WEST DES MOINES, IOWA - Dec. 3, 2010 - Washington County farmers Joel and Laura Huber were presented Iowa Farm Bureau Federation's (IFBF) 2010 Young Farmer Achievement Award on Dec. 2 at the organization's annual meeting in Des Moines.

The annual contest honors young farmers who show outstanding management ability in their farming operations and involvement in Farm Bureau and community activities.  Receiving second place in the contest were Justin and Jennifer Dammann of Page County.  Third place recipients were Shane and Tammy DeBord of Cass County.

The Hubers raise hogs independently and grow corn and soybeans on their farm near Wellman.  The couple also operates a custom manure application business, and Laura is a teacher at the local school. Joel has served as secretary and membership chair of the Washington County Farm Bureau board, and this past year he served as the county's vice president. Outside of Farm Bureau, the couple has dedicated time to the Iowa Pork Producers, Iowa State University Extension and their local church.

For their award, Joel and Laura receive a plaque, an AGCO tractor for 150 hours, a Case New Holland certificate for $2,000 (or a Farmall or Magnum tractor for one year or 150 hours). They will also receive expense-paid trips to the 2010 American Farm Bureau annual convention in Atlanta (to represent Iowa in the National Young Farmer Achievement competition), the Growmark annual meeting in Chicago and the IFBF Young Farmer conference.

Runners-up Justin and Jennifer Dammann raise cattle, corn, soybeans, alfalfa and rye on their Century Farm near Essex. Both have served Farm Bureau in various capacities at the local and state levels. Justin has held president, vice president, young farmer committee chair and policy development chair posts on the Page County board and has participated in the state resolution committee. Jennifer is a graduate of Farm Bureau's Ag Leaders Institute, and both she and Justin have served on the statewide young farmer advisory committee.

Outside of Farm Bureau, the Dammanns volunteer for the county Cattlemen's Association, the county Soybean Association, the county Extension Council, the county fair and the local study and service club. They receive a plaque, a $1,000 gift certificate from Grainger and a $500 gift certificate from Growmark.

Third place finishers Shane and Tammy DeBord raise cattle, corn and soybeans on their farm near Atlantic. Shane has played an active role in the county Farm Bureau, serving on the board and reaching out to local schools to promote agriculture. The couple is also active with the county and state Pork Producers Association, Cattlemen's Association, Corn Growers Association and Soybean Association. Shane is a township trustee and a 4-H youth leader, and both Shane and Tammy serve as youth leaders at their local church. For their third place honor, the DeBords receive a plaque, a GPS unit from Farm Bureau Financial Services and $200 from Iowa Farm Bureau.

-30-

Eileen Mackevich Previously Headed National Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission
SPRINGFIELD - December 3, 2010. Governor Pat Quinn today named Eileen R. Mackevich as the new executive director of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (ALPLM).  Mackevich is the former executive director of the national Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission.
"Eileen Mackevich's proven track record and work coordinating the nation's observance of Abraham Lincoln's 200th birthday make her the best person to oversee one of the most popular presidential museums in the nation," said Governor Quinn. "I thank Director Jan Grimes for her service as museum's interim acting director, as well as her continued work as director of the state's Historic Preservation Agency."
Mackevich previously served as executive director of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial, was co-founder and president of the Chicago Humanities Festival and spent 18 years as a broadcast journalist and talk show host on Chicago Public Radio. She has been awarded honorary doctorates by Dominican University and Lincoln College, and is invested as a Member of the British Empire.
"It is an honor to be appointed to direct this institution that honors a man who is an inspiration and guiding light for our nation and the world," said Mackevich. "Lincoln draws out the best from all classes and political persuasions, and he binds us together as a people and as a nation. I look forward to working with the Library and Museum's talented and hardworking staff to attract many more people to Springfield to experience the real Abraham Lincoln."
Mackevich earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Pennsylvania, holds a master's degree in British history from Northeastern Illinois University, and has completed additional graduate course work in British history at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
After conducting an in-depth interview process of several nationally-renowned historians and museum professionals, Mackevich was the unanimous recommendation of the Board of Trustees for the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency's (IHPA). IHPA Director Jan Grimes has been serving as interim acting director of the ALPLM since 2008.
"The members of the board were deeply impressed with Eileen Mackevich's strong vision to ensure the continued success of an already wonderful institution," said Illinois Historic Preservation Agency Chair Sunny Fischer. "Rarely have we read such glowing references from a wide variety of people in the field. She has a national and global network that will clearly help to increase awareness about Lincoln and the Museum."
The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum has welcomed 2.5 million visitors since opening in April 2005. The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, adjacent to the Museum, is the state's chief genealogical and historical research facility. Its collections of more than 15 million items are available to researchers of all ages. Visit www.presidentlincoln.org for more information about the Museum and Library as well as exhibits and special events at both facilities.
###

