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Wednesday
Aug312011

Jon Huntsman Reveals Jobs Plan in New Hampshire Speech

LIU JIN/AFP/Getty Images(HUDSON, N.H.) -- Jon Huntsman revealed his jobs plan at Gilchrist Metal Fabricating in Hudson, New Hampshire, Wednesday afternoon, marking his first policy speech since announcing his candidacy in June.

In a speech titled “Time to Compete,” the former Utah governor introduced an economic strategy that fuses ideas from the Paul Ryan plan as well as the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles Commission.

Huntsman’s speech focused on five distinct areas: debt, tax reform, regulatory reform, energy independence and free trade.

“My plan may be challenged by the special interests, on the left and the right. But it represents a serious path forward -- toward fiscal discipline and economic growth,” Huntsman said to the crowd of 50 to 60 people, according to the campaign. “It also represents a very different vision for our country than the current occupier of the White House. The president believes that we can tax and spend and regulate our way to prosperity. We cannot. We must compete our way to prosperity.”

On controlling the nation’s debt, Huntsman noted that he supports many of Ryan's plan’s ideals paired with a balanced budget amendment.

“Our debt is immoral and it should be unconstitutional as well. But we cannot restore our nation’s economic strength by cuts alone,” he said.

Huntsman then outlined his approach to tax reform, simplifying the system by removing loopholes and temporary provisions. “Rather than tinker around the edges of a broken system, I’m going to drop a plan on the front steps of the Capitol that says, ‘We need to clean house.’ Get rid of all tax expenditures, all loopholes, all deductions, all subsidies. Use that to lower rates across the board. And do it on a revenue-neutral basis,” he said.

On individual taxpayer rates, Huntsman plans to remove all deductions and credits, lowering rates to eight, 14, and 23 percent.

He also plans to get rid of the Alternative Minimum Tax, which Huntsman says “is unfairly penalizing a growing number of families and small businesses.” Huntsman suggests that eliminating taxes on capital gains and dividends will jumpstart investment in the economy by lowering the cost of capital.

As for corporate taxes, Huntsman proposes lowering rates from 35 to 25 percent.  He also suggests a tax holiday for corporate profits earned overseas, which he says will make $400 billion and $600 billion available to companies to make capital investments.

Huntsman then moved to regulatory reform, calling attention to the National Labor Relations Board’s attempt to block a new Boeing plant in South Carolina.  "If elected, I will immediately instruct the NLRB to stop pursuing this politically motivated attack on free enterprise, and if they fail to do so I will replace them,” he said.

Huntsman also plans to repeal the extensive set of financial industry regulations that comprise the Dodd-Frank Act.  

Huntsman concluded the regulatory reform portion of his speech by calling for a repeal of Obamacare,  as well as “the EPA’s serious regulatory overreach” and “the FDA’s ridiculous approval process that increases development costs and unnecessarily delays new products.”

On energy independence, Huntsman plans to utilize domestic energy sources “by expediting the approval process for safe, environmentally-sound projects -- including our oil and gas reserves in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska and appropriate Federal lands and supporting the Keystone Pipeline Project in cooperation with Canada.”

He would also call for the elimination of energy subsidies, making domestic energy sources such as natural gas and biofuels more viable.

On free trade, Huntsman said that previously established agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama would become some of his top priorities as president. He also called for discussions with India to end the United States’ bilateral free trade agreement with the nation, “strengthening our relationship with a friend who will prove to be critical to America’s success in the 21st century.”

Huntsman concluded his speech by emphasizing his made-in-America values. "It’s time for America to start building things again,” he said. “It’s time for America to start working again. It’s time for America to compete again. I believe with a new administration we can do just that.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Aug312011

Christine O’Donnell Disinvited Again from Tea Party Rally

Jacquelyn Martin-Pool/Getty Images(INDIANOLA, Iowa) -- The back and forth between Christine O’Donnell, Sarah Palin, and the Tea Party group putting on Saturday’s rally in Indianola, Iowa, has resulted in O’Donnell  being disinvited...again.

