Business & Economy
New Interagency Trade Enforcement Center PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Grassley Press   
Wednesday, 07 March 2012 09:07

Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa today made the following comment on the President’s executive order creating a new Interagency Trade Enforcement Center within the office of the United States Trade Representative.

“When U.S. trading partners violate their obligations, the U.S. trade representative’s office already should be taking the lead and working with other agencies to take action as needed.  I’m skeptical that a new Interagency Trade Enforcement Center is necessary to ramp up enforcement against trading partners who are playing fast and loose with trade rules.  There’s nothing to stop the United States from bringing more cases now.  I plan to press the trade representative on the need for this new entity when he comes before the Senate Finance Committee soon.  If this new center gets up and running, there should be real results to back up the presidential pronouncement.  The pressure will be on the White House to deliver.”

Braley Calls on Obama to Open Strategic Petroleum Reserve PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Jeff Giertz   
Wednesday, 07 March 2012 08:44

Gas prices have increased for 22 consecutive days; some analysts forecast $5 by summer


Washington, DC – Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) today called on President Barack Obama to open the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to help reduce spiking gasoline prices.


Gas prices have increased for 22 consecutive days nationally, and according to AAA, the average price for a gallon of gas in Iowa today is $3.53.  The average price has spiked 20 cents in the past two weeks alone.  Some analysts have projected that gas prices could reach $5 per gallon in some parts of the country by summertime.


“Rising gas prices stretch Iowans’ pocketbooks and threaten our fragile economic recovery,” Braley said.  “We should nip this problem in the bud right now.


“Rather than waiting for politicians in Congress to bicker endlessly and take no action, I’m calling on President Obama to take decisive action now and release oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.  Each time it’s been opened in the past, its lowered gas prices – up to 33 percent in some cases.”


Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said in testimony before a Congressional panel earlier today that spiking gas prices are a temporary threat to the economic recovery.


Gas prices are increasing because of speculation and Iran saber-rattling, not increased demand.  In fact, gasoline demand is at its lowest level in the US since 1997.


Obama released 30 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve last year in response to disruptions in oil supplies caused by conflict in Libya.


Audio of Braley discussing his call for Obama to open the Strategic Petroleum Reserve during his weekly press conference call can be downloaded at the following link:


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AARP Urges Legislature to Professionalize Iowa’s Largest Workforce: Direct Care PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Ann Black   
Wednesday, 07 March 2012 08:33

Des Moines, February 29, 2012—AARP called on the Iowa Legislature to professionalize Iowa’s largest workforce - Direct Care Workers, asking the question, “Is Iowa Prepared to Care?” for our rapidly aging population during a news conference this morning at the Iowa Statehouse.


AARP Iowa State Director Kent Sovern urged Iowa’s lawmakers to take action and pass Senate File 2298, a bill to boost professionalism among direct care workers by establishing core state standards for training and create career pathways for advance and specialization, and creates a Board to oversee these professional standards.  “AARP is pleased and proud to champion this effort to professionalize this workforce,” said Sovern.


With an estimated 73,000 direct care workers in Iowa, these paid caregivers make up the largest segment of Iowa’s workforce.  Moreover, demand for direct care services is high and growing.  Iowa will need an additional 12,000 direct care workers by 2012.  High turnover is a persistent challenge.


AARP Iowa State President Tony Vola addressed how this legislation will meet the needs and expectations of the more than 375,000 AARP members in Iowa for quality care.  “It is interesting to note that seven years ago, 8 out of 10 AARP Iowans surveyed said it is important for Iowa to certify direct care workers, and about a quarter of them said they think these workers are already licensed.  This bill provides a great platform for training; it provides an entry for people who want to get into the profession; it provides a great acknowledgement for those who are currently in the profession, and most important, it’s just the right thing to do,” said Vola.


AARP volunteer Ken Crouchman of Clive whose parents are live in assisted living facilities, said staff turnover is a real concern for his family and his parents’ quality of care.  “I see the toll that this ever-changing parade of caregivers takes on my parents, and I feel the recommendations of Iowa’s Direct Care Workers will help improve their situation.  I believe Senate File 2298 will go a long way to elevate the profession and better serve Iowa’s long-term care needs.


Iowa’s direct care workers have taken the lead in attempting to address the challenges of turnover and quality assurance by spending the past two years developing the recommendations proposed by Senate File 2298, a groundbreaking approach unlike any other state.


Iowa Caregivers Association Public Policy Consultant John Hale said, “Senate File 2298 puts us on the path to providing the quality of care and services that every Iowan wants for their loved ones and for themselves.  “It’s a bill that creates a win-win-win-win: for providers of health and long term care services, for consumers who access those services, for workers who provide the service and for the taxpayers who pay a large portion of the bill.

