U.S. Chamber Honors Pro-Business Members of Congress

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce recently honored members of Congress (252 in the House; 48 Senators) for their pro-jobs, pro-growth stances with the annual Spirit of Enterprise Award.

“In the face of high-stakes politics and difficult choices, legislators from both parties provided America’s job creators with a strong voice in Congress,” said Thomas J. Donohue, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber. “This award recognizes these men and women for consistently demonstrating their support for pro-growth policies.”

The Chamber’s prestigious Spirit of Enterprise Award, in its 25th year, is given annually to members of Congress based on key business issues outlined in the Chamber publication How They Voted. Members who support the Chamber’s position on at least 70% of those votes qualify to receive the award.

The Chamber scored Congress on 8 Senate and 12 House votes in 2012, including reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank of the United States, the establishment of Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) with Russia, and the reauthorization of surface transportation legislation. Also scored were votes to repeal onerous provisions in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, improve the process by which regulations are promulgated, and better secure the United States from cyber threats.

To view a complete list of the 2012 Spirit of Enterprise recipients, please visit www.uschamber.com/soe.

Those from Indiana are:

INDIANA
Sen. Dan Coats
Sen. Richard G. Lugar
Rep. Joseph Donnelly (IN-2)
Rep. Marlin A. Stutzman (IN-3)
Rep. Todd Rokita (IN-4)
Rep. Dan Burton (IN-5)
Rep. Mike Pence (IN-6)
Rep. Larry Bucshon (IN -8)
Rep. Todd Young (IN-9)

Pence Discusses Real Estate at Cassidy Turley Event

More than 1,000 real estate and economic development pros from across the country were on hand at Clowes Memorial Hall (at Butler University) last Thursday to hear about the market's performance in 2012. Governor-elect Mike Pence was also on-hand, and did an on-stage interview with our friend Gerry Dick.

The State of Real Estate® 2013 covered the industrial, office, retail and capital markets – as well as an overall economic outlook – providing in-depth market analyses and forecasts for attendees. Four days prior to taking office, Indiana Governor-elect Mike Pence was interviewed onstage by the host and creator of Inside INdiana Business, Gerry Dick, regarding various topics affecting Indiana and his future plans for the state.
 
Cassidy Turley Regional Managing Principal, Jeff Henry said, “This year will be a significant one politically as well as economically, as the nation looks to Washington, DC, to provide the clarity needed to move forward with confidence. Despite slowing growth abroad and lingering public policy uncertainties at home, 2012 was characterized by improving business conditions, offering hope that growth will continue in the year ahead. Indiana’s commercial property markets have proved to be remarkably resilient as every segment of commercial real estate demonstrated strengthening fundamentals over the balance of 2012.”
 
In conjunction with the show, Cassidy Turley published a 2013 Annual Market Report for Indianapolis, available for viewing at www.cassidyturleyreport.com. Highlights of the report include:
 

  • Industrial: Tremendous resiliency with surprisingly robust fundamentals; significant demand driving considerable speculative development and more than 4.3 million square feet (SF) of absorption in the Indianapolis market in 2012.
  • Office: The first half of 2012 showed the best consecutive six-month period for the Central Indiana multi-tenant office market since the recession; more than 300,000 SF were absorbed through midyear. In June, ground was broken on the first completely speculative Indianapolis-area office development since 2008 at 8335 Keystone Crossing. Vacancy rates and office rents fell flat the second half of the year with increasing economic and political uncertainty.
  • Retail: Despite a somewhat rocky road throughout 2012, the Indianapolis retail market continues to improve and vacancy rates for all types of Indianapolis retail track lower than the national average. With the best growth of the year posted in the final quarter, net absorption for 2012 finished at 508,380 SF. Retail continues to show a bifurcated market with luxury and value-oriented retailers growing the fastest.
  • Capital Markets: Continued economic turbulence in Europe accompanied by pervasive public policy uncertainty in the U.S. dampened the lending environment and hampered the pace of investment sales again in 2012. However, strengthening fundamentals in the economy as well as property markets signal that opportunity lies ahead. On the lending side, there was improvement in financing terms as well as availability, which drove investment sales higher in Indianapolis.

