Stabenow Statement on Republican Tax Proposal

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), senior member of the Senate Finance Committee, released a statement on the Republican tax proposal:

“Our tax code shouldn’t be so complicated that you need to buy a computer program or hire an accountant to file your taxes. I support reform that simplifies our tax code, puts more money back into the pockets of hardworking families, helps small businesses, and spurs job creation in Michigan. I am concerned that today’s proposal would give most of the benefits to those at the top and would take away important tax incentives for Michigan manufacturers. As we work on reform in the coming months, the bottom line for me is that any reform must be bipartisan, help Michigan families and create Michigan jobs.”

Stabenow is the author of the Bring Jobs Home Act of 2017 that ends a loophole that gives a tax break to companies that send jobs overseas. Senator Stabenow first introduced this legislation in 2012, and in every Congress since, but Senate Republicans have repeatedly blocked it.

Stabenow also introduced the Growing Small Businesses Act earlier this year, which would provide a tax cut to a small business getting started or planning to grow and expand. The bill provides a 25 percent tax credit for the cost of buildings and equipment for a business’s first commercial production facility.

Stabenow, Blunt Introduce Bill to Reauthorize Critical Funding for Community Health Centers

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow (Mich.) and Roy Blunt (Mo.)  yesterday introduced the Community Health Investment, Modernization, and Excellence (CHIME) Act, which would reauthorize the Community Health Center Fund (CHCF) and the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) for five years. In addition, the bipartisan bill provides four percent increases for the CHCF and NHSC every year beginning in FY2019.

“Michigan families rely on the health care they receive at over 260 community health center sites in our state, including low-cost dental coverage, mental health care, vision services, and more,” said Stabenow. “Critical funding for these community health centers expires this weekend. I want to thank Senator Roy Blunt for leading this bipartisan effort with me and urge Congress to act on this important extension.”

Community health centers are a critical component of the nation’s primary care network, serving approximately 26 million patients at over 10,000 sites throughout the United States. Community health centers operate in both rural and urban areas, in every state in the nation. Last year, health centers were the medical home for one in twelve Americans, one in ten children, one in six Americans living in rural areas, and more than 330,000 of our nation’s veterans.

“More than half a million Missourians, 27 percent of whom are uninsured, rely on community health centers to provide critical, affordable health care services,” said Blunt. “The care provided at these facilities doesn’t just save lives, it saves money by cutting down on the unnecessary use of emergency rooms and hospitalizations. This bill will ensure that community health centers remain open, and extend funding for the National Health Service Corps, which brings medical, dental, and behavioral health professionals to underserved areas. I’m encouraged by the strong, bipartisan support for this bill, and I’ll continue working to ensure community health centers have the resources they need.”

Without extension of the CHCF, community health centers will lose seventy percent of their funding. This will result in an estimated 2,800 site closures, the loss of 50,000 jobs, and result in 9 million Americans losing their access to care.

Earlier this month, Stabenow and Blunt led a bipartisan group of senators in calling for immediate action to extend critical funding for community health centers before funding runs out at the end of this week.

The CHIME Act is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.), Ben Cardin (Md.), Tom Carper (Del.), Susan Collins (Maine), Cory Gardner (Colo.), Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.), and Roger Wicker (Miss.).

Senators Stabenow, Peters Introduce Small Business Access to Capital Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Gary Peters (D-MI) today introduced the Small Business Access to Capital Act, which will reauthorize and improve the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) to help small businesses grow and create jobs. The legislation builds on the successful SSBCI initiative that both lawmakers championed in the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010. SSBCI funds the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and other state-led lending programs that leverage private financing to help small businesses access the capital they need.

“Small businesses create the majority of new jobs, and when owners can access capital, they can expand and keep the economy growing,” Senator Stabenow said. “Access to capital is an important issue that owners have raised with me as I have travelled the state this past year on my Small Business Tour. I’m pleased to be joining with Senator Peters to build on this successful program that has helped hundreds of small businesses and manufacturers get off the ground or expand.”

