Business & Economy
Will Senator Chuck Grassley Stand Up to Big Banks and Stand With Consumers? PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Lauren Weiner   
Tuesday, 13 December 2011 09:24

Gut Check Time: Senator Grassley: Don’t Block Richard Cordray as Head of the Consumer Financial Protect Bureau, Key to Protecting Consumers

Washington, DC – Tomorrow the U.S. Senate will vote on confirming former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray as the new head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and Senator Chuck Grassley will have the opportunity to show his true stripes – stand with consumers just trying to keep our heads above water or stand with those big banks which are doing everything to avoid being held accountable for crashing the economy and costing millions of jobs.

Republican have done everything in their power to delay, defund, repeal, or weaken the new Wall Street reforms that created the new watchdog, and Wall Street companies and their well-paid lobbyists have spent as many millions to undermine the new law as they did to block it.

Tom McMahon, Executive Director, Americans United for Change: “Let’s be clear – this isn’t about the overwhelming qualified Richard Cordray.  This about the Republicans doing the banks bidding by standing with them and against the 99%.  It’s about the students and members of our Armed Forces who are preyed upon. It’s about the more than $3 million that Senator Grassley has received from the financial sector to do their bidding. We can’t afford any more delays in putting in place a strong consumer watchdog looking out for all of us.  It’s unconscionable for Senator Grassley to block Cordray from heading this agency – an agency that is finally standing up for our interests.”


Reauthorizing the EB-5 Regional Center Program PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Grassley Press   
Monday, 12 December 2011 16:12

Prepared Statement of Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa

Ranking Member, Senate Committee on the Judiciary

“Reauthorizing the EB-5 Regional Center Program: Promoting Job Creation

and Economic Development in American Communities”

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Today, this committee will focus on the EB-5 Regional Center program.  This program, now 21 years old, was created with the intention to benefit American communities through investment and job creation.  Certainly, at a time of economic uncertainty, high national unemployment, and stagnate growth, we must consider all the tools at our disposal to increase economic activity.  While I have supported the EB-5 Regional Center program in the past, I do hope to hear how this program can better serve our nation’s needs in the future.  Today’s hearing is a way for us to conduct our constitutional duty of oversight.  It’s important for us to review the EB-5 program, determine if it’s truly creating jobs, and hear whether the program is increasing economic activity in areas that need it most.

The EB-5 Regional Center program is set to expire on September 31, 2012.  I hope to work with the Chairman on re-authorizing a reformed and more cost efficient program, in addition to several other immigration programs that will expire at the same time.  We need to enact reforms that will make the EB-5 Regional Center program worth keeping around.

Some may argue that the EB-5 Regional Center program is doing very little to stimulate the economy.  I appreciate the administration’s recent attempt to focus energy and attention on reforming the program and increase participation in regional centers.  The changes they institute may help, but at the end of the day, one fact remains:  the program is simply a way for wealthy investors to buy a greencard – not only for themselves, but for their families.  No skills or management experience is needed.  One only needs to write a check to gain entry into the United States.  While taking a financial risk in projects or businesses in the United States is admirable, evidence suggests that it’s not doing enough to spur real job creation.

Since Congress capped the number of employment based immigrants that are allowed entry into the U.S. each year, it’s important that we utilize those visas to the best extent possible.  We must have an immigration system that is based on merit.  We should be taking the best and brightest.  We can afford to be choosey, so we must elect to provide immigrant visas to those with tremendous skills that will benefit our country in the long term.

So, in that vein, we must figure out where the EB-5 Regional Center program fits into the equation.  Is the EB-5 program attracting the individuals we need, or are we simply selling visas to the highest bidders?

I want to take a moment to express serious concern about reports that the EB-5 Regional Center program is creating jobs for people in this country illegally.  The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) reviewed the application for one investor in a South Dakota regional center.  The AAO said that the agency was correct in denying his request for greencard status because the employees were in the country illegally.  If we’re going to allow wealthy foreign nationals to enter the U.S. under the guise of creating jobs, I’d sure hope that U.S. citizens are the benefactors.  I’d like to hear today about how the centers create jobs, how they report this information to the federal government, and whether USCIS is doing substantial auditing of centers to verify the information received from the regional centers.

