Unfunded Burden of EPA Mandates on States Grows

Protecting the environment is a noble goal. However, when the EPA issues mandates that are not reasonable, states suffer. A new U.S. Chamber report has more:

How can states administer 96.5% of all federal delegated environmental programs when federal grants to the states fund no more than 28% of the amount needed to run the programs? The study, the eighth in a series on the federal regulatory process, concludes that instead of being the system of cooperative federalism that Congress intended, the current relationship between the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the states has become one-sided, with the federal government imposing its will.

The U.S. Chamber recommends Congress take specific steps to alleviate and prevent EPA from continuing to commandeer the states. These recommendations include redefining the term “mandate” to better track the impact on the states, passing the Regulatory Accountability Act of 2015, enacting the Sunshine for Regulatory Decrees and Settlements Act, and several other actions outlined in the study.

It’s Time to Redefine Wellness


The Wellness Council of Indiana’s Chuck Gillespie recently had a column featured in the new U.S. Chamber Foundation report, “Healthy Returns: The Value of Investing in Community Health.”

A simple Internet search can show why the wellness industry is at a crossroads. In today’s market, the definition of “wellness” is based more on which classification best fits a person’s specific need, want, or ability, or a vendor’s specific product or service. Wellness is sometimes tied to chronic disease management, fitness, nutrition, weight loss, clinical health services, tobacco use, and behavioral therapy just to name a few. However, workplaces and communities that use an economics-based approach to wellness have proven to be the most successful at creating a culture of health and well-being. Read more in the report on page 16.


Throwback Thursday: 1946 Indiana Chamber News

in news pic

Before there was our award-winning BizVoice magazine, we published the Indiana Chamber of Commerce News. We recently found the October 1946 issue in our archives. The edition features an article promoting the Chamber’s Annual Meeting, noting its speaker, Charles E. Wilson, president and CEO of General Motors Corporation in Detroit. It lists the previous four years’ speakers as:

  • 1945 – Supreme Court of the U.S. Chief Justice Fred M. Vinson (then Secretary of the Treasury)
  • 1944 – Henry J. Kaiser, famous industrialist
  • 1943 – Eric A. Johnston, president, Motion Picture Association of America (then president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce)
  • 1942 – B.C. Forbes, editor of Forbes Weekly

Note the circulation of the publication as reaching 8,500, so it’s encouraging to see we had a broad reach back then, just as we do today.

Indiana Chamber Endorses Rep. Todd Young for U.S. Senate

young pic camera (2)The Indiana Chamber is endorsing Congressman Todd Young (R-IN, 9th District) in his candidacy for the U.S. Senate. The announcement was made today at a press conference at Indiana Chamber headquarters in downtown Indianapolis.

“We believe Todd Young is the most qualified and most economic-minded individual running for the Senate seat,” said Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar. “He has repeatedly demonstrated sound fiscal policy and prudent decision-making on issues that are vital to jobs and economic growth.”

Brinegar further emphasized Young’s engagement with the business community and his focus on economic, fiscal and regulatory issues.

“After he was appointed to the Ways and Means Committee, the congressman sought substantial feedback on potential federal tax reforms and what would have the most impact on Hoosier companies and their employees. He listened to our members – through personal conversations and a survey – using their insights to help form his pro-economy agenda.”

The Indiana Chamber’s nonpartisan congressional action committee, comprised of volunteer business leaders from around the state, determined Young’s endorsement.

At both the state and federal levels, Indiana Chamber endorsements are driven by vote scores on pro-jobs, pro-economy issues. For state endorsements, the Indiana Chamber relies on its Legislative Vote Analysis report. Congressional endorsements are based on a combination of the U.S. Chamber’s own vote scores and an analysis of votes on Indiana Chamber federal policy positions.

Representatives of the U.S. Chamber, which also is supporting Young’s campaign, joined the Indiana Chamber for the press event.

U.S. Chamber Announces American Dream Photo Contest

While we’re not affiliated with the U.S. Chamber, we wanted to make you aware of a contest they’re having, in which winners will receive a trip for two to our nation’s capital:

With the Fourth of July around the corner, we’re celebrating the American Dream and the small businesses that embody it.

You and I both know that people with passion, great ideas and the will to succeed are what make America great.

