Trump Moving on Trade

President Donald Trump is wasting no time moving on trade.  Sunday, in remarks at the swearing-in ceremony for senior White House staff, he announced meetings already set up (Fox News coverage, 01/22/17).

He said British Prime Minister Theresa May would meet with him very soon.  CBS News reported that May would be the first foreign leader to meet with Trump, scheduled for Friday.  May told business leaders at the economic summit in Davos that Britain is looking to strike trade deals with “old friends” and “new allies.”  May also said she believes Britain can work out a new trade deal with the U.S. (“British Prime Minister Theresa May to visit Trump Friday,” cbsnews.com, 01/21/17).

Additionally, pointedly talking about NAFTA, Trump told his assembled White House staff and their families that meeting were also scheduled with Prime Minister Trudeau of Canada and Mexico’s President Enrique Nieto (Fox News).

President Nieto’s popularity is low in Mexico, which could increase pressure on him to work towards an early, stabilizing set of additions to NAFTA.

 

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Published in: on January 22, 2017 at 3:10 pm  Leave a Comment  

McCarthy Withdraws As House Speaker Candidate

Instead of a secret ballot election today (Thursday) to select a candidate for House speaker, the election has been postponed after Rep. Kevin McCarthy withdrew as a candidate.

McCarthy evidently determined he could not get the votes he needed and told the gathered Republicans Thursday that he would withdraw. Evidently, his announcement significantly surprised the conference.

For now, Speaker Boehner remains and McCarthy is still majority leader. What evidently ensues now is a recalibration of the whole House leadership picture. The House Freedom Caucus has been mostly holding its 40 members together, with at least 30 of them indicating earlier this week that they would vote in a block for Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Fl.). As the most conservative block in the House, they have been more and more outspoken in expressing the frustration voiced by many conservative Republican voters at the leadership not fighting for conservative causes.

Their message has been that the next speaker must significantly overhaul how the House operates, giving more voice to House members, rather than a top down management style.

Published in: on October 8, 2015 at 11:04 am  Leave a Comment  

Court Grants Full Hearing on mCOOL Lawsuit

AMI, NCBA and their co-plaintiffs have been granted an en banc hearing, that is, before the full U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit, on their request to block implementation of the latest version of the mCOOL law.

The plaintiffs had failed to persuade a judge to grant a preliminary injunction, then struck out with a three-judge panel.

“However, because of the significance of the First Amendment question at issue in the case, the panel recommended that the matter be reheard en banc and the full court agreed,” AMI said.

The en banc oral arguments will be heard on May 19.

“The central question in the en banc hearing is the legal standard the government must satisfy when it compels commercial disclosures,” AMI said.

This federal complaint is one cog of a multi-prong attempt by the meat industry to stop the full implementation of an mCOOL law made much more expensive, intrusive and, for many packers, prohibitive by May 2013 USDA revisions.  Another prong is the WTO, which is expected to rule sometime later in 2014.  There is always a chance of Congressional action but given the opposition by the Democrats and their leadership, that is unlikely until after the fall elections.

Published in: on April 21, 2014 at 8:15 pm  Leave a Comment  

EPA Finally Bows (Slightly) to Reality on Ethanol

EPA finally did what had been rumored it would do —  lowered the mandate for renewable fuels to be blended into gasoline in 2014.

On Friday, Nov. 15, 2013, EPA proposed a mandate level 16 percent less than that specified in the 2007 law.  The proposal would require between 12.7 and 13.2 billion gallons of corn ethanol in 2014, a level not only lower than originally required for 2014 but lower than the mandate level for the last two years (“EPA Shrinks Ethanol Mandate for First Time,” Wall Street Journal, 11/15/13).

Of course, this is not because EPA is recognizing the misguided policy aims of the Renewable Fuel Standards or the probable net loss in energy efficiency from producing fuel from corn.  Nor was it a given, since reality didn’t keep the EPA from fining refiners millions of dollars a year for not using cellulosic fuel that wasn’t being produced and couldn’t be blended.  Cold, hard facts do not necessarily faze bureaucrats at the EPA.

But the EPA was finally made to understand that blenders can’t blend ethanol into fuel that is not being produced and sold.  The continuing lousy economy under this administration and Congress, improving fuel economy on cars and trucks and the increased domestic production of oil despite the administration’s efforts to quell it have reduced the demand for gas and diesel.  Meaning there was not enough fuel needed and sold to achieve the mandates on renewable fuels the law had suggested and EPA had demanded.

Interestingly enough for animal agriculture, the news story in the Washington Post quoted Renewable Fuels Assn. President Bob Dineen near the beginning of their story, since it supported the manmade global warming doctrine.

