Tag: H.R. 1

Use Continuing Resolution to Rein in EPA’s Regulatory Overreach

The National Association of Manufacturers today sent a letter to U.S. House members urging them to support amendments to pull back the reins on the Administration’s aggressive, excessive and expensive regulatory agenda on environmental issues, starting with the Environmental Protection Agency.

The letter was signed by Aric Newhouse, the NAM’s senior vice president for policy and government relations:

Dear Representative:

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), the nation’s largest industrial trade association representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states, supports efforts in the Continuing Resolution (H.R. 1) and related amendments that would limit the federal government’s overreaching environmental regulatory agenda, which is costing jobs and economic growth.

As manufacturers – our nation’s job creators – recover from the recession, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed regulations that would hinder economic growth, cause further job loss and hurt our global competitiveness. For example:

  • The EPA’s regulation of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from stationary sources has created tremendous uncertainty for manufacturers, could increase energy costs and has already deterred companies from expanding their operations in the United States.
  • Proposed new emission limits on industrial boilers are unachievable in practice and could cause the loss of hundreds of thousands of high-wage U.S. manufacturing jobs.
  • Regulating coal ash as a hazardous waste under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) would increase energy costs for manufacturers, thus putting jobs at risk.

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Stimula

The National Association of Manufacturers supported the stimulus package passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama, believing it would spur renewed economic growth while addressing needed infrastructure programs.

Many manufacturers we talk to have been disappointed. Dollars for infrastructure seem slower to flow into the economy than expected, and much of the federal spending has gone to help states prop up their budgets and fund social programs. You can argue the merits, but stimulus it’s not.

So Christina Hoff Sommers appears to be onto something when she writes about the skewing of the bill toward non-manufacturing, non-construction, non-infrastructure jobs. Hoff Sommers is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute most known for her book, The War Against Boys. The politics of feminism falls outside our commentary bailiwick, but it’s hard to disagree with the conditions she describes in a new Weekly Standard article, “No Country for Burly Men“:

Men are bearing the brunt of the current economic crisis because they predominate in manufacturing and construction, the hardest-hit sectors, which have lost more than 3 million jobs since December 2007. Women, by contrast, are a majority in recession-resistant fields such as education and health care, which gained 588,000 jobs during the same period. Rescuing hundreds of thousands of unemployed crane operators, welders, production line managers, and machine setters was never going to be easy. But the concerted opposition of several powerful women’s groups has made it all but impossible

Again, we don’t want to venture into the gender wars, but something has gone awry with the stimulus component of the stimulus bill. In today’s Washington Post, there’s a poll story, “Confidence in Stimulus Plan Ebbs, Poll Finds“:

Barely half of Americans are now confident that President Obama’s $787 billion stimulus measure will boost the economy, and the rapid rise in optimism about the state of the nation that followed the 2008 election has abated, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

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The Stimulus Bill, Housing and a Different Perspective

Looking for other, non-predictable, non-MSM perspectives on the stimulus bill, we find this in newspaper boxes all around the metropolitan D.C. area today, the latest issue of the Washington Hispanic:

The main headline: “Stimulus doesn’t help everyone”

The smaller deck above the headline: “Many hispanics like Mauricio Zelaya are in danger of losing their homes”

Announcements made this week by President Obama of an unprecedented package of stimulus measures to counter the economic recession and the multibillion dollar housing finance plan may be dead letters for Mauricio Zelaya, who has lived for eight years in a house in Hyattsville (Maryland).Zelaya, of Salvadorean origin and the father of five boys, is in danger of losing his home having been a victim of mortgage fraud by a group of unlicensed lenders.

Just two points: Housing and housing finance remain powerful political issues, obviously moreso in lower-income communities where fraud was more prevalent.

And, what a telling assumption, that the stimulus bill was supposed to help everyone — including victims of crime. Everyone!

P.S. On another note, the paper reports that Venezuelans in the Washington area voted overwhelmingly against the constitutional amendment that would allow Hugo Chavez to continue in office. In ballots cast at the Venezuelan embassay here in Washington, the count was 631 no, 64 yes.

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DTV, the Costly Chaos Continues

A commenter makes the point that the DTV transition was far more than just an inconvenience as we suggested in drawing a comparison to the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act.  Noted and reaffirmed by today’s news.

From today’s Washington Post, Federal City Digest column:

Nearly 500 television stations told the Federal Communications Commission last week that they intended to go ahead and change to digital broadcasts tomorrow, the deadline for the switch they had been planning around for three years. But when Congress postponed the deadline, moving it to June 12, the FCC said it reserved the right to prevent stations from switching on the earlier date if it posed a public safety threat to particular markets.

The FCC initially responded that it would not let 123 stations switch tomorrow, our colleague Kim Hart reports, primarily because every major commercial station was planning to switch in some markets, potentially throwing consumers without digital-enabled TV sets into the dark about important public safety information and news alerts. It then amended that number to 106…[snip]

Net result: Fifty-three stations made such moves and will switch early, 10 are in limbo pending hardship appeals, and 43 must wait.