We must also do a better job of rooting out abuse by EB-5 promoters abroad.  Reuters recently reported on how cash-hungry American businesses are working abroad to promote the EB-5 regional center program.  Many of these EB-5 promoters are mischaracterizing the program, luring investors here and robbing them of the American dream.  In fact, China has reportedly put restrictions on these promoters.  When asked by Reuters, both the USCIS and the Securities and Exchange Commission were unaware of any marketing abuses.  Maybe it’s time these agencies wake up and figure out what’s truly going on.

I’d like to work with Chairman Leahy on ways to strengthen oversight over the program.  I think he may have some good ideas for doing that, including requiring more reporting by the centers and ending centers that aren’t producing as they promised.  In addition to restoring program integrity, I think it’s important to consider whether the dollar amounts should be raised.  They have remained at $500,000 and $1 million since the early 1990s.  Finally, we must close any loophole that allows a foreign investor to bring capital to the table, receive a greencard, and then withdraw his financial support and walk away from the regional center.

I realize we could have testimony from every single regional center in the program citing the benefits that foreign investments have provided their community.  I appreciate Mr. Stenger appearing before us again today and sharing with us how the program has benefited Northern Vermont.

Conversely, I look forward to hearing from Mr. North, a fellow from the Center for Immigration Studies.  Mr. North will provide a different perspective that exposes some of the problems with the program, and highlight how some bad actors have tarnished the program’s reputation.  I also look forward to hearing from Mr. Devine, who has had the experience of overseeing the operation of the program when he worked as Chief Counsel and Acting Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service.

Thank you for holding this hearing, Mr. Chairman.  I look forward to listening to our witnesses.



Treasury study misses the mark on abusive charitable loopholes PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Grassley Press   
Monday, 12 December 2011 16:00
Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2011

The Treasury Department this week released a study on supporting organizations and donor-advised funds that was mandated by the Pension Protection Act of 2006 at the behest of the leaders of the Senate Finance Committee and House Ways and Means Committee.  Sen. Chuck Grassley, as chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance in 2006, championed this study to understand what issues still needed to be addressed after the Pension Act curbed only the most blatantly abusive transactions.  Grassley has long been concerned about abuses of tax law through tax-exempt organizations such as donor-advised funds and supporting organizations. In October, Grassley highlighted how the George Kaiser Family Foundation converted from a private foundation to a supporting organization about ten years ago and as a result, likely had more money to invest in the failed Solyndra energy company than it otherwise would have. Taxpayers lost money through the government’s $535 million loan guarantee for Solyndra and also on the tremendous subsidy the government provided the George Kaiser Family Foundation through the charitable contribution deduction.  In October, Grassley cited that example in a letter to the IRS and Treasury, urging completion of the study mandated in 2006.  Grassley made the following comment on the newly released study, which is available here.

“The study is disappointing and unresponsive. It doesn’t advance the ball in closing abusive loopholes. If anything, it gives abusive organizations cause for celebration.  The Treasury Department seems to be forgetting that for years, supporting organizations and donor-advised funds were on the IRS’ annual ‘Dirty Dozen’ list of tax scams. Even the current list includes ‘abuse of charitable organizations and deductions.’  Yet the Treasury study discusses the status quo and pay-out rates as if there’s no cause for worry.  Treasury apparently thinks Congress fixed problems with supporting organizations and donor-advised funds in 2006.  In fact, Congress fixed a limited area and asked the IRS and Treasury to help us fix the rest.  The study doesn’t offer any kind of road map about problems.

“It’s also disappointing that the study used 2006 data. The IRS went to the trouble of revising the Form 990 in 2008 to glean more data from charitable organizations, yet none of the new data was used in this study.

“The study describes average pay-out rates but doesn’t highlight how many of these entities pay out nothing or whether the pay-outs were to other supporting organizations and donor-advised funds. There’s no information on how much money is getting to those who really could benefit from charitable work, which is especially critical in these tough economic times.  The superficial review misses the point of trying to determine whether Congress and the IRS should change the distribution rates and tax benefits that apply to these organizations.

“While the Administration continues to complain about millionaires and tax breaks for the rich, with this report, Treasury is in effect signing off on sweetheart tax breaks for billionaires.  The Administration had a chance to help the poor here but instead signed off on the status quo to the benefit of billionaires. 

“Treasury and the IRS missed an opportunity to shed light on loopholes that taxpayers heavily subsidize yet result in financial gains for a few principals and very little money for charities.  Unlike the Obama Treasury Department, those of us who want to close loopholes will have to keep drilling down.”

