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Archive for September, 2011

It’s Perry vs. New Deal

September 14th, 2011

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This piece was originally published in Politico.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry made his views pretty clear at the CNN-Tea Party Express debate Monday when he told Mitt Romney, “If what you’re trying to say is that back in the ’30s and ’40s that the federal government made all the right decisions, I disagree with you.’’

Perry doesn’t have a problem just with Social Security. He has a problem with Franklin D. Roosevelt and the whole New Deal.

Only one thing stands between Perry and the Republican nomination for president: the polls.

Not the polls of Republicans. Perry has already conquered those. He became the front-runner for the nomination the minute he got into the race.

Perry is the un-Obama. Republicans instantly recognized the Texas governor as total opposite of the Democratic president. President Barack Obama is cultivated, intellectually complex, cool, deliberative and not particularly forceful. Perry is tough, straightforward, anti-intellectual and something of a hothead. Read the rest of this entry »

Clean Energy Can Drive Long Term Growth

September 13th, 2011

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This piece was originally posted on National Journal.

We all need to do something that seems increasingly uncommon in Washington these days: look at the big picture. We are commenting on a 33 minute speech previewing a likely hundreds-of-pages, $447 billion proposal. Based on the President’s speech, some aspects of his plan are likely to relate to clean energy. Many won’t. That’s because this is an economy-wide problem that requires an economy-wide solution.

Let’s not forget, President Obama has already done an enormous amount for both conventional and clean energy. While the President did not explicitly highlight energy or environmental programs, they were present in his proposals to repair and modernize schools, revitalize our transportation network and create a national infrastructure bank. His administration helped bring the American auto industry back from the brink and into profitability by encouraging the manufacture of fuel efficient and even electric vehicles. This year, the energy industry is adding almost 10,000 jobs each month. Domestic oil and natural gas drilling is nearing a 30 year high. We’ve seen a big jump in the deployment of clean energy and investment in emerging clean technologies and a historic number of energy efficiency retrofits. Thanks to these actions, the President has fewer new options to launch new energy programs that would create jobs immediately. Read the rest of this entry »

Eliminating the Tax Penalty on Gay-Friendly Businesses

September 12th, 2011

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Our corporate tax code dates back to 1986, before the internet and when China was “red.” It is hopelessly out of date with the goings on of the rest of the world, but there is one area where it is completely antiquated with changes in America: dealing with employee benefits for gay couples.

There are nearly one million gay couples living in the United States, according to the Census Bureau. Today, jurisdictions allowing gay couples to either marry or form legal unions are now home to about 150 million people—up from less than 15 million people fifteen years ago. And two-thirds of Fortune 1000 companies provide benefits like health care to gay couples. But if companies provide these benefits under the same tax formulation as they would for straight married couples, they are in violation of the law—and so are their employees.

Here’s the problem. While employer-provided health care is treated as a tax-free benefit for everyone else, the IRS counts it as taxable income for gay domestic partners and spouses. That means businesses like Target, IBM, and Nabisco who provide coverage to partners of their gay employees must go back and add “imputed income” to their employees’ pay stubs for the cost of that benefit. Read the rest of this entry »

Jobs Debate… Months Too Late

September 6th, 2011

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It’s about time.

Throughout the long health care debate and the nerve-wracking confrontation over the debt ceiling, the voters’ concern has never wavered. It was always focused on one issue — jobs. Now, finally, Washington is beginning to pay attention.

Politicians should have learned an important rule of politics by now: if the economy is bad, nothing else matters. The first President Bush discovered that in 1992, when his dramatic victory in the Gulf war failed to save him. President Obama is discovering that now, as his triumph in eliminating Osama bin Laden is losing impact.

The corollary to the rule is also true: if the economy is good, much is forgiven. President Clinton discovered that when he faced impeachment in 1998. The economy was booming, so the voters punished Republicans for trying to bring down a President who was doing a good job. Read the rest of this entry »