Hoyer Press Staff Blog

Blog posts from the press staff of Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer

December 9, 2011

In the House Republicans’ weekly meeting yesterday, Speaker John Boehner reportedly told his members: “The big prize is 2012.”

That’s truly disappointing, since Democrats believe the big prize is getting millions of Americans back to work and finding agreement on the three outstanding issues we need to address before Congress adjourns for the year: extending the payroll tax holiday for middle class families, extending unemployment benefits, fixing the Medicare physician payment rate. All three expire at the end of the year, and time is running out. It’s time for Republicans to stop focusing on politics and start focusing on helping the middle class.

December 7, 2011

A look at this morning’s headlines shows Republicans are divided over whether Congress should extend the payroll tax holiday. And to think, all this time we thought they were the Party of tax cuts. While they have no problem uniting around tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires, they’re struggling to find support for putting more money back in the pockets of middle class families and boosting our economy.

December 2, 2011

Today, during colloquy, Leader Cantor said:

“The bar is pretty low when it comes to fixing big problems… Let's look to see how we can come together in an incremental way.”

While economists, business leaders and a bipartisan group of Democrats and Republicans in both the House and Senate are urging Congress to work together on a big, balanced deal to reduce the deficit, it’s unfortunate Leader Cantor is writing off the idea of going big.

December 1, 2011

According to NBC’s First Read, Speaker Boehner ducked on the issue of extending unemployment benefits before they expire at his weekly press conference this afternoon.

December 1, 2011

As Republicans continue their drive to protect tax breaks for the wealthy at all costs, they are firm in their conviction that said tax breaks will actually create jobs.

November 30, 2011

Wanted to be sure you saw this Washington Post article on GOP efforts to add burdensome new hurdles to the regulatory process and undermine consumer protections. And contrary to Republican claims, there’s no evidence that rolling back these protections will grow our economy or help put more Americans back to work:

“…economists who have studied the impact of regulations have concluded that the overall effect on jobs is minimal. Only 0.3 percent of layoffs were caused by government regulations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.”

“’In CBO’s judgment, the economic effects of the specific changes in regulatory policies . . . probably would be too small or would occur too slowly to significantly alter overall output or employment in the next two years,’ Elmendorf said in his testimony.”

November 30, 2011

Wanted to flag this

quote

for you as you all work on your year-end legislative business stories. Even Rep. Jack Kingston acknowledges the leverage House Democrats have in keeping controversial policy riders out of remaining appropriations bills:

November 30, 2011

Wanted to be sure you saw this article in today’s Politico on GOP “heartburn” and division over their jobs message. It’s not hard to see why they’re having so much trouble with their message – after eleven months in the House majority, they still haven’t put forward an actual jobs plan.

November 22, 2011

Before you head home (or to your Thanksgiving destination) tonight, we’ll leave you with this Politico story about CBO’s report that the Recovery Act added up to 3.3 million jobs in the third quarter of 2011.

Some highlights:

“The economy would have been in much worse shape without the 2009 stimulus—-which increased employment in the third quarter of this year by as many as 3.3 million full-time jobs, according to a report by the Congressional Budget Office.”

“The CBO figures released Tuesday estimate that the stimulus package raised the gross domestic product this past quarter by 0.3 percent to 1.9 percent.”

“The CBO report provided a broad range of the estimated number of full-time jobs created because of the stimulus - from a low of 500,000 to a high of 3.3 million jobs.”

“However, the CBO estimates that the stimulus will raise GDP by 0.1 percent to 0.8 percent next year and employment by 200,000 to 1.1 million jobs.”

November 22, 2011

To: Reporters, Editors, Producers
Fr: Democratic Leader and Democratic Whip Press Offices
Dt: November 22, 2011
Re: Afternoon Roundup - Republican Refusal Edition

One look at today’s news makes it clear: the GOP's insistence on an unfair plan that extends the Bush tax cuts for those making more than a million dollars a year led to these headlines…

 

November 17, 2011

The GOP quote of the day goes to Rules Chairman David Dreier, who explained today on the Floor that he wouldn’t be supporting the balanced budget amendment because it doesn’t take a Constitutional amendment to balance the budget...

November 17, 2011

With Speaker Boehner and Reps. Mica and Hastings set to discuss a long-term surface transportation bill at a press conference this morning, we here in the Democratic Whip Press Shop wanted to offer up a few suggested questions to pose for the lawmakers...