Originally, O’Donnell was invited to speak Monday by Tea Party of America. On Tuesday the invitation was rescinded. By Tuesday evening, though, it was back on. O’Donnell tweeted that she “humbly re-accepted the re-invitation” to speak, according to her Twitter account. Now it is back off.

Tea Party of America Founder Ken Crow said he called Christine O’Donnell’s chief of staff, Mark Moran, earlier Wednesday to break the news that the Delaware Tea Party darling was not going to be speaking.

Crow said that Moran “understood that these things happen.”

“There’s not a lot that you can do about it. He wasn’t pleased about it, but it wasn’t the end of the world,” Crow told ABC News.

Crow has not heard back from the Palin team yet, but he hoped to have confirmation Wednesday afternoon that Palin will be in attendance Saturday.

“I hope the event can go on as it was originally scheduled. It will be a great event, a beautiful event, lots of people are coming, and I don’t want to see those people disappointed,” Crow said.

When asked if Palin’s people asked that O’Donnell be disinvited again before Palin reconfirmed her attendance, Crow answered, “That is private (information) between O’Donnell’s staff and the Tea Party of America.”

Earlier Wednesday, multiple media outlets reported that Palin’s event was on hold, but Crow told ABC News Wednesday morning that “we made mistakes and now we are fixing them.” It seems that the back and forth with O’Donnell is one of the things the Tea Party of America had to fix before the event could go on as scheduled.

Crow admitted earlier Wednesday that the back and forth with O’Donnell was “a mistake.”

“I didn’t handle it the way I should have,” he said. “We handled it incorrectly.”

Crow was confident that Palin would attend on Saturday, stressing that she “is a lady of her word and impeccably honest.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Aug312011

White House-Backed Solar Energy Company Collapses

President Obama is given a tour of the Solyndra solar panel company May 26, 2010 in Fremont, California. Paul Chinn-Pool/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Solyndra, a renewable energy firm that became the darling of the Obama administration, shut the doors to its California headquarters Wednesday, raising fresh questions from the administration's critics about political favoritism in the federal loan program.

The manufacturer of rooftop solar panels opened in 2005, and in 2009 became the Obama administration's first recipient of an energy loan guarantee -- a $535 million federal commitment that helped minimize the risk to venture capital firms that were backing the solar start-up. Obama made a personal visit to the factory last year to herald its bright future.

ABC News and the Center for Public Integrity's iWatch News first reported on questions about the choice of Solyndra for the loan in May after the Department of Energy disclosed it was being forced to restructure its loan package for the company, which was showing early signs of financial distress. One of Solyndra's major investors was George Kaiser, an Oklahoma billionaire who raised between $50,000 and $100,000 for Obama during the 2008 election.

"I think what happens is they give some of this money out to people who are either contributors or strong supporters," Rep. Cliff Stearns, a Florida Republican who chairs a House Energy subcommittee that has led a probe into the Solyndra deal, had said before Solyndra's closing. "I think in the long term we have to worry about the United States government guaranteeing loans for businesses based perhaps upon favoritism."

The government loan guarantee was supposed to spur 1,000 full-time jobs once Solyndra's solar plant was fully operational. Instead, as the company announced Chapter 11 bankruptcy, reports surfaced that 1,100 would lose their jobs.

Officials at the Department of Energy told ABC News and iWatch News that it used objective factors in selecting Solyndra, and on Wednesday the department released a statement on its website blaming changing economics in the industry -- including a major push by Chinese firms to drive down solar panel prices -- for the company's collapse.

"The changing economics have affected a number of solar manufacturers in recent months, including unfortunately Solyndra, a once very promising company that has increased its sales revenue by 2,000 percent in three years and sold more than 1,000 installations in 20 countries," the Energy web post states. "As a result, Solyndra now plans to suspend its manufacturing operations and file for bankruptcy protection."

The department also sought to emphasize that the Solyndra loan guarantee "was pursued by both the Bush and Obama Administrations." However, it was the efforts of Obama's energy team that first caught the attention of government auditors in 2010.

