July 28, 2014

Guest Observer Archive

Beyond Dollars: There's More Washington Can Do to Promote Transportation Investment | Commentary

Our nation’s transportation infrastructure is the backbone of a strong U.S. economy. But with a trillion-dollar backlog, America is simply not spending enough to keep its infrastructure in good repair. Investing in transportation is about more than filling potholes and paving roads; investment creates jobs and stimulates economic activity. Across the political spectrum, from the Simpson-Bowles Commission to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to the AFL-CIO, there is broad, bipartisan consensus to invest more in transportation.

Lessons Congress Can Learn From Australia's Carbon Tax Debacle | Commentary

For the past few years, Australia has been lauded by environmentalists as an example other countries should emulate. The adulation began in 2012, when the country enacted its “carbon tax” — a $21.50 charge (in U.S. dollars), increasing annually, on each ton of carbon dioxide emitted by the country’s power plants. Australia’s list of admirers extended all the way to the White House, where President Barack Obama described the country’s actions as “good for the world.”

'Fair Workweek' Is Latest Ploy to Organize Retail, Restaurant Employers | Commentary

On Tuesday, top Democrats and a who’s who of labor activists unveiled the latest attack on American businesses. Joined by Reps. George Miller, D-Calif., and Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., a confederation of labor groups and their activist allies known as the Center for Popular Democracy launched the benevolent-sounding “Fair Workweek Initiative.” The effort is being led by Carrie Gleason — a longtime activist organizer with deep ties to the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union — and purports to ostensibly win “predictable, stable, transparent schedules” for workers. The real goal of this campaign, however, is to support full-fledged union organizing drives within the restaurant and retail industries.

Why Ex-Im is Indispensable | Commentary

Debate in Congress over the future of the U.S. Export-Import Bank is coming to a head. Absent congressional action, Ex-Im will be unable to provide new loans or guarantees to American exporters after its charter expires on Sept. 30.

A Reflection on the Veterans Job Corps Act of 2012 | Commentary

This September will mark the two-year anniversary of the Veterans Jobs Corps Act of 2012 currently blocked by the Senate. The bill, which was drafted on bipartisan lines, would have created jobs for up to 20,000 veterans. This defeat came at a time when one out of four young veterans were unemployed, when 76,000 veterans went homeless on any given night, and when suicide rate for veterans was more than 500 a month. So, why did this happen? What caused the Senate to vote down a bill that would have benefited thousands of the dedicated men and women who served this great country? First, let’s take a look at what the bill would have done.

More Sunshine on 340B Good for Patients | Commentary

In his recent opinion piece, Ascension Health CEO Robert Henkel pleads with Congress not to tinker with the 340B Drug Discount Program (“Placing the Health and Well Being of Patients First”, Roll Call, July 16). The program was created in 1992 to benefit medically underserved patients in the outpatient setting, but it has grown into a lucrative opportunity for many disproportionate share hospitals (DSH).

Congressional Meddling May Derail Victory Over Iran | Commentary

At every critical moment along the diplomatic path to a resolution of Iran’s nuclear program, vocal members of Congress have threatened to impose new sanctions that could torpedo the process. Last Friday, when Iran and the P5+1 powers, the U.S., Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany, announced they would continue talks through a new hard deadline on November 24, was no exception. While this extension should be hailed as a victory for the United States, this belligerent, vocal minority continues to threaten the resolution of this decades-long, vexing foreign policy problem.

Iran Collides With International Community in Mideast Conflicts | Commentary

Recent reports about Saudi troops amassing to secure that country’s border with Iraq underscores the multinational dimensions of the conflicts raging inside both Iraq and Syria. Civil wars that might have initially only threatened the two dictators are now endangering the entire region and global security.

It's Time to Ratify the Treaty America Envisioned | Commentary

As we approach the 24th anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, our nation has seen great advancement in opportunities for millions of Americans with disabilities to lead fruitful, productive lives as a result of this law. The ADA has also served as a standard for disability rights movements worldwide and as a framework for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, a treaty which seeks to ensure the rights of people with disabilities worldwide.

