Business & Economy
Braley Presses for Action on Yearlong Middle Class Tax Cut Extension PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Jeff Giertz   
Monday, 23 January 2012 14:03

Urges House leadership to work together to extend payroll tax cut 

 

Washington, DC – Today, Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) wrote House Speaker John Boehner and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi urging them to work together to pass a yearlong extension of the middle class payroll tax cut.

In December, a yearlong middle class tax cut extension became mired in partisanship and Washington gridlock.  After weeks of stalled negotiations and scorched-earth tactics, a two-month temporary extension of the middle class tax cut was ultimately passed.

“In less than two months, the short-term middle class tax cut extension will expire.  If Congress doesn’t start working together now, we’ll be in the same situation we were at the end of December: a partisan shouting match.

 

“Enough is enough.  Let’s start working together now to extend the middle class tax cut and restore certainty for middle class families.  A yearlong extension will put $1,000 in the pocket of the average middle class family and help strengthen the economy.  America’s middle class can’t afford to wait until the last minute.”

 

Braley has consistently worked across party lines for a yearlong middle class tax cut extension.  He was one of only 10 Democrats to support a Republican bill to couple a yearlong extension of the middle class tax cut with other provisions.  Braley also supported the compromise Senate bill that extended the middle class tax cut until the end of February.

Text of Braley’s letter is below; a copy of Braley’s letter can be downloaded at the following link: http://go.usa.gov/niP

 

--

 

January 23, 2012

 

The Honorable John Boehner                       

Speaker

U.S. House of Representatives               

H-232, U.S. Capitol                       

Washington, DC  20515                         

 

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi

Minority Leader

U.S. House of Representatives

H-204, U.S. Capitol

Washington, DC  20515

 

Dear Speaker Boehner and Minority Leader Pelosi:

Please work together to extend until the end of the year the payroll tax cut that is set to expire at the end of February. This issue is far too important for our country’s economic recovery to let politics stand in the way.

This middle class tax cut is essential for job creation and our economic recovery. Extending this middle class tax cut will keep nearly $1,000 in the pocket of the average family and 160 million Americans would benefit from extending this tax cut. That’s money a family can keep to spend on groceries, clothes, utilities, etc.  This tax cut puts money back in the pockets of middle class families that will help spur demand and economic growth.

Both political parties shamefully used this issue as political leverage when we tried to extend the payroll tax cut in December, but continuing this tax cut is more important than Washington politics. This issue shouldn’t be about Republicans and Democrats – it’s good for our economy and it’s good for Americans. It’s time for Congress to finish the job.

We’re facing some tough times, and people in this country are desperate for leadership.  They don’t care about labels, they care about results.  Americans don’t want to see political point-scoring and game-playing in Washington.  They want to see people come together to solve problems.  Both parties generally support the idea of extending this middle class tax cut.  It shouldn’t be so hard to get this done.

Please stand up for American families by extending the payroll tax cut. Now is not the time to leave them hanging. I stand ready to work in any way possible to help make a year-long extension of the middle class tax cut a reality.

Sincerely,

 

Bruce Braley,

Member of Congress

 

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Washington Post: Simplifying regulations is not so simple PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Jeff Giertz   
Monday, 23 January 2012 13:15

In case you missed it…

…there’s another way to simplify regulations that may attract more consensus. Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) introduced a bill this week that would require that all federal regulations be written in clear, simple language that their intended audience can understand, reducing compliance costs for the private sector. He helped pass a similar bill last year to promote plain language in government, but it didn’t touch regulations.

“Sadly, gobbledygook dominates the regulations issued by government agencies, making it almost impossible for small businesses to understand the rules of the road,” Braley said in a statement about the bill.

The congressman offered an example of that “gobbledygook” when I interviewed him this week: The 300-page Volcker Rule, he said, “seems excessive to me,” arguing that regulators trained in plain language would be able “to produce a document that’s much simpler and much easier to understand.”

Simplifying regulations is not so simple

Washington Post

1/19/12

Opponents of government regulations typically complain about the burden they impose on private-sector firms that have to comply with them, burden that they say dampens economic growth.

Part of that burden has to do with the sheer complexity of the regulations themselves, especially when taken together as a whole.

One financial industry consulting firm describes that web of regulatory mandates as a “complexity risk.” In a new industry report flagged by Joe Nocera, the consulting firm Federal Financial Analytics argues that “the sum total of all the U.S. and global rules aimed at preventing financial crises” can end up having unintended consequences.