November 16, 2011

Wanted to be sure you saw this article by the Associated Press on how manufacturing continues to lead our economic recovery.

November 16, 2011

With all eyes on the Super Committee this week, Republicans still can’t hide from the fact that they have yet to offer a comprehensive jobs plan of their own.

November 9, 2011

As House Democrats continue to highlight the need to protect voting rights, we wanted to draw your attention to yesterday’s vote in Maine, where voters solidly overturned a Republican-passed law ending same-day voter registration on Election Day. The right to register at one’s polling place had been a Maine mainstay for over forty years until the Republican-controlled state legislature in June enacted a law requiring voters to register at least two days in advance.

For many Maine residents eligible to vote but not yet registered, this could have led to many arriving at their polling sites expecting to register and vote only to be turned away. Yesterday’s vote was a firm rejection of attempts to manipulate elections by making it harder for people to vote.

 

Maine voters restore Election Day registration, repeal newly enacted law requiring 2-day wait

By Associated Press, Published: November 8

AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine voters have repealed a law requiring voters to enroll at least two days before an election, restoring a four-decade policy of allowing registrations as late as Election Day.

With 30 percent of Maine’s precincts reporting, the proposal to repeal the newly enacted requirement was passed Tuesday with 59 percent of the vote.

The referendum was put on the ballot through a people’s veto initiative after the Republican-controlled Legislature passed a law in June requiring voters to register at least two business days before an election is held. Maine’s tradition of allowing same-day voter registrations began with a law passed in 1973.

Spokesman David Farmer of the Yes on One campaign calls this “a big night for voters in Maine.”

November 9, 2011

With only two weeks until the Joint Select Committee’s deadline, Democrats are still pushing for a big, bold, and balanced plan - and today we’ve got a poll that shows the majority of Americans agree with that approach.

According to the United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection poll, the majority of Americans prefer Democrats’ proposal, which calls for $4 trillion in deficit reduction in a balanced way, through both spending cuts and ensuring the wealthy pay their fair share.

It’s time for Republicans to listen to the American people and work with us on a balanced plan so we can reduce the deficit, create jobs, build confidence in our economy, and avoid a damaging sequester.

November 8, 2011

As Republicans continue their streak of doing pretty much nothing at all, President Obama made another announcement today about action he can take without relying on Republicans to actually do something. Today’s announcement was on Head Start and early childhood education (which as you all know Whip Hoyer has been an advocate of for years). To ensure greater accountability in the program, the rule would require low-performing Head Start centers to reapply and compete for their federal funding, which will help improve access to high-quality early childhood education. This new rule stems from a policy that was included in the Improving Head Start Act of 2007 – legislation enacted with overwhelming bipartisan support, we’d note.

Educators and the business community know that the early years are vitally important to ensuring school readiness and greater success as students progress throughout their school years. And we agree. That’s why President Obama and Congressional Democrats are committed to making a real difference for America’s families by improving the quality of Head Start programs.

From the Associated Press:

“President Barack Obama chided congressional Republicans Tuesday for ‘trying to gut our investments in education,’ and announced new steps to tackle early childhood education that won't require legislation.”

“…Obama said boosting the nation's education system at all levels is an economic imperative because it puts young people on the path toward obtaining good jobs later in life.”

“The president said his administration has been able to work on education reform with mayors and governors in both parties. But congressional Republicans, he said, have stood in the way of his efforts to revamp the No Child Left Behind law and blocked a proposal in the president's job bill that the White House said would have kept 400,000 teachers in the classroom.”

“Under the new rules Obama announced on Tuesday, lower-performing Head Start programs that fail to meet a new set of benchmarks will be required to compete for federal funding.”

“The new standards mandate that poorly performing programs will have to compete for funding if they have deficiencies discovered in their onsite review, fail to establish and use school-readiness goals for children, or demonstrate low performance in the classroom quality evaluation.”

“Going forward, all Head Start grants will be good for five years. After that time, each program's performance will be re-evaluated to determine whether it is meeting the benchmarks or must compete for another grant.”

“‘We're just not going to put money into programs that don't work. We will take money and put them into programs that do,’ Obama said during his quick trip to Pennsylvania.”
 

