Business & Economy
Populist Caucus Urges Vote on Chinese Currency Manipulation Crackdown PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Jeff Giertz   
Tuesday, 25 October 2011 11:50

Braley and Populists urge Boehner to allow vote on Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act

Washington, DC – Today, Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) joined the vice-chairs of the House Populist Caucus to urge House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor to allow a vote on legislation cracking down on Chinese currency manipulation.

The Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act would allow the United States to put new duties on goods imported from countries with undervalued currencies, like China.  Economists say that China’s efforts to keep the value of its currency artificially low give it an unfair advantage in trade by keeping the costs of is exports artificially low.

“This is about making sure American businesses and manufacturers are on a level playing field with China,” Populist Caucus Chair Bruce Braley said.  “For years, China has kept the price of its exports low by artificially keeping the value of its currency low.  American workers can’t compete when the deck is stacked against them.  It’s time to get tough on job-killing Chinese currency manipulation.  American workers can compete with the Chinese if they play by the same rules we do.”

 

On October 11th, the Senate passed the Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act by an overwhelming bipartisan margin of 63-35.  The House would likely approve the legislation, but Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader Cantor are preventing the bill from being brought up for a vote.

Braley and the Populist Caucus vice-chairs made their request in a letter that can be downloaded at the following link: http://go.usa.gov/9oE

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Grassley Works to Close Loopholes in Money Laundering Statutes PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Grassley Press   
Tuesday, 25 October 2011 10:49

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

WASHINGTON – Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Chuck Grassley today introduced comprehensive legislation that will strengthen money laundering statutes and will make it more difficult for terrorists, drug traffickers and other criminal organizations to finance their operations by using loopholes to easily transfer money around the world.  Grassley introduced the bill with Senator Dianne Feinstein of California.

“Every day there are terrorists and criminals who are looking for new ways to move their funding operations and evade authorities.  Our laws must keep pace with the new and emerging trends these people exploit to fund their endeavors,” Grassley said. “We have to hit them where it hurts most, in their pocketbooks, and we can’t do this if we do not give our law enforcement agencies the tools they need to stop the flow of illicit money.”

Grassley said his bill fixes one of the most egregious money laundering loopholes that allows prepaid access cards, or cash cards, to cross international borders without facing any scrutiny.  For example, criminals can put thousands or even millions of dollars on these cards, and not have to declare it as they cross the border.  Grassley’s legislation would require the cards to be reported to border authorities if the card holds more than $10,000.

In addition, the bill addresses concerns that bulk cash smugglers continue to use loopholes in federal laws to evade prosecution.  The bill also works to fix procedural and definitional problems to combat money laundering, such as dealing with comingled funds, prosecutors being able to charge money laundering as a course of conduct, allowing wiretaps as an investigative tool for money laundering cases, and reverse money laundering operations.

It also addresses the Supreme Court decision in Cuellar v. United States, which created a loophole in the bulk cash smuggling statute, by incorporating a recommendation the Supreme Court proposed to ensure that drug smugglers are not allowed to break the law without consequence simply by evading knowing the full plan of the smuggling operation.

Here are the major points of the legislation.

  • Simplifies the predicate offenses that give rise to money laundering offenses,
  • Makes it a crime to participate in “reverse money laundering,” or knowingly transporting money or goods used or meant to be used in money laundering,
  • Removes inconsistent language that created an ambiguity as to whether a defendant had to have knowledge that funds were involved in illegal activity in general or a particular type of criminal activity,
  • Strikes the requirement that the government prove a defendant knew the purpose and plan behind transportation of laundered money, closing a loophole that allows mules to transport laundered money or goods with impunity,
  • Makes prepaid access devices, such as stored value cards, subject to anti-money laundering reporting requirements,
  • Fixes the ambiguity of how to treat the commingling funds and clarifies that a case can aggregate a series of closely related transactions under the $10,000 threshold to meet the requirement of $10,000 in criminally-derived property,
  • Adds a definition of “money transmitting business” to clarify that it applies to more than just storefront businesses.
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Grassley, Johnson Press for Farm Payment Limits to be Included in Deficit Reduction Talks PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Grassley Press   
Monday, 24 October 2011 15:28
WASHINGTON – Senators Chuck Grassley and Tim Johnson have requested that the deficit reduction committee save more than $1.5 billion by including their legislation that places a hard cap on farm payments at $250,000 per married couple ($125,000 per individual).