The study points out that both regulators and industry players tend to look at regulations in a “silo” fashion, without considering how the individual parts may overlap, contradict or otherwise work against each other. Federal Financial Analytics emphasizes that it doesn’t oppose many of the new regulations, per se, but that many critical pieces need to be streamlined.

For example, the firm proposes creating “a more uniform capital framework” to make it easier for firms to comply with new U.S. and global capital standards. It also wants CEOs to be responsible for monitoring only risks that truly threaten their own firms or the financial system instead of “the minutiae.”

But there can be big differences between how regulators and industry leaders would simplify byzantine regulations. The suggestion to reduce the number of risk factors that bank chiefs are responsible for monitoring which might concern regulators. But giving more discretion and power to regulators would likely concern industry. And finding a compromise between the two can often make a law even more complex.

Federal Financial Analytics blames such regulatory complexity on “over engineered standards” produced by a host of expert regulators. But industry lobbyists are also driving these deliberations to carve out exceptions if things aren’t moving in their direction. As a result, achieving “simplicity” can be harder than it sounds in the abstract.

That said, there’s another way to simplify regulations that may attract more consensus. Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) introduced a bill this week that would require that all federal regulations be written in clear, simple language that their intended audience can understand, reducing compliance costs for the private sector. He helped pass a similar bill last year to promote plain language in government, but it didn’t touch regulations.

“Sadly, gobbledygook dominates the regulations issued by government agencies, making it almost impossible for small businesses to understand the rules of the road,” Braley said in a statement about the bill.

The congressman offered an example of that “gobbledygook” when I interviewed him this week: The 300-page Volcker Rule, he said, “seems excessive to me,” arguing that regulators trained in plain language would be able “to produce a document that’s much simpler and much easier to understand.”

 
Braley Introduces Bill to Streamline Regulations, Save Small Businesses Money PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Jeff Giertz   
Wednesday, 18 January 2012 15:40

Plain Regulations Act would require government rules be written in clear, concise language

 

Washington, DC – Today, Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) introduced a new bill – his first of 2012 – to streamline government regulations in an effort to save small businesses time and money.

The Plain Regulations Act would require the government to write new and updated regulations in clear, simple, easy-to-understand language.

“Whether you like or loathe government regulations, I think everyone can agree that when they exist they should be written as clearly as possible,” Braley said.  “Sadly, gobbledygook dominates the regulations issued by government agencies, making it almost impossible for small businesses to understand the rules of the road.

 

“The Plain Regulations Act would simplify rules, saving small businesses time and freeing up money that can be better used investing in growing the business and creating jobs.”

 

The costs to small businesses of complying with government regulations are significant.  The National Small Business Association has estimated that businesses with less than 20 employees pay an estimated $7,600 per employee to comply with regulations.

“Simplifying regulations won’t eliminate the costs of compliance, but it will reduce them.  And it’s an easy way to save small businesses money that can quickly attract bipartisan support.”

 

Examples of lengthy, overly complex regulations abound.  As part of the Affordable Care Act, the Department of Health and Human Services recently published a 189 page rule outlining the requirements for doctors to form Accountable Care Organizations.  Doctors have complained that the regulations are too complex and convoluted for them to understand.

 

Braley is known for his efforts to simplify government writing.  In 2007, Braley launched a three-year effort to require the government to write forms and documents like tax returns in easy-to-understand language with the introduction of the Plain Writing Act.  The bill was signed into law by President Obama in 2010, and improves the accountability of the federal government by promoting clear communication that the public can understand and use.  The law went into effect in July of 2011.

# # #

 
International Traders of Iowa- Eastern Iowa Chapter (ITI-EIC) PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Dee Freeman   
Wednesday, 18 January 2012 10:06
The International Traders of Iowa, Eastern Iowa Chapter, is holding and information and membership meeting on Tuesday, February 7th from 5:30 – 7:30 at the Clarion Hotel and Convention Center, 525 33rd Ave. SW, Cedar Rapids IA 52404.

To kick off our membership event, special Corporate membership pricing is available for only $100 through March 15. (A savings of $50!) Discounted Student Pricing Available! We will be holding a drawing to give away one (1) free corporate membership, and one (1) voucher for a free meeting.   Bring your business cards!


Questions and RSVPs can be directed to:
Deanna (Dee) Freeman, President, 319-295-2490, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Melissa Jones, Vice President, 319-393-4310, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Or visit www.iowatraders.com for more information.