November 8, 2011

As Republicans continue their streak of doing pretty much nothing at all, President Obama made another announcement today about action he can take without relying on Republicans to actually do something. Today’s announcement was on Head Start and early childhood education (which as you all know Whip Hoyer has been an advocate of for years). To ensure greater accountability in the program, the rule would require low-performing Head Start centers to reapply and compete for their federal funding, which will help improve access to high-quality early childhood education. This new rule stems from a policy that was included in the Improving Head Start Act of 2007 – legislation enacted with overwhelming bipartisan support, we’d note.

Educators and the business community know that the early years are vitally important to ensuring school readiness and greater success as students progress throughout their school years. And we agree. That’s why President Obama and Congressional Democrats are committed to making a real difference for America’s families by improving the quality of Head Start programs.

From the Associated Press:

“President Barack Obama chided congressional Republicans Tuesday for ‘trying to gut our investments in education,’ and announced new steps to tackle early childhood education that won't require legislation.”

“…Obama said boosting the nation's education system at all levels is an economic imperative because it puts young people on the path toward obtaining good jobs later in life.”

“The president said his administration has been able to work on education reform with mayors and governors in both parties. But congressional Republicans, he said, have stood in the way of his efforts to revamp the No Child Left Behind law and blocked a proposal in the president's job bill that the White House said would have kept 400,000 teachers in the classroom.”

“Under the new rules Obama announced on Tuesday, lower-performing Head Start programs that fail to meet a new set of benchmarks will be required to compete for federal funding.”

“The new standards mandate that poorly performing programs will have to compete for funding if they have deficiencies discovered in their onsite review, fail to establish and use school-readiness goals for children, or demonstrate low performance in the classroom quality evaluation.”

“Going forward, all Head Start grants will be good for five years. After that time, each program's performance will be re-evaluated to determine whether it is meeting the benchmarks or must compete for another grant.”

“‘We're just not going to put money into programs that don't work. We will take money and put them into programs that do,’ Obama said during his quick trip to Pennsylvania.”
 

November 8, 2011

Wanted to be sure your saw this editorial in today’s New York Times highlighting how GOP efforts to roll back environmental protections won’t create jobs or strengthen our economy:

Key Point: “These are bad bills, and Senate leaders should stop them from going forward. Weakening clean-air rules would harm public health. And the fundamental premise, that environmental regulation destroys jobs, is simply wrong. Earlier this year, the Economic Policy Institute conducted a study of a proposed rule that would require power plants to reduce emissions of mercury and other airborne toxics. It said that investment in new controls would actually create 92,000 jobs beyond those that might be lost through plant closings and higher electricity prices. Other studies of clean air laws have come to similar conclusions: These rules are job creators, not killers.”

November 8, 2011

Wanted to make sure you saw today's New York Times editorial that urges Republicans to work with Democrats to agree to a big, bold, and balanced package so that we can reduce the deficit, create jobs, build confidence in our economy, and avoid a damaging sequester:

“…with the committee close to a deadlock — largely because Republicans will not agree to higher taxes on the rich — and the deadline for an agreement approaching, some Republicans are now talking about undoing the process.”

“Democrats have proposed a $4 trillion mix of cuts and tax increases… But Republicans have rejected any tax increases…”

Simply dismissing the committee and undoing the sequester would be such a vast admission of Congressional failure that it could push down the nation’s credit rating, lead to chaos in financial markets and severely cripple hopes for an economic recovery. Republicans created the policies that forced up the deficit and then refused to compromise with President Obama. They cannot simply walk away now. Panel members have only a few days to come up with a plan that balances new revenues with spending cuts. That is the only way to wrestle down the deficit without doing huge damage to the economy and the country."

November 7, 2011

Republicans have been using the specter of widespread voter fraud to justify new barriers to the ballot. But as Andrew Rosenthal notes this morning in the New York Times, the evidence for this fraud epidemic is not just scant, it is practically non-existent.

October 31, 2011
In addition to marking 300 days since House Republicans took the majority – and still haven’t put forward a jobs plan – today also marks the seventh time GOP leaders have tried to change their message to appear they’ve been focused on jobs. But changing their story seven times doesn’t mean they’ve come up with a comprehensive jobs plan, even though they’ve had 300 days to take action:
 
Claim They’ll Focus on Jobs #1
 

Last September: Republicans designated job creation as their first priority in their Pledge to America: “A plan to create jobs, end economic uncertainty, and make America more competitive must be the first and most urgent domestic priority of our government. So first, we offer a plan to get people working again.”

