Washington, DC - Congressman Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) met with Cedar Falls High School sophomore Emily Schroeder yesterday to congratulate her on winning the First District Congressional Art Competition. Schroeder visited Washington, DC with her family to attend a recognition ceremony and view her artwork hanging in the Capitol building.

"Emily is an outstanding artist with a very bright future," Braley said. "I'm glad she was able to visit Washington and be recognized with winners from around the country. She and her family were also able to visit the Capitol and see her artwork prominently displayed. I want to congratulate Emily and all the other finalists for their outstanding work.

An Artistic Discovery, the annual Congressional Art Competition, is open to all high school students. One winner is selected from each participating district. Four finalists were selected and their artwork will be displayed in Braley's office in Washington D.C. The six semi-finalists' work will be displayed in Braley's Iowa district offices.

A photo of Congressman Braley and Emily standing next to drawing is attached.

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WASHINGTON - June 18, 2010 - The Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday approved a measure sponsored by U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) that would increase federal criminal penalties for drug dealers who entice children with candy-flavored methamphetamine, marijuana and other dangerous drugs.

According to law enforcement officers and drug treatment officials, methamphetamine and other illegal drugs are being colored, packaged and flavored in ways designed to attract children and minors.  Some have child-friendly names like Pot Tarts - named after the popular Pop-Tarts snacks.

"This bill sends a strong and clear message to drug dealers - if you target our children by peddling candy-flavored drugs, there will be a heavy price to pay," Feinstein said. "The legislation increases criminal penalties for anyone who markets candy-flavored drugs in an effort to hook our young people.  New techniques and gimmicks to lure our kids into addiction are around every corner.  We must do everything we can to end the practice of purposely altering illegal drugs to make them more appealing to our youth."

"Drug dealers who target children by flavoring drugs to taste like candy have sunk to a new low.  These dealers need to know that when you prey on our youth, you risk serious prison time.  This legislation should make drug dealers think twice about selling candy flavored drugs to our kids," Grassley said.

The bill also has been endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police and the National Narcotics Officers' Associations' Coalition.


Senator Chuck Grassley made the following statement after the U.S. Department of Agriculture released proposed rules to increase competitiveness in the livestock and poultry industry.  Grassley fought to ensure competition was addressed in the 2008 farm bill, which required the proposed rules.  This includes rules for specific legislation that Grassley pushed which required any arbitration provision in a contract be voluntarily agreed upon by both parties to settle disputes at the time a dispute arises, not when the contract is signed.

Grassley has led the congressional effort to address unfair practices, monopsony and vertical integration in agriculture.  He is the author of comprehensive legislation that would help ensure a level playing field for all market participants in the agriculture industry, including the independent producer and family farmer.

"The Department of Agriculture has made a concerted effort to address some of the unprecedented levels of concentration in the agriculture industry.  There's still more work to be done, but these proposed rules are a step in the right direction.  Producers of all sizes will benefit by having more bargaining power and additional rights to negotiate.  It gives producers an opportunity to have some control over a process that has all-too-often skewed against family farmers and independent producers.

"It's also important that the proposed rules for arbitration will be available.   I've fought for several years to allow farmers the opportunity to choose the best form of dispute resolution so they didn't have to submit to packers.  This will help level the playing field for independent producers."  

Here is a copy of USDA's press release.

USDA Announces Proposed Rule to Increase Fairness

In the Marketing of Livestock and Poultry

WASHINGTON, June 18, 2010?Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that on June 22, 2010 USDA's Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) will publish a proposed rule, as required by the 2008 farm bill and through existing authority under the Packers and Stockyards Act, that would provide significant new protections for producers against unfair, fraudulent or retaliatory practices.

"Concerns about a lack of fairness and commonsense treatment for livestock and poultry producers have gone unaddressed far too long," said Vilsack. "This proposed rule will help ensure a level playing field for producers by providing additional protections against unfair practices and addressing new market conditions not covered by existing rules."