Celebrate the joy of the season!  Join us for Rivermont Collegiate's Annual Holiday Open House, to be held Saturday, December 11th from 4:00-7:00 p.m.  The Rivermont Collegiate campus is home to the Historic Joseph Bettendorf Mansion, built on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi.  The Mansion is a local landmark, featuring Italian marble, painted ceilings, and hand carved woodwork.  Joseph W. Bettendorf, head of the Bettendorf Company, built his English manor style home in 1915 for his family and to entertain railroad magnates from the east.  The Mansion remained a residence of the Bettendorf family until it was sold to the Marist Society in 1959 and used as a seminary.  In 1973, St. Katharine's-St. Mark's School purchased the Mansion and moved the school from Davenport.  In 2002, the school was renamed Rivermont Collegiate, since it no longer had a religious affiliation.  In 1984, the Bettendorf Mansion was recognized for its historical significance to the people of Iowa and was entered in the National Register of Historic Places.

The Annual Holiday Open House is a chance for the community to view the Bettendorf Mansion in all its splendor, beautifully decorated for the holidays.  Rivermont Collegiate is located at 1821 Sunset Drive, directly off 18th Street behind K&K Hardware in Bettendorf.  Drop in between 4:00 and 7:00 p.m. for light refreshments and tours of this local gem!

This event is open to the public and dress is casual - please RSVP to Brittany Marietta at (563) 359-1366 ext. 301 or marietta@rvmt.org.

Rivermont Collegiate is the Quad Cities' only private, independent, nonsectarian college-prep school for preschool through twelfth grade - visit us online at www.rivermontcollegiate.org.

For additional information on Rivermont Collegiate, contact Cindy Murray at (563) 359-1366 ext. 302 or murray@rvmt.org.

-END-

WEST DES MOINES, IOWA - Dec. 3, 2010 - Retired Cedar County farmer Shirley Geadelmann used to milk cows at 3 a.m., finishing in time to begin her full-time job at the local bank. Today she still wakes at 3 a.m., but pursues a different calling: community service and agriculture advocacy. Geadelmann's work has earned her Iowa Farm Bureau's 2010 Woman in Agriculture honor, a yearly tribute that recognizes one woman who demonstrates outstanding leadership abilities in agriculture and stands out from her peers in the promotion and education of agriculture. The announcement was made at the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) annual meeting in Des Moines on Dec. 1.

Shirley and her husband, Merlin (deceased), milked dairy cows, grew crops and raised hogs on their family farm near Clarence for more than 52 years. During that time, Shirley developed a passion for volunteering and sharing agriculture's story. She has held numerous positions on the Cedar County Farm Bureau Board, including public relations, Ag in the Classroom, county action and women's committee posts. She remains active on the board today.

"I just think it's so important [to advocate for agriculture], since only two percent of the American population actually grows the food we all enjoy," says Geadelmann. "We have an important job; conveying the importance of agriculture to everyone else."

Outside of Farm Bureau, Geadelmann has actively volunteered for various organizations, including Volunteer Services of Cedar County, Cedar County Historical Society Museum, American Cancer Society, 4-H, Camp Courageous, Red Cross, St. Luke's Hospital in Cedar Rapids, Ragbrai, the area Dairy Herd Improvement Association and her local church and food pantry.

