Center for American Progress and the American Action Forum in which he stated it is a “myth” that tax increases would hurt small businesses.  Nearly 68 percent of all manufacturers are organized as S-Corporations or other entities taxed at the individual rate. This means they pay individual tax rates on their business income. So, when the Administration says it supports letting the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts expire for the top 2 percent in this country, these manufacturers are included.

Since 2007, these manufacturers organized as S-Corporations have lost more than 850,000 jobs – 42 percent of the total jobs lost in the goods-producing sector.  Increasing taxes would deal a painful blow and create more uncertainty and increase costs for an industry trying to lead our nation in recovery. 

Manufacturers have been hit hard especially as a capital-intensive business.  Manufacturer’s equipment is expensive, they have more employees and higher payroll costs, so the money flowing through their business tends to be higher. Further, the company’s profit does not equal the manufacturer’s take-home pay as they reinvest in their business with new equipment and new employees.  Often it also means building new facilities.

In a March 2010 survey of small and medium-sized manufacturers firms, 86 percent said they were concerned about the expiring tax rates – of those, 62 percent said they were very concerned.  I don’t think these manufacturers would at all agree with Secretary Geithner’s claim that these tax hikes will not have an impact on them.

With unemployment continuing to hover close to 10 percent, we will continue to urge the Administration and Congress to put policies in place that will stimulate private sector growth and jobs – which includes extending the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts.  We also encourage them to enact the policies explained in the NAM’s “Manufacturing Strategy For Jobs and a Competitive America.”

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Federal Contracts are Not the Way to Change Labor Policy

There had been some suspicion that the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, Peter Orszag, would announce support for the proposed “High Road Contracting Policy” in remarks at the Center for American Progress, a speech that addressed the Administration’s plans to reduce federal spending by managing costs at federal agencies.

This “high road” proposal would create a system where federal bureaucrats would score the employment practices of private businesses that seek contracts with the government. Proposals would be evaluated by these terms and would grant preferential treatment in award the bids on the basis of factors that aren’t related to the business’ ability to deliver the terms of the contract. Such a system creates barriers for smaller-sized employers to compete and driving up costs for taxpayers.

Thankfully, the OMB Director did not indicate support for the proposal in Tuesday’s remarks. We hope the issue’s absence means the Administration recognizes that such efforts would go counter to its stated goal of rein in federal spending.

Further the White House Taskforce on the Middle Class has expressed support for a policy proposal which would actually do the opposite of reining in federal spending – a goal that the OMB Director made quite clear in his remarks.

As we’ve noted previously, several groups have been pressuring the Administration to enact major policy changes by reconfiguring the way that the federal government does business with the private sector. “Progressive“ think tanks and labor unions have been clamoring for the President to sign an executive order that would create a “high road contracting policy” to place new requirements on companies that do business with the government. We hope that the Administration will recognize the flaws of such a misguided proposal.

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High Road? Except for the Tolls, Check Points and Costly Detours

The Center for American Progress, some labor leaders and their allies on the Hill have been placing pressure on the Administration to implement significant changes on how the federal government does business with the private sector. These groups want a government-wide “High Road Contracting Policy” to be put into effect by an executive order. Such a Presidential edict would dictate specific terms of employment that contractors must have in place in order to receive preferential treatment for federal contracts.

This proposal would add further burdens onto an already complex federal contracting system that would discourage competition in federal contracts and place smaller-sized manufacturers and non-unionized workplaces at a disadvantage for federal contracts. Led by Sen. Susan Collins, ranking member of the Senate’s committee with oversight over federal contracting policy, several Senators recognized the dangers of this proposal and have urged the Office of Management and Budget to reject any “high road” changes.

The administration claims its goal is to maximize efficiency in federal contracting. However, previous executive orders enacted supposedly to achieve the same goal have actually done the opposite. Bidders who wish to provide goods or services to the federal government should be evaluated on their ability to provide and deliver on the terms of the contracts. This process fosters competition and allows the bidder that demonstrates the best value to be recognized when bids are accepted and awarded.