That's when the Government Accountability Office issued an unusually blunt assessment of the Energy Department's loan program, concluding that the department had "treated applicants inconsistently, favoring some and disadvantaging others."

The author of the GAO report, Franklin Rusco, told ABC News that Energy Department officials used an opaque process to select loan recipients. He said the agency could not, or would not, explain why some companies were given a quick green light for approval, while others waited years for a response.

"I think it's problematic for [the Department of Energy]," Rusco said. "I think they need to have a systematic, transparent and equitable process. And I think if they're not seen to have that, it's going to create issues, it's going to create perception problems. And there may be real problems underlying this as well that we haven't uncovered yet."

Following the report by ABC News and the iWatch News , the House Committee on Energy and Commerce launched an investigation into the loan program.

The committee recently subpoenaed the Office of Management and Budget for thousands of pages of records on the loan guarantee, and the budget office agreed to turn over the records. Its investigation will likely gain even more significance with the news of Solyndra's financial breakdown.

For months before Wednesday's announcement, iWatch News and ABC News have disclosed significant questions about the DOE's financing to a company whose financial backers include Obama bundler George Kaiser. The Oklahoma oil billionaire has declined interview requests.

In May, iWatch News and ABC News reported that the DOE issued its conditional commitment to back the loan without first receiving completed legal and marketing reviews.

This month, iWatch reported that Obama's Office of Management and Budget viewed the loan guarantee as a greater risk to taxpayers than the Department of Energy had. That assessment forced the government to set aside millions more in case of a company default.

Additionally, the company's troubles have caught the attention of some industry analysts, who have long said Solyndra would have difficulty competing on a world stage in the solar panel market.

"There's a lot at stake here, not just for Solyndra," Shyam Mehta , senior solar analyst at Greentech Media Research, told iWatch in May. "This is going to be held up as a cautionary tale if things don't work out for Solyndra. People are watching very closely from all angles."

Still, even Mehta was surprised by Solyndra's rapid fall. In an interview Wednesday, Mehta said he didn't expect it "to unfold so quickly or so soon."

"It's been a much speedier kind of unfolding of events than we originally witnessed. We definitely did not expect to see Solyndra go out of business in August 2011," he said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Aug312011

Palin’s Saturday Speech Still On, Tea Party Founder Says

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Sarah Palin has not canceled her keynote speech for the Tea Party of America’s Saturday rally in Indianola, Iowa, according to the event’s organizers.

Ken Crow, the founder of the Tea Party of America, told ABC News on Wednesday that he, “hung up with [Palin's] people five minutes ago,” and “she’ll be here on Saturday.”

“Gov. Palin is a lady of her word and impeccably honest,” he added. He admitted that the organization has encountered “a couple of errors” in planning the Sept. 3 rally.

“I’m naive when it comes to politics and what you are supposed to say to and not say and my crew and I are rookies at this sort of thing,” he said. “We made mistakes and now we are fixing them. It’s all good.”

Multiple media outlets reported Wednesday morning that Palin had backed out of the “Restoring America” event, but still planned to be in Iowa on Saturday. The rally has undergone some upheaval this week: one-time Delaware Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell was invited to speak before Palin, then had the invitation rescinded, and on Tuesday night, “humbly re-accepted the re-invitation” to speak, according to her Twitter account.

Crow called the handling of O’Donnell a “mistake.”

“I didn’t handle it the way I should have,” he said. “We handled it incorrectly.”

Palin seemed locked into giving the keynote speech earlier this month when her political action committee put out a Web video of her recent appearance at the Iowa State Fair that ended with the words, “See You Again September 3rd.”

The former Governor of Alaska is also slated to appear at a Tea Party rally in New Hampshire on Monday, Sept. 5.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Aug312011

Obama Urges Congress to Pass Transportation Bill

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama urged Congress on Wednesday to quickly pass legislation to continue funding transportation and infrastructure, saying it would be “inexcusable” for lawmakers to put more American jobs at risk.

“At a time when a lot of people in Washington are talking about creating jobs, it’s time to stop the political gamesmanship that can actually cost us hundreds of thousands of jobs. This should not be a Democratic issue or a Republican issue,” Obama said in the Rose Garden.