Her passion for agriculture and volunteering have caught the attention of local media outlets - Geadelmann was named one of KCRG TV's "9 Who Care" volunteers in 2007 for her work advocating for elderly Iowans - local, state, and national lawmakers, and the many people from around the world who have visited her farm. Geadelmann has been honored with the Governor's Volunteer award, the Cedar County Volunteer of the Year award, the Iowa Master Homemaker award, the Heritage Area Agency on Aging (Kirkwood Community College) Advocate of the Year award and Farm Bureau's Tipton School Education award. Merlin and Shirley were also recognized as a Distinguished Dairy Family of Iowa.

Geadelmann's recognition includes a plaque, a $250 cash prize and up to $500 to cover expenses for an Iowa conference for women.

- 30 -

Floor Statement of U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley

Ranking Member of the Committee on Finance

Still Another Chapter of Revisionist Fiscal History: Lame Duck Tax Relief Debate

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Since yesterday, we've witnessed in this chamber the resumption of a set of tired and worn talking points that the other side drags out whenever they are forced to finally get around to discussing tax policy.

By once again beating the same dead horse, the other side has attempted to go back in time, again, and talk about fiscal history. Earlier this week there has been a lot of revision or perhaps editing of recent budget history.  I expect more of it from some on the other side.

The revisionist history basically boils down to two conclusions:  1. That all of the "good" fiscal history of the 1990's was derived from a partisan tax increase bill of 1993; and 2. That all of the "bad" fiscal history of this decade to-date is attributable to the bipartisan tax relief plans

Not surprisingly, nearly all of the revisionists who spoke generally oppose tax relief and support tax increases.  The same crew generally support spending increases and oppose spending cuts.

For this debate, it is important to be aware of some key facts.  The stimulus bill passed by the Senate, with interest included, increased the deficit by over $1 trillion.  The stimulus bill was a heavy stew of spending increases and refundable tax credits, seasoned with small pieces of tax relief.  The bill passed by the Senate had new temporary spending, that, if made permanent, will burden future budget deficits by over $2.5 trillion.  That's not Senate Republicans speaking.  It's the official Congressional scorekeeper, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).  In fact, the deficit effects of the stimulus bill, passed within a short time after Democrats assumed full control of the Federal Government, roughly exceeded the deficit impact of the 8 years of bipartisan tax relief.

All of this occurred in an environment where the automatic economic stabilizers thankfully kicked in to help the most unfortunate in America with unemployment insurance, food stamps and other benefits.

That anti-recessionary spending, together with lower tax receipts, and the TARP activities, set a fiscal table of a deficit of $1.4 trillion that was the highest deficit, as a percentage of the economy, in Post World War II history.

From the perspective of those on our side, this debate seems to be a strategy to divert, through a twisted blame game, from the facts before us.  How is the history revisionist?  Let's take each conclusion one-by-one.

The first conclusion is that all of the "good" fiscal history was derived from the 1993 tax increase.  To test that assertion, all you have to do is take a look at data from the Clinton Administration.

The much-ballyhooed 1993 partisan tax increase accounts for 13 percent of the deficit reduction in the 1990's.  Thirteen percent.  That thirteen percent figure was calculated by the Clinton Administration's Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

The biggest source of deficit reduction, 35%, came from a reduction in defense spending.  Of course, that fiscal benefit originated from President Reagan's stare-down of the communist regime in Russia.

The same folks on that side who opposed President Reagan's defense build-up take credit for the fiscal benefit of the "peace dividend."

The next biggest source of deficit reduction, 32%, came from other revenue.

Basically, this was the fiscal benefit from pro-growth policies, like the bipartisan capital gains tax cut in 1997, and the free-trade agreements President Clinton, with Republican votes, established.

The savings from the policies I've pointed out translated to interest savings.  Interest savings account for 15% of the deficit reduction.

Now, for all the chest-thumping about the 1990s, the chest thumpers, who push for big social spending, didn't bring much to the deficit reduction table in the 1990's.  Their contribution was 5%.

What's more the fiscal revisionist historians in this body tend to forget who the players were.  They are correct that there was a Democratic President in the White House.  But they conveniently forget that Republicans controlled the Congress for the period where the deficit came down and turned to surplus. They tend to forget they fought the principle of a balanced budget that was the centerpiece of Republican fiscal policy.

Remember the government shutdown of late 1995?  Remember what that was about?  It was about a plan to balance the budget.  We are constantly reminded of the political price paid by the other side for the record tax increase they put in the law in 1993.  Republicans paid a political price for forcing the balanced budget issue in 1996.  But, in 1997, President Clinton agreed.  Recall as well all through the 1990's what the year-end battles were about.

On one side, Congressional Democrats and the Clinton Administration pushed for more spending.  On the other side, Congressional Republicans were pushing for tax relief.

In the end, both sides compromised.  That's the real fiscal history of the 1990's.

Let's turn to the other conclusion of the revisionist fiscal historians.  That conclusion is that, in this decade, all fiscal problems are attributable to the widespread tax relief enacted in 2001, 2003, 2004, and 2006.

In 2001, President Bush came into office.  He inherited an economy that was careening downhill.  Investment started to go flat in 2000.  The tech-fueled stock market bubble was bursting.  After that came the economic shocks of the 9-11 terrorist attacks.

Add in the corporate scandals to that economic environment.

And it's true, as fiscal year 2001 came to close, the projected surplus turned to a deficit.  But it is wrong to attribute the entire deficit occurring during this period to the bipartisan tax relief.  According to CBO, the bipartisan tax relief is responsible for only 25% of the deficit change, while 44% is attributable to higher spending, and 31% is attributable to economic and technical changes. In just the right time, the 2001 tax relief plan started to kick in.   As the tax relief hits its full force in 2003, the deficits grew smaller.  This pattern continued up through 2007.

If my comments were meant to be partisan shots, I could say this favorable fiscal path from 2003 to 2007 was the only period, aside from 6 months in 2001, where Republicans controlled the White House and the Congress.   But, unlike the fiscal history revisionists, I'm not trying to make any partisan points, I'm just trying to get to the fiscal facts.

There is also data that compares the tax receipts for four years after the much-ballyhooed 1993 tax increase and the four year period after the 2003 tax cuts.  I have a chart that tracks those trends.

In 1993, the Clinton tax increase brought in more revenue as compared to the 2003 tax cut.  That trend reversed as both policies moved along.

Over the first few years, the extra revenue went up over time relative to the flat line of the 1993 tax increase.

So, let's get the fiscal history right.

The pro-growth tax and trade policies of the 1990's along with the "peace dividend" had a lot more to do with the deficit reduction in the 1990's than the 1993 tax increase.  In this decade, deficits went down after the tax relief plans were put in full effect.

No economist I'm aware of would link the bursting of the housing bubble with the bipartisan tax relief plans of 2001 and 2003.

Likewise, I know of no economic research that concludes that the bipartisan tax relief of 2001 and 2003 caused the financial meltdown of the September and October 2008.

As I said, from the period of 2003 through 2007, after the bipartisan tax relief program was in full effect, the general pattern was this:  revenues went up and deficits went down.

One major point that needs to be said right here is to state where the government gets the money it spends.  Basically I'm asking "Where do taxes come from?"

I would have thought this would have been perfectly obvious to most people, but I may have been wrong.  Taxes come from taxpayers!  I say this because we have heard tax relief for certain individuals referred to as a bonus.  A search of The Congressional Record for the Senate on December 1, 2010, shows that the word "bonus" was said nearly 50 times.

The implication being that by extending tax relief for all Americans we are giving some people a bonus that other people are paying for.  Let me try to simplify this for my colleagues that are having trouble understanding.  There is no proposal to cut taxes for anyone before this body.  The question is are we going to allow taxes to go up, or are we going to prevent a tax increase?  If we prevent taxes for everyone from going up, we are letting taxpayers keep more of their own money that they have earned and worked hard for.  No one is proposing a bonus or a gift for anyone.  The question is, do we want taxpayers to have more or less of their own money.