The proposed “high road contracting policy” is a further attempt to achieve goals of the jobs-killing Employee Free Choice Act by executive fiat. As Roll Call notes, a group of Members of Congress recently urged the President to issue such an executive order. But as fundamental matter of labor-management relations, this is a policy matter that should be considered by the policy-making branch of the federal government – the Congress. If the Administration seeks to raise the costs of federal contracting – costs ultimately borne by the taxpayer – it should make its arguments in Congress.

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A Conclave of the Cadre of the Cabal of the Constitution

Environmental groups have the ear of the White House, or maybe it’s vice versa. As Greenwire at The New York Times reported last week.

Rahm Emanuel met for about 30 minutes with a group that included League of Conservation Voters President Gene Karpinski, Sierra Club Chairman Carl Pope, Center for American Progress President John Podesta, Environmental Defense Fund President Fred Krupp, Natural Resources Defense Council President Frances Beinecke, National Wildlife Federation President Larry Schweiger and Sheila O’Connell of Unity ’09, a Democratic umbrella group.

Now, in a similar situation, with business groups in the place of the environmentalists, there would be vitriolic accusations of undue influence and special access.

But to us this looks as if the people were meeting with White House officials to petition the government and exercise their First Amendment rights. More power to them…metaphorically that is.

Although we can’t imagine business groups attending a White House meeting with a member of Republican umbrella organization at the same time. Now THAT would invite vitriol. So far, we’ve spotted nothing of that acidic nature over this meeting.

Unity ’09 is clearly not an environmental activist group; it’s a partisan political operation. Expressing opinions and petitioning the government for redress of grievances are one thing, coordinating political strategy with a leader of a party-political organization is another.

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No, Waxman-Markey is NOT a Jobs Creation Engine

We responded of one line of argument against the NAM/ACCF study — that of slanted assumptions – in a post below, and were going to get to the other criticism, which boils down to: “Look how much the economy grows with Waxman-Markey. It’s great!”

Chris Horner of the Competitive Enterprise Institute has already done the work, though, and done it well, so we’ll just defer to his post at Planet Gore, the global warming/energy blog of National Review Online, “When Opponents Stop Trying.”

[Naturally] Team Soros hails the conclusions, “NAM/ACCF Forecasts 20 Million New Jobs Under American Clean Energy And Security Act”. Implication: it’s some sort of job creator. Here’s their announcement’s lead, with emphases added to highlight the implied claim:

A new analysis of the economic impact of clean energy legislation forecasts powerful job and economic growth through 2030. The analysis of the Waxman-Markey American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES), commissioned by the right-wing National Association of Manufacturers and the American Council for Capital Formation (ACCF), finds that 20 million new jobs will be created in the United States by 2030, even under high-cost assumptions.

The logic, you see, is because it wouldn’t kill EVERY new job between now and then. Ha! It’s a good thing . . . new jobs occur “under this bill”! (Where’s my giggle emoticon? Had it here somewhere . . . )

That was our reaction too. They’re just dismissing the loss of 2.4 million jobs as a little inconvenience, a minor bump, no big deal. Tell that to 2.4 million individuals who aren’t working thanks to Waxman-Markey.

P.S. The Team Soros dig is a reference to the Center for American Progress and its various arms, affiliates and Internet emanations, in this case The Wonk Room at the Think Progress blog. Leftist market manipulator George Soros is a major source of funding for the group.

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Dispatch from the Front: The Week of August 10

Congress is gone, the President travels, Washington goes quiet as the heat descends, and townhall protests are this year’s media pick to fill the August news vacuum.

The Senate holds a pro forma session today and then returns on Tuesday, September 8. The House also returns Sept. 8.

Members of Congress head overseas this month, and Foreign Policy has the itineraries of the Congressional delegations, i.e., CODELs.

President Obama returns this evening from Guadalajara, where topics included swine flu, Mexican trucks and “Buy American” provisions. Tuesday he travels to Portsmouth, N.H., for a town hall meeting on “health insurance reform.” (Not “health care reform.” The preferred terminology is changing…) Wednesday morning, the President welcomes new Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor to the White House. That afternoon, he holds the Medal of Freedom ceremony. (Recipients.) On Friday, he and the First Family travel to Bozeman, and visit Yellowstone and Grand Junction, Colo., Saturday. On Sunday, it’s the Grand Canyon and Phoenix, where he will address the VFW’s annual convention.