The president called on lawmakers to pass “clean extensions” of the Surface Transportation Bill, also referred to as the “highway bill,” and the Federal Aviation Administration Re-authorization, claiming both measures are necessary to protect the economy and the American workforce.

According to the White House, there are a million jobs riding on the highway bill and over 4,000 workers will be furloughed immediately if it is allowed to expire.

“That’s just not acceptable,” Obama said. “It’s inexcusable to put more jobs at risk in an industry that’s already been one of the hardest hit over the last decade. It’s inexcusable to cut off necessary investments at a time when so many of our highways are choked with congestion, when so many of our bridges are in need of repair, when so many commuters depend on reliable public transit and when travel and shipping delays cost businesses billions of dollars every single year.”

Obama was joined at the event by AFL-CIO head Richard Trumka on one side and Chamber of Commerce COO David Chavern on the other. He described them as “two organizations that don’t always see eye to eye,” and said their support proved that Congress needs to pass the bills.

The president’s speech was an offensive move by the White House to get ahead of lawmakers as Republicans in the House of Representatives and Democrats in the U.S. Senate have disagreements about the two bills. The transportation bill is set to expire at the end of September, but the House and Senate remain far apart on the legislation, which provides funding for highway construction, bridge repair, mass transit systems and revenue in the form of the federal gas tax. The House has proposed a 6-year, $235-billion bill, while the Senate wants a two-year, $109-billion measure.

Because the differences between the two chambers are so great, Congress will likely need to pass a short-term extension to avoid a shutdown at the end of next month. Democrats fear Republicans will try to attach extraneous riders, which is why the president called for a “clean extension.”

The president also called for Congress to pass a long-term extension of funding for the FAA. Earlier this summer, close to 4,000 federal employees were furloughed and tens of thousands of construction workers found themselves out a job when Congress broke for its summer recess before passing the routine extension. A short-term extension was ultimately passed, but it is set to expire Sept. 16.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Aug312011

Obama to Announce Jobs Plan; Requests Joint Session of Congress

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama intends to lay out his jobs plan in a joint session of Congress next week, the White House said Wednesday.

In a letter to Congress, the president requests the primetime event to explain a “series of bipartisan proposals that the Congress can take immediately to continue to rebuild the American economy by strengthening small businesses, helping Americans get back to work, and putting more money in the paychecks of the Middle Class and working Americans, while still reducing our deficit and getting our fiscal house in order.”

The president has requested that the joint session convenes Sept. 7 at 8 p.m. ET.

“It is our responsibility to find bipartisan solutions to help grow our economy, and if we are willing to put country before party, I am confident we can do just that,” the president writes.

“Our Nation faces unprecedented economic challenges, and millions of hardworking Americans continue to look for jobs. As I have traveled across our country this summer and spoken with our fellow Americans, I have heard a consistent message: Washington needs to put aside politics and start making decisions based on what is best for our country and not what is best for each of our parties in order to grow the economy and create jobs. We must answer this call,” he writes.

President Obama's address would compete with a scheduled Republican debate.

>>> READ PRESIDENT OBAMA'S LETTER TO CONGRESS HERE <<<

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Wednesday that it is purely “coincidental” that the president has requested to unveil his much-anticipated jobs proposal before a joint session of Congress next week at the exact same time that the Republican presidential candidates are scheduled to debate.

“The president committed to speaking next week after the Labor Day holiday and immediately upon Congress's return, and there are a lot of factors that go into scheduling a speech before Congress, a joint session speech,” Carney explained at Wednesday’s White House press briefing. “There is no perfect time.”

“Obviously, one debate of many that's on one channel of many was not enough reason not to have the speech at the time that we decided to have it,” he added.

What’s the solution? “There are many channels, there are many opportunities for people to watch the president, and obviously an opportunity for people to watch the debate, and I believe that, you know, the network involved here can decide how it wants to deal,” Carney said.

That network would be NBC, which now has to decide whether to air the debate, which is being held at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif., or the president’s remarks.