Braley Urges House Leaders to Include Wind Energy Tax Credits in Year-End Tax Legislation PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Jeff Giertz   
Tuesday, 06 December 2011 14:02

Extending tax credit before end of next year would boost jobs and growth in wind energy sector 


Washington, DC – Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) today urged Republican and Democratic House leaders to include legislation extending the wind energy production tax credit for another four years in any year-end tax cut extension deal.

Congressional leaders are negotiating an agreement to extend a number of job creation tax cuts that are set to expire at the end of this year, including a payroll tax cut and a biofuels tax credit.

In a letter to House leadership, Braley said that an immediate, four-year extension of the wind energy production tax credit would provide more certainty for the wind energy industry, encouraging increased investment and job creation.  Historically, investment in wind energy projects has collapsed when the wind energy production tax credit has been allowed to expire.

“Though the Production Tax Credit isn’t set to expire until the end of 2012, wind project developers are hesitant to schedule future projects without the certainty of having this credit extended,” Braley wrote.  “When the credit has expired in the past, the installation of new wind turbines dropped as much as 93 percent, with corresponding job losses.  By not waiting until the last minute, we can maintain certainty for investors and continue to create jobs in this growing industry.”

At the beginning of November, Braley introduced the American Renewable Energy Production Tax Credit Extension Act, a bill that extends the wind energy production tax credit for another four years.  Without Congressional action, the existing wind energy production tax credit will expire at the end of 2012.

Wind energy is a major growth industry in Iowa.  Iowa is first in the nation in per-capita wind energy production, and second nationally in total annual wind energy production in megawatt-hours.  According to the Iowa Wind Energy Association, the Iowa wind energy industry already employs over 3,000 full-time workers.  That number could grow with a more certain investment climate for the wind energy.


The text of Braley’s letter to House leaders is below; a copy can be viewed at the following link:


November 29, 2011

Speaker John Boehner

H 232, U.S. Capitol

Washington, D.C. 20515


Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi

H 204, U.S. Capitol

Washington, D.C. 20515


Majority Leader Eric Cantor

H 329, U.S. Capitol

Washington, D.C. 20515


Minority Whip Steny Hoyer

H 148, U.S. Capitol

Washington, D.C. 20515


Dear Speaker Boehner, Leader Cantor, Leader Pelosi and Minority Whip Hoyer,

I urge you to include the American Renewable Energy Production Tax Credit Extension Act, which would extend the production tax credit (PTC) for four years, as part of any tax extenders package that may be considered before the end of the year.  Extending this credit is essential to maintaining and expanding a domestic wind energy industry.

Wind is still a comparatively new energy industry and we must have a consistent and long-term federal policy to encourage continued investment. Even though the production tax credit isn’t set to expire until the end of 2012, wind project developers are hesitant to schedule future projects without the certainty of having this credit extended. When the credit has expired in the past, the installation of new wind turbines dropped as much as 93 percent, with corresponding job losses.

By not waiting until the last minute, we can maintain certainty for investors and continue to create jobs in this growing industry.

Wind has already had a positive impact on our economy and added 40 percent of all new electricity capacity between 2008 and 2009. It has provided a steady source of income for thousands of farmers and ranchers, with Iowa landowners making roughly $12.6 million per year leasing land for turbines. Additionally, over 400 manufacturing facilities across the U.S. now make major turbine components, towers, and blades. In Iowa alone, the wind industry supports more than 3,000 jobs with a combined payroll of over $70 million per year.

Wind energy is helping meet America’s increasing demand for electricity. Please consider a long-term extension of the wind PTC to make sure that this industry continues to create jobs and be part of a long-term solution to meet our energy needs.


/s/ Bruce Braley

Member of Congress


# # #

Statement From the Office of Governor Quinn on Budget Agreement PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Andrew Mason   
Tuesday, 06 December 2011 13:14

SPRINGFIELD – November 28, 2011. The Office of Governor Quinn today issued a statement after reaching an agreement on the Fiscal Year 2012 budget with legislative leaders.

“After working closely with the General Assembly this veto session, we have reached a bipartisan budget agreement that achieves the goal of keeping the seven state facilities slated for closure open throughout this fiscal year using existing state resources.”

“Reallocation will allow us to move towards the Administration’s long-term goal of more thoughtful, properly supported and successful community care transitions. We thank Senate President John Cullerton, Senate Leader Christine Radogno, House Speaker Michael Madigan, House Leader Tom Cross, and their staff members for their bipartisan cooperation and hard work.”


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