Congress Should Agree on Allowing a Third National Wireless Carrier | Commentary

Already this year, we’ve seen announcements of two major transactions in the media and telecommunications space: Comcast announced plans to acquire Time Warner Cable, and AT&T announced plans to acquire DirecTV. Congress has begun weighing in on these transactions and, if recent press reports are to be believed, they will soon have an opportunity to review the long-rumored merger of Sprint and T-Mobile. It is this third proposed transaction that is most interesting because it carries the potential of a policy dilemma for both Republicans and Democrats in Congress.

Washington: Over-Leveraged on All Fronts | Commentary

One of the most frequently discussed concepts in the past six years is leverage. The financial crisis of 2008-09 is regarded by many economists as a crisis caused by excessive leveraging of borrowed funds. This was an “investment leverage” crisis. But we can also see excessive leveraging in the political realm of society, especially in Washington.

An Important Step Forward in Protecting the Innocent | Commentary

With all the focus on gridlock in Washington, there are certain areas where Congress ought to be able to find common ground. One such area is the Justice for All Reauthorization Act, which I am proud to co-sponsor.

The True Patriotic Response to our Growing Tax Crisis | Commentary

On Tuesday, the Senate Finance Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing that will examine a critical issue impacting the long-term health of the U.S. economy – our international tax system. Dubbed “Love it, Leave It or Reform It!” the committee promises to delve into the specific issue of corporate tax inversions, which describes a practice whereby companies reincorporate in a foreign country.

What Washington Can Do to Prevent Train Tragedies | Commentary

A lot has been written in this newspaper about how little Congress is accomplishing this summer. But there is something important Washington could do before the August recess without any congressional action — demand safer standards for hauling crude oil.

Rural America: The Forefront of Innovation | Commentary

The productivity and growth of rural America are essential to the overall economic well-being and prosperity of our country. These regions are critical to our sustainability and should not be neglected when considering policies that promote job creation, investment and innovation. While Ohio’s 5th District boasts more than 60,000 manufacturing jobs, it is also the largest agricultural district in the state. Ensuring our rural areas are accounted for, especially when examining ways to tap our country’s technological potential, must be a top priority.

The Inconvenient Truth About BPA's Safety | Commentary

The North American Metal Packaging Alliance Inc. appreciates the continued focus on public health expressed by the authors of new legislation regarding food additives. However, in the case of Bisphenol A, we strongly believe the concerns of Sen. Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., and his House colleagues are misguided, and the legislation unnecessary. The proposed bill may do more to push America backward in public health than to advance consumer safety.

Should Congress Come to Puerto Rico's Rescue? | Commentary

Puerto Rico’s government is at serious risk of defaulting on its debt. If that happens, the ball will be in the court of the U.S. Congress to decide whether and how to bail it out. This matters not just to the people of Puerto Rico; it has serious implications for the U.S. economy and our commitment to ensure our local governments live up to the rule of law.

How Congress Can Fix the Student Debt Crisis | Commentary

As Congress works to reauthorize the Higher Education Act and strengthen student loan policies, the challenges are daunting:

The Two Budgeteers: All for One in Effort to Update Budget Act | Commentary

Since ratification of the constitutional authority given to Congress to tax and spend in 1788, our government has struggled to manage the federal budget. After numerous failed budget concepts and commissions, the Budget Act was finally enacted in 1974 to establish the modern-day budget process. Almost exactly 40 years since the Budget Act was signed into law, there is growing consensus among policymakers and budget observers that the system no longer functions as intended.

A View From Vienna on Extending the Iran Negotiations | Commentary

Critics of U.S. negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program were quick to jump on comments made by Secretary of State John Kerry that Washington and Tehran still need to bridge some gaps in order to reach a comprehensive nuclear agreement. But that is not the full story.