“They’re capitulating to the oil companies,” Dineen said.  “The RFS was about forcing the marketplace change and EPA is giving the oil companies a get out of jail free card (“EPA Proposes Smaller Requirements For Biofuel Use,” 11/15/13).”

Perish the thought that we would allow free markets to govern what is bought and sold.  After all, those “markets” that the liberals regard as so wanton and evil, are really summaries of citizens voting with their dollars for products.  We can’t have that.

But it was 14 paragraphs into an 18-paragraph story that animal agriculture was even heard from, and even then the Post tarred the comments from livestock and poultry producers by noting they were heard on a conference call hosted by the American Petroleum Institute, that advocate of those nasty carbon products like oil and gasoline.  And the story didn’t note that livestock producers were happy to see some relief from artificially high corn prices forced by the ethanol mandate.  Nor did it mention the hundreds of millions of dollars those artificial corn prices — as opposed to just higher market-determined corn prices that animal agriculture knows corn farmers needed — cost livestock producers and feeders over the last five years.

But it the Post did allow in a good point and a good line, saying livestock and poultry producers didn’t see “any more need to set ethanol volume requirements than there was for setting requirements for turkey output.”  Surprising they let a shaft of free market light into the discussion in a news story.  Especially while the UN climate change bunch is meeting in Poland whipping up hysteria over impending doom.

Senate Bill Would Stop Meat Inspection Furloughs

Both Washington news services Politico and The Hill have said a Continuing Resolution (C.R.) spending bill passed by the Senate Wednesday has a provision that would allow USDA to avoid furloughing meat inspectors.  The C.R. would fund the government until Sept. 30.

The Hill said the bill is expected to pass the House on Thursday, as the Senate version includes the same spending levels as an earlier House-passed version. The C.R. would leave the sequestration spending cuts in place. The Senate will now move on to trying to hammer out their first budget in four years.

We have been concerned about the furlough inspections, as Ag Secretary Vilsack had claimed that the meat inspection budget was so tight that furloughs were the only option. Given that many of such threats from other cabinet officials have proven inaccurate, exaggerated or manufactured, it was hard to know how to evaluate Vilsack’s claims. But the fact that the Senate has addressed the question of meat inspection directly gives credence to Vilsack’s claim.

One way or another, we hope it does get properly resolved. The industry knows that meat plants cannot operate without inspectors on duty, period. We’re not sure most consumers know that. The industry certainly does not need consumers ignorant of the facts being worried that they would have non-inspected meat showing up in their meat case or on their restaurant’s table.

Published in: on March 20, 2013 at 3:38 pm  Leave a Comment  

Admininistration Pushing New Way to Make Your Property Worthless

A common strategy enviro-zealots have used to take away the rights of American citizens to enjoy or use public or private land is being boosted by new ominous new wrinkles, according to an editorial in the Wall Street Journal.

We’ve written before about the general strategy.  This variation is called “sue and settle,” according to the Journal (“Fishing for Wildlife Lawsuits,” 03/11/13).  Activist groups and their attorneys parley with activists within government agencies to agree on things they want to do but government hasn’t the authority to do.  The activist groups then sue the government demanding the government use its authority to slap someone down.  Rather than fight the group in court, the government agrees to “settle” with the plaintiffs.  Not only do both sides get what they want but the government can say it was “forced” to take action.

Of course, the variation on this sting is when the case actually goes to court and a carefully selected venue produces a judge and decision that gives the activist groups a court order for the government to do what they want.

The key about the sue and settle routine, is that a key party, the one with the most to lose when green enviro-zealots sue using the Endangered Species Act (ESA), is that businesses, property owners and the public are barred from the settlement talks.  Talk about being teed up and smacked.

A 2011 Fish and Wildlife settlement involves over 750 species, including 250 species slated for full protection and “critical habitat” designations.  Now the Administration is proposing a rule to grease these actions through the process by essentially declaring all the land involved worthless.

Sen. David Vitter is calling on Congress to cut off money to this settlement scheme and the Journal suggested that the upcoming nomination hearing for Sally Jewel’s nomination for Interior secretary would be a great place to ask questions and demand position statements.

More later.

Published in: on March 11, 2013 at 3:27 pm  Leave a Comment  

Atlas Shrugged: Part II Opens Today

Part II of the movie based on Ayn Rand’s novel of the same name opens Friday, October 12 in about 1,000 theaters around the country.  In a time when the current administration’s party declaims that, “Government is the only thing we all belong to,” citizens need to see this movie and see the opposing view, the view that our country was founded on.

