Business & Economy
Iowans Talk Gas Prices and National Debt PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Sen Chuck Grassley   
Monday, 09 May 2011 14:02

by U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley

Unlike Congress, families in Iowa can’t spend more money than they bring in year after year.  At least not without facing grave financial problems.

Unlike Congress, Iowans can’t increase their paychecks by passing a law to boost their income.  On the contrary, the big spenders in Washington would like to pass laws that would decrease taxpayers’ take-home pay by raising taxes.

When rising gas prices squeeze household budgets, Iowans need to figure out where to spend less to make up for the shortfall.  They don’t have the luxury of a blank check co-signed by Uncle Sam to pay for basic necessities or splurging on items they can’t afford.

Visiting one-third of Iowa’s counties during a two-week road trip in April, I met face-to-face with more than 1,000 Iowans to answer questions and address issues that matter most to their families, communities and way of life.

In county after county, a sweeping majority of Iowans expressed overriding concern about keeping energy affordable.  Filling up the gas tank week after week is eating up a bigger share of family incomes, increasing transportation costs for schools, farms and businesses, and squeezing profitability and savings month after month.

Policymakers and consumers need to use sticker shock at the pump as a catalyst to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil.  The United States sends more than $400 billion each year overseas for foreign oil.  Now more than ever, the United States needs to ramp up domestic production of traditional energy -- including oil, natural gas, and coal -- and expand alternative fuels and renewable energy -- including wind, solar, hydropower, biomass and geothermal.  Consumers can help lead the way through conservation and choosing energy-efficient appliances, hybrid vehicles and alternative fuels.  Congress needs to keep energy security on the front burner in Washington.

In the U.S. Senate, I have long championed American agriculture for its capacity to help feed a growing world population.  My work also shaped public policy to give Rural America the opportunity to serve as a domestic, renewable energy resource to help displace oil imports, create jobs, grow green energy, increase competition, and strengthen U.S. energy and national security.

America imports more than 60 percent of our oil.  The U.S. Treasury pays out an average $84 billion a year to defend the shipping lanes by which foreign oil reaches the United States.  Those who want to isolate ethanol’s federal tax incentives and put them on the chopping block need to remember the massive tax breaks the oil and gas industries have received each year for the last 100 years.  There’s an effort under way in the Senate to end ethanol’s federal tax incentives, even as oil and gas tax breaks would remain untouched. Policymakers in the United States should not be legislating to slow down domestic energy production.  Killing ethanol’s tax incentives would cost U.S. jobs, increase our dependence on foreign oil, increase prices at the pump for U.S. consumers, and keep OPEC’s stranglehold on the U.S. economy.

This week I introduced legislation that lays out a fiscally responsible path forward for the ethanol sector.  No one else in the energy field has come forward in a similar way, but I hope my legislation starts a trend.  Today, ethanol is the only source of alternative energy that’s substantially reducing America’s dependence on foreign oil.  Going forward, the sky’s the limit as we move to the next generation of advanced biofuels and cellulosic ethanol.

The mid-term elections in November sent a signal to Washington to stop overspending.  Iowans who attended my town meetings in April asked what can be done to rein in deficit spending.  Washington can’t afford to spend 24.7 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (and that’s what’s projected by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office for fiscal 2011) alongside two-percent economic growth without saddling future generations with a legacy of debt.

A divided government in Washington must work together to address chronic deficits and a $14 trillion national debt.  Simplifying the federal tax code would help promote compliance and trigger stronger economic growth, investment and job creation.  I support an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would require a balanced federal budget just as 46 of the 50 states require.  I don’t support raising taxes to balance the budget.  It doesn’t work.  Right now, Washington spends $1.68 for every dollar it collects in taxes.  Since World War II, the government has spent $1.17, on average, every time Congress has raised taxes by $1.

At my town meetings, Iowans asked for measurable belt-tightening in Washington.  I’ll be working to make it happen as Congress debates raising the debt ceiling and approving the federal budget for fiscal 2012.  The Senate Budget Committee is expected to get to work next week.  The budget resolution deserves a rigorous debate and one that takes place in a transparent manner. As a member of the Budget Committee, I intend to do what I can to make that happen.

Friday, May 6, 2011

 
Fighting Fraud, Protecting Taxpayers PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Grassley Press   
Monday, 09 May 2011 13:11

Leahy, Grassley Roll Out New Anti-Fraud Legislation

 Fighting Fraud to Protect Taxpayers Act Will Improve Fraud Enforcement At No Added Cost To Taxpayers

WASHINGTON (Thursday, May 5, 2011) – Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) introduced legislation Thursday to bolster law enforcement’s ability to investigate and prosecute fraud.  The Fighting Fraud to Protect Taxpayers Act builds on successful efforts by Leahy and Grassley in the last Congress to enact legislation to help the Department of Justice and other agencies fight fraud.