“Michigan is home to more than 856,000 small businesses that rely on access to critical resources that help them compete, grow and create new jobs in our communities,” said Senator Peters. “I’m glad to partner with Senator Stabenow to introduce legislation that will expand this successful effort and provide additional resources to boost Michigan small businesses that are the backbone of our economy.”

Michigan has exhausted all SSBCI federal funding, expending over $100 million to date that has leveraged a total investment of nearly $600 million, including private capital. This investment has helped businesses create or retain over 12,000 jobs across the state. The Michigan Economic Development Corporation will be able to continue its SSBCI lending programs using recycled federal funds from paid back loans and state funding.

The Small Business Access to Capital Act of 2017 builds on the initial program’s success by providing an additional $500 million in formula funds to all states based on the 2010 law. Michigan would receive over $26 million in new formula funding-more than every state except Florida and California. The bill will also create a new, competitive $1 billion pool of funding for states that have already capitalized on funding from the 2010 program.

Statement from State Rep. Scott Dianda (D-Calumet) on Recently Proposed Auto Insurance Reform

LANSING – Yesterday, a coalition of legislators introduced legislation to reform no-fault auto insurance in an attempt to lower insurance rates in Michigan. State Representative Scott Dianda (D-Calumet) released the following statement:

“While I applaud the work that so many have done to find a solution to lower auto insurance rates, I am concerned that Michigan drivers are promised phantom savings and will not have the protection they need when they become involved in an auto accident. Auto insurers will save millions in claim payments under House Bill 5013, but drivers who keep their current benefits will see no rate reductions. Taking away coverage to reduce premiums while shifting medical costs on to Michigan drivers is the wrong approach to tackle high auto insurance rates. Serious reforms should include creating a state fraud authority to aggressively go after fraud and claims handling abuse and requiring the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association be more open and transparent. I am committed to working with my colleagues in Lansing to legitimate and permanent insurance premium rate reductions while protecting the health and well-being of accident victims.”

John James Announces for U.S. Senate

Detroit – Former Army Captain, conservative Republican, and Detroit businessman John James announced today his bid for U.S. Senate. John James made the announcement over Facebook Thursday and will be releasing 100 videos in 100 days to speak directly with voters.

“Michigan needs a conservative outsider in Washington who will take on the establishment and fight for working Michiganders,” John said Thursday. “My experience as a combat veteran in Iraq, combined with my conservative values and commitment to fighting for conservative principles and my time in business, makes me the conservative outsider we need in Washington.”

From the battlefield to the boardroom, John James has shown a passion for service. A husband, father, combat veteran, and businessman, John is a conservative Republican who believes Michigan deserves better representation in the U.S. Senate. Throughout his life, John has demonstrated energetic leadership, clarity of vision and a passion for service. John is a proven servant-leader who will represent all Michiganders and help unify Washington.

“My service in Iraq has provided me with a unique perspective on national security and the emerging threats that we must pro-actively defend against,” John said. “I have fought against and worked to defeat the threat that terrorists and rogue nations represent to our national security.”

At 17, John made the decision to serve his country. After graduating from West Point in 2004, he became a Ranger-qualified aviation officer. John went on to serve with distinction in Operation Iraqi Freedom where he earned a Combat Action Badge (CAB) and two Air Medals, among other awards while logging 744.3 flight hours in theater leading two Apache platoons.

After eight years of service to the nation, John was honorably discharged and returned to Michigan to work in the family business: James Group International. Currently its President, John has led the company from $35 million to $137 million in revenue while creating 100 additional jobs in Michigan and around the country since 2012.

“My time in business has exposed me to the heavy-handed government regulations and bloated bureaucracy that stifles innovation and entrepreneurship.”

John’s deep faith in the Lord shapes every aspect of his life and every decision he makes. “My lifelong commitment to religious liberties, defending life, protecting Second Amendment freedoms, and strictly limiting the role of government reinforces my belief that we must have political leaders with the courage to fight to protect our freedoms and our principles.”

“I’m not a politician, but my lifelong passion for service and love for America and my state compels me to take action,” John asserted. “As a West Point graduate who served as an Army Captain in Operation Iraqi Freedom flying Apaches, I understand national security,” stated John James. “Revenue has more than tripled and 100 jobs have been created under my leadership as President of our supply-chain logistics company. I understand how to create jobs and the importance of economic opportunity.”