In honor of that spirit and the millions of small businesses who took a risk to make their dreams a reality, we’re launching the American Dream Photo Contest

To enter, simply upload a photo of a small business that embodies the American Dream by July 13. Tell us briefly what the American Dream means to you and why your photo represents what’s best about our country. The winner will receive a trip for two to Washington, D.C.

The winning submission will be selected by your votes and announced by July 29.

The vision set forth 235 years ago on July 4 is alive and well today. It lives on through every citizen that takes a risk to pursue his or her dream and strengthens the entrepreneurial spirit of our country.

Learn more about the American Dream Photo Contest by visiting our Facebook page now.

Hat tip to our Cam Carter for the info.

Survey: Search for Certainty Continues

The U.S. Chamber recently released findings from a small business survey. A few interesting findings:

  • 55% of respondents cited economic uncertainty as their greatest hiring obstacle.
  • 35% said Washington uncertainty impacted growth.
  • 35% cited too little revenue as their greatest obstacle. 
  • Two of the top issues of concern are America’s debt and the health care law. Eighty percent of respondents said America’s debt and deficit have a negative impact on their business, and 72% said the health care law has made hiring more difficult.
  • By a 73% to 17% margin, respondents said that the business climate of the last two years has hindered their growth. Respondents were split in how they view the next two years, with 38% believing the climate will improve, 37% believing that it will worsen and the remainder uncertain.

Keep it Free; Create the Jobs

Economic growth and job creation are the focus of a national discussion taking place in Indianapolis this morning — and the Indiana Chamber will be there.

The U.S. Chamber’s National Chamber Foundation (with assistance from the Indiana Chamber and the Indiana Economic Development Corporation) is hosting the 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. event. Several members of the national chamber team, including former Education Secretary Margaret Spellings, will offer comments along with Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels.

A roundtable discussion will take place, with Indiana Chamber President Kevin Brinegar and several Chamber board members among the participants. Daniels will focus his remarks on Creating Jobs Through Free Enterprise and an Indiana-specific study will also be unveiled.

We’ll provide some Twitter updates during the discussion and come back with another blog later in the day.

Paying for the Road(s) to Success

Stimulus. Cap and trade. Health care reform. All have been/are vying for attention — and dollars — in Washington. But what about transportation funding? You know, paying for the highways, bridges and infrastructure that help keep our country moving.

The Indiana Chamber’s Cam Carter was one of more than 100 association and business leaders to converge on Washington yesterday to deliver the "Transportation is Your Business" message to lawmakers. The SAFETEA-LU (you have to love those Washington acronyms) authorizing legislation expires on September 30. Delays on a new funding plan are normal, but the U.S. Chamber (organizer of this event) and the business community don’t want those in the nation’s capital to overlook these vital resources.

Among the major challenges is the fact that the traditional funding source for transportation projects, the federal gasoline tax, is generally regarded as nowhere near adequate to meet future needs. More public-private partnerships (see Major Moves here in Indiana) are touted as one of the solutions, but protectionist attitudes have put a damper on these projects. Washington, states, locals and more must begin to realize and accept that additional foreign investment is a good thing.

Transportation investment helps drive the economy (creating jobs in construction, engineering and more) and cost-effective and efficient services are essential for companies and their employees. If we can’t move products and people, we’re basically out of business.

A recent report noted that President Obama and some congressional leaders favor an 18-month extension of the current law before tackling a new agreement. If that time was spent developing new and innovative strategies to meet current and future needs, MAYBE it would be a good idea. Deadlines in Washington, however, like at the state level, often mean the work doesn’t get done until that drop dead time approaches (or passes). Carter reports from Washington that the 18-month extension is likely to become a reality.

Transportation investment is a big issue. Companies, large and small, and their employees can’t really afford for it to be put on the back burner.

You can join Carter, Chamber President Kevin Brinegar and Indiana business leaders on September 23-24 for the annual D.C. Fly-in. On a more immediate front, Carter and Chamber health care expert Mike Ripley will discuss the fast track efforts on health care reform during Friday’s Policy Issue Conference Call for members.

Dems’ Health Care Preposal Draws Fire from U.S. Chamber

Pres. Obama and House Democrats have constructed a health care plan with the intent to cover 97% of Americans by 2019. Obama asserts the plan would "begin the process of fixing what’s broken in the system." The U.S. Chamber of Commerce — to whom we have no affiliation but do share many of the same goals — claims the proposal would hit business owners at the worst possible time.