According to Carney, Speaker of the House John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid have not yet accepted the president’s request to address a joint session.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Aug312011

Congressman: Tea Party Wants to See Blacks ‘Hanging On a Tree’

US House of Representatives(WASHINGTON) -- While Republican presidential candidates arrange and re-arrange their schedules in an attempt to court Tea Partiers, one House Democratic member of the Congressional Black Caucus is blasting the conservative group for trying to take America back to the days of the racist Jim Crow laws.

In a video circulated Tuesday by conservative commentator Glenn Beck’s website The Blaze, Indiana Rep. Andre Carson not-so-subtly implied the Tea Party wants to see African Americans lynched.

"This is the effort that we are seeing of Jim Crow," Rep. Carson said at an Aug. 22 Congressional Black Caucus Job Tour even in Miami. "Some of these folks in Congress right now would love to see us as second class citizens. Some of them in Congress right now with this Tea Party movement would love to see you and me...hanging on a tree."

"Some of them right now in Congress right now are comfortable with where we were fifty or sixty years ago," Carson added. "But it’s a new day with a black president and a Congressional Black Caucus.”

Carson’s office confirmed that he made the remarks, and refused to apologize for them. His spokesman Jason Tomsci told the Washington Post that the Congressman’s remarks were in response to many of his constituents’ frustration over “Congress’ inability to bolster the economy.”

“The tea party is protecting its millionaire and oil company friends while gutting critical services that they know protect the livelihood of African-Americans, as well as Latinos and other disadvantaged minorities,” Tomcsi said, according to the Post. “We are talking about child nutrition, job creation, job training, housing assistance, and Head Start, and that is just the beginning. A child without basic nutrition, secure housing, and quality education has no real chance at a meaningful and productive life.”

“So, yes, the congressman used strong language because the Tea Party agenda jeopardizes our most vulnerable and leaves them without the ability to improve their economic standing,” Tomcsi added.

Another Congressional Black Caucus member Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., also had harsh words for the Tea Party last week when she said members of the movement could "go straight to hell."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Aug312011

Biden: Obama Has ‘Backbone Like a Ramrod’

ABC News(TULSA, Okla.) -- Republican presidential contenders have hammered President Obama this week as a cautious and ineffectual world leader, insisting that he lacks -- in the words of Rep. Michele Bachmann -- a "titanium spine."

But Vice President Joe Biden proved Tuesday he won’t let the attacks go unanswered, telling a crowd of campaign donors in Tulsa, Okla., again asserting the president has "a backbone like a ramrod."

“Presidential elections are about strength and character,” Biden said, according to press pool reports. “It’s the one race that’s measured different than any other in American politics. It comes down, in relative terms, to who has the most strength and the most character. People knew Barack was really bright, they knew Barack was straight, they knew Barack was a different kind of politician. What they didn’t know was just how strong he was,” he said. “Republicans spent a lot of time trying to tag him as a follower, not a leader. Well, he’s put that to bed.”

Biden cited Obama’s decision to order a covert raid on Osama bin Laden’s Pakistani compound as proof the president is a strong commander in chief. And he said Obama’s role in the debt ceiling debate was equally strong, brokering a deal with Republican leadership that ultimately fell to Tea Party intransigence.

“This is going to be the clearest-cut election,” Biden said. “This is going to be the clearest choice of where we want to be. These guys have laid it out where they want us to be. And we’re going to debate it. We’re not going to debate just in terms of, you know, a 30-second political ad. Paul Ryan laid out their budget. Their budget, over the next decade, eviscerates -- eliminates -- Medicare. They say it’s a voucher system. I call that eliminating it.”

The statement was a characteristic Joe Biden flourish; Ryan has no plan to eliminate Medicare, but he -- like many on Capitol Hill -- desire reforming the program, which many experts see as unsustainable.

Biden made the remarks at a private fundraiser at the Tulsa home of Dr. Stephen Adelson. Donations benefitted the Obama Victory Fund, a joint account that funnels money to Obama’s reelection campaign and the Democratic National Committee.