The proposed rules address concerns that have been discussed for many years and were developed at the direction of the 2008 farm bill, which requires USDA to carry out specific rulemaking to improve fairness in the marketing of livestock and poultry.  During farm bill discussions in 2007, over 200 organizations across the country urged Congress to include a livestock title to improve market fairness and competition for producers.  Additionally, USDA identified other areas where new rulemaking is needed to ensure the marketplace is fair and competitive for producers.  Many of the concerns addressed in the rule were raised during the dozens of Administration Rural Tour stops attended by Secretary Vilsack last year, and the joint USDA-Department of Justice Competition Workshops held this year.  Additionally, GIPSA held three public meetings in 2008 to gather comments, information, and recommendations from interested parties.

Many of the concerns were related to increasing consolidation and vertical integration in the livestock and poultry marketplace, and shrinking farm numbers.  For instance, there were over 666,000 hog farms in 1980, but only roughly 71,000 today.  In the cattle industry, there were over 1.6 million farms in 1980, but only roughly 950,000 today.  In the hog industry, producers received 50% of the retail value of a hog in 1980, but only 24.5 percent in 2009.  For cattle, producers received 62 percent of the retail value of a steer in 1980, but only 42.5 percent in 2009.  In the poultry industry today, a grower makes 34 cents per bird, while the processing company however on average makes $3.23 a bird.

The proposed rule announced today would provide the following protections:

· Provide further definition to practices that are unfair, unjustly discriminatory or deceptive, including outlining actions that are retaliatory in nature, efforts that would limit a producer's legal rights, or representations that would be fraudulent or misleading.  Additionally, the proposed rule reiterates USDA's position that a producer need not overcome unnecessary obstacles and have to always prove a harm to competition when they have suffered a violation under the Act ;

· Define undue or unreasonable  preferences or advantages;

· Establish new protections for producers required to provide expensive capital upgrades to their growing facilities, including  protections to ensure producers  have the opportunity to recoup 80 percent of the cost of a required capital investment;

· Prohibit packers from purchasing, acquiring or receiving livestock from other packers, and communicate prices to competitors;

· Enable a fair and equitable process for producers that choose to use arbitration to remedy a dispute.  Additionally, clear and conspicuous print in the contract will be required to ensure producers are provided the option to decline the use of arbitration to settle a dispute.

· Require that companies paying growers under a tournament system provide the same base pay to growers that raise the same type and kind of poultry, including ensuring that  the growers pay cannot go below the base pay amount;

· Provide poultry growers with a written notice of a company's intent to suspend the delivery of birds under a poultry growing arrangement at least 90 days prior to the date it intends to suspend the delivery;

· Improve market transparency by making sample contracts (except for trade secrets or other confidential information) be made available on GIPSA's website for producers;

· Outline protections so that producers can remedy a breach of contract;

· Improve competition in markets by limiting exclusive arrangements between packers and dealers.

The proposed rule will be published in the June 22, 2010, Federal Register. GIPSA will consider comments received by August 23, 2010.  Comments may be sent via email to comments.gipsa@usda.gov or sent by mail to Tess Butler, GIPSA, USDA, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Room 1643-S, Washington, D.C. 20250-3604.  Copies of the proposed rule and additional information can be found at: http://www.gipsa.usda.gov by clicking on Federal Register.

ROCK ISLAND, IL (06/18/2010)(readMedia)-- Twenty-two Augustana students will spend two weeks in mid-July administering medical care to impoverished Nicaraguans. The service trip gives students hands-on experience in the medical fields and immerses them in Latin American culture. It is organized through JETS (Joining Education Through Service), a student organization at Augustana. The students will be accompanied by Dr. Darrin Good, professor of biology, and three doctors-two alumni and one the spouse of an alumna.

The students will set up their free medical clinic-usually in a tent or covered pavilion-in six small Nicaraguan towns. The students will work with translators to evaluate patients' symptoms and make a preliminary diagnosis. Before prescribing treatment, they will consult with one of three Nicaraguan doctors or the three American doctors who confirm the students' diagnosis.

From your area, this includes:

Andrew Spyrow, a first year from Bettendorf, Bettendorf majoring in general studies.

Mark Stumphy, a junior from Moline, Moline majoring in general studies.

Good founded the JETS program in 2008 and has since been to Nicaragua three times. He started JETS because he saw the need for an international program that was shorter than traditional programs and would fit the interests of pre-medicine students. He also wanted the program to be a service learning opportunity and to capitalize on Augustana's excellent Spanish department.

