After a busy week of pressing ahead with Fast Track trade authority, undermining consumer financial protections and trying to throw a wrench into basic efforts to require publicly held companies to disclose political spending, the Corporate Congress next week will launch more public interest attacks. Public Citizen is tracking these:
• More Fast Track: The U.S. Senate on Tuesday holds a procedural vote that could either put Fast Track on the fast track or slow it down until after the July 4 recess. The U.S. House of Representatives passed this undemocratic measure this week after employing yet another procedural gimmick. Fast Track’s fate in the Senate remains unclear at best as Americans’ concerns that more of the same trade policy would kill more jobs and push down our wages remain unaddressed.
• Clean Power Plan in the crosshairs: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed Clean Power Plan (designed to curb climate-warming emissions from power plants) comes under fire again next week. First, at 2 p.m. Tuesday, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works’ Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety holds a hearing about the impacts of the plan on energy costs for families, among others. Impacts? Glad you asked!
The plan will benefit consumers. The EPA, which admits to conservative estimates, projects that the Clean Power Plan would lower consumer bills by 8.4 percent by 2030. In addition, it would fight climate change by boosting energy efficiency and switching to renewable energy sources like wind and solar. In the first two reports in a series, Public Citizen has found that the plan would lower electricity bills for Ohio consumers by $144 annually by 2030 and Maine consumers by as much as $129 annually.
And the House is expected to vote Tuesday or Wednesday on a bill that would let states opt out of the Clean Power Plan altogether. We can’t afford to delay; we need urgent, assertive action to combat climate change.
• Regs attack: At 10 a.m. Tuesday, June 23, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and the Senate Committee on the Budget hold a hearing titled “Accounting for the True Cost of Regulation: Exploring the Possibility of a Regulatory Budget.” We expect this to focus on establishing regulatory budgets for rulemaking, enforcement and inspections. The flawed premise of the regulatory budget is that our country cannot afford basic, commonsense public health and safety protections. In fact, what our country cannot afford is another Wall Street collapse, irreversible damage from climate change, more tainted food crises, unsafe and toxic children’s toys and products, exploding oil trains and dangerous workplaces that kill and injure dozens of workers a day. By limiting the regulations that agencies can implement, the regulatory budget shifts social, environmental, health and economic costs onto the backs of consumers and working families.
• Finally, at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, June 24, the House Ways and Means Committee’s Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures will hold a hearing on using so-called repatriation to fund the government’s highway program. Under a “repatriation holiday,” corporations are allowed to voluntarily repatriate profits at much lower tax rates than would have otherwise been due. This experiment was tried and failed in 2004, and as a country we must learn our lesson and not repeat the same mistake. In addition to losing money in the long run, a repatriation holiday only would be a one-time source of money that would do nothing to fix the long-term funding shortfall for infrastructure investments. Additionally, allowing another repatriation holiday would reward corporations that for years have avoided paying taxes by using accounting gimmicks to shift profits to the books of related foreign corporations.
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