Incidentally, this isn't the first time Biden referenced Obama's vertebrae. In 2008, when he was a vice presidential candidate, then Sen. Biden said in a stump speech in Seattle: "Mark my words: it will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy. Watch," Biden warned, "We're gonna have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy and they’re going to find out this guy's got steel in his spine." Biden never did explain what the "generated crisis" of which he was so certain actually was.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Aug312011

Sarah Palin to Attend Labor Day Tea Party Rally in New Hampshire

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(MANCHESTER, N.H.) -- The Tea Party Express announced Tuesday night that Sarah Palin will be speaking at their Labor Day rally in Manchester, N.H. on Monday.

“We are always thrilled to have Sarah Palin join one of our rallies,” Tea Party Express chairwoman Amy Kremer said in a statement.  “She is an electrifying figure in conservative politics and a hero to the tea party movement.”

SarahPAC confirmed the Tea Party Express announcement of Palin’s New Hampshire appearance.

Palin is heading to New Hampshire after a weekend trip to Iowa to address another Tea Party event on Sept. 3.  The former Alaska governor will headline the inaugural event of the Tea Party of America in Indianola.

Her two-state swing, along with a campaign-style video she released earlier this month highlighting her recent trip to the Iowa State Fair, could be a sign she is preparing to jump into the presidential race.  But, it could just as easily be a tease.

Palin’s presidential intentions have been the subject of heightened speculation, especially after former George W. Bush adviser, Karl Rove -- who does not have a particularly close relationship with Palin -- recently said that Palin has a schedule “that looks like that of a candidate, not a celebrity.”

While speaking to reporters at the Iowa State Fair on Aug. 12, Palin indicated that she was likely to make an announcement about whether or not she would jump into the race by the end of September, but not necessarily by Labor Day.

“I don’t know if within the next couple of weeks I will be ready for an announcement or not,” she said, adding that the end of the month “is still a possibility for a timetable.”

Palin’s speech to the Tea Party Express event in New Hampshire is part of the group’s “Reclaiming America” bus tour that will culminate on Sept. 12 with a CNN/Tea Party Express debate in Tampa, Florida.  Presidential candidate Michele Bachmann is speaking at a similar rally in Iowa on Wednesday and her fellow GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney will attend one of the group’s events in New Hampshire on Sept. 4.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Aug312011

Jon Huntsman to Introduce Four-Part Jobs Plan

LIU JIN/AFP/Getty Images(HUDSON, N.H.) -- Jon Huntsman will deliver his first policy speech at Gilchrist Metal Fabricating in Hudson, New Hampshire Wednesday afternoon, introducing a four-part strategy to resolve the United States’ jobs crisis.

A source close to the campaign tells ABC News that Huntsman’s plan is titled: “Time to Compete: An American Jobs Plan.”  The speech will address tax reform, regulatory reform, energy independence, and free trade.

Huntsman will highlight the same core values he has tackled on the campaign trail, largely focusing on American competitiveness in the global marketplace.

“The president believes that we can tax and spend and regulate our way to prosperity,” Huntsman is expected to say in his prepared remarks. “We cannot. We must compete our way to prosperity. When I was born, manufacturing comprised 25 percent of our GDP. Today, it’s down to 10 percent. This does not reflect a decline in American ingenuity or work ethic; it reflects our government’s failure to adapt to the realities of the 21st Century economy. We need American entrepreneurs not only thinking of products like the iPhone or Segway; we need American workers building those products.  It’s time for Made in America to mean something again.”

Huntsman will continue: “It’s time for America to start working again; It’s time for America to start building things again; It’s time for America to compete again.  I believe with a new administration we can do just that.”

Spokesperson Tim Miller tells ABC News, “A New Hampshire manufacturer provides the right backdrop for Gov. Huntsman’s call for America to begin making things again.  Gov. Huntsman will advocate for many of the same policies that took Utah to number one in the nation in job creation.”

Huntsman is the first presidential candidate to officially announce a jobs plan, although other GOP hopefuls say theirs are in the offing. GOP rival Mitt Romney will unveil his own strategy in Nevada on Sept. 6.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio