Wednesday, November 12, 2008
I spoke to President-elect Obama on the phone briefly last week. We had a good conversation. I congratulated him on his historic election as our nation’s 44th President, and expressed my sincere hope that Democrats and Republicans will find ways to work together in the years ahead to adopt real solutions to the problems Americans face in their daily lives.
Energy policy is one area in which I believe the potential for collaboration exists. President-elect Obama has vowed comprehensive energy reform will be among the top priorities of his administration, and he displayed willingness earlier this year to break with the harsh anti-drilling stance held by other Democratic Party leaders and radical anti-energy groups based in Washington.
Republicans are hopeful that we’ll have the opportunity to work with the President-elect to ensure his goal of comprehensive energy reform is realized in a responsible manner that meets our country’s needs. For this reason, I’m troubled by reports that he may reinstate the ban on American energy production in certain federal areas as one of his first acts upon taking office. I would respectfully urge the incoming president against such action.
As a candidate for the presidency, President-elect Obama demonstrated leadership by breaking with his party’s other leaders on the issue of offshore drilling. Last August, in the midst of the House GOP energy protest on the House floor, he announced he would be willing to support lifting the ban on offshore drilling if it were necessary to pass a “comprehensive energy policy that can bring down gas prices,” echoing pro-energy Republicans who were calling for an end to the ban as part of a comprehensive “all of the above” approach to energy reform. Weeks later, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who previously had shut down the annual appropriations process in the House in an effort to prevent the ban from being lifted, abandoned her efforts and permitted the lifting of outdated moratoria on energy production both far off our shores and in remote lands in the Inter-Mountain West.
This development was applauded by most Americans, a clear majority of whom oppose the ban. Some in Washington were displeased, however. Responding to anger from powerful special interest groups who contributed heavily to Democratic political campaigns this fall, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) promised that reinstating the ban “will be a top priority for discussion next year” in the 111th Congress, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) tried unsuccessfully to reinstate part of the ban via the year-end continuing resolution.
In breaking with his party’s other leaders last August on the issue of offshore drilling, then-candidate Obama signaled he would be willing to put the needs of the country first on this key issue as President. As he reviews the possibility of reinstating the ban in the coming days, I would urge him to hold firm and continue to side with the American people on this important issue for our country’s future.
Reinstating the ban would delay our nation’s transition to energy independence, inhibit progress toward widespread use of alternative and renewable energy, destroy jobs, increase costs for families and small businesses, and make our country less secure. It would also run counter to the views of a majority of Americans, who are struggling in the current economy and remain worried about our nation’s dependence on foreign oil and our vulnerability to dramatic gas price spikes despite the recent decline in prices at the pump.
The energy crunch of 2008 alerted the nation to the consequences of ill-conceived limits on domestic energy production that force us to be reliant on foreign oil. While gas prices have temporarily dropped, they will certainly rise again, quite possibly to levels higher than Americans experienced last summer.
Our nation’s energy challenges must be answered responsibly and aggressively. This means abolishing federal bans on domestic energy production, giving the green light to environmentally-responsible drilling in previously untapped areas, and using a share of the revenues from such drilling to expand the development and use of clean, renewable energy systems.
One of the great accomplishments of the 111th Congress and President-elect Obama’s initial years in office could be the implementation of an “all of the above” energy strategy that bolsters American-made energy, encourages conservation and efficiency, and promotes the use of renewable and alternative fuels. Ending the energy production ban is a cornerstone of such a solution. Reinstating the ban would be a setback for hopes of cooperation on this vital issue for our country’s future.
Friday, October 10, 2008
Our elections serve as an example of free choice and peaceful transfer of power to the world where too many people are denied the right to vote and a new governing authority comes in during a bloody coup. That’s why allegations of rampant voter registration fraud and electoral fraud throughout Ohio and the country are all the most disturbing. But what makes me angry – and what makes a lot of my constituents angry – is that an organization at the heart of this controversy is receiving federal tax dollars.
For years, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), has been the recipient of millions of dollars of federal funding through various programs and third-party groups. House Republicans were successful in removing a housing slush-fund from the recent economic rescue plan that was slipped in by ACORN’s allies.
This was a good first victory against an organization that for decades has promoted the housing policies that pushed our economy to the brink – forcing banks through affordable-housing programs to give mortgages to individuals who under normal circumstances would not qualify for such loans. The lack of congressional oversight – and a willingness from those who benefited politically to turn a blind eye – to the practices at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have enabled ACORN to continue its destructive actions.
Other than its voter registration efforts, ACORN is involved in lobbying for federal dollars to assist low-income housing programs and, through another arm of its vast network, works in local communities promoting and operating the same programs.