The Fighting Fraud to Protect Taxpayers Act will enhance existing efforts to investigate fraud, including the scourge of mortgage, foreclosure, financial and health care fraud that has victimized thousands of unsuspecting Americans.  The legislation will fill key statutory gaps to account for modern types of fraud, strengthening computer fraud and identity theft.  The bill also gives the Secret Service the needed authority to more effectively investigate fraud.  The Fighting Fraud to Protect Taxpayers Act also increases accountability by requiring the Justice Department to better manage and account for key spending.

“Combating fraud is a vital issue on which Senator Grassley and I have a long track record of working together, and with great success,” said Leahy.  “In these trying economic times, cracking down on the fraud which has harmed so many hardworking Americans is more important than ever.  Americans are worried about their budgets at home.  We need to protect their investment in their government.  Fighting fraud and protecting taxpayer dollars are issues Democrats and Republicans have worked together to address in the past, and in these difficult economic times, we need to continue in that spirit of bipartisanship.”

“Fighting fraud and protecting taxpayer dollars transcends politics and Senator Leahy and I have worked together on this matter for years. One of the most important parts of this new legislation is the transparency and accountability it brings to the Justice Department. Without transparency and accountability the fight to combat fraud often falls short.  To ensure that the funds and manpower are being used most effectively, and False Claims Act lawsuits aren’t being settled for pennies on the dollar, the transparency provisions included in this bill are an important way to hold the department accountable for its actions,” Grassley said.

The Fighting Fraud to Protect Taxpayers Act will direct a small portion of funds collected by the government in fines and penalties to investigating, prosecuting, and litigating fraud cases.  In the last fiscal year alone, the Department of Justice recovered well over $6 billion through fines and penalties.  The Leahy-Grassley legislation calls for approximately $15 million a year to be reinvested in anti-fraud efforts.  After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, some law enforcement resources to investigate and prosecute fraud were redirected to anti-terrorism efforts.  The Fighting Fraud to Protect Taxpayers Act will help restore some of these resources.

In 2009, Leahy and Grassley authored the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act, which strengthened tools and increased resources available to federal prosecutors to find, prosecute and jail those who commit financial fraud.  The bill was among the first signed into law by President Obama in 2009.  Leahy and Grassley also worked on key anti-fraud provisions that were included in other reform legislation last year.

The Senate Judiciary Committee dedicated its first hearing of the 112th Congress to examining ways to improve fraud enforcement.

 

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Governor’s Office Statement on Springfield Chamber of Commerce Debt Restructuring Plan PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Andrew Mason   
Tuesday, 03 May 2011 13:04

SPRINGFIELD – May 3, 2011. The Office of Governor Pat Quinn today released a statement regarding the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce’s bonding plan.

“The Quinn Administration applauds the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce for its support of a plan to immediately pay past due bills by restructuring these debts at attractive interest rates. Today, the Chamber proposed a four-year, $6.1 billion bonding plan to pay off state debts.

“The Springfield Chamber - an established and experienced organization - whose goal is to stimulate the economy, agrees with the Quinn Administration that debt restructuring makes good business sense and is paramount to stabilizing the budget. We encourage those who have provided services to the state to come forward and urge legislators to support debt restructuring, a sound and reasonable step needed to return the state to solid financial footing.”

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NAM and Vermeer Corporation Honor Senator Chuck Grassley for Supporting a Pro-Manufacturing Agenda PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Grassley Press   
Friday, 29 April 2011 14:47

Senator Grassley’s Votes in 111th Congress Show His Support for Economic Growth and Job Creation

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 27, 2011 – U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) received the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) Award for Manufacturing Legislative Excellence today in recognition of his consistent support of manufacturers and their employees across the United States. The Award was presented at an event sponsored by NAM member Vermeer Corporation at its facility in Pella, Iowa.

Members of Congress who maintained a voting record of 70 percent or higher during the 111th Congress (2009-2010) received the Award. Senator Grassley received a 77-percent key vote rating.

“On behalf of Vermeer Corporation and our employees, I thank Senator Grassley for championing the causes that will help manufacturers thrive in Iowa and across the United States,” said Vermeer President and CEO Mary Andringa. “We’re fortunate to have Senator Grassley supporting the efforts of Iowa manufacturers, advocating policies that will enable us to grow, create jobs, expand internationally and stay ahead of our global competition.”