John and his wife Elizabeth reside in Farmington Hills, Michigan, and have two extremely energetic and sweet boys, ages 2 and 3. The James’ love spending time with their parents and family members who reside on both sides of the state. They are active members of Brightmoor Christian Church in Novi, Michigan.

“We’ve traveled the state listening and learning from Michiganders who overwhelmingly encouraged us to jump in,” John said. “We’ll be speaking directly with voters through social media in the coming months, engaging over Facebook, Twitter and other platforms where we will release 100 videos over the next 100 days to highlight Team John James.”

“If you’re ready for the fight, I’m ready to lead.”

To learn more visit JohnJamesforSenate.com.

Source: John James For Senate

One last chance to repeal and replace Obamacare and save the 115th Congress

By Natalia Castro

For the last eight months, we have watched the Republican Party flounder on healthcare. Now, with the clock running out, most seem to agree on one thing — this is their last, best chance to repeal and replace Obamacare this year. Republicans are pushing for a vote this week to pass a replacement for Obamacare, and many are hoping this will be the first major legislative achievement for this Congress. All they need is for Republicans to finally utilize the majority they have been holding back.

The legislation put forth by U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham(R-S.C.), Bill Cassidy(R-La.), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), and former Senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), referred to as the Cassidy-Graham bill, offers an approach which Republicans across the spectrum should approve of.

The legislation removes harmful Obamacare burdens such as the individual mandate and the employer mandate, which forced individuals to purchase coverage and discouraged employers from hiring full-time workers. The bill also empowers states by allowing them to apply for waivers from Obamacare regulations and provides block grants for state flexibility with their own healthcare plans.

This might not be the full repeal and replace Republicans had once hoped for, but they ruined any chance of that when they failed to garner the votes to pass those bills months ago. Now, time is nearly up and this is the best opportunity to prevent millions of Americans from facing dramatic premium increases.

Considering, conservatives leaders such as Utah’s Mike Lee and Arkansas’s Tom Cotton have already voiced positivity toward the bill alongside common Republican moderates writing the bill such as Heller and Graham, this could be a turning point for momentum within the GOP.

Conservative coalitions are even rushing to back to the bill. Endorsements for passage have been given by Americans for Limited Government, the Wall Street Journal, Christian Coalition of American, and The Weekly Standard.

The bill has also received support from the President, and 15 Republicans sitting Governors who wrote in a letter to Mitch McConnell, “Adequately funded, flexible block grants to the states are the last, best hope to finally repeal and replace Obamacare – a program which is collapsing before our very eyes. We stand ready to work with you and the other members of the Senate, the Speaker and the other members of the House, and with the President and his administration to repeal Obamacare and replace it with something that works – in the states.”

Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski was a splinting vote in the GOP’s early repeal and replace push, but now Republicans seem to be willing to throw her a bone to promote party unity and finally move the legislation.

Alaska and four other sparsely populated states could be shielded from major cuts to Medicaid through 2026.

Politico reports, “The Medicaid delay would potentially apply to Alaska, Wyoming, South Dakota, North Dakota and Montana, based on their low-density populations. Those states would be allowed to opt out on the bill’s fixed payments if certain health spending conditions are met in the prior year or the HHS secretary determines the new funding system is insufficient. The chance to opt out would end in 2026.”

Murkowski has been clear about her current reservations with the bill and how it will affect such as high cost, low-density state like hers. Graham and Cassidy’s planned changes could make her decision easier.

Unfortunately, complicating matters, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) has predictably come out against the bill.

And Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has once again insisted on a “bipartisan” approach, despite having voted for similar legislation this summer before voting against the so-called “skinny” repeal. Whatever party unity has been gained by the GOP in the process of building support for Graham-Cassidy has been squandered by McCain.

Apparently the bill that McCain’s against are the ones that have a chance of actually passing.

Now all eyes turn toward Rand Paul and Lisa Murkowski. They must realize this is a pivotal point for the country suffering from high premiums under Obamacare. Senate leaders must approach both to see what they’d be comfortable with if modifications to the legislation are needed.