Unfortunately for American taxpayers, ACORN’s allies have successfully found ways to funnel federal dollars to the group. In July, congressional Democrats pushed through a housing bill that contained another slush fund. I voted against that bill because of the slush-fund. Additionally, I have called for an immediate stop to all federal funding for ACORN. Your hard-earned tax dollars that are distributed through the Department of Housing and Urban Development and other federal agencies should not be going to an organization that is actively seeking to subvert our electoral system
Just recently, ACORN’s top organizer in Cleveland told the Cleveland Plain Dealer that the organization “can’t be expected to catch” every fraudulent voter registration it turns into election officials. This was preceded by two Ohio voters claiming they were harassed by ACORN workers so often that they wound up registering “10 to 15” times, according to an article published in the New York Post.
And these problems are not new to Ohioans. In 2006, ACORN tried to register a dead man in Columbus and others who simply turned out not to exist, according to the Columbus Dispatch. Franklin County officials that year questioned the validity of hundreds of ACORN-submitted registration forms, the paper said. Similar problems existed in 2004, and these problems will continue unless action is taken now.
Currently, more than a dozen states have opened investigations into ACORN’s activities. I am currently looking into how much federal money ACORN is receiving, either directly or indirectly, so that we can put an end to this nonsense. Election cycle after election cycle, ACORN has been at the forefront of breaking the law to promote a radical agenda.
All federal funding to this group must stop. Contracting for services between candidates for federal office and ACORN must end. And now that the taxpayers own Fannie Mae, any funding from Fannie’s nonprofit foundation to ACORN must stop immediately. The American taxpayers should no longer be forced to help fund an organization that has threatened our economic security and that has over the years perpetrated frauds on our electoral system making us question the fairness and accuracy of our voting system, the most fundamental right granted under our Constitution. It’s time to cut off ACORN now before it grows even more destructive.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
I understand that Ohioans are hurting from sky-high costs of food and energy – especially from gasoline prices. And your personal experiences dealing with this crisis are important to me.
To reach out to Ohioans directly, I recently emailed the recipients of my monthly E-Newsletter and asked them to share with me stories about how their families have been affected by these costs. This email newsletter and platform for you all to weigh in with me directly gives you a real voice in Washington. To sign up for my E-Newsletter, visit my Web site at http://voinovich.senate.gov.
I was overwhelmed by the number of responses I received and was deeply touched with the stories people shared. I have already shared many of these stories with my colleagues in the Senate so that they can better understand how real people in Ohio are coping with these escalating costs. Ohio families cannot ignore rising gasoline prices – which are having an effect on everything from electricity and natural gas bills to food prices and the overall cost of living – and your stories can help convince Washington lawmakers to stop twiddling their thumbs.
I heard from parents, who have had to slash their family budgets; from seniors who are struggling to cover health care costs; and from small business owners who are really feeling the pinch and not sure how to make ends meet and keep their companies afloat.
An elderly woman from Defiance shared her struggle to pay for groceries, medications and health costs – and she’s especially worried about her home heating bills this winter. She said the high prices of gas have really affected the local Meals on Wheels program because volunteers are being forced to spend even more money to pay for gas.
Another woman, Beverly, said that she is thankful to be employed but, even with money coming in, they haven’t been able to visit and help their elderly parents as much as they would like because of gas prices. Beverly’s youngest son even had to transfer to a closer college and is struggling to pay the cost of tuition, commuting and food.
Shirley from Toledo was let go from her job in March. Mounting medical bills, prescriptions that cost $700 every three months and the increased cost of living forced her and her husband to file for bankruptcy as she looks for new employment.
Larry from Cincinnati said that he grew up in a poor family, and this great country allowed him to work hard, get an education and find a good-paying job that has afforded him and his wife a secure financial retirement. But, he added, he is sorry to say that he does not see the same security or opportunities for his children and grandchildren.
A small business owner from Bowling Green shared with me how his fuel charges for his carpet cleaning business have increased almost 50 percent in the last year and a half. It’s not too hard to figure out what that does to his take-home pay.
In addition to their experiences, Ohioans from across the state graciously shared words of support for my efforts in the Senate to address the energy crisis and craft a comprehensive solution, while at the same time expressing profound frustration. Believe me, I feel that same frustration. I’ve called for a Second Declaration of Independence from foreign sources of energy that threaten our energy and national security. While we cripple our own economy, we are sending billions of dollars overseas for oil to pad the coffers of many nations that do not have our best interest at heart, allowing them to control the supply and cost of our energy.
I’ve been frustrated for 10 years in the Senate as I’ve voted time and time again to take steps to avoid this crisis but to no avail. In fact, I have voted 10 times to allow for the safe production of the 10 billion barrels of oil known to be in ANWR. I have also fought to lift the moratorium on responsible exploration in the Outer Continental Shelf, which is what experts believe to be the quickest opportunity our nation has to increase or domestic oil production. And I have fought to tap the more than 800 billion barrels of oil locked up in our vast reserves of oil shale. We also must undertake an Apollo-like project focused on developing the clean, reliable and domestically abundant energy alternatives of the future.