WSJ: Pence for President in 2012?

I know, I know. This is likely one of umpteen articles you’ll encounter on this subject, but it’s from the Wall Street Journal so I figure it warrants mentioning. Though Mike Pence is now considered by many to have a firm grip on the 2012 Indiana Governor’s race should he choose to enter, some speculate he may not be such a longshot to earn the GOP nomination for President.

A former radio personality, the 51-year-old Mr. Pence became a darling among fiscal conservatives for opposing two of President George W. Bush’s signature initiatives, the 2001 No Child Left Behind education act and the 2003 Medicare Part D drug benefit. He saw both as violating his party’s small-government principles.

Mr. Pence favors reducing the size of the federal government, and even the power of the presidency. He wants to amend the Constitution both to ban abortions and to allow marriage only between men and women. He says increased security along the Mexican border must precede any immigration overhaul.

Mr. Pence was also among the first congressmen to jump on the tea-party wave in early 2009, speaking at rallies across Indiana and in Washington.

It was his speech at the Values Voter Summit, a marquee annual event among social conservative groups, which did the most to rouse support. The speech, with its calls to ban all federal abortion funding and stem-cell research, drew standing ovations and chants of "President Pence."

When summit attendees cast ballots in a straw poll for president, Mr. Pence came in first, ahead of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and others.

For many conservatives, Mr. Pence holds much the same allure that Mr. Huckabee did in the 2008 campaign. Mr. Huckabee tapped into support from home-schoolers and evangelicals to pull off a surprise win in the Iowa caucus, though could never catch Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.), the eventual nominee.

"The big question with Huckabee is whether he can raise enough money to be a real contender in 2012," says Tom Minnery, head of public policy for Focus on the Family. As a fresher face, he says, Mr. Pence "is someone who could generate a lot of enthusiasm" in Iowa and other early nominating states and possibly show more durability in the long presidential campaign.

The Indiana lawmaker, who first won election to Congress in 2000, also has the backing of budget hawks such as Chris Chocola, a former Indiana congressman who is now president of the fiscally conservative Club for Growth. "Mike has the retail appeal of Huckabee but is an across-the-board conservative with all the credentials. There is no one else like that," says Mr. Chocola.

Feeding speculation about his presidential ambitions, Mr. Pence has visited Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina in the past year, all states with early roles in the nominating process. And yet Mr. Pence and others in his camp continue to drop hints that he’s shying from a White House run. The thought of a presidential campaign, Mr. Pence said in an interview, "is more humbling than tempting."He says he’s weary of Washington. "I prefer the Flat Rock River to the Potomac River, and the Flat Rock is about a half a block from my house," he said.

Hoosiers Mentioned in Early GOP Talks for 2012

Should probably pace myself on the 2012 talk, but what the heck, we need something to get excited about: Chris Cillizza of "The Fix" offers a blog post on the top 10 contenders for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012. And wouldn’t you know it, two Hoosiers are right there in the mix:

9. Mike Pence: Pence’s decision to step aside as the fourth ranking Republican in the House makes clear that he has his eye on a bigger prize. His allies cast him as the only candidate in the field who can unite social and fiscal conservatives and, in the early cattle calls, Pence has performed well. Still, as a House member, he has to overcome a perceived stature gap as well as show he can raise the money to be competitive.

7. Mitch Daniels: The Indiana governor is term limited out of office in 2012 and, despite saying he would never run for another job, certainly seems to be weighing a presidential bid. Daniels ran and won as an outsider in Indiana and had built a record over the past six years in office that makes fiscal conservatives smile. Daniels’ problem? He doesn’t have much interest in the cultural wars that are so important to social conservatives. Can someone focused almost exclusively on fiscal issues win a Republican primary for president?