 
Claim They’ll Focus on Jobs #2
 
March: Republicans tried to take steps to show they are focused on job creation. “Under fire for focusing heavily on cutting spending rather than stimulating job creation, House Republicans are taking new steps to emphasize their efforts to spur hiring, including a jobs forum with business leaders to be held in the Capitol next week.”  [NY Times, 03/09/11]
 
Claim They’ll Focus on Jobs #3
 
May: Trying to change the subject after feeling the heat at home over their budget that ends Medicare, Republicans unveiled a more-of-the-same jobs agenda. It was poorly received as “a repackaging of policies they have long advocated” and contained “few, if any, new ideas.”
 
Claim They’ll Focus on Jobs #4
 
June: In a memo to House Republicans, Majority Leader Cantor claimed that the Floor schedule this summer will focus on economic growth. While there is bipartisan support for patent reform, the memo is very thin on jobs action.
 
Claim They’ll Focus on Jobs #5
 
August: In a memo on the fall schedule, Majority Leader Cantor unveiled a more-of-the-same agenda that isn’t a plan to create jobs, and was viewed as another retread of past policies that are more about ideology than about job creation.  “House Republicans have laid out their fall jobs agenda, and it mostly revolves around killing environmental and labor regulations... For good measure, they’re also planning another round of attacks on the health care reform law… Republicans seem particularly focused on overturning EPA regulations – some that haven’t been finalized or even proposed.” [Politico, 08/21/11
 
Claim They’ll Focus on Jobs #6
 
September: Leader Cantor admitted that Republicans haven’t been focused since taking the majority and said the House will now focus on jobs: “Republicans have refocused their agenda after what amounted to a six-month political brawl over federal spending. They insist that they never lost sight of the second half of their ‘cut-and-grow’ agenda… But the push to slash spending in the 2011 budget battle and the debt-limit fight dominated the conversation in Washington.” [The Hill, 09/12/11]
 
Claim They’ll Focus on Jobs #7
 
October: Today marks 300 Days since House Republicans took the majority, and they still aren’t focused on jobs. Instead of putting forward a comprehensive jobs plan, Republicans are trying out “a new jobs narrative,” according to a Roll Call article. Unfortunately for them, it’s not their narrative that’s the problem. Rather than working on their message, it’s time for Republicans to abandon their partisan bills that won’t create jobs and work with Democrats on jobs bills that are paid-for and include proposals that they’ve supported in the past.
 
After 300 days of GOP inaction on jobs, it’s time for Republicans to work with Democrats on the American Jobs Act and our Make It In America plan – but with seven suspensions on the Floor and no jobs bills to be seen this week, we can’t count on it.
October 26, 2011

Wanted to be sure you saw this Bloomberg article out today highlighting how the Obama administration has approved fewer regulations than President Bush and pushing back on House Republican claims that there has been a “tsunami” of regulations since President Obama took office.

Key excerpts:

“President Barack Obama’s ‘tsunami’ of new government regulations looks more like a summer swell.”

“Obama’s White House has approved fewer regulations than his predecessor George W. Bush at this same point in their tenures, and the estimated costs of those rules haven’t reached the annual peak set in fiscal 1992 under Bush’s father, according to government data reviewed by Bloomberg News.”

“Obama’s White House approved 613 federal rules during the first 33 months of his term, 4.7 percent fewer than the 643 cleared by President George W. Bush’s administration in the same time frame, according to an Office of Management and Budget statistical database reviewed by Bloomberg.”

October 26, 2011

While Republicans talk about their “Forgettable Fifteen” bills to roll back critical environmental and consumer protections, the facts show that they won’t lead to job creation.

Economists have said these bills won’t create jobs or help our economy.

Republicans admitted in their own report on the TRAIN Act (H.R. 2401), one of the “Forgettable 15” bills that would indefinitely block regulations to limit toxic mercury, dioxin, acid gases, smog and soot from power plants, that there was no analysis to show these protections hurt job creation.