Folks, we’ve got a big problem ahead of us, but I am confident that we can solve it by tapping into the resources we have at our fingertips. Congress has sat on its hands for far too long, but people across the country are raising their voices and demanding to be heard, and that is the only way we can bring about real changes in our policies and take our economy and national security back into our hands.
As I mentioned, one of the best ways to stay informed about what I’m doing to address the energy crisis is to read my E-Newsletter. Sign up for the newsletter at http://voinovich.senate.gov. My Web site and E-Newsletter are two of the best ways to know what I’m doing for each and every Ohioan.
Since my days as governor of Ohio, I have been guided by my own motto of “Together we can do it!” And so it is with the energy crisis – we must work together and we must start now to solve this crisis and bring our economy back on track.
Friday, September 19, 2008
Boehner Column: Another "No-Energy Energy" Bill Forced Through Congress That Still Won't Let Us Drill Here Now
“We’re not trying to give incentives to drill …” (Washington Post, 9/17/08)
That’s what U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told reporters just before voting on the energy bill that she claimed would help solve our energy crisis. Given the overwhelming cry from the American people to drill here and to drill now, this latest sham bill was the last thing we needed.
Pelosi’s bill keeps about 88 percent of the oil and natural gas we could find in deep ocean waters off our coast under lock and key, threatening about $800 billion in tax revenues for the U.S. Just imagine the investment we could make into our economy to create Americans jobs, and to develop alternative and renewable fuels with that money. Instead, the bill was cleverly written to prohibit drilling within 50 miles of the coastline – where most of the untapped oil happens to be – and to deny coastal states any share of drilling revenues, giving them absolutely no incentive to let companies explore for untapped resources.
It was clear more than six weeks ago when congressional Democrats voted themselves a five-week break that any serious discussion about relieving pain at the pump and creating American energy independence was a priority for only some lawmakers. House Republicans took our message directly to the American people about our bill – the American Energy Act – that would unlock our natural resources in Alaska, the Intermountain West and far off our coasts, create a significant investment into the fuels of tomorrow, such as clean-coal and coal-to-liquid technology, and help create good-paying American jobs. Since Aug. 1, I’ve heard from hundreds of you here in the 8th Congressional District – including dozens who mailed me their gas receipts – who agree that we need a comprehensive approach to produce American oil and natural gas for short-term relief and commit ourselves to developing tomorrow’s fuels (biomass, hydropower, wind, solar) to create energy independence. In fact, more than 70 percent of Americans agree that such a comprehensive approach is the direction we need to take. But instead of standing up for the vast majority of Americans who want our natural resources opened up for development, Pelosi sided with the few who would sacrifice the wallets of working families for, in her words, “saving the planet.”
The Newark Advocate in Licking County had this to say about the sham bill in a recent editorial:
“Oil drilling bill is short of a full tank. … The good news is the Democrats have reconsidered their opposition to some offshore oil drilling, getting a related bill passed. The bad news is it won’t make much difference in increasing domestic oil production. … Too bad the bill has so many other stipulations on it that even if it became law it seems like it would do little good. … until a bill that is actually helpful in cutting the price of a gallon of gas gets support in Washington, the only thing that Congress will lower is the estimation it has in the eyes of the public.”
As the Washington, D.C., publication Congressional Quarterly noted, the bill was an attempt to “provide political cover” for lawmakers who needed to be seen as supporting drilling at home while actually voting differently in Washington, D.C. This is exactly the kind of cynicism and hypocrisy that the American people are tired of seeing from Congress. If we are truly serious about stimulating our economy to create jobs, lower energy prices and get our economy moving again, an “all of the above” energy strategy is the way to do that, not political half-measures designed to protect lawmakers vulnerable in their re-elections.
Those who have been hardest hit by prices at the pump are Americans who don’t have the wiggle-room in their budgets for this tremendous increase to their costs of living. House Republicans will continue to fight for an “all of the above” comprehensive energy strategy that will once and for all get us off foreign oil and lead us toward American energy independence.
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Butler County Commissioner Greg Jolivette kicked off another bid to get Joe Nuxhall elected to the Hall of Fame. Voting for the Ford C. Frick award is now underway.
Ever since I left the governor’s office, I have watched thousands of good-paying manufacturing jobs leave our great state, and leaving families in crisis. And I have been trying to figure out new ways in Washington to help our state officials reverse that trend. Recently, we got a big win signed into law for Ohio businesses – but our work can’t stop there.
A few weeks ago, President Bush signed into law an amendment I authored that promises to help struggling businesses make new investments, expand operations and create jobs. The Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2008 included my amendment to provide tax relief to the very companies that are hurting the most in Ohio.