“Our bill maintains the much needed safety net for farmers so we are assured that the American people will have a safe, abundant and inexpensive food supply.  It also closes loopholes that have reduced urban support for the farm bill,” Grassley said.  “This is an easy way to save some additional funds in what’s a very difficult task for the committee.”

“Particularly given the budget environment we’re in, it’s important that our farm programs are effectively targeted to those who need the assistance the most: the small and medium-sized family farmers.  I hope that our bill can be incorporated into any recommendations made by the deficit reduction committee,” said Johnson.

Grassley and Johnson introduced the legislation on June 9, 2011.  The legislation would set a limit of $250,000 for married couples for farm payments in an attempt to better target farm program payments to family farmers.  Specifically, the bill caps direct payments at $40,000; counter-cyclical payments at $60,000; and marketing loan gains (including forfeitures), loan deficiency payments, and commodity certificates at $150,000.  The bill also improves the standard which the Department of Agriculture uses to determine farmers who are actively engaged in their operations.

Here is a copy of the text of the letter.  A signed copy of the letter can be found by clicking here.

 

October 14, 2011

 

The Honorable Patty Murray                         The Honorable Jeb Hensarling

Co-Chair                       Co-Chair

Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction            Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction

The Capitol                        The Capitol

Washington, D.C.                           Washington, D.C.

 

Dear Senator Murray and Representative Hensarling:

 

We are truly in uncharted territory with the debt reduction process now before us.  We are hard pressed to recall any process quite as unique as this one during our careers here in Congress.  You and the rest of the Joint Select Committee have a big task in front of you, and surely there will be some difficult decisions made in the coming weeks.

 

With all the hard decisions before you, we are providing a proposal that should be a common sense change to agriculture policy.  It is time for us to finally set hard payment limits on all commodity farm programs, as well as close the loopholes in current payment limitation law.

 

The specific changes we are proposing to the Joint Select Committee are contained in the bill we introduced, the Rural America Preservation Act of 2011 (S.1161).  That bill would do the following:

 

  • It would establish caps of $20,000 on direct (fixed) payments, $30,000 on counter cyclical payments, and $75,000 on loan deficiency payments and marketing loan gains.

 

  • The combined limit for married couples would be $250,000.  These limits would be reduced by varying amounts depending on the farmer’s participation in ACRE, essentially setting the payment limitations at the effective caps, less the reductions in direct payments and marketing loan gains.

 

  • The amendment improves the “measurable standard” by which USDA determines who should and should not receive farm payments.  It requires that management be personally provided on a regular, substantial, and continuous basis through direct supervision and direction of farming activities and labor and on-site services.

 

  • It would provide savings of approximately $1.5 billion.

While we support commodity programs that provide a needed safety-net for farmers, the programs should not help big farmers get even bigger.  There’s no problem with a farmer growing his operation, but the taxpayer should not have to subsidize it.  Under current law, nearly 70 percent of commodity farm payments go to the largest 10 percent of farmers.  There comes a point where some farms reach levels that allow them to weather the tough times on their own. Smaller farms do not have the same luxury.  In addition, setting a measurable standard for management of a farming operation will help prevent abuse of farm programs that is present under current law.

These proposed changes to payment limitations will help us target farm payments to those who really need them, the small- and medium-sized farmers who need a safety-net to help them get through rough patches as they produce this nation’s food.