Part I of Atlas Shrugged did a great job of putting in a film the ideas many of recent generations need to see but won’t read in a book.  To the rest, to see characters on screen experience society as government inevitably would like to rule it, is reinforcement, is illustration of what we know.

We’ll be going the premier weekend.  Let us know what you think when you go.

To find a theater near you, click the link below.

http://www.atlasshruggedmovie.com/?gclid=CLzE6efC_LICFao7MgodvGMA2A

Published in: on October 12, 2012 at 4:33 pm  Leave a Comment  

Bill Attempts to Regain Constitutional Private Property Rights; Vote Today

Many of you are familiar with the Kelo opinion, in which the U.S. Supreme Court allowed a city to use its power of eminent domain to take private property and give it to a private developer, using the excuse that the new use of the property would generate more tax revenue for the city.  We will soon bring you up to date on another case with bearing on this subject recently argued before the Supreme Court.

But today, there is news that you can do something to help reclaim the rights private property owners thought were guaranteed in the Constitution but which have been allowed to slip away by the Supreme Court.

The American Land Rights Association (ALRA), a group that monitors these issues and from whom we’ve passed on alerts before in our e-mail newsletter (AFF Sentinel),  has sent out an alert that a House bill could be voted on Monday night.  The bill is designed to restore and protect private property rights from governments’ ravenous appetite for tax revenue and use of private property as a target of confiscation and a path to higher tax yields.

H.R. 1433, the “Private Property Rights Protection Act of 2122,” would prohibit any state or subdivision of a state to exercise its power of eminent domain to seize private property and use it for economic development within seven years, if that state or subdivision receives federal economic development funds.  Another section of the bill would further prohibit the federal government from the same action — using eminent domain powers just to boost economic development.  The bill defines “economic development” as any “commercial enterprise carried on for profit,” or “to increase tax revenue, tax base, employment or general economic health.”  Excepted from the legislation are uses which have generally been considered the proper venues for eminent domain powers, like a “road, hospital, airport or military base,” public transportation, pipeline or public utility.

The bill also includes a “Sense of Congress” section regarding rural America and the fundamental importance of property rights.  The section notes the Founders concern for property rights, the inclusion of the Takings Clause in the Fifth Amendment and that “ownership rights” are fundamental building blocks for agriculture.  The section also addresses “the use of eminent domain to take farmland and other rural property…threatens liberty, rural economies and the economy of the United States.”

The ALRA said that today, Monday, the House will meet at 2:00 p.m. for legislative business and will postpone votes until 6:30 p.m. (EST).  H.R. 1433 was scheduled to be considered.  Schedules can be changed but it would seem imperative to act now if you want to contact your Congressman.

If you would like to read this bill, click the link to get a copy: 
* H.R. 1433
<http://team.republicanwhip.house.gov/Components/Redirect/r.aspx?ID=219861-1501957>
* – Private Property Rights Protection Act of 2012 — Sponsored by Rep. James Sensenbrenner – Judiciary Committee.

If you would like to support this bill, call your House member immediately to urge him or her to vote
for HR 1433.  The House switchboard: (202) 225-3121;  the House website is : http://www.house.gov/.  You can click on “Representatives” in upper left of the page or enter your zip code at upper right to find your member and send an e-mail.

Published in: on February 27, 2012 at 1:39 pm  Leave a Comment  

Administration to Put End to Waivers

Last Friday afternoon, the Administration announced that it will only entertain applications for waivers from Obamacare strictures until late September.  Over 1,400 companies and unions have received waivers so far, so that they could continue to offer health insurance plans to employees that provide some coverage but would not meet the more generous requirements of incoming Obamacare rules.

It is an interesting move, as it could mean that in the year or so leading up to the 2012 election, more and more Americans could be losing their health care coverage as a result of Obamacare.  Hopefully, the rest of us will still be able to afford any health care insurance at all, given the increasing costs for policies with ever higher deductibles as companies raise premiums to cover the costs of more benefits required by Obamacare.

Published in: on June 20, 2011 at 1:01 pm  Leave a Comment  

Wisconsin Senate Votes to Remove Collective Bargaining Rights

Frustrated with the long delay over the budget bill,  after a two-hour notice, the Wisconsin Senate took everything out of the budget repair bill except the portions curtailing some collective bargaining rights, passed it 18-1 and left the Capitol, Fox News’ Greta VonSusteren  reported.  An angry mob has stormed the capitol building in Madison, as security couldn’t hold the line.  The Democrats were still in Illinois.

Published in: on March 9, 2011 at 8:14 pm  Leave a Comment  
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