It allows companies operating at a loss the option of claiming their accumulated alternative minimum tax (AMT) and research and development (R&D) tax credits if they use the funds to make new capital investments and create new jobs. But time is running out – this provision expires at the end of 2008. I hope that every eligible company takes advantage of it.
While this is a big win indeed, our work is far from done. I am pursuing even more initiatives to improve the competitiveness of U.S. and Ohio businesses:
Corporate Tax Reform: I recently introduced a bill, the Manufacturing, Assembling, Development, and Export in the USA Tax Act — or MADE in the USA Tax Act — to provide tax relief to domestic corporations and small businesses. My legislation would eliminate tax breaks that advantage foreign competitors and encourage companies to move jobs overseas and then use the additional revenues would then be used to cut taxes on large and small businesses that invest and create jobs in the United States, including: cutting the corporate tax rate to 28 percent from 35 percent; increasing the domestic activities deduction to 12 percent from 9 percent of qualifying income for S corporations and partnerships that are not taxed at the corporate rate; and making permanent the expanded small business expensing provision enacted in 2003 and that expires in 2011.
Energy Independence: I have cosponsored multiple pieces of legislation to increase our domestic supply of both traditional and alternative energy sources, including oil, coal, natural gas, oil shale, tar sands, nuclear power and other forms of alternative and renewable energy. I recently introduced an amendment that would open up the Outer Continental Shelf to oil and gas exploration and use a portion of the revenues to fund research into alternative energy. I am also leading the effort to make Ohio a leader in energy production by expanding nuclear power and coal-to-liquids technology.
Intellectual Property Rights: I have joined Senators Specter, Leahy and Bayh to introduce comprehensive intellectual property (IP) enforcement legislation that treats IP theft with the seriousness it demands by offering a focused, aggressive solution to stop counterfeiting. Our bill would preserve jobs and protect the health and safety of American citizens by increasing IP enforcement through improved coordination among the federal and state agencies charged with IP protection and making permanent many of the President’s current initiatives to combat IP theft.
Workforce Development: This year, I introduced legislation aimed at making it easier for states to develop regional workforce development and economic development programs that meet the needs of the workers and employers. The Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development (WIRED) Act of 2008 will help states attract and retain businesses and jobs by helping to ensure that the state can leverage its federal workforce dollars with federal development dollars. This will help ensure that Ohio has a well-qualified and well-trained workforce that meets regional employers’ needs.
I am very concerned about our country and the ability of our businesses to compete in a global economy. I will continue to work hard to build an infrastructure of competitiveness so that our businesses can prosper and create jobs for hardworking Ohioans.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
We’re almost through the summer driving season – with no relief in sight since the Democratic Majority in Congress left Washington, DC for a five-week break. Still, as gas prices remain high and home heating costs expected to soar this fall and winter, I remain hopeful that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) will finally allow a vote on the American Energy Act, which is the House Republicans’ plan to lower gas prices by increasing production of American energy, promoting more conservation and efficiency, and encouraging more use of alternative and renewable fuels.
Along with the vast majority of Americans, I want to unlock our natural resources and start producing more American oil and natural gas. It’s also important that we increase our investment in alternative and renewable fuels, and the American Energy Act includes several provisions to do that. I recently visited the National Renewable Energy Lab in Colorado, which is an Energy Department facility operated by private-sector scientists dedicated to perfecting cutting-edge solar, wind, fuel cell, biomass, and other emerging energy technologies. The work being done at NREL is a critical component of our strategy to reduce our nation’s dangerous and costly dependence on foreign oil through a comprehensive “all of the above” strategy.
To encourage the use of renewable and alternative fuels, the American Energy Act would:
Since Speaker Pelosi shut down the U.S. House on Aug. 1 for a five-week break, House Republicans have taken our plan for more American-made energy directly to the American people – from the House floor, where we are talking with thousands of American citizens touring our nation’s Capitol to explain how we’re being denied a vote on the American Energy Act, to communities across the country, where we are promoting our “all of the above” energy strategy in our own neighborhoods.
But instead of joining us in our “American Energy Call to Arms,” Speaker Pelosi is telling her Democratic Caucus – many of whom support the same goals the American Energy Act would achieve – to try to have it both ways. She is on the record telling lawmakers that they should support a drilling plan while at home while assuring them she would never allow such a bill to come for a vote.
Instead, the Democratic leadership of the “Drill Nothing” Congress continues to peddle legislation that will not produce a single drop or watt of new American energy. Is that the type of leadership the American people expect from their leaders in Washington?
I’ve seen the American system work, and when the American people speak up and demand something, there is no way the Congress can defy them forever. Families and small businesses across America want more production of American energy to help lower gas prices, and that is just what Republicans are fighting for in our nationwide gas prices protest. Congress should get back to work, have a real debate on the American Energy Act, and put our “all of the above” energy strategy to work for families here in Ohio and across the country.