My colleagues on the other side have been especially incensed by what they consistently refer to as "tax cuts for the rich" and seem to believe that tax relief for everyone is responsible for our disastrous budget situation.  However, I think nearly everyone serving in the chamber, and certainly the President and House and Senate leadership, supports extending around 80% of tax relief.  If those on the other side are serious in their pleas that taxes must be increased in the name of fiscal responsibility, how can they claim 80% of tax relief is absolutely necessary and that 20% of tax relief is absolutely wrong?

This chart, drawn from Congressional Budget Office (CBO) data, should get more insight into the two groups the other side is talking about.  The orange line measures the effective tax rate paid by the top 5% of taxpayers.  By the way, this is where the Small business owner tax hit occurs.  This group roughly represents those taxpaying families with incomes over $250,000.  Under the Democratic Leadership's preferred tax policy, this line will go back up to where it was in 2000.  Republicans would prefer to prevent this tax increase, and we have shown that it falls primarily on the backs of small businesses.  The main point this chart shows though is that the tax relief undertaken during the last administration benefited all taxpayers, and characterizing it as "tax-cuts-for-the rich" is simply not accurate.

Of course I want to put our country on a path to fiscal responsibility, but I do not believe that higher taxes will lead us to that path.  Rather we need to carefully examine how we spend the money we already collect.  This debate is about one fundamental question. Who does the money you, the taxpayer, have worked hard for belong to?  Does it belong to the citizen that earned it, or does it belong to the government?  Is whatever the taxpayer is left with an allowance, with the balance to be spent by a government that knows best?  I think most people would answer my last two questions with a strong "No."

As we continue to discuss pressing tax matters in Congress, we need to keep these fundamental and simple truths in mind.  We need to stop taxes from increasing for all Americans.

Charts used:

Spending Largest Source of Deficit Change Since 2001

Changes in Federal Revenue as a Percentage of GDP

Inherited Deficits 2009 - 2019

Deficits 2001 - 2019

Source of Deficit Reduction 1990 - 2000

Tax Relief vs. Stimulus

Total Effective Federal Tax Rates 1979 - 2007

December 2, 2010

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey (D-CA-06) lauded today's passage of the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act by the House of Representatives by a vote of 264-157.  In particular, they singled out praise for a provision that would require the Secretary of Agriculture to set nutrition standards for all foods sold on the grounds of schools participating in the National School Lunch Program, consistent with their jointly introduced legislation, the Child Nutrition Promotion and School Lunch Protection Act.   Harkin and Woolsey have introduced this legislation every Congress since 2006.  Harkin has sought similar protections since the mid 1990s.  

"For too long, we have allowed the unchecked sale of junk food in our schools to undermine not just the health of our kids, but also the desires of parents, and our taxpayer investment in school meals," said Harkin.  "House passage of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act moves us one step closer to requiring common-sense nutrition standards for the foods and beverages sold in schools.  With this provision, the bill will help make the healthy choice, the easy choice.  We also know that it's the choice that parents around the country prefer.  Survey after survey shows that parents support school nutrition standards at school that reinforce the healthy choices that parents try to make for their kids at home."

"It's been 30 years since the regulations limiting junk food sales in schools were updated, despite significant advances in nutrition science and a troubling growth in childhood obesity," said Woolsey.  "Updating the nutrition standards for foods sold in vending machines, a la carte lines, and school snack bars is a common sense way to confront childhood obesity head on."

Under the terms of the provision, section 208, the Secretary of Agriculture is required to propose science-based school nutrition standards for all foods sold in schools, including vending machines, snack bars, and school stores, not later than one year after enactment of the bill.  Following a notice and comment period, the standards must go into effect not earlier than one year after the regulations are finalized.  Under the terms of the legislation, the Secretary of Agriculture is also required to review and, if necessary, update the school nutrition standards after the publication of a new edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

This fiscally responsible and bipartisan Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act reauthorizes the nation's major Federal child nutrition programs administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), including the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs, Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), Child and Adult Care Food Program, and Summer Food Service Program.  The bill provides $4.5 billion in additional funding over the next 10 years - nearly ten times the amount of money provided for the previous child nutrition reauthorization, and the largest new investment in child nutrition programs since their inception.