"Students on the trip really do begin to understand how truly lucky they are to have been born in a wealthy, developed nation," Good said. "They return with a love of the people of Nicaragua and a sense that impoverished people don't choose to be poor or become poor because they are lazy. They gain an understanding of world poverty and health disparity around the world."

For Brett Anderson, a junior biology and pre-pharmacy major, the trip will be his first time out of the country. "This is the perfect opportunity for me to experience a different culture," he said. "I am looking forward to bringing help to people who really need it."

Augustana students, faculty, and alumni travel to Nicaragua twice a year through the JETS organization. They partner with Global Medical Training (GMT), a non-profit organization that provides medical services to poor communities in Central America. GMT determines where the Augustana clinics are needed and also arranges several tourist experiences that expose students to the history, food, economy and ecology of Nicaragua.

Nicaragua is the largest country in Central America, but it is also one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere. According to the United Nations 2007-08 human development report, 80% of the population lives on less than $2 a day and a large number of households are headed by woman. Quality medical aid is either unavailable or unaffordable to much of the population.

The students leave the United States on July 11 and return on July 23. For more information on the Nicaragua trip, please visit www.augustana.edu/Nicaragua.

For more information, contact Kamy Beattie at kamybeattie@augustana.edu or 309-794-7721.

ROCK ISLAND, IL (06/18/2010)(readMedia)-- Six hundred and twenty-seven students of the class of 2010 graduated from Augustana College with their Bachelor of Arts degree. Augustana's 150th commencement convocation was held on May 23, 2009 at the iwireless Center in Moline.  The following local students were among the graduates:

Faria Ahmed from Bettendorf, IA, who majored in psychology and biology and pre-medicine.

Kristin Albrecht from Moline, IL, who majored in communication studies.

Drew Allen from Bettendorf, IA, who majored in international business.

Samuel Alvarado from Davenport, IA, who majored in chemistry.

Britney Anderson from Reynolds, IL, who majored in religion.

Isaac Anderson from Moline, IL, who majored in biology.

Carrie Bestian from Taylor Ridge, IL, who majored in elementary education.

Katherine Bieber from Davenport, IA, who majored in history.

Nicholas Borchert from Rock Island, IL, who majored in English and philosophy.

Benjamin Borhart from Illinois City, IL, who majored in English.

David Brickner from Rock Island, IL, who majored in accounting and business finance.

Andrew Brown from Port Byron, IL, who majored in business management.

Katherine Caldwell from Moline, IL, who majored in theatre arts.

Nicholas Camlin from Rock Island, IL, who majored in political science.

Kevin Carton from Moline, IL, who majored in communication studies and French and Africana studies.

Brittany Dalton from Eldridge, IA, who majored in pre-medicine.

Darin Decker from Moline, IL, who majored in business marketing.

Jacquelyn Engel from Davenport, IA, who majored in biology.

Megan Ferris from Moline, IL, who majored in elementary education.

Melissa Fobert from Rock Island, IL, who majored in accounting and business finance.

Kai Frazier from Moline, IL, who majored in psychology.

Adam Friedrich from Port Byron, IL, who majored in philosophy and English writing emphasis.

Andrew Fritch from East Moline, IL, who majored in accounting and business finance.

Monica Glancey from Moline, IL, who majored in communication studies.

Melissa Goode from Davenport, IA, who majored in music.

Clayton Holst from Davenport, IA, who majored in biology.

Sara Howell from Milan, IL, who majored in biology.

Olivia Husman from East Moline, IL, who majored in communication studies.

Monica Johnson from Davenport, IA, who majored in business marketing and Spanish.

Michael Kendall from Silvis, IL, who majored in biology.

Paul Lambrecht from Moline, IL, who majored in history education.

Thomas Larrison from Davenport, IA, who majored in religion.

Thomas Lemon from Moline, IL, who majored in history and business management.

Megan Lonergan from Davenport, IA, who majored in elementary education and mathematics.

Emilie Malone from Davenport, IA, who majored in sociology and art history.

Benjamin Marine from Coal Valley, IL, who majored in biology and pre-medicine and business.

Peter Marogil from Moline, IL, who majored in biology and pre-medicine.

Tiffany Massey from Rock Island, IL, who majored in communication sciences and disorders.