For a market-specific report, the Duluth News-Tribune has a good column, observing “Broadcasters worked a year or longer, and at great expense, not only to inform the public but to explain how to connect converter boxes or how to take other necessary measures…The intervention of Congress turned what had been a well-planned, well-publicized transformation into confusion and chaos.”

From conference report to H.R. 1, the economic stimulus bill.

DIGITAL-TO-ANALOG CONVERTER BOX PROGRAM For an amount for ‘‘Digital-to-Analog Converter Box Program’’, $650,000,000, for additional coupons and related activities under the program implemented under section 3005 of the Digital Television Transition and Public Safety Act of 2005, to remain available until September 30, 2010: Provided, That of the amounts provided under this heading, $90,000,000 may be for education and outreach, including grants to organizations for programs to educate vulnerable populations, including senior citizens, minority communities, people with disabilities, low-income individuals, and people living in rural areas, about the transition and to provide one-on-one assistance to vulnerable populations, including help with converter box installation.

 

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CPSIA Update: Die, Velveteen Rabbit, Die!

Walter Olson at City Journal, “The New Book Banning“:

It’s hard to believe, but true: under a law Congress passed last year aimed at regulating hazards in children’s products, the federal government has now advised that children’s books published before 1985 should not be considered safe and may in many cases be unlawful to sell or distribute. Merchants, thrift stores, and booksellers may be at risk if they sell older volumes, or even give them away, without first subjecting them to testing—at prohibitive expense. Many used-book sellers, consignment stores, Goodwill outlets, and the like have accordingly begun to refuse new donations of pre-1985 volumes, yank existing ones off their shelves, and in some cases discard them en masse.

He reports an account of book destruction from the somewhere outside the Beltway:

I just came back from my local thrift store with tears in my eyes! I watched as boxes and boxes of children’s books were thrown into the garbage! Today was the deadline and I just can’t believe it! Every book they had on the shelves prior to 1985 was destroyed! I managed to grab a 1967 edition of “The Outsiders” from the top of the box, but so many!

The bill that became the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, H.R. 4040, was introduced on November 1, 2007. It became law on August 14, 2008. Nine-plus months of Congressional consideration and negotiation and some limited floor debate. Nine months, and the result is economic havoc. Books being destroyed!

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, H.R. 1, was introduced on January 26, 2009. The final version of the economic stimulus bill passed the House and Senate on February 13. Nineteen days, and the result will be …

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In the House, the Big Vote of the Day

H. Res. 139:
commemorating the life and legacy of President Abraham Lincoln on the bicentennial of his birth 

Motion to reconsider laid on the table Agreed to without objection.

On motion to suspend the rules and agree to the resolution Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: (2/3 required): 403 – 0 (Roll no. 71).

Oh, right. You wanted THIS one.

H.R. 1:
making supplemental appropriations for job preservation and creation, infrastructure investment, energy efficiency and science, assistance to the unemployed, and State and local fiscal stabilization, for fiscal year ending September 30, 2009, and for other purposes 

Motions to reconsider laid on the table Agreed to without objection.

2:24 P.M. –
On agreeing to the conference report Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: 246 – 183, 1 Present (Roll no. 70).
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Key Vote Letter on H.R. 1, the Stimulus Bill

The NAM this morning sent a “Key Vote” letter to the House and Senate in support of the conference report on H.R. 1, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. That letter is here.

An earlier (Thursday) letter detailing more fully the NAM’s position and suggested areas of improvement is available at this post.

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Sundry on the Stimulus

Washington Post, “In Midwest, Obama Sings Praises of Stimulus Plan“:

EAST PEORIA, Ill., Feb. 12 — President Obama on Thursday touted the $789 billion economic stimulus package nearing congressional approval, telling workers at a huge manufacturing plant here that “a new wave of innovation, activity and construction will be unleashed all across America” once the plan is enacted.

The Post’s story is built around the President’s appearance at the Caterpillar plant in Peoria, Ill. Caterpillar and its top executive, Jim Owens, are advocates of expanded trade opportunities. So…

While Owens supports the stimulus plan, he is part of a group of manufacturing executives who had expressed concern that a “buy American” provision in the stimulus legislation could lead to retaliatory actions by other countries. The provision would require infrastructure projects in the stimulus bill to be built with U.S.-made iron and steel.

The final version of the stimulus bill includes the provision, although it says it must be applied in a manner consistent with U.S. obligations under international agreements.

“Absence of that wording would be perceived as violating our trade agreements and risking retaliation by countries accounting for 80 percent of our exports,” said Franklin J. Vargo, vice president for international economic affairs at the National Association of Manufacturers. “Even with that language, the provision affects countries not participating in the World Trade Organization agreement or not having a bilateral trade agreement with the United States.”

And a reasonable Washington Post editorial, “A Fiscal Gamble — The stimulus package isn’t pretty, but it is a risk worth taking.”

Finally, Bloomberg reports on the weakened tax provisions included in the final conference report, a set-back for manufacturing and the economy, “Tax benefit push falls short“:

WASHINGTON — The National Association of Manufacturers lost a last-minute lobbying campaign to fully restore a business tax break that House and Senate negotiators all but eliminated from the $789 billion economic stimulus bill.

Instead, lawmakers agreed to make more companies eligible for the tax break while still shutting large companies out of the benefit, according to a description released by the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means committees.

For the NAM’s view of these developments, the tax provisions, and our support for final passage, see this statement and letter posted at Shopfloor.org last evening.

 

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In Support of H.R. 1, the Stimulus Bill

NAM President and CEO John Engler issued a statement this evening in support of the conference report on H.R. 1, the economic stimulus bill. The NAM supports the measure but is not issuing a “Key Vote” letter on the conference report:

The economic situation that our country faces is unprecedented. Nearly 600,000 jobs have been lost since the beginning of this year and almost 4 million jobs have been lost in the past year. Day after day, more companies are forced to reduce their workforce to stay financially stable.

Our member companies from around the country are telling us they agree with Congress and the Administration that decisive and immediate action is critically necessary to spur economic revitalization. They understand that the conference version of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is not perfect but they believe the overall plan is an acceptable balance of tax cuts and investment designed to help job providers and the people who depend on them.

We view this bill as a very positive first step in promoting our nation’s economic revitalization. It is clear to NAM members that more needs to be done to revive our economy and ensure durable economic growth in the future, particularly in light of the current credit crunch and liquidity problems faced by manufacturers. It is critical that Congress and the Administration further expand tax relief for struggling companies of all sizes, lower tax rates on overseas income reinvested in the United States, provide temporary funding relief for companies that sponsor traditional pension plans and provide additional incentives to jumpstart the housing market. We support this legislation and urge Congress to pass it without delay.

Manufacturers recognize that immediate action is needed to address the unprecedented challenges faced by all sectors of the economy. There is more work to be done, and we will continue to work with Congress and the Administration to advance follow-on legislation that will help all manufacturers and our nation’s entire economy get back on track and ensure job creation and sustainable economic growth.

In addition, NAM’s President sent a letter to the House and Senate reprising the above points and providing more detail on the manufacturing sector’s support for more tax provisions to encourage economic growth and jobs creation, i.e., a more robust Net Operating Loss provision (in the Senate version), a reduced “toll charge” to encourage companies to bring money back home from overseas, pension relief and a home buyer tax credit.

The economic situation that our country faces is unprecedented. Nearly 600,000 jobs have been lost since the beginning of this year. Almost four million jobs have been lost in the past year. Day after day, more companies are forced to reduce their workforce to stay financially stable.

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Stories About the President’s Trip to Peoria and Caterpillar

Chicago Tribune, “Obama touts deal as boost to Caterpillar workers:”

WASHINGTON — Even before the deal was completed in Congress, President Barack Obama on Wednesday said evidence already had turned up that his economic rescue plan would improve the lives of American workers.

Three times during the day, the White House asserted that Caterpillar Inc., the giant maker of construction and other equipment that has recently laid off workers, would be able to rehire employees if Congress approved the stimulus bill.

But as the president prepared for a Thursday trip to visit a Caterpillar plant in East Peoria, Ill., it was not clear how strong an example the company would provide of the job-creating powers of the bill.

USA Today, “Stimulus fight gives Obama lessons early“:

Peoria Journal-Star, “Welcome, Mr. President“:

President Barack Obama will hold a meeting with workers at the Caterpillar Inc.’s Building HH in East Peoria on Thursday to discuss the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan.

The president’s arrival, departure and meeting with workers will be closed to the public.

3 p.m.: Arrival at the Air National Guard 182nd Airlift Wing at the Gen. Wayne A. Downing Peoria International Airport

3:25 p.m.: Meeting with Cat workers at Building HH, 901 W. Washington Ave., East Peoria

5:45 p.m.: Departure from the Air National Guard

Peoria Journal-Star, “Our View: From Abe to Obama, the circle closes in Peoria

Washington Examiner, “Obama uses Caterpillar to push stimulus plan“:

President Obama chose a Northern Virginia construction site on Wednesday to personalize the stakes of the stimulus plan, saying its passage would give back jobs to laid-off Caterpillar workers.

The company “has announced some 20,000 layoffs in the last few weeks,” Obama said, adding that Chairman and CEO Jim Owens “said that if the [stimulus] passes, his company would be able to rehire some of those employees.”

Jim Geraghty, National Review Online, “If You Want to Quote Caterpillar, Mr. President . . .”: “Say, President Obama, perhaps you ought to also pay attention to what the company is saying about the “Buy American” provisions in the legislation.”

 

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