 
Ever wonder what it costs to quit a labor union? PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Ben Velderman   
Wednesday, 18 January 2012 09:46
GRANT, Mich.  – Ever wonder what it costs to quit a labor union?
For one Michigan educator, the annual costs of “non-membership” in the local, state and national teacher unions total $544.28.
But Andrew Buikema, 10-year teacher with Grant Public Schools, is willing to pay the price, just for the privilege of being seen as a true professional, instead of a union worker.
Michigan is not a “right to work” state, which means Buikema’s job is still affected by the district’s contract with the local teachers union, the Grant Education Association. The GEA is affiliated with the Michigan Education Association and the National Education Association.
Buikema has been trying to leave the union since last spring, when he realized that GEA leaders were uninterested in helping the district control costs, even in the face of a multi-million dollar deficit.
By refusing to make wage and benefit concessions, the union contributed to conditions that led to 27 teachers – including Buikema – receiving layoff notices. The district was also forced into making cuts to student academic and extracurricular programs.
Buikema’s job was saved at the last minute, but he was disgusted by the union’s selfishness.
The union’s intransigence convinced Buikema that “the union doesn’t care about kids.”
“They keep asking for more and more, even though the school district can’t afford it,” he told EAG. “They’re concerned about taking care of the adults and have no consideration for the kids. I don’t want to be part of an organization that says one thing and does another,” he said.
Buikema said he was “raked over the coals” by his local union leaders when he suggested the GEA could help alleviate the district’s financial woes – and possibly help save some teaching jobs – by switching from union-owned and operated MESSA health insurance to a less expensive carrier.
Buikema estimated that the district could save between $530,000 and $980,000 annually.
Not only did local union leaders not like Buikema’s idea, but they verbally attacked him for even suggesting it. “The amount of flak I got, particularly from veteran teachers, was ridiculous to the point of being unprofessional,” he said.
Buikema was also put off by the NEA’s new $10 levy on members to help re-elect President Obama."It’s the principle involved,” Buikema said at the time. “They’re taking money to support a candidate that members may or may not support. That’s a very big deal.”
Unions bury dissenters in pile of legal documents

Last summer, Buikema decided to cancel his union membership altogether. The MEA and NEA finally responded to his resignation request last month by sending approximately 150 pages of documents. The upshot of all those documents is this: Buikema can technically quit both unions, but he must still pay them $544.28 in “service fees,” which equals 67.7 percent of a normal union membership.
“Dear Non-Member,” the MEA letter begins, “You are employed in a bargaining unit represented by an affiliate of the Michigan Education Association. … Your collective bargaining agreement contains a provision which requires you to join the association or to pay a service fee.”
Another document explains that those service fees are based on “annual expenditures … incurred for the purpose of performing the duties of an exclusive representation of the employees.”
The unions claim the service fee only pays for activities that don’t involve an “ideological cause or political activity unrelated to collective bargaining, contract administration, grievance adjustment and lawfully chargeable employee representation.” A 64-page document breaks down all of the separate charges that go into the $544.28 fee, and explains how each is allowed under current law.
Yesterday, Buikema sent his own letter to the MEA:
"I am enclosing a check for $25 to the MEA, because that's what I can afford to do right now. You will receive the remaining balance as I am able to pay. ...
" ... Forcing teachers to join your organization and pay dues is criminal. What happened to free will and the right to choose? I am trying to get out of the union because you don't stand for kids.
" ... You send this massive packet of ... legal documents that I cannot decipher because I am not a lawyer ... to do what exactly? Scare me? Intimidate me? What you are proving is that you will go to great lengths to get people's money. ..."
As a non-member, Buikema has the legal right to contest any of the “service fee” charges, but it entails a long and complicated legal process. And the MEA and NEA are well-represented by lawyers and accountants, as the stack of documents makes clear. The implication is obvious: It is futile for an individual teacher to protest the hundreds of dollars in fees. “They’re just going to make you pay anyway,” Buikema concludes.
Buikema says some of his colleagues have expressed interest in also breaking away from the union, but are taking a wait-and-see approach. “Most teachers like to be safe and stay in their comfort zone,” Buikema said. “I don’t care about that.”
Buikema has remained an outspoken union critic, and wants to be seen as a true professional whose worth is solely determined by his performance in the classroom, and not by his ranking on the seniority chart.
That won’t truly happen until Michigan becomes a right to work state, and union membership is no longer compulsory. Until then, Buikema chooses to be a “non-member” and will pay $544.28 for the privilege.

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