George Mathew from East Moline, IL, who majored in philosophy.

Daniel Meden from Davenport, IA, who majored in biology.

Olivia Menage from Moline, IL, who majored in history.

Sara Michaletti from Rock Island, IL, who majored in classics with Latin emphasis.

Emma Moran from Rock Island, IL, who majored in biology and pre-medicine.

Allison Mulherin from Moline, IL, who majored in biology.

Seneca Munos from Moline, IL, who majored in biology.

Cara Neary from East Moline, IL, who majored in psychology.

Zachary Newcomb from Rock Island, IL, who majored in philosophy.

Anthony Nobiling from Moline, IL, who majored in sociology.

Luke Osborne from Moline, IL, who majored in classics with Latin emphasis.

John Patton from Rock Island, IL, who majored in English.

Srividya Prabhu from Moline, IL, who majored in biology and pre-medicine.

Andrew Randone from Davenport, IA, who majored in political science.

Bridget Reich from Bettendorf, IA, who majored in psychology.

Cristal Rios from Moline, IL, who majored in Spanish.

Sydney Royal from Rock Island, IL, who majored in accounting and German.

Kelli Schledewitz from Davenport, IA, who majored in elementary education.

Geoffrey Schoon from Rock Island, IL, who majored in accounting and business finance.

Alyssa Schroeder from Coal Valley, IL, who majored in business finance and accounting.

Bryan Schuldt from Rock Island, IL, who majored in physics.

Alex Sieg from Bettendorf, IA, who majored in biochemistry.

Darla Smith from Port Byron, IL, who majored in elementary education.

Nicholas Stader from Bettendorf, IA, who majored in communication studies.

Amber Staes from Moline, IL, who majored in business.

Henry Stauffenberg, from Bettendorf, IA, who majored in Geology.

Sarah Taylor from Moline, IL, who majored in accounting and business finance.

Amanda Thomas from Rock Island, IL, who majored in political science.

Kevin Tracey from Moline, IL, who majored in political science.

Angel Traman from Moline, IL, who majored in business management.

Alison Tunnicliff from Rock Island, IL, who majored in political science.

Katherine Vander Vennet from Rock Island, IL, who majored in business marketing and communication studies.

Bret VanDeWoestyne from Silvis, IL, who majored in biology.

Lucie VanHecke from Moline, IL, who majored in political science.

Maria Vital from Moline, IL, who majored in Spanish.

Emily Weller from Rock Island, IL, who majored in art education.

Jacob Wells from Moline, IL, who majored in biology.

Emily Welser from Moline, IL, who majored in biology.

Brandon West from Moline, IL, who majored in history.

Eric Wigand from Moline, IL, who majored in business finance.

Nicholas Wilczynski from Moline, IL, who majored in pre-medicine and biology.

Joshua Woodham from Bettendorf, IA, who majored in biology.

Catherine Ziegler from Bettendorf, IA, who majored in English.

For more information, contact Kamy Beattie at kamybeattie@augustana.edu or 309-794-7721.

About Augustana: Founded in 1860 and situated on a 115-acre campus near the Mississippi River, Augustana College is a private liberal arts institution affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). The college enrolls 2,500 students from diverse geographic, social, ethnic and religious backgrounds and offers more than 60 majors and areas of study. Augustana employs 226 faculty and has a student-faculty ratio of 11:1. Augustana continues to do what it always has done: challenge and prepare students for lives of leadership and service in our complex, ever-changing world.

Discussions to be Held Statewide on Issues Impacting Latinos

CHICAGO - June 18, 2010. Governor Pat Quinn today announced the start of "Diálogos" with Illinois' Latino community. Beginning today in Aurora, Latino residents throughout Illinois will have the opportunity to meet with members of the Illinois Latino Family Commission and state officials to discuss issues relevant to the Latino community.

"It is important that Latino residents in Illinois are able to express ideas about topics impacting the Latino community, and these 'Diálogos' will give them the opportunity to do that," said Governor Quinn. "This forum will help build a bridge between organizations and coalitions in the community and state agencies."

The first of the "Diálogos" will take place today in the Aurora area, which is home to over 65,500 Latinos who make up 39.9 percent of the city's population. Various state agency representatives, members of the Illinois Latino Family Commission, Compañeros en Salud and other community organizations will be present to discuss topics affecting Aurora Latinos, such as health, education, jobs, housing, youth and family services.