The failure to govern here is beyond disappointing, it is disenfranchising the American people who voted to get something in place on health care besides Obamacare.

With immigration and tax reform fights right around the corner, Republicans must show unity and strength to get the Trump agenda voters selected in 2016 passed. This is a critical opportunity to make good on one of the party’s oldest campaign promises. Now is not the time for internal fights, it is time to come together as a majority and replace Obamacare once and for all. Otherwise, the job might fall to the 116th Congress.

Natalia Castro is a contributing editor for Americans for Limited Government.

Rep. Hintz Statement on Biennial Budget and the Foxconn Bill

MADISON – Today, Rep. Gordon Hintz (D-Oshkosh), a member of the budget-writing Joint Committee on Finance, released the following statement regarding the passage of the biennial budget and the Foxconn legislation:

“In the last twenty-four hours, Assembly Republicans have repeatedly failed the citizens of our state. From the missed opportunities to provide long-term, sustainable investments to our public schools and roads, to providing the largest taxpayer handout to a foreign company in US history, Wisconsin Republicans are proving that they are more interested in doing damage control on their own failed policies, instead of leading.

“Wisconsin is in its eighth consecutive year of economic growth, yet we are spending more than the revenue we bring in during both years of this biennium. Instead of investing in small business development or our UW System, we promised up to $3 billion dollars to a foreign company with virtually no strings attached.

It is clear to me after watching the votes come in on the budget and the Foxconn deal that my constituents will be on the hook for the mistakes of a desperate Governor with a weak economic record, crumbling transportation infrastructure, and an outmigration of working aged people, and who has now offered the largest ever subsidy provided by a state to a foreign company.”

Wisconsin Rep. Hintz Column: Undermining Wisconsin’s Future

COLUMN: Undermining Wisconsin’s Future

Scott Walker has had the advantage of being Wisconsin’s governor during the third-longest national economic expansion in U.S. history. While Wisconsin’s economy has lagged behind the national average during his time as governor, there still has been state revenue growth in each state budget. Yet even with these increases, Gov. Walker has slashed funding for higher education and K-12 education.

If Wisconsin has more money, why haven’t we increased investment in educational opportunity? The answer is simple. For Gov. Walker and Republicans, it is a bigger priority to direct those state resources to tax cuts for the wealthy.

Wisconsin’s budget has become increasingly strained by the governor’s so-called “Manufacturing and Agriculture Tax Credit”. When it was abruptly slipped into the 2011 budget, the credit was forecast to cost $128 million each year when fully phased in by 2016-’17. However, state estimates show that the credit cost has more than doubled. This tax giveaway is now expected to balloon to $334 million a year by 2018-’19. In addition to cuts made to public schools and higher education, 148 school districts have voted to raise their own property taxes by nearly $630 million to avoid harmful cuts to educational programs since 2011. The state resources being diverted to this credit have also resulted in the governor actually borrowing $209 million the last three years from future taxpayers—just to keep the budget in the black.

There have been huge consequences and costs associated with this credit. It would be one thing if the hundreds of millions spent on this giveaway had resulted in successful job creation. But they have not. Under Gov. Walker, Wisconsin dropped from 12,009 manufacturing jobs gained in 2010 to 3,776 manufacturing jobs lost in 2016.

Which brings us to Foxconn, and what it means for Wisconsin’s future.

Since becoming Governor, Scott Walker has desperately tried to define himself as the pro-jobs governor. His efforts have, of course, been a gigantic failure. Currently, Walker’s track record includes: an unfulfilled pledge to create 250,000 jobs by the end of his first term; a mining bill which promised thousands of jobs but created zero; anti-worker reforms; and more reckless tax credits aimed at drawing new business.

These failures have led our frantic governor to double-down on a costly economic trickle-down fantasy: his proposal to offer the most expensive state taxpayer-funded subsidy to a foreign company in U.S. history. It is important to note that because slashing taxes for the wealthy and corporations is now the operating principle of the Wisconsin Republican Party, Foxconn’s billionaire owner will now owe basically nothing in taxes. Therefore, he will be receiving up to $3 billion in tax credits as a cash payment from Wisconsin taxpayers.

Before the 2017-’19 budget is signed—and before the legislature approved $3 billion in taxpayer-funded incentives—Wisconsin faces a $1 billion deficit in the 2019-’21 budget. With economic growth projections being lowered for the next few years, state growth will likely slow as well.

Walker has left the state fiscally unprepared for slower economic times. Now he is betting it all on the Foxconn package, which, under the best-case scenario, would not break even for a quarter-century. And knowing Walker’s and Foxconn’s history of “overpromising and underperforming,” this best case is not likely to happen.

The opportunity cost of not investing in transportation, the future education of our children and further incentivizing entrepreneurship is very real. Just like public school and university cuts paid for massive tax cuts the past few years, you can assume that taxpayer funding for Foxconn will come at the expense of these programs once again.

Gordon Hintz serves in the Wisconsin State Assembly as the representative for the 54th District.

Stabenow Introduces Amendments to National Defense Authorization Act to Strengthen Buy American Requirements

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) today announced that she has introduced three amendments to the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act that will ensure the Defense Department is complying with Buy American purchasing requirements. These will ensure that federal taxpayer dollars are being used to benefit Michigan workers and businesses and not foreign companies. The National Defense Authorization Act authorizes annual defense spending and is currently being considered by the U.S. Senate.

“It’s common sense that American tax dollars be used to purchase products made in America, not overseas,” said Senator Stabenow. “That’s why I introduced these three amendments to toughen up our Buy American requirements so that American business and workers are put first. Michigan’s defense industry supports over 105,000 jobs, and talented workers and businesses should have priority over foreign companies for federal contracts.”

Currently, the Department of Defense uses a loophole so that Buy American requirements do not apply if a federal agency is procuring a product to be used overseas. Over the past five years, the DoD spent more than $35 billion on over 150,000 products – including motorcycles, radios, and even jet engines – that did not meet Buy American rules. One of Stabenow’s amendments would close this loophole and require the Department of Defense to prioritize products made in the United States.

This amendment is based on Buy American legislation Stabenow introduced earlier this year. The Make It In America Act would close loopholes in the current Buy American law so that the federal government is spending American tax dollars to buy products made in America. During her small business tour across Michigan, Senator Stabenow heard from businesses that expressed concern that our Buy American policies, meant to give priority to American companies when the federal government purchases goods, weren’t working.

The Make It In America Act would make it harder to use waivers to get around Buy America provisions and require agencies to submit an annual report to Congress on the amount of taxpayer dollars spent on foreign made goods. The waiver to exempt goods used outside of the United States accounted for 65 percent of all Buy American waivers in 2016.

Stabenow’s other Buy American amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act would require the Government Accountability Office to review Buy American training practices so that contracting personnel can better comply with current law. Her third amendment would require the Department of Defense to form a partnership with the Manufacturing Extension Partnership to identify more small and medium sized manufacturers that can provide products that comply with Buy American standards.

Senators Stabenow, Peters Announce Support for Two Upper Peninsula Fire Departments

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters today announced $150,701 for two fire departments in the Upper Peninsula to help purchase equipment. This grant comes from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Assistance to Firefighters Grants program.

The Kingsford Public Safety Department will receive a $51,979 grant. The Marquette Township Fire and Rescue Department will receive a $98,722 grant.

“Our firefighters and first responders in the Upper Peninsula put their lives on the line to protect our families and homes,” said Senator Stabenow. “Thanks to these new resources, these brave men and women will have the equipment they need to help them do their jobs more safely and effectively.”

“Upper Peninsula residents and businesses depend on the protection firefighters and first responders provide in an emergency,” said Senator Gary Peters. “These funds will help local fire departments purchase the equipment they need to keep firefighters safe on the job and protect their communities.”

Eligible fire departments and Emergency Medical Services organizations in Michigan and across the country can apply for Assistance to Firefighters Grants. These competitive grants help first responders purchase the equipment and obtain the training needed to handle fire-related hazards. More information about the grant can be found at http://www.fema.gov/welcome-assistance-firefighters-grant-program.