August 28, 2008
Email the Editor
Home Page
. Search back issues
. Forward to a Friend
.
. Subscribe/Unsubscribe
Printer Friendly
POLITICS
Conventions and Platforms Focus for Parties This Week
LABOR
Headline-Making Immigration Raid Demonstrates AGC Concerns with Mandating the Use of the E-Verify Program
ECONOMICS
AGC Holds Key Meetings on Construction Inflation Concerns

  Conventions and Platforms Focus for Parties This Week
As the National Democratic Convention wraps up and the Republican nominating convention begins, strategists are looking to finalized platforms for clues about policy changes in the coming cycle.  Both Republicans and Democrats will ratify their new platforms for the next four years, which include issues important to AGC members such as infrastructure spending, tax priorities and relief, and immigration laws.

In addition to providing comments to the platform committees, AGC has developed a candidate comparison based on AGC’s legislative priorities.  Additional information can be viewed on the AGC election resource center.

Infrastructure Investment

The Democrats approved their 2008 Platform this week in Denver. The platform calls on the country to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure for the next century including roads, bridges, levees and dams. Their plank specifically highlights the current deficit on infrastructure investment compared to any other time in our nation's history, as well as noting the U.S. falls short of its international competitors. The platform calls for a National Infrastructure Reinvestment Bank that can use private investment for infrastructure, and also focuses on needed transportation improvements in high-speed and light rail.

While the Republicans will meet next week in Minneapolis, they have compiled their 2008 policy platform. The GOP calls for safer roads, bridges and other forms of infrastructure while balancing the government's spending priorities. The GOP platform claims recent pork style funding for infrastructure has left entire communities vulnerable to disaster and that modernizing the system to a "business-like, cost-effective approach" will address many of our nation’s concerns.

AGC will continue to monitor the two positions leading up to and after the November election. AGC is cognizant of the fact that simply eliminating pork and prioritizing infrastructure funding will not address the nation’s $1.6 trillion infrastructure gap.

Tax Policies

Democrats this week focused on keeping tax policy neutral for the middle class, while balancing the budget and increasing certain spending priorities.  The Platform committee continued to push for pay-as-you-go budgeting, in order to diminish deficit spending, and encouraged a $50 billion outlay for "jumpstarting the economy, helping economic growth, and preventing another one million jobs from being lost.”  While pledging to uphold the Obama campaign promise of not raising taxes on people making less than $250,000 a year, the platform promises to put an end to corporate loopholes and tax cuts for the wealthy.

Meanwhile, Republicans called for an extension of the Bush tax cuts: the lowered marginal rates, estate tax elimination for one year in 2010, and the 15% capital gains and dividend rates.  The plank also calls for repealing the alternative minimum tax and a “major reduction” in the corporate rate. Republicans called attention to the philosophical party differences by arguing Democrats wanted to raise taxes for more than just essential government functions.

While saying Democrats use the tax code for social engineering and arguing instead for tax simplification, Republicans also laid out an idea to use the tax code to encourage savings and to help families pay for health care if they aren’t under an employer-provided system.

Energy

On the energy front, Democrats called for a 50 percent gain in energy efficiency by 2030, achieved with an increased development of renewable energy technologies such as solar, wind, and geothermal.  Republicans hotly debated a specific amendment to push for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Region (ANWR), which was defeated when it was noted that the platform already calls for more drilling in Alaska in general, and the presumptive nominee could disagree with the amendment.

Immigration

Immigration will remain a hot button issue regardless of who wins the elections in November.  There remains a definite difference between the parties.

The Democratic Party platform calls for comprehensive immigration reform which would include “tough, practical and humane immigration reform.”  The plank calls for a way for those in our country illegally to come out of the shadows and have the opportunity to become productive members of our society.  The Democratic platform also calls for securing our borders and cracking down on employers who hire undocumented workers. 

Immigration is one of the toughest issues the platform committee is facing due to presumptive-nominee Senator John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) support of comprehensive reform versus the desire of the Republican “base” to be as tough as possible on the issue.  The contentious debate is focused only on the problem of illegal immigration and the idea of amnesty.   An attempt was made to add an amendment stating that the GOP opposes comprehensive immigration reform because, to some, those words equate to amnesty.  While the amendment was defeated, the debate indicates that the platform committee and the candidate are not totally on the same page. 

Card Check

The Democratic Party platform mentions the need to fight to pass the Employee Free Choice Act, otherwise known as "card check."   They also pledge to vigorously oppose right to work laws. This is part of their expressed position to strengthen the ability of workers to organize unions. They also pledge to change the representation of the National Labor Relations Board and the National Mediation Board so that recent decisions made by these bodies and not supported by the party can be overturned. Republicans on the other hand other hand will reject the “card check”  bill and say they will support efforts to modernize labor laws to make it easier for employers and employees to “plan, execute and profit together.” 

For more information, contact Jim Young at (202) 547-0133 or youngj@agc.org. [ return to top ]

  Headline-Making Immigration Raid Demonstrates AGC Concerns with Mandating the Use of the E-Verify Program
This week, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Agents raided an electrical transformer plant in Mississippi arresting close to 500 workers.  It was touted as the largest immigration raid in history, but interestingly, the company involved in the raid has been participating in the E-Verify system for about one year.

President Bush and federal regulators have proposed to require E-Verify as a mandatory program for all federal contractors.  AGC has major concerns about this mandatory requirement and submitted comments on the proposed rule, which was issued on June 12, 2008.  AGC is concerned that over 500 problematic employees may have been legally, yet erroneously, verified by E-Verify. 

For more information, contact Kelly Knott at (202) 547-4685 or knottk@agc.org. [ return to top ]

  AGC Holds Key Meetings on Construction Inflation Concerns
AGC staff met this week with the Federal Aviation Administration, Federal Lands Highway, and Senate Commerce Committee staff to discuss growing concerns over the cost of construction materials and its impact on the budget for construction contracts. AGC staff, including Chief Economist Ken Simonson, provided information on the soaring cost of asphalt and its effect on owners and contractors, and information on price adjustment clauses. In a time of shrinking budgets and weaker purchasing power, federal officials are eager to learn more from industry experience and apply those lessons to future budgeting and contracting.

AGC produces a variety of materials and resources for tracking construction economic information to help contractors, owners and the public understand construction costs. To review these materials, visit www.agc.org/economics.
 
For more information, contact Marco Giamberardino at (703) 837-5325 or giamberardinom@agc.org. [ return to top ]