CPSC: On Thursday, the new product tracking labels requirements imposed by the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act go into effect.

Economic Reports: Second-quarter productivity figures are released Tuesday, and the June report on the U.S. trade deficit is out Wednesday. On Thursday, the government reports July retail sales. Friday it’s the CPI report along with July industrial production. (More from CNNMoney.com.)

The Federal Reserve’s Open Market Committee convenes Tuesday and Wednesday, and is expected to maintain interest rates. Reuters: “Policy-makers are also likely to allow a controversial scheme to buy $300 billion of longer-dated Treasuries to end on schedule in September. But they may discuss extending a separate program to support the flow of credit to consumers and business, with an eye on propping up commercial real estate.”

And today Senate Majority Leader Reid and the Center for American Progress Action Fund sponsor the National Clean Energy Summit at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas. Energy Secretary Chu is on hand, and the Summit reports, “This year’s summit will bring together the nation’s top minds including former President Bill Clinton, Vice President Al Gore, energy executive T. Boone Pickens, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, White House Council on Environmental Quality Special Advisor Van Jones, Nevada State AFL-CIO executive Danny Thompson.” Check out the Center’s website for a better sense of its “progressive” agenda for the U.S. economy. Clean energy is just a piece.

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House Homeland Security Still Working on Chemical Security Bill

The House Homeland Security Committee continues its markup at 5:30 p.m. of H.R. 2868, the Chemical Facility Antiterrorism Act, a seemingly well-intentioned piece of legislation that will make U.S. production and storage of chemicals more expensive and burdensome with no appreciable benefit to public safety and national security. Extension of the current 2006 regulations would allow the increased safety measures known as the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards, or CFATS, to be implemented fully in a logical, effective way. The Obama Administration supports such an extension.

We posted on the bill here and here, and have also noted the writing of E.F. Glynn, blogging at KansasMeadowlark, concerned about the impact of yet more government regulation on farmers and the ag economy. In a new post, “Homeland Security may impose new regulations on agriculture,” Glynn includes videos from last week’s committee meeting and expresses astonishment that the debate seems to be driven by a left-leaning think tank: “A Center for American Progress study that shows no economists or engineers on the project team, nor any economic or engineering analysis, is enough for Congress to decide national chemical security policy?”

Well, count up the usual suspects. The believers in regulations first and always at OMB Watch say, “Chemical Security Bill Withstanding Industry Assault“: “With luck and the continued hard work of the ‘Blue Green Coalition’ of labor, environmental, and public interest groups, the bill hopefully will emerge from this committee mostly unscathed.” See, obviously this coalition formed because of their mutual interest in fighting terrorism.

There’s also the U.S. PIRG news release, “U.S. PIRG Urges Passage of Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Act of 2009.”

Both groups support the “citizen suits” provisions which create a second regulatory system, that imposed by environmentalist lawsuits. Blogger P.J. Coyle also wonders about the impetus behind the newly added “citizen suits” provision at his blog, “Chemical Facility Security News.”

As committee members debate this legislation that will add costs to a major employer during a serious recession, we would remind them of these facts, courtesy the American Chemistry Council:

That’s 5.66 million jobs.

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On the Next Energy Secretary (Presumed)

The San Francisco Chronicle reports on the likelihood that President-elect Obama will nominate Steven Chu, director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and a Nobel prize winner, to be the next Energy Secretary.

The possibility elicits the single most arrogant, condescending quote we’ve seen this week:

“The Chu pick is exciting because (he) will bring scientific rigor to the new administration’s energy policy,” said Daniel J. Weiss, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, a liberal Washington think tank. “After the anti-science Bush administration, this is like going to a Mensa meeting after eight years of being trapped in the Flat Earth Society.”

Keep it up, Weiss. That’s a great tone to strike as you try to persuade the country to adopt jobs-killing policies. You disagree with us? You’re a dunce and we’re going to mock you.

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