The bill is partially paid for by eliminating $2.2 billion in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) temporary benefit increase under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. President Obama, however, has committed to work with Congress to replace this offset before these SNAP cuts take place in November 2013.

In Iowa's Interest: Senate Passes Historic Food Safety Bill

By Senator Tom Harkin

For too long, we've allowed trips to the grocery store to be a gamble for American families.  In fact, while the food supply in the United States is one of the safest in the world, each year about 76 million illnesses occur, more than 300,000 people are hospitalized and 5,000 die from food borne illness.  Meanwhile, an increasing portion of our food now comes from overseas.  The FDA has struggled in recent years with outbreaks of food borne illness and nationwide recalls of contaminated food from both domestic and foreign sources.  The fact of the matter is, our food safety system was designed 100 years ago and was appropriate for a world in which most of our food was grown and processed domestically.  These are serious concerns that Iowa families shouldn't have to worry about - and that is why I am so pleased that at long last the Senate passed historic legislation to overhaul our food safety system.

S.510, the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, is a true victory for American consumers and will help prevent food contamination and improve our outbreak response.  The bill was a bipartisan effort and passed by a vote of 73-25.  I was honored to cosponsor and help shepherd the legislation through the Senate as Chairman of the Health Committee.  Specifically, the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act will:

Improve prevention of food contamination by identifying hazards before food becomes contaminated.

Allow the FDA to issue mandatory recalls in the event that businesses do not voluntarily recall harmful foods.

Require grocery stores and other food retailers to notify consumers if they have sold food that has been recalled.

Improve disease surveillance so outbreaks can be discovered earlier.  

There are, unfortunately, many myths circulating about this bill and I have heard from many concerned farmers and small business owners in Iowa.  In reality, the bill was written to protect consumers while not burdening our agricultural producers or small businesses.  To debunk just a few of these rumors: the bill will not bring more FDA inspectors to farms, it will not outlaw home gardens and family farms, it will not charge famers and small businesses new registration fees, it will not criminalize seed savings, it will not require farms to perform new record keeping and it will not outlaw traditional organic growing methods.

The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act is an important step towards keeping Iowans - and all Americans - safe, and represents what can be accomplished when we work across the to benefit families and consumers.  For more information on the bill please visit http://Harkin.Senate.Gov or call my office at 515-284-4574.

###

A PDF version of the column is available by clicking here.

Floor Speech of U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley

Home-Grown Ethanol

Delivered Thursday, December 2, 2010

 It seems like every few weeks or so that there are a lot of misleading and misinformed accusations launched at our nation's renewable fuels producers.  It's impossible to come to the Senate floor and respond to all of them, but sometimes the claims are so outrageous that they require an informed response. So, I'm here to give that response with emphasis upon the words informed.

Earlier this week, a number of my colleagues here in the Senate, including a few of my fellow Republicans, sent a letter to the majority and minority leaders expressing their opposition to extending the tax incentives for home-grown ethanol.  Home-grown means that we're less dependent upon people like Dictator Chavez and the oil sheiks.  My colleagues argued that the tax incentive for the production of clean home-grown ethanol is fiscally irresponsible.  They express their support for allowing the 45-cent-per-gallon credit for ethanol use to expire.  It's important to remember that the incentive exists to help the producers of ethanol compete with the big oil industry, and remember the big oil industry has been well supported by the federal treasury for more than a whole century.

Many of the Republican senators who signed on to that letter have also been leading the effort to ensure that no American sees their taxes go up on January 1, 2011, which will happen automatically if we don't do something this very month.  The largest tax increase in the history of the country can happen without even a vote of the Congress because of the sunsetting law.  And, of course, in that regard, I support the position of my Republican colleagues. But, a repeal of the ethanol tax incentive is a tax increase that will surely be passed on to the American consumer.

