A (Energy) Tax You Need to Understand

In Washington, they call it cap and trade. In Indiana, energy tax is the more common moniker. No matter the name, what does it mean for your organization — and all Hoosiers? In simple terms, a lot.

Find out just how much June 5 during the Chamber’s next Policy Issues Conference Call.

Vince Griffin, our energy and environmental expert, will explain the proposed legislation, its potential impacts and why Indiana is at the crossroads of the debate. Cameron Carter, who leads the way on federal topics, will outline the Washington politicians and personalities involved, as well as the Indiana connections.

In the mountain of major issues being debated in Washington, this one is at (or very near) the peak. Take 60 minutes, learn more and get your questions answered on Friday, June 5.  Registration is required for this free Chamber member event.

Chamber Shares Updates on Federal Issues

Federal issues — and the price tags attached to many of the efforts and proposals — were featured in today’s Policy Issue Conference Call for Chamber members. Cameron Carter, who leads the Chamber’s federal lobbying efforts, discussed a variety of topics.

Add up the numbers — $1.2 trillion in stimulus, $750 billion in TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program), $410 billion in additional 2009 budget appropriations and proposed 2010 budgets from the House, Senate and White House of approximately $3.5 trillion — and as Carter said, "We’re looking at debt levels not seen since the end of World War II." The expected $1.75 trillion deficit in a single year is projected to double the existing debt in five years and triple it within 10 years.

Some of the other discussion points:

  • Employee Free Choice Act: Senate is now several votes short of what it needs for cloture. The issue is not going away, however, with a potential return to the agenda in June or July.
  • Environmental carbon tax, and cap and trade provisions that would "increase the cost of all goods we consume." While the goal of protecting the environment is laudable, the creation of a market for carbon emissions will produce a price tag beyond comprehension. Carter says to expect some type of legislation yet this year.
  • Health care: Another top President Obama priority, Carter calls it a "stealth" procedure thus far, putting elements of health care reform into the stimulus package and budget resolutions. While a health care bill itself with the goal of providing insurance for all is on the way, the strategy thus far in this area and others of "policymaking within budget resolutions" is concerning. The reason it’s being done: it takes 51 votes in the Senate to pass budget matters, compared to the 60 needed for cloture on other issues to allow debate to move forward.
  • Immigration reform: In the past week, Obama cited this as another top priority to an already crowded plate for Congress. That may lead, Carter offers, to something else falling by the wayside.

Carter also discussed the more high profile roles for Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh (one of the leaders of a Moderate Dems Working Group) and Rep. Mike Pence (chairman of the House Republican Conference). He closed with a simple "no" when asked if he had any desire to be working on these issues in Washington — where he served on the staff of Sen. Richard Lugar in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

That’s OK. He and others working to protect the business interests of Indiana companies and their employees will have their hands full right here in the Hoosier state. 

Call, Listen, Learn and Comment on Federal Topics

So you want to know how what is taking place in Washington these days is going to impact your company here in Indiana? 

Good idea. Do you have a couple of days? How about a full week in our nation’s capital? After several years in which most of Washington simply seemed to be looking toward the beginning of a new administration, the Obama team, as expected, has hit the ground running. Regulatory agencies, Congress and the White House are all operating at full steam ahead.

Since the days or week options aren’t realistic, how about a one-hour Policy Issue Conference Call (formerly known as the First Friday Conference Call) for Indiana Chamber members. Our monthly (and sometimes more frequently) Friday updates goes federal for the first time on April 10 (9:30-10:30 a.m. Eastern).

I get to do my funny (at least some family members think so) opening comments, then turn the program over to Cameron Carter, the Chamber’s federal relations guru. Cam will talk Employee Free Choice Act, proposed health care reforms, runaway spending and more. There will be plenty of time for your questions and comments.

If your company does not belong to the Indiana Chamber, join today. Learn more.

Chamber Provides Weekly Update for ‘Abdul’

The Chamber’s Cameron Carter focuses his efforts on federal advocacy, as well as economic development and small business issues at the state level. He offered the following on the Chamber’s weekly radio appearance (9-9:30 on Wednesdays) on WXNT’s (1430 in Indianapolis) Abdul in the Morning program.

  • Federal stimulus: "It remains to be seen what it will do for business." Carter explains that the majority of the estimated $4.3 billion coming our way is tied to Medicaid, education and other dedicated purposes with approximately $200 million to be used at the discretion of state officials. He reiterates that deeper tax cuts and infrastructure investments would, in the Chamber’s view, have been more effective in providing immediate relief.
  • Local government reform: Carter compares today’s townships to the human appendix — "you don’t need it in this day and age." Asked about "selling" an issue that is not glamorous in nature, Carter offers that if "families don’t have money to spend, they don’t spend it." In addition providing more effective services, the Kernan-Shepard reforms are "about putting our finances in better order and making people more accountable."
  • Unemploment insurance trust fund: There are no easy answers to this growing problem, one the Chamber had identified more than a year ago. Eligibiliy loopholes must be addressed, along with benefit levels that are above the national average, with ultimately increased investment by employers (and potentially employees) helping make the system sustainable moving forward.