“Senator Grassley supports common-sense policies that will enable manufacturers to create and maintain good high-paying jobs in Iowa and throughout America,” said NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons.  “A vibrant manufacturing base is vital to getting our economy turned around and ensuring quality of life for all Americans. It is critical to have lawmakers like Senator Grassley whose actions consistently match their words when it comes to a pro-manufacturing agenda for economic growth and job creation.”

Each key vote was selected by an NAM member-led advisory committee comprised of executives from small, mid-sized and large manufacturing companies. Members of Congress are notified in advance when key votes are pending and why the key vote designation has been made.

Key manufacturing votes for the 111th Congress included energy policy, taxes, regulations and labor law reform, among others. These policies are important components of the NAM’s “Manufacturing Strategy for Jobs and a Competitive America,” a comprehensive plan for supporting jobs and the U.S. economy. You can view the Strategy at www.nam.org.

“The Award is a non-partisan indicator to help manufacturers and their employees sort out the true allies of manufacturing based on their votes on key issues that affect the manufacturing economy, jobs and U.S. competitiveness,” Timmons noted.

Voting records for all members of Congress are available at www.nam.org/votingrecord along with further details about NAM Key Manufacturing Votes.

The National Association of Manufacturers is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states.  Manufacturing has a presence in every single congressional district providing good, high-paying jobs.  For more information about the Manufacturers or to follow us on Shopfloor, Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org.

-NAM-

 
AUGUSTANA GRADS TEAM UP TO BRING NEW PREMIUM MICRO-ROAST COFFEE TO THE QUAD CITIES PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Darlene Murphy   
Friday, 29 April 2011 14:45

Tom Weigand and Annette Zapolis Introduce True Coffee at Cool Beanz 

Rock Island, Ill. (April, 27 2011) – Rock Island native, Augustana College graduate (1985) and Trustee Tom Weigand has again brought one of his entrepreneurial ventures to the Quad Cities.  Three years ago the Noodles & Company co-founder opened a restaurant in Davenport, Iowa and this time Weigand is working with fellow Augustana graduate Annette Zapolis (2009), owner and manager of Rock Island’s Cool Beanz, to sell True Coffee, from his premium artisan coffee company launched in Madison, Wis. in 2010.  Weigand and four partners founded True Coffee Roasters with a commitment to roasting coffees from the great coffee-producing regions of the world using a small-batch roasting process that ensures premium flavor.  According to Weigand “Once we got up and running, I wanted to make our coffees available in the Quad Cities and preferably near Augustana because of all the requests from family and friends!”  He continued, “I learned about Annette’s wonderful coffeehouse near Augustana and it was the perfect fit.”

As a student at Augustana, Zapolis also began to study coffee, espresso, restaurant management and the needs of the community.   After finding the right location, applying a year of research and fixing up a 100-year-old building, Zapolis opened Cool Beanz in August 2009.  The goal of Cool Beanz coffeehouse is to provide a comfortable environment for the Quad Cities community, as well as a place for Augustana and Blackhawk College students to study, relax, interact and enjoy high quality products in a warm atmosphere.  On any day, guests include families spending time together by the three sided fireplace, students diligently working in books and laptops and couples and friends enjoying gourmet sandwiches, salads and beverages. On weekends, local talent graces the Cool Beanz stage for toe-tapping entertainment. Entertainment schedule, events and more can be found at www.coolbeanzcoffeehouse.com.

In addition to small batch roasting, True Coffee practices many sustainable initiatives such as purchasing predominantly Fair Trade and Organic coffees.  According to Weigand, “These coffees come at a higher cost, but we know we are making a difference in coffee-producing communities throughout the world and in return our customers get a really well-grown coffee.”  To take sustainability one step further, True Coffee has launched a unique Can Refill program for customers who purchase coffee beans to use at home or office.  Rather than selling the coffees solely using the industry-standard disposable bag, which is likely to end up in a landfill, True Coffee offers a 12-ounce, refillable can made from tin, which is the most recycled material in U.S.  When guests return to refill their can, they receive 20% discount on their coffee purchase, each and every refill.  “We wanted a program that allowed customers the ability to purchase the freshest coffee, promote sustainability by using a refillable can and reward them with a 20% discount for doing so,” said Weigand.  The program is rapidly expanding in coffee shops where True Coffee is sold throughout the Midwest, and the same program is now available at Cool Beanz.  Find out more about True Coffee Roasters at www.truecoffeeroasters.com or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

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