I'd like to remind my colleagues of a debate that we had earlier this year on an amendment offered by Senator Sanders.  The amendment that he offered would have, among other things, repealed the $35 billion in tax subsidies enjoyed by oil and gas.  Opponents of the Sanders amendment argued that repealing the oil and gas subsidies would reduce domestic energy production and drive up our dependence upon foreign oil.  Now, opponents to the Sanders amendment argued that it would cost U.S. jobs and increase prices at the pump for consumers. Now, I agreed with the arguments of the opponents.  All of my Republican colleagues and more than one-third of the Democrats did as well.  Thus, Senator Sanders' amendment was defeated.

That majority against the Sanders amendment knew that if you tax something, you get less of it. Repealing incentives on ethanol would have the very same result. Well, guess what?  I know that removing incentives for oil and gas will have the same impact as removing incentives for ethanol.  We'll get less domestically produced ethanol and be more dependent upon those oil sheiks.  But it will also cost U.S. jobs.  It will increase our dependence on foreign oil.  It will increase prices for American consumers.  So whether it's jobs or increased dependence or increasing the price of gas, no American would like that to be the result.

Madam President, we're already dependent on foreign sources for more than 60 percent of our oil needs.  We spend $730 million a day on imported oil.  That money is leaving America for the Middle East and nutty dictators like Chavez.

Why do my colleagues want to increase our foreign energy dependence when we can produce that energy right here at home?

So I'd like to ask my colleagues who voted against repealing oil and gas subsidies but support repealing incentives for renewable fuels, how do you reconcile such inconsistency?

The fact is, it's intellectually inconsistent to say that increasing taxes on ethanol is justified, but it's irresponsible to do so on oil and gas production.  If tax incentives lead to more domestic energy production and the result is good-paying jobs, why are only incentives for oil and gas important, but not for domestically produced renewable fuels?

It's even more ridiculous to claim that the 30 year-old ethanol industry is mature, and thus no longer needs the support that they get, while the century-old big oil industry still receives $35 billion in taxpayers' support.  Regardless, I don't believe we should be raising taxes on any type of energy production or on any individual, particularly during a recession.  Allowing the ethanol tax incentive to expire will raise taxes on producers, blenders and ultimately consumers of renewable fuel.

A lapse in the ethanol tax incentive is a gas tax increase of over five cents a gallon at the pump.  I just don't see the logic in arguing for a gas tax increase when we have so many Americans unemployed or underemployed and struggling just to get by.

On Tuesday this week, all of my Republican colleagues and I signed a letter to Majority Leader Reid stating that preventing a tax increase, meaning mostly income tax increases, and providing economic certainty, should be our top priority in the remaining days of this congress.  I know that we all agree that we cannot and should not allow job-killing tax hikes during a recession. Unfortunately, those members who have called for ending the ethanol incentive have directly contradicted this pledge because a lapse in the credit will raise taxes, costing over 100,000 U.S. jobs at a time of near 10 percent unemployment.  The taxpayer watchdog group, Americans for Tax Reform, considers the lapse of an existing tax credit for ethanol to be a tax hike.

Now is not the time to impose a gas tax hike on the American people.  Now is not the time to send pink slips to more than 100,000 ethanol-related jobs.

A year ago at this time, I came to the Senate floor to implore the democratic leadership to take action to extend expiring tax incentives for the biodiesel industry.  They failed in their responsibility to extend that incentive and provide support for an important renewable industry.   So, while 23,000 American jobs were supported on December 31 last year, nearly all those jobs have disappeared.  An industry with a capacity to produce more than two billion gallons of renewable fuel a year is on track to produce less than 20 percent of that capacity this year.

Ethanol currently accounts for 10 percent of our transportation fuel.  A study concluded that the ethanol industry contributed $8.4 billion to the federal treasury in 2009, $3.4 billion more than the ethanol incentive.  Today the industry supports 400,000 U.S. jobs.  That's why I support a home-grown renewable fuels industry, as I know the Obama administration does as well.  I would encourage anyone who is unclear on the administration's position to contact Agriculture Secretary Vilsack.

I'd like to conclude by asking my colleagues if we allow the tax incentive to lapse from where should we import an additional 10 percent petroleum?  Should we rely on Middle East oil sheiks or Hugo Chavez?