House Democrats plan to fund the broadest U.S. health-care expansion in four decades by increasing taxes on the wealthiest Americans, imposing a surtax of 5.4 percent on couples with more than $1 million in income.

The legislation unveiled yesterday would place additional taxes on households with more than $350,000 a year in income and calls for further increases if the measure doesn’t hit a target for cost savings. The provisions are intended to raise $544 billion over 10 years…

The plan drew fire from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the nation’s biggest business lobby.

“The intention of this plan is to tax high-income households, but the real victims would be America’s small business owners,” the Washington-based group’s president, Thomas Donohue, said in a statement. “Since when does our great free-market country punish success?”

The legislation would raise taxes on larger corporations as well. Among other things, it would make it easier for the Internal Revenue Service to prosecute tax shelters, and deny certain cross-border deductions that some companies are able to claim through tax treaties.

The House is also proposing a mandate on Americans above a certain income level: People would be penalized as much as 2.5 percent of their income for failure to buy health insurance. Most employers would be required to insure their employees or pay a penalty equal to as much as 8 percent of their payroll.

And wouldn’t you know it, health care is the topic of this month’s Policy Issue Conference Call — a free benefit for Indiana Chamber members. The call is this Friday (July 17) at 9:30 a.m. and members are welcome. Just register here.

UPDATE: House Republicans have also released their interpretation of a bureaucratic nightmare that would ensue under the proposed health care plan. View that here. (Hat tip to Chamber intern Daniel Latini.)

California Steamin’

The U.S. Chamber blog recently highlighted a piece by Joel Kotkin of NewGeography.com (and contributor to Forbes) in which the writer attempts to come to terms with just who is to blame for the epic fiscal spiral that is California. He makes some interesting observations, some of which will hopefully serve as red flags for the Hoosier State. Here are his five suspects:

1. Arnold Schwarzenegger

…Arnold quickly discovered his feminine side, becoming a kinder, ultra-green terminator…Yet over the past few years there’s been more destruction than creation. Employment in high-tech fields has stagnated…while there have been huge setbacks in the construction, manufacturing, warehousing and agricultural sectors. Driven away by strict regulations, businesses take their jobs outside California even in relatively good times. Indeed, according to a recent Milken Institute report, between 2000 and 2007 California lost nearly 400,000 manufacturing jobs. All that time, industrial employment was growing in major competitive rivals like Texas and Arizona….

2. The Public Sector

Who needs an economy when you have fat pensions and almost unlimited political power? That’s the mentality of California’s 356,000 workers and their unions, who make up the best-organized, best-funded and most powerful interest group in the state. State government continued to expand in size even when anyone with a room-temperature IQ knew California was headed for a massive financial meltdown. Scattered layoffs and the short-term salary givebacks now being considered won’t cure the core problem: an overgenerous retirement system. The unfunded liabilities for these employees’ generous pensions are now estimated at over $200 billion.

3. The Environment

Obama holds up California’s environmental policy as a model for the nation. May God protect the rest of the country. California’s environmental activists once did an enviable job protecting our coasts and mountains, expanding public lands and working to improve water and air resources. But now, like sailors who have taken possession of a distillery, they have gotten drunk on power and now rampage through every part of the economy.

In California today, everyone who makes a buck in the private sector–from developers and manufacturers to energy producers and farmers–cringes in fear of draconian regulations in the name of protecting the environment. The activists don’t much care, since they get their money from trust-funders and their nonprofits. The losers are California’s middle and working classes, the people who drive trucks, who work in factories and warehouses or who have white-collar jobs tied to these industries.

4. The Business Community

This insanity has been enabled by a lack of strong opposition to it. One potential source–California’s business leadership–has become progressively more feeble over the past generation…"The business community is so afraid they are keeping their heads down," observes Ross DeVol, director of regional economics at the Milken Institute. "I feel they if they keep this up much longer, they won’t have heads."

5. Californians

At some point Californians–the ones paying the bills and getting little in return–need to rouse themselves. The problem could be demographic. Over the past few years much of our middle class has fled the state, including a growing number to "dust bowl" states like Oklahoma, Texas and Arkansas from which so many Californians trace their roots…The last hope lies with those of us still enamored with California. We have allowed ourselves to be ruled by a motley alliance of self-righteous zealots, fools and cowards; now we must do something….We should, however, be very cautious about handing more power to the state’s leaders. With our acquiescence, they have led this most blessed state toward utter ruin…