And this is a stretch, but … on the other side, this op-ed was published in The Washington Post Sunday, arguing that Obama would benefit his party, himself, and the country most by not seeking re-election. Doubtful, but it’s an interesting argument. Should he heed this advice, one wonders if it may open the door for a more centrist Democratic candidate in 2012 – perhaps a certain former governor/soon-to-be former senator. Time will tell.

Pence: Support is Humbling, but Will Not Run Against Sen. Bayh

Think Rep. Mike Pence can defeat Sen. Evan Bayh this November in one of the most talked about Senate races in the nation? Well, it doesn’t really matter, because according to Pence, he’s staying put in the House of Representatives. The following is a letter from Pence posted on his Facebook page (and relayed via Inside INdiana Business):

As many of you are aware, I have been approached about running for the United States Senate in 2010. Karen and I have been humbled by the outpouring of support and encouragement which we received from across Indiana, especially since there are several capable and qualified candidates already seeking the Republican nomination. After much prayer and deliberation, I have decided to remain in the House and to seek reelection to the 6th Congressional District in 2010. I am staying for two reasons. First because I have been given the responsibility to shape the Republican comeback as a member of the House Republican Leadership and, second, because I believe Republicans will win back the majority in the House of Representatives in 2010. One year ago I was unanimously elected chairman of the House Republican Conference, the third ranking position in House Republican leadership. I accepted that responsibility because I believed that if Republicans returned to their conservative roots, they could win back the confidence of the American people. And I see it happening every day. As a Republican leader, I have the opportunity to shape the policy and strategy that will return a Republican majority to the Congress in 2010. So my duty is here, in the House, serving my constituents and my colleagues as we fight to restore a conservative majority to the Congress of the United States. I am not going to leave my post when the fate of the House hangs in the balance. My place is here, in that fight, with the brave men and women who will be winning that victory for the American people. I also am staying because I believe we will win back the majority in the House of Representatives in 2010, and I am excited to be a part of it. While the opportunity to serve in the United States Senate is significant, I believe the best chance this nation has to restore fiscal discipline, common sense and common values to Washington, D.C., is for conservatives to retake the House in 2010. When we win back the House, we will make history and we will have the power to stop the big government plans of this administration and to steer our nation to a more secure, free and prosperous future. Last fall, Karen and I completed our first full marathon. We finished the 26.2 miles in just under seven hours despite the rigors on this 50 year-old body and despite many opportunities to step off the track and call it a day. Our inspiration for the day came from a verse in the Bible that reads, “let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” I believe the race marked out for me in 2010 is in the House of Representatives. I believe that if we run that race with conviction and endurance, we can win back the Congress for the common sense and the common values of the American people, turn this tide of big government back and set the stage for a boundless American future. Thanks to you all who prayed our little family through this difficult decision. I hope that God will someday permit me to perform some wider service to the people of Indiana and the country, but for now my focus must remain on finishing the job I was elected to do by my constituents and my Republican colleagues; representing conservative values in Congress and winning back the House of Representatives.

Busy Hoosier Congressmen Still Manage a Few Good Comments

Washington, D.C. is filled with its share of sirens, whistles and other warning noises. Inside the U.S. Capitol, however, the sound of choice is the bell that signals a vote is about to take place.

There were several post 6 p.m. bells last Wednesday on the House side during the congressional delegation roundtable portion of the Indiana Chamber’s D.C. Fly-in. Indiana’s reps did their job by going to vote, but also hustled back to answer questions and share insights for the more than 70 Indiana business attendees.

Among their comments:

  • Rep. Joe Donnelly (D-2nd District) on the possibility of additional troops in Afghanistan: "Will 10,000 accomplish anything? Do you need 50,000? Do you need 100,000?" Those questions and others, he said, are still unanswered.
  • Rep. Andre Carson (D-7th District) deserves credit for not going the political route and offering a clearly unpopular view when he professed his strong support for the Employee Free Choice Act as well as cap and trade.
  • On cap and trade, Rep. Dan Burton (R-5th District): "I think it will cost a lot of jobs; it will drive a lot of business and industry to go offshore."
  • On the same subject, Rep. Mike Pence (R-6th District) noted the emphasis should be on the GOP’s "all of the above strategy" that includes new technologies, renewables, conservation and 100 new nuclear plants in the next 20 years.
  • And finally on that topic, Sen. Richard Lugar explained how a bill was passed in the House. "There was a tremendous desire from President Obama and the Speaker of the House (Nancy Pelosi) to get a bill, any bill. Nearly 300 pages out of the 1,200 pages in the bill came in the early morning hours on the day of the vote. Deals needed to get done (to get more House votes). When Rep. Steve Buyer (R-4th District) questioned with the phrase that "you would never do that in the Senate," Lugar quickly responded with at least it’s "usually during the daylight."
  • Buyer, a late arrival, summed up several issues: "On card check, it’s un-American. On troop levels, we’ve been the provider of security in Europe for 60 years. It’s time for Europe to stand with America. On cap and trade, it’s the wrong debate. It should be about rebalancing our energy portfolio."

There were several comments on health care reform, with Rep. Brad Ellsworth (D-8th District) getting the final word. He just returned from one of the House votes with a message that touched on health care and other unrelated frustrations.

"This place is schizophrenic," Ellsworth stated. "The adjournment votes tonight just disrupt business. There are really good, intelligent people here, but people send folks who talk one way back home and do the opposite here. We all wouldn’t last five minutes in a board room if we acted like we do here."

He goes on to tell of a ranking member on a committee considering health care legislation who told him before the August recess, ‘We don’t want to pass anything and make you guys look good.’ "Both parties do it. It’s sad. I came here to try and change it."

Finally, on health care, Ellsworth added, "You can’t do it by printing off more money. Tort reform ought to be part of it. But personal responsibility is the hardest thing to legislate — the person who goes to Golden Corral three times a week or lights up (cigarettes)."

Chamber President’s Latest Take on Statehouse Matters

Check out Kevin Brinegar’s latest appearance on "Inside the Statehouse" with Gerry Dick. Kevin remarks on budget issues, intensity at the Statehouse, and House leadership’s snub of an Indiana Congressman last week.

View the 3.5-minute video here.

Chamber Shares Updates on Federal Issues

Federal issues — and the price tags attached to many of the efforts and proposals — were featured in today’s Policy Issue Conference Call for Chamber members. Cameron Carter, who leads the Chamber’s federal lobbying efforts, discussed a variety of topics.

Add up the numbers — $1.2 trillion in stimulus, $750 billion in TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program), $410 billion in additional 2009 budget appropriations and proposed 2010 budgets from the House, Senate and White House of approximately $3.5 trillion — and as Carter said, "We’re looking at debt levels not seen since the end of World War II." The expected $1.75 trillion deficit in a single year is projected to double the existing debt in five years and triple it within 10 years.

Some of the other discussion points:

  • Employee Free Choice Act: Senate is now several votes short of what it needs for cloture. The issue is not going away, however, with a potential return to the agenda in June or July.
  • Environmental carbon tax, and cap and trade provisions that would "increase the cost of all goods we consume." While the goal of protecting the environment is laudable, the creation of a market for carbon emissions will produce a price tag beyond comprehension. Carter says to expect some type of legislation yet this year.
  • Health care: Another top President Obama priority, Carter calls it a "stealth" procedure thus far, putting elements of health care reform into the stimulus package and budget resolutions. While a health care bill itself with the goal of providing insurance for all is on the way, the strategy thus far in this area and others of "policymaking within budget resolutions" is concerning. The reason it’s being done: it takes 51 votes in the Senate to pass budget matters, compared to the 60 needed for cloture on other issues to allow debate to move forward.
  • Immigration reform: In the past week, Obama cited this as another top priority to an already crowded plate for Congress. That may lead, Carter offers, to something else falling by the wayside.

Carter also discussed the more high profile roles for Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh (one of the leaders of a Moderate Dems Working Group) and Rep. Mike Pence (chairman of the House Republican Conference). He closed with a simple "no" when asked if he had any desire to be working on these issues in Washington — where he served on the staff of Sen. Richard Lugar in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

That’s OK. He and others working to protect the business interests of Indiana companies and their employees will have their hands full right here in the Hoosier state. 

Bayh in WSJ: Senate, Obama Should Reject Omnibus

In today’s Wall Street Journal, Indiana’s Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh encourages the Senate and President Obama to reject the Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009, and calls it a "sprawling, $410 billion compilation of nine spending measures that lacks the slightest hint of austerity from the federal government or the recipients of its largess." Also noteworthy, we first caught wind of this op-ed in a Tweet by Indiana Congressman and GOP House Conference Chair Mike Pence.

Bayh writes:

Washington borrows from foreign creditors to fund its profligacy. The amount of U.S. debt held by countries such as China and Japan is at a historic high, with foreign investors holding half of America’s publicly held debt. This dependence raises the specter that other nations will be able to influence our policies in ways antithetical to American interests. The more of our debt that foreign governments control, the more leverage they have on issues like trade, currency and national security. Massive debts owed to foreign creditors weaken our global influence, and threaten high inflation and steep tax increases for our children and grandchildren.

The solution going forward is to stop wasteful spending before it starts. Families and businesses are tightening their belts to make ends meet — and Washington should too.

The omnibus debate is not merely a battle over last year’s unfinished business, but the first indication of how we will shape our fiscal future. Spending should be held in check before taxes are raised, even on the wealthy. Most people are willing to do their duty by paying taxes, but they want to know that their money is going toward important priorities and won’t be wasted.

Last week I was pleased to attend the president’s White House Fiscal Responsibility Summit. It’s about time we had a leader committed to addressing the deficit, and Mr. Obama deserves great credit for doing so. But what ultimately matters are not meetings or words, but actions. Those who vote for the omnibus this week — after standing with the president and pledging to slice our deficit in half last week — jeopardize their credibility.

As Indiana’s governor, I balanced eight budgets, never raised taxes, and left the largest surplus in state history. It wasn’t always easy. Cuts had to be made and some initiatives deferred. Occasionally I had to say "no."

But the bloated omnibus requires sacrifice from no one, least of all the government. It only exacerbates the problem and hastens the day of reckoning. Voters rightly demanded change in November’s election, but this approach to spending represents business as usual in Washington, not the voters’ mandate.

Now is the time to win back the confidence and trust of the American people. Congress should vote "no" on this omnibus and show working families across the country that we are as committed to living within our means as they are.

Stimulus Bill Passes House

President Obama put forth an $819 billion economic stimulus package that passed the House by a vote of 244-188 Wednesday night. No Republicans supported the package, and most votes were along party lines. Inside Indiana Business also notes Indiana Congressman Brad Ellsworth was one of 11 Democrats to cross party lines to oppose the measure, however.

Here’s what legislators from each side are saying:

Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) – House Republican Conference Chair
“Our nation is in recession and millions of American families are hurting. Many have lost their jobs, many now worry that they’ll be next and it is absolutely right that this Congress is taking decisive action in the early days of 2009. But the bill that House Democrats have brought to the floor is not about stimulating the economy. The only thing this Democrat bill will stimulate is more government and more debt."

Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL)
"(Republicans) repeatedly are slapping the outreached hand of Democrats who are attempting to work in a bipartisan way. We have given the Republicans every opportunity to have input and help shape this."

Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN)
"It’s going to provide a lot of new jobs."

The Indianapolis Star article also notes where the money would go in the Hoosier State:

But the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, estimates that Indiana would get more than $11 billion in spending and tax benefits from the House version. That would include:

  • $3.7 billion in tax cuts.

  • $1.4 billion for Medicaid.

  • $1.3 billion in state budget aid.

  • $1.3 billion for elementary, secondary and higher education.

  • $1.3 billion in unemployment benefits.

  • $795 million for roads and other transportation projects.

  • $164 million in water and sewer funds.

While it looks as though the stimulus plan will pass in some form, the Indiana Chamber stresses that the money allocated to states be used properly. It may seem obvious, but funds received from the one-time bill should not be put into programs that will require ongoing funding.