"I look forward to hearing first-hand the issues affecting the Latino communities throughout Illinois and how that opportunity for interaction will translate into more effective services and resources," said Henry Martinez, Illinois Latino Family Commission chairman.

The Illinois Latino Family Commission advises the Governor and the state Legislature on how best to improve and expand existing policies, services, programs and opportunities to better serve Latino residents across the state.

For more information on the Illinois Latino Family Commission, please contact Dr. Layla Suleiman-Gonzalez at (312) 793-3970 or laylasuleiman@illinois.gov.


Senate Democrats Unable to Overcome Republican Filibuster

Washington, DC - June 18, 2010 - Congressman Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) released the following statement after the US Senate failed last night to pass the Biodiesel Tax Credit as part of the tax extenders package.  The bill fell when Senate Democrats were unable to overcome a Republican filibuster. All Senate Republicans and two Democrats voted against cloture.

"Six months after the House first passed the biodiesel tax credit extension, Republican obstructionism in the Senate is once again preventing hard-working Iowans from getting back to work," Braley said.  "It is completely inexcusable for Senate Republicans to play more political games while the hard-working employees of Iowa's biodiesel facilities remain out of work. I strongly encourage my colleagues in the Senate to put partisan politics aside, do their jobs and pass this tax credit as soon as possible."

Braley voted in December to extend the biodiesel tax credit. Although that legislation passed the House, the credit expired when the Senate failed to take action until March. The House voted again to renew the extension on May 28.

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Expert Asks If You Can't Lift More Than You Weigh, Then Why Do You Need 500 Pounds of Weights to Work Out?

The average American male can bench press only 135 pounds without risking injury, and women can typically only bench press about 60 pounds, so why does everyone feel like the only way they can work out is with a 500 pound weight machine from a gym?

That's the question asked by Donnie Gorsuch, a woman who didn't have the time or money for a gym, but wanted to exercise in the comfort of her own home. Her logic flew in the face of the popular notion that if you don't belong to a gym, you need to buy gym-style equipment to work out.

"Gyms and the health club industry have created in the popular consciousness a type of 'gym dependency,' which has convinced millions of people that the only way to really get a good workout is with gym equipment," she said. "But I didn't have the time or money to join a gym, and I didn't have room in my house for a giant workout machine. That's when I discovered the practice of bodyweight training, which uses your own weight to provide the resistance for muscles that gym equipment provides."

Gorsuch is not only a practitioner of bodyweight training, but she also developed with her husband a simple brace for bodyweight trainers called The Power Platform(www.powerplatformfitness.com). The platform folds up and fits just about anywhere, and comes with instructions on how to perform basic and advanced bodyweight exercises.

"Bodyweight exercises don't require weights, so they are ideal for people who can't afford or don't have time for the gym," Gorsuch added. "In this economy, most people are of one of two extremes. They either have two or more jobs trying to make ends meet, or they are among the millions who are unemployed or underemployed. Bodyweight training is perfect for these people, because it's neither expensive nor time consuming."

The practice has been around for decades, and is used by the military, the space program, and even Olympic athletes, according to Gorsuch.

"People have become slaves to their gym, and when they are forced to quit because of time or money, they wind up buying an expensive piece of equipment from a late night infomercial than ends up taking up space, or better, becoming a staging area for folding clothes or a work bench for household fix-it projects," she added. "Bodyweight training has always been around, but because of the unique challenges facing most people in today's new economy, it looks like the practice will finally gain the mainstream acceptance it deserves."

Floor Statement of Senator Chuck Grassley Unfinished Time-Sensitive Tax Legislative Business: Expiring Lower Marginal Rates and Family Tax Relief

Delivered June 17, 2010

Last week, I discussed the unfinished tax legislative business.  I used this chart.  The legislation before the Senate deals with only one small, but important, piece of unfinished tax legislative business.  These tax extenders are on their second Senate stop.   As the chart shows, the tax extenders, which are overdue by almost half-a-year, are not alone.  There are three other major areas of unfinished business.

One area is the one I discussed a couple of days ago. It's the Alternative Minimum Tax ("AMT") patch.