And study after study shows no indication that environmental protections hurt employment or hamper economic growth. In fact, these studies suggest these critical protections actually create jobs, boost productivity, and save money on health care costs. Here are a select few for your afternoon reading:

Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management (NESCAUM): This found that by enacting stricter vehicle emissions standards and pursuing cleaner forms of energy – things that would be put at risk by the Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011 (H.R. 910), another of the Republicans’ “Forgettable 15” bills – more Americans would be put back to work. NESCAUM found higher employment and economic growth with stricter fuel standards and cleaner energy for the 11 Northeast states included in the study:

  • Employment increases by 9,490 to 50,700 jobs.
  • Gross regional product, a measure of the states’ economic output, increases by 2.1 billion to 4.9 billion.
  • Household disposable income increases by 1 billion to 3.3 billion.
  • Gasoline and diesel demand drops 12 to 29 percent. 
  • Carbon pollution from transportation is cut by 5 to 9 percent.

Unites Automotive Workers Union (UAW), Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and the National Wildlife Federation (NWF): This study shows that vehicle emissions standards, which would be in jeopardy if the Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011 (H.R. 910) became law, are already responsible for 155,000 jobs at 504 facilities in 43 states and the District of Columbia. 119,000 jobs have been created in this industry since 2009. And that number will just go up under the new higher MPG rules announced by the Obama Administration, according to two recent studies released by Ceres.

Economist Frank Ackerman at Tufts University: Analysis of an industry group report that claimed regulation of coal ash disposal, which Republicans are attempting to roll back through the Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act (H.R. 2273), one of the Republicans’ “Forgettable 15” bills, could lead to the loss of more than 300,000 jobs. This analysis shows fundamental flaws in the claim that air protections will hurt job creation– most notably, that it provided no explanation for more than 50,000 of the supposedly lost jobs, and determined that strict regulation of coal ash would result in a net gain of 28,000 jobs.

EPA: This study estimates that the Clean Air Act, which Republicans are seeking to undermine with several of their “Forgettable 15” bills, has prevented 230,000 deaths, and boosted productivity by preventing 3.2 million lost school days and 13 million lost work days a year in 2010. The benefits of this Act, including savings in medical expenses and increased worker productivity, are 30 times greater than its cost of implementation.

October 26, 2011

Today, the House is considering the rule for the three percent withholding bill. Since Republicans still don’t have a jobs plan, they are touting the repeal as a jobs bill, but we disagree that repealing their own policy before it went into effect has any impact on jobs. And we aren’t the only ones.

A Talking Points Memo article highlights how the three percent withholding rule is a GOP policy:

“The Cantor tweet and subsequent Boehner release also are a bit puzzling because President Obama has long made clear his support for getting rid of the 3 percent withholding tax, and turns out, Republicans were the first to try to impose the tax burden on government contractors in May 2006, although it’s been delayed ever since by both the 2009 Stimulus Act and the IRS.”

“In May of that 2006, 229 House Republicans, including GOP leaders John Boehner (R-OH) and Eric Cantor (R-VA), voted to implement the withholding tax on government contractors, as well as Medicare and farm payments, as a way to ensure that some tax-cheat contractors paid their fair share.”

“That bill extended about $70 billion in tax cuts over a five-year period, including reduced tax rates on capital gains and dividends through 2010 and a patch for the alternative minimum tax, but the 3 percent withholding tax on government contractors was also tucked into the final version of the bill with Republican support.”

And an article in today's Washington Post points out the policy they are repealing is not currently in effect and would therefore have no impact on jobs:

“In fact, in the real world it wouldn’t actually do anything at all. Instead, it would repeal a tax provision enacted in 2006 that has not taken effect. Delayed twice, it is now scheduled to go into effect in January 2013.”

“Zandi said that the withholding repeal would ultimately be approved, even though he regards it as such a minor provision that he did not include it as part of his analysis of the president’s jobs plan, which he concluded would create 1.9 million positions.”

“‘I don’t think it’s meaningful in terms of jobs,’ he said. ‘It’s more trying to clean up something that needs cleaning up.’”

While Democrats support repealing this policy, this bill alone is not a jobs plan. Democrats continue to urge Republicans to take action on the rest of the American Jobs Act – it’s fully paid for, includes bipartisan ideas and will create jobs now. As the President has said, we can’t wait – it’s time for House Republicans to get serious about job creation.

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