We understand there may be proposals submitted to the Joint Select Committee that would fundamentally change the commodity farm programs.  If one of these proposals is adopted by the Joint Select Committee, the language of our bill also would need to be revised to set a meaningful payment limitation for commodity programs.  Whatever the result, our main point is that setting a meaningful payment limitation and closing current loopholes in the law will provide savings and add integrity to the farm programs.  No matter what decision the Joint Select Committee makes regarding commodity programs, we urge you to ensure payment limitations and closing of loopholes plays a meaningful part.

We request the Joint Select Committee consider the policy reforms set out above, and if you have any questions, please contact us.

Sincerely,

 

Charles E. Grassley                       Tim Johnson

United States Senator                        United States Senato

 
Grassley: Plenty of Room for Saving Taxpayer Money in Judiciary Committee Jurisdiction PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Grassley Press   
Monday, 17 October 2011 13:09

Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Submits Ideas to Deficit Reduction Committee

WASHINGTON – Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Chuck Grassley today submitted 18 pages of ideas to the Deficit Reduction Committee for possible savings of taxpayer money as the committee attempts to cut the deficit by more than $1 trillion.

Grassley focuses on administrative restructuring, reduction of duplicate and overlapping programs, and unnecessary and wasteful programs under the authority and jurisdiction of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary.

“I think it’s important that each committee of jurisdiction put forth ideas that can be used to reduce the deficit.  No one agency should take an unfair percentage of the cuts, so it’s up to those of us with the expertise in different subject matters to explain the best areas to save taxpayer money,” Grassley said.

The Senate Judiciary Committee has jurisdiction over the Department of Justice, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and various agencies within the Department of Homeland Security.  The committee also considers policy pertaining to subjects such as bankruptcy, mutiny, espionage, and counterfeiting, Constitutional amendments, Federal courts and judges, Immigration and naturalization, Judicial proceedings, civil and criminal, the U.S. Patent Office, Patents, copyrights, and trademarks, Protection of trade and commerce against unlawful restraints and monopolies.

Click here to read Grassley’s letter to the Deficit Reduction Committee.

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Working for a New Approach for Economic Recovery PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Sen Chuck Grassley   
Monday, 17 October 2011 12:31

Friday, October 14, 2011

 

During his weekly video address, Senator Chuck Grassley discusses taking a new approach to encourage economic recovery and job creation, given bipartisan opposition to the President’s proposal for a new $447 billion spending plan.

Click here for audio.

Here is the text of the address:

This week, there was a bipartisan opposition in the Senate to the President’s proposal for a new $447 billion spending plan.  The President’s first big stimulus bill, enacted in 2009, didn’t keep the unemployment rate down, and it’s unclear how this second massive one would create and sustain jobs.  It also would raise taxes, and whatever the details of the tax increase, there’s plenty of evidence that raising taxes in a struggling economy makes things worse.  Plus, since World War II, every dollar in new taxes has resulted in $1.17 in government spending.  That’s the opposite direction that we should be headed.  The emphasis has got to be on reducing spending, not increasing taxes and a license for more spending.  In fact, what the President wants to do is pay for temporary programs with permanent tax hikes, so it’s clear that this would lead to more government spending long past what he says would be an economic stimulus.  People at the grass roots know that growing deficits and debt are getting in the way of America’s economic recovery.  And pessimism about Washington’s ability to act in a fiscally responsible way by spending less is a damper on the economy.

So, instead of a proposal that emphasizes higher taxes and more government spending, it’s time for a new approach.  Private-sector employers need certainty.  They need to know higher taxes and more burdensome regulations aren’t just around the corner.  They need an international trade agenda that opens new doors sell U.S. products and services.  This week’s action on three trade agreements are a start, but these agreements have been delayed unnecessarily for years now, and the rest of the world is moving ahead without us.  The administration needs to move forward on other trade initiatives without delay.  Affordable energy is needed, too.  It’s time to ramp up production of traditional energy sources here at home and to expand alternative and renewable energy sources

Washington needs to give employers confidence and encourage the entrepreneurial spirit of big and small businesses nationwide.

 

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