Another area is the death tax.  That's the area I talked about yesterday.

The third area is the 2001-2003 tax rate cuts and family tax relief package.  I'm going to discuss that policy today.

As important as the AMT patch and the death tax are, they are dwarfed by the impact of this third package of expiring tax provisions.   I'm referring to the marginal rate cuts and the family tax relief of the bipartisan tax relief that was enacted in 2001 and 2003.

Efforts to make these tax relief packages permanent were rebuffed.  The resistance was the result of a hard and determined Minority, marshaled by the Senate Democratic Leadership.  It was reflected in the budget resolutions offered and filibusters.  Even more inexplicable than the Democratic Leadership's failure to extend popular and bipartisan tax relief enacted in 2001 and 2003, were some of the reasons given.  It was basically said that since Republicans wrote the law, it is our, meaning Republicans', problem.  The left wing of the blog-o-sphere echoed the Democratic Leadership.

Some of those reflections in the blog-o-sphere even alleged that the sunset was a Republican conspiracy.

I came across a 2007 posting on the Daily Kos blog. The poster reviewed the provisions of the Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act of 2005, which was enacted in May 2006.  That legislation contained two basic pieces.  One was an extension of lower rates for capital gains and dividends.  Another was an extension of the Alternative Minimum Tax ("AMT") patch.   The poster's analysis concluded that that the bill was a "poison pill" designed to sabotage the economy to increase the prospects of Republican candidates in 2012.  The argument seems to be that having popular and bipartisan tax relief from 2001 and 2003 all sunset at the end of 2010 would cause such an economic mess that the Democrats, assumed by the poster to be in power at the time, will take the blame and suffer at the polls.

In a posting titled "The Monster Republican Tax Hike," the poster stated that "Republican Congresses chose not to make their tax cuts...permanent."  The argument seems to be that Republicans put sunset clauses in the bill solely to improve long term budget projections and that responsibility for the expiration of tax relief rests completely with Republicans.  The implication is that by lowering taxes, Republicans are responsible for a tax increase that would occur when the Democratic majorities control both houses of Congress.

The commentaries I just referred to are available to everyone in the April 12, 2007, edition of the Congressional Record.  I've heard that some Members on the other side, as well as key staff, have made similar assertions.

As one who was involved in the writing of these tax relief plans, I can tell the Senate, without reservation, that these assertions are untrue.  To begin with, it is completely ridiculous to suggest that President Bush and Republicans in general did not intend or desire the permanence of tax relief.  President Bush and Republicans in general have favored tax relief permanence.

You need look no further than the budgets I've referred to.  The Administration and Republican Congress budgeted for an extension of the bipartisan tax relief provisions.  That action affected the bottom lines of those budgets.  We heard, over and over and over and over again, the criticisms of those budgets.  We heard it from the Democratic Leadership, liberal think tanks, and some sympathetic East Coast media.

As a matter of fact, after three and one-half years of Congressional control, we still hear the Democratic Leadership's criticisms every day.  Just recently, the Speaker of the House was asked when the Democratic Leadership would cease laying the blame for all fiscal problems on Republican budgets for the years 2001-2006.  MSNBC's Chuck Todd recently interviewed the highest-ranking Democrat in the House.  Mr. Todd asked if there was a statue of limitations on placing responsibility on President Bush. "At what point do you think the public says, 'You know what, yes, we were unhappy with the Bush administration ... [but] stop blaming the Bush administration.' When does that run out?"  Mr. Todd asked.  "Well, it runs out when the problems go away," the Speaker replied.

The blame game is no substitute for doing the job you've been hired on to do.  People elect folks to public office to govern.  Governing isn't just about enjoying the benefits of public office.  Part of governing is also about making choices.  Some of those choices are tough.  And those of us in public life need to be accountable for those choices.  The Democratic Leadership can't have it both ways.  They can't continue the bipartisan tax relief and not be responsible for deficit impact those policies carry.  No family can make decisions about its budget and evade the consequences by blaming their next-door neighbors.  No business can make decisions about its budget and evade the consequences by blaming a competing business.

The fiscal consequences are an important part of that decision.  The statutory pay-go regime was enacted as part of the last debt limit increase.  It covers only part of the revenue loss of making permanent the bipartisan tax relief plans of 2001 and 2003.  For instance, the alternative minimum tax ("AMT") patch is extended for two years only.  Death tax policy is extended at 2009 levels only through 2011.  Even with those limitations, the Joint Committee on Taxation states complying with the pay-go rule means a revenue loss of over $1.5 trillion over 10 years.  I ask unanimous consent to insert in the record a copy of a Joint Committee on Taxation estimate of the tax relief covered by statutory pay-go.

The expiring tax relief I'm talking about today includes the marginal rate cuts and family tax relief.  Under statutory pay-go, the amount permitted in this area is about $1.4 trillion.  It covers about 80% of extending all of the marginal rate cuts and family tax relief from the 2001 and 2003 bipartisan plans.

That number makes sense because the bipartisan tax relief plans cut taxes for virtually every American family that pays income tax.  How significant and widespread is this tax relief?  This chart, drawn from Congressional Budget Office ("CBO") data, may shed some light.

The line measures the effective tax rate paid by the top 5% of taxpayers.

This group roughly represents those taxpaying families with incomes over $250,000.  Under the Democratic Leadership's budget, this line will go back up to where it was in 2000.  That is also where the President's budget and the statutory pay-go regime would take the rates.

Republicans believe this significant tax increase will be a mistake.  We hope that we will be able to debate this policy in the House and Senate in committee and on the floor.  That was, after all, the process we followed when the bipartisan tax relief plans were passed in 2001, 2003, and 2005.  We will point out that about half the heavy tax increases will fall on small business owners.  The top marginal rate on small business owners will rise by almost 17%.  Democrats and Republicans agree small businesses are the key job creators of the future.  President Obama correctly pointed out that small businesses create 70% of new jobs.  The rest will also hit investment hard.  The top capital gains rate will rise by 33%.  The top dividend rate could rise by almost 275%.  All of this is set to occur not at some far distant future point.  It occurs in a little over half a year from now.   We all hope the economy is on a path to recovery, but does this heavy tax increase on small business owners and investment ever make sense?   Even the most liberal member on the other side might wonder whether it makes sense now.  Do we really think the private sector will grow if we hit small business and investors this hard 6 months from now?

You can see that the bipartisan tax relief brought the effective rate down with respect to the bottom 95% of taxpayers.  That's the red line.  Here it is.

Some of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle may be thinking to themselves, sure this is true for income taxes, but what about other federal taxes like Social Security, which make up a large percentage of taxes paid by middle and low-income individuals?  Well, this chart is not just a depiction of federal income taxes, but includes all federal taxes.  This includes Social Security, other payroll taxes, and excise taxes frequently referred to by my colleagues on the other side of the aisle as regressive taxes.

Even including all federal taxes, over the last 30 years, the top five percent have paid a lot higher effective tax rate than the bottom 95%.   It's been that way no matter which party has controlled the White House, Congress, or both.  It shows something you would never know if you listen to the rhetoric of some on the other side, the punditry on the left, and some in the media.  Here's what it shows: a progressive income tax system is deeply embedded in our culture.  The bipartisan tax relief plans of 2001 and 2003 made the system more progressive.  Those plans brought the rates down for the bottom 95% of taxpayers.

The 2001-2003 tax relief plans dropped the effective tax rates for taxpaying families under $250,000 to their lowest levels in a generation.   This is the current law level of taxation.  In a little over half a year, these rates will pop back up for all these taxpayers.

I have a couple of charts that illustrate how significant the tax hits will be.  Middle income families will run right into these tax walls.  For a family of four with income of $50,000, that's a tax wall of $2,300.  For a single mom with two kids earning $30,000, that tax wall means $1,100.

The President, as powerful as he is, cannot unilaterally hike or cut taxes.  He needs a bill from Congress to do that.

On our side, we want all the tax relief made permanent.  We want the opportunity to debate and amend a bill that deals with this basic level of taxation.  As has been made clear for the last three and one-half years, Republicans do not control this Congress.  We cannot decide the fate of the marginal rate cuts and family tax relief.   This is unfinished business.  It's unfinished tax legislative business that affects virtually every American taxpayer.

It will have fiscal consequences.  They are pretty significant fiscal consequences.  But, if the Democratic Leadership wants to keep these levels of taxation low, then they have to deal with the fiscal consequences.  Alternatively, the Democratic Leadership can raise taxes and claim the revenue.  Not changing the law, by failing to act, is the same as raising rates on virtually every American taxpayer.  But they will have to explain to taxpayers why they raised taxes by almost 10% on average.

In the 2006 election, almost 4 years ago, the American People provided the Democratic Leadership with control of the Congress.   In the 2008 election, over 18 months ago, the American People provided the Democratic Leadership with the largest majorities in more than a generation.

They also provided the Democratic Leadership with a President of their party.

The Democratic Leadership spent the period of 2001-2006 thwarting efforts to make the bipartisan tax relief of 2001 and 2003 permanent.  Upon assuming control, they have spent three and one-half years with no legislation to make permanent or even extend the marginal rate cuts and family tax relief packages.   My friends in the Democratic Leadership need to step up to the plate.  We've had budgets and statutory pay-go.  We've debated and voted on the breadth and composition of the marginal rate cuts and family tax relief in those contexts.  No legislative action.  No House committee and floor action.  No Senate committee and floor action.

The Democratic Leadership needs to step up to the plate.  Blaming Former President George W. Bush and Republican Congresses of many sessions ago is no substitute for running this time-sensitive tax legislative business through the process.  Put forward proposals.  Debate them.  Allow for amendments.  Allow votes on amendments.  Do the People's Business.  It's time to check these boxes.

-BJ's partnered with nonprofit Operation Gratitude for month-long letter writing campaign-

Van Nuys, CA. (June 17, 2010) - Operation Gratitude and BJ's Wholesale announced today that they collected 108,816 letters for deployed troops during May in honor of Military Appreciation Month. The letters will be included in Operation Gratitude Care Packages to be shipped to individual U.S. Service Members in 2010. BJ's Charitable Foundation will also donate $50,000 to the nonprofit to help defray the cost of shipping care packages.

"BJ's Wholesale Club is extremely proud of the tremendous response from our club members, team members and Operation Gratitude, who together collected more than 100,000 letters," said Laura Sen, President and CEO of BJ's Wholesale Club.  "We are deeply pleased that so many U.S. Service Members will receive personal letters showing our sincere thanks and admiration."

General Manager Bill Sikora of the BJ's in Boynton Beach, FL, Operation Gratitude President and Founder Carolyn Blashek and Volunteer Anne Holland of Atlanta, Georgia add their own greetings to May's Military Appreciation Month Letter Writing Campaign.
BJS Dropoff 1

BJ's challenged the communities in which it has clubs to write personal letters for deployed troops throughout May. BJ's Members, Team Members and local community organizations collected 71,031 letters and Operation Gratitude volunteers in Southern California contributed another 37,785. Letters were dropped in the Operation Gratitude mailbox at any BJ's Club, submitted online via BJ's Facebook page or mailed directly to the nonprofit. BJ's Charitable Foundation additionally pledged to donate $1 for every letter received, up to $50,000, for Operation Gratitude.

Sikora and Blashek wheel out the last collection of letters from May's Military Appreciation Month Letter Writing Campaign
BJS Dropoff 2

"This is the largest collection of letters we have ever received at one time! Every Care Package that we send for the rest of the year will have at least two letters from the BJ's Letter Writing campaign," said Carolyn Blashek, Founder and President of Operation Gratitude. "We are grateful for the support from BJ's Wholesale Club, its local communities, their members and our volunteers. U.S. Service Members who receive our care packages tell me that they cherish personal letters and keep them close to their hearts - both in combat and when they return home. These personal letters will lift morale and put many smiles on the faces of our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines deployed in harm's way."

About Operation Gratitude
Operation Gratitude (
www.OperationGratitude.com) is the 501 (c) (3) non-profit, volunteer-based organization that annually sends 100,000+ care packages filled with snacks, entertainment items and personal letters of appreciation addressed to individual U.S. Service Members deployed in hostile regions.  Our mission is to lift morale, bring a smile to a service member's face and express to our Armed Forces the appreciation and support of the American people. Each package contains donated product valued at ~$125 and costs the organization $15 to assemble and ship. Since its inception in 2003, Operation Gratitude has shipped more than 550,000 packages to American Military deployed overseas.