Senate File 2298 is another example of where Iowa way out in front of the nation.  The work that’s being done in Iowa to build a bigger and better direct care workforce, and to enhance the quality of care and services for Iowans, is work that leads the nation,” Hale said.


Currently, Iowa has professional oversight boards and requires qualitative credentialing for all plumbers, hair stylists, massage therapists and a host of other occupations, but does not require a similar credentialing for all direct care workers.


“It’s time to act to give Iowa’s direct care workers the recognition and professional status they want and deserve, and to create the environment necessary for workers to meet the growing health care needs of our state,” said Sovern.  “It is time for the Iowa Legislature to support the recommendations of the Direct Care Worker Task Force and professionalize Direct Care Workers by taking action to pass Senate File 2298.”


About AARP
AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization with a membership that helps people 50+ have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them and society as a whole. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to either political campaigns or candidates. We produce AARP The Magazine, the definitive voice for 50+ Americans and the world's largest-circulation magazine with over 35.1 million readers; AARP Bulletin, the go-to news source for AARP's millions of members and Americans 50+; AARP VIVA, the only bilingual U.S. publication dedicated exclusively to the 50+ Hispanic community; and our website, AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. We have staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.



Grassley asks Panetta for high-level intervention against wasteful spending PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Grassley Press   
Tuesday, 06 March 2012 07:51

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Grassley seeks top-level review and action against defense spending waste


WASHINGTON -- Senator Chuck Grassley today presented Defense Secretary Leon Panetta 16 audit reports that uncovered egregious waste and misconduct at the Department of Defense and called for accountability and the recovery of wasted money.


With $500 billion in controversial defense budget cuts proposed by the Obama administration, Grassley said the waste identified in the reports is the perfect place for the Pentagon to begin its belt-tightening campaign.


“If I had two words to characterize what I found in those 16 reports, they would be ‘scandalous’ and ‘disgraceful,’” Grassley said in a letter he gave directly to Panetta during a hearing on Tuesday of the Senate Budget Committee.


Grassley urged the Secretary to prevent the findings and recommendations in the reports from being buried in the Pentagon bureaucracy.


The Budget Committee hearing focused on the President’s defense budget request for the next fiscal year.  Eight of the audit reports highlighted by Grassley pertain to contract-related issues.  The other eight zero in on wasteful stimulus-bill funded projects.


“The officials who are responsible for what happened must be held accountable and improper payments need to be recovered,” he said.  “Until there are meaningful consequences and real penalties for such gross waste and misconduct, the culture of the organizations involved will never change.  Unabated waste of the taxpayers’ money will continue.”


Grassley noted that the reports themselves cost $100 million a year to produce for the Secretary of Defense and Congress, so if the reports are ignored, the Secretary and members of Congress become party to the waste exposed.


The detailed letter from Grassley to Panetta can be seen here.


The reports identified in Grassley’s letter concerning contracts involve purchases made through the Department of Energy, spare parts pricing practices; Defense Finance and Accounting Services procedures; body armor effectiveness; the Afghan National Police Training Program; and fuel contracts in Korea.


The eight stimulus-funded projects described in Grassley’s letter involve a solar lighting project a the Naval Station in Norfolk, Virginia; a wind turbine project at Fort Wainwright; Air Force projects on energy efficiency; photovoltaic projects at Navy and Marine Corps bases; a geothermal energy development project at the Naval Air Station in Falon, Nebraska; and a Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning project at Naval Support Activity in Norfolk, Virginia.



Jobs and Much More Through Entrepreneurship PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Elisha Smith   
Tuesday, 28 February 2012 14:33

By John Crabtree, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , Center for Rural Affairs

America should empower entrepreneurs to create jobs in rural communities. Congress needs to invest in the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program to provide much needed lending capital and technical assistance to small, rural business start-ups. Likewise, Congress should enact the Rural Microbusiness Investment Credit Act to generate investment in both start-up and expanding rural small businesses by providing a 35% federal tax credit to rural entrepreneurs who invest in their own small businesses.

These proven strategies create rural jobs. And history proves that entrepreneurs can lead us out of recession, as they did last time when microenterprise employment grew by 9% nationally while big firms were shedding jobs.

But rural entrepreneurs have even more to offer. Brandon Raby, the Center for Rural Affairs 2011 Entrepreneur of the Year, learned from 20 years of skateboarding that a skate shop is a crucial element of skate culture, so he opened Caravan Skate Shop in North Platte, Nebraska.

Brandon also plays an active role in a local youth organization named “Skate and Create,” which secured $30,000 from the city to help design and construct a skate park. Caravan Skate Shop is also a place where youth can discuss skating, watch skate videos, and hang out. Brandon enjoys serving as mentor and providing skaters a place to be without negative consequences.

We celebrate entrepreneurs because of their contributions to our rural communities - jobs, revenue, economic opportunities and much more. As a nation, we should invest in entrepreneurs for the same reason.

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