I would prefer to support a renewable fuel based right here at home rather than send it a pink slip. I would prefer to decrease our dependence on Hugo Chavez, not increase it, and I certainly don't want to support raising the tax on gasoline during recession.  I would respectfully ask my colleagues to reconsider their support for this job-killing gas tax increase.

-30-

If you've always dreamed of touring London or you feel it's time to make a return visit, don't miss this opportunity to offer a loved one or yourself a holiday gift of experiencing this fascinating city with friends from the Figge Art Museum. The eight-day adventure, May 16 - 23, 2011, includes: visits to some of the most acclaimed art collections in the world, such as the National Gallery, the British Museum and the Tate Modern, among others; tours of two elegant manor homes in London and the suburb of Richmond; and a visit to the offices of David Chipperfield Architects, designers of the Figge Art Museum. In addition, you may join Figge staff in several optional evening activities and excursions; including theatre performances and dinners. The itinerary is flexible by design so you may choose to explore individual interests on your own. The group will stay at the cosmopolitan Park Plaza Westminster Bridge Hotel near the River Thames; just a short walk to Westminster Abbey.

Wynne Schafer, a Figge trustee, and Ann Marie Hayes-Hawkinson, Figge curator of education, will coordinate or lead the scheduled tours and excursions, and will accompany guests on many of the optional activities. The trip fee includes airfare from Moline, ground transportation in London, six night hotel accommodations, all museum and historic home admissions, a farewell group dinner, and taxes. Costs for meals, admissions to special exhibitions, and optional activities are not included. Children 12 and older are welcome. For information about trip highlights and fees, please visit www.figgeart.org. Museum membership required (see information below)

To book your reservation contact Cathy Oney at KDM Travel Agency, 563.324.3201 or cathy@kdmtravel.com by January 12, 2011. For more information on the itinerary, please contact Ann Marie Hayes-Hawkinson at 563.326.7804 x 7887 or ahayeshawkinson@figgeartmuseum.org.

Figge memberships are available at www.figgeart.org, the Museum Store, or by calling 563.326.7804 x 2007. Memberships start at just $40 and are up to 25% off through December 31.

-end-

Winning group to perform live with The Bangles and Sick of Sarah at a private daytime showcase hosted by maurices during South by Southwest 2011

A local band is one step closer to having its dreams of stardom come true on its journey to becoming the winner of maurices "Small Town Sound" nationwide search, and the regional community can help make it happen.

From a field of 500-plus bands, Euralea! Of Moline, Ill., has been chosen as a top 10 finalist in maurices "Small Town Sound" contest. The contest was created in partnership with PlayNetwork and Sonicbids to discover the hottest up-and-coming female-fronted band in the country. The goal of "Small Town Sound" is to ultimately give bands like Euralea!, which plays Pop/Rock music, their big break.

"We've entered contests before but have never gotten this far," said Aaron Mattson of Euralea!. "We know we have a good sound and vision that everybody in the band has worked hard to get across, but it's completely different to know that others feel the same."

Online voting last month cut the field of 525 bands to 50, and a group of panelists including The Bangles, Chrissie Hynde and Sick of Sarah, narrowed it to the 10 finalists. The finalists each had two weeks to create an original song based on the "Small Town Sound" theme. The songs are now playing in maurices stores nationwide and are also posted online, where people can vote from now through December 15, 2010. The general public is invited to vote on the best original song to help determine the grand prize winner and the two runners' up.

The winner will receive several incredible opportunities to let their star power shine. The band will perform live at their local maurices store, fly to Los Angeles to shoot a music video and record their winning song at the PlayNetwork production studio, and receive gifts from maurices and Daisy Rock Guitars. In addition, the winning group will perform live with The Bangles and Sick of Sarah at a private daytime showcase hosted by maurices during South by Southwest 2011.

"Small towns inspire us," said Lisa Bartlett, maurices associate vice president. "They're the heart of America, and we want to give bands with big dreams from small towns their breakthrough chance. Friends and neighbors have the chance to help make Euralea!'s dreams come true."

People are encouraged to log on to maurices.com and click on "Small Town Sound" to listen to the top 10 bands and then cast their vote.

# # #

Pages