Business & Economy
Harkin, 40 Senators Urge Extension of Trade Assistance so Workers Can Remain Competitive PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Sen. Tom Harkin   
Tuesday, 24 May 2011 12:35

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a letter to President Obama, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today joined a group of 41 Senators in urging an extension of Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA), including a long term extension of the 2009 bipartisan reforms, before the president submits pending trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama.  TAA provides benefits to jobless workers adversely affected by foreign trade, including partial wage replacement and training assistance.  The 2009 reforms expanded these benefits to additional workers, such as workers in the service sector.  Harkin is Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee.

Since TAA reforms were implemented in May 2009, an estimated 435,000 workers nationally were certified to receive TAA services, approximately 185,000 of those workers might not have been eligible without the 2009 reforms.  More than 4100 Iowa workers currently rely on this assistance.  Since the 2009 reforms expired earlier this year, the Labor Department has had to deny workers’ TAA petitions filed under pre-2009 eligibility rules.

“We agree with you that strengthening the safety net for the middle class by extending TAA should be a prerequisite for the consideration of new trade agreements,” wrote the lawmakers.  

The full text of the letter follows.  It was also signed by Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Robert P. Casey, Jr. (D-PA), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Patty Murray (D-WA, Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Carl Levin (D-MI), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Tom Udall (D-NM), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Jack Reed (D-RI), Kent Conrad (D-ND), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Al Franken (D-MN), Amy Klobuchar (D-NM), Herb Kohl (D-WI), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Mark Begich (D-AK), Chris Coons (D-DE), Kay Hagan (D-NC), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Bernie Sanders (D-VT), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Daniel Akaka (D-HI), Mark Udall (D-CO), Jon Tester (D-MT), Tom Carper (D-DE), Daniel Inouye (D-HI), and Patrick Leahy (D-VT).

May 23, 2011

President Barack Obama
The White House
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Obama:

We share the goal of your National Export Initiative to double U.S. exports and are looking forward to working with you on implementing a strong trade and competitiveness strategy. We are writing to support your decision to insist that Congress agree to extend Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA), including a long term extension of the 2009 bipartisan reforms, before you submit the pending trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama. We recognize, as you do, that such a deal will be challenging to secure because it requires significant bipartisan commitments in both chambers of Congress to vote in favor of a TAA extension. The challenge is worth it. We agree with you that strengthening the safety net for the middle class by extending TAA should be a prerequisite for the consideration of new trade agreements

TAA has been a core pillar of U.S. trade policy. The program ensures that workers who lose their jobs and financial security as a result of globalization have an opportunity to transition to new jobs and emerging sectors of the economy. Important reforms were made to TAA in 2009, which have helped streamline the program and make it more efficient for beneficiaries. In 2009, Congress also expanded eligibility to all workers whose jobs have been moved offshore, regardless of whether the United States has a trade agreement with the particular country. It also recognized the important role of the service industry in the U.S. economy by bringing service workers into TAA.

The program also improved and expanded access to TAA’s Health Coverage Tax Credit (HCTC) – an initiative that promotes private health insurance access for recipients, and makes health insurance coverage more affordable to workers who lose their jobs due to trade and offshoring.  In the absence of this program, more Americans would need public assistance and more individuals nearing retirement would be forced to use the emergency room as their sole source of health care.

These bipartisan reforms to the TAA program help hundreds of thousands of workers, in every state, by moving workers more quickly from government support to private sector jobs. Since TAA reforms began in May 2009, the program has assisted 185,000 Americans who may have otherwise been ineligible for services. The 2009 reforms also help ensure accountability and results by requiring data on performance and worker outcomes, enabling Congress to identify where improvements are needed.  Unfortunately, these critical TAA reforms expired on February 12, 2011. Just this month, the Department of Labor denied the first three petitions filed by groups of workers seeking TAA assistance under pre-2009 eligibility. The continued denial of critical training will impede private sector employment in emerging sectors of the economy.

While we the undersigned may have differing views on elements of the trade agenda – with some of us looking forward to supporting the pending trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama, and others skeptical of the impact of the agreements –we are unified in our belief that the first order of business, before we should consider any FTA, is securing a long-term TAA extension.  

We look forward to working with you to extend and implement TAA as part of a broader trade and competitiveness strategy that creates jobs and builds the middle class.


Governor Quinn Launches Illinois Innovation Network to Help Business Startups Thrive PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Laurel White   
Tuesday, 24 May 2011 08:25

Network Gets Boost from Partnership with Startup America

CHICAGO – May 20, 2011. CHICAGO – May 20, 2011. Governor Pat Quinn today launched the Illinois Innovation Network (IIN) to give our entrepreneurs the resources needed to build and grow their businesses and create more jobs. The IIN, which includes business and educational leaders, is the first initiative created by the Governor’s Illinois Innovation Council, a public-private partnership launched in February to accelerate innovative economic development and job creation efforts in the state’s flourishing startup sector.

Also today, the Governor announced Illinois is joining in the national effort to promote high-tech entrepreneurship by connecting the IlN with Startup Illinois, a component of the Startup America Partnership announced by President Obama earlier this year. Startup Illinois will let Illinois-based affiliates and entrepreneurs leverage technology, content and tools to access national resources, and celebrate local startup successes on a national stage.

“Innovation is the key to being competitive in the global marketplace, which is why we must do everything we can to help our businesses develop new and innovative ideas and technologies,” said Governor Quinn. “Given our commitment to fostering innovation and helping businesses grow, it is only fitting that Startup America chose Illinois as its first Startup region.”

The Governor announced the creation of the IIN today at Chicago’s Merchandise Mart with members of the state’s vibrant startup community. The IIN is a new effort to nurture creativity in the state’s high-tech entrepreneurial sector, and galvanize collaboration between companies, educational institutions and community leaders to create sustainable jobs in the cutting-edge industries of the future. The Governor also unveiled the Network’s website,, which will be expanded over the summer, to serve as a one-stop-shop for connecting entrepreneurs to services.

“There is nothing more important for Illinois’ economic future than creating an environment throughout the state that encourages innovation and entrepreneurship on a daily basis. Governor Quinn and I both believe that Illinois has all of the assets and attributes to continue thriving on the world stage, but we must keep pushing the envelope in both the public and private sector to make this a reality,” Illinois Innovation Council Brad Keywell said.

“Illinois has already built an incredibly promising ecosystem for entrepreneurs, due to the great work of organizations like the Illinois Innovation Council and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity,” said Scott Case, CEO of the Startup America Partnership. “We’re thrilled to work with Startup Illinois as the first local organization to utilize our resources and reach. Ultimately, entrepreneurs in Illinois will have access to not only a national platform through the Partnership, but exposure to the best practices of successful startup regions from across the country.”

The Illinois Innovation Council is chaired by Groupon Co-Founder and Chairman Brad Keywell and is made up of key business executives across a variety of critical sectors, along with science, technology and university leaders. The council’s mission is to promote, develop and attract innovation-driven enterprises and individuals to Illinois and to also develop policies to cultivate and retain entrepreneurs, innovative researchers and other enterprises.

Governor Quinn created the council based on a recommendation by the Governor’s Economic Recovery Commission. For more information please visit


Baucus, Hatch, Grassley Demand China End Intellectual Property Rights Infringement PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Grassley Press   
Tuesday, 24 May 2011 08:20

International Trade Commission Report Shows China’s Practices Cost U.S. Billions in Economic Activity, Millions of Jobs 

Washington, DC – May 18, 2011 - Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Ranking Member Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Senior Committee Member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) today demanded an end to China’s violations of U.S. intellectual property rights (IPR) that cost the U.S. tens of billions of dollars in economic activity and millions of jobs.  The Senators’ comments follow their release of a report they requested last year from the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) quantifying the impact of China’s unfair policies on the American economy and jobs.

“China’s unfair practices cost the U.S. billions of dollars and millions of jobs,” said Baucus. “Time and time again, China has failed to protect and enforce American intellectual property rights, and it continues to discriminate unfairly against American businesses.  We cannot pretend that there aren’t real consequences to these violations when these numbers show that millions of American jobs are on the line.”


“American job creators and workers cannot afford to lose $48 billion to Chinese intellectual property piracy.  Our nation plays by the rules – so too must China,” said Hatch. “I hope the report’s findings spur the Administration to deepen their efforts to meet this challenge.”

“China  wants the benefits of an economic relationship with the United States but won’t hold up its end of the bargain,” Grassley said. “Protecting a trading partner’s intellectual property is Trade 101.   When China looks the other way on intellectual property theft, or unfairly favors Chinese-owned firms, it damages its credibility as a trading partner.  The effects on U.S. businesses and workers are real.  This report quantifies how extensive the damage is on the American economy.   It shows the importance of negotiating strong intellectual property protections in trade agreements and enforcing those rights once the agreements are in place.”

According to the ITC report, China’s IPR infringement cost the U.S. economy approximately $48 billion in 2009 alone.  Of that total, more than $26 billion came from the information and service sector and more than $18 billion came from the high-tech and heavy manufacturing sector, in addition to billions more from other sectors.  Although IPR infringement most commonly affects large firms, small and medium-sized firms are also affected.

The ITC report stated that if China complied with their current international obligations to protect and enforce IPR, 2.1 million jobs could be created in the U.S.  The most direct jobs impact would come in high-tech, innovative industries.

China’s discriminatory indigenous innovation policies, the report said, also give preferential support to Chinese companies in a manner that may lead to additional U.S. job losses.  For example, the Chinese wind power market is skewed in favor of Chinese-owned firms to an extent that has dramatically reduced the market share belonging to foreign-owned companies.  China places local-content requirements on new wind farm construction that effectively locks foreign firms out of new contracts.  The Chinese government has not awarded a wind farm contract to a foreign-owned firm since 2005.

The report the Senators released today is the second in a pair they requested from the ITC. The first report, released in December 2010, outlined the structural and institutional impediments that undermine IPR enforcement and described China’s indigenous innovation policies that discriminate against American companies.

The Senate Finance Committee has exclusive jurisdiction over international trade.  The full ITC report is available here.


Braley Calls on Boehner to Repeal Tax Breaks for Big Oil PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Alexandra Krasov   
Thursday, 12 May 2011 07:27

Washington, DC – May 11, 2011 - Today, Congressman Bruce Braley (IA-01) sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner, calling on him to repeal tax subsidies for big oil companies. Rep. Braley urged Speaker Boehner to bring a bill to the House Floor that would repeal oil subsidies at a time when oil companies are making record profits but gas prices are skyrocketing at the pump.

"I was pleased to read Speaker Boehner’s recent statements acknowledging that eliminating tax subsidies for big oil companies is ‘something we should be looking at’ and I'm glad that other members of the Republican party such as Representative Paul Ryan and Senator Charles

Grassley have also questioned whether these types of subsidies areappropriate,” said Rep. Braley. “It seems clear that the push to end oil tax subsidies now has bipartisan political support. And I think it’s past due time to bring a bill to the House Floor that would repeal big oil's tax breaks.”

A CNN poll released earlier this week shows that 9 in 10 Americansblame big oil companies for the recent spike in gas prices.

A copy of Rep. Braley’s letter is available here:


News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Missy Lundberg   
Monday, 09 May 2011 14:32

May 9, 2011 – State Farm announced today a statewide facilities plan that will maximize building efficiencies throughout a three-state area. In Illinois, two operations centers in Bloomington and Downers Grove will remain open, while ten field offices across the state will consolidate to remaining offices in Illinois and Indiana. Some employees will stay in local mobile-worker roles. Local agent’s offices and State Farm’s Corporate Headquarters, also located in Bloomington, are not part of this announcement.

The announcement is the result of a study analyzing office space capacity and will allow State Farm to utilize technology while gaining operational efficiencies. The company will sell or end leases at the following ten offices over the next few years: Marion, Collinsville, Springfield, Champaign, Peoria, Moline, Rockford, Elmhurst, Tinley Park and Arlington Heights, Illinois.

“It’s our responsibility to our customers and associates to make sure we continually evaluate our business operations to remain competitive in today’s marketplace” says Cathy Wallace, State Farm Operations Vice President based in Bloomington. “Technology allows us to improve our efficiency and reduce facility related expenses while at the same time enhance service to our customers.”

As part of today’s Great Lakes Zone announcement, State Farm will be consolidating field operations from nine to two offices in Indiana and also nine to two offices in Michigan.  These announcements do not affect any of the approximately 1,040 State Farm Agents offices in communities throughout Illinois.

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