By a margin of 52 percent to 48 percent, the people of Britain voted to leave the European Union.
On the heels of the results, Prime Minister David Cameron announced he will step down by October.
“I will do everything I can as prime minister to steady the ship over the coming weeks and months,” Cameron said. “But I do not think it would be right for me to try to be the captain that steers our country to its next destination.”
In a statement today, President Barack Obama reaffirmed the relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom.
“The special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom is enduring, and the United Kingdom’s membership in NATO remains a vital cornerstone of U.S. foreign, security, and economic policy,” he said.
“The United Kingdom and the European Union will remain indispensable partners of the United States even as they begin negotiating their ongoing relationship to ensure continued stability, security, and prosperity for Europe, Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the world,” Obama said.
NEW STATS REVEALS THIS BUSINESS SEGMENT IS DRIVING ALABAMA’S ECONOMY
The National Association of Manufacturers has released the latest information about how the manufacturing segment helped drive Alabama’s economy to the tune of $35.32 billion in total output in 2014. Needless to say, manufacturing boosted Alabama’s economy by creating 17.7 percent of the total gross state product.
The state’s 3,781 manufacturing firms in 2015 employed 252,400 men and women, which was nearly 13 percent of non-farm employment. Manufacturing paid well, too, averaging $63,649 annually in 2014 compared with $42,161 in non-farm business.
The top manufacturing segment in Alabama in 2013 was motor vehicles and parts, accounting for $5.86 billion, followed by chemical products at $3.78 billion, and primary metals at $3.73 billion.
Manufacturers also drove exporting with $18.05 billion exported in 2015, creating 25 percent of manufacturing employment. That $18.05 billion represented 93.2 percent of all exported goods.
Of the $18.05 billion, $8.44 billion, or 46.8 percent, was attributed to Free Trade Agreement partners. The top five export markets as a percentage of total manufactured goods exported in 2015 were Canada, China, Mexico, Germany, and the United Kingdom.
Incidentally, 81.7 of all exporters in Alabama are small businesses.
(The BCA is the exclusive Alabama representative of the National Association of Manufacturers.)
EPA CHIEF GRILLED ON ‘SECRET SCIENCE’ CLAIMS AND JOB-KILLING REGULATIONS
The chairman of the House Science Committee, U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, said Wednesday’s committee meeting would give Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy the opportunity to explain why it’s pursuing a political agenda rather than protecting the environment and whether the EPA will follow the law.
In his opening statement, Rep. Smith said the Obama Administration’s expensive and expansive regulations will have little if any significant effect on the environment but will cost billions of dollars, place a heavy burden on American families, hurt the ability of American business to compete internationally, and rearrange the American economy by instituting “command and control.”
“This Committee’s investigations have revealed an EPA that intentionally chooses to ignore good science,” Rep. Smith said. “EPA cherry picks the science that fits its agenda and ignores the science that does not support its position. When the science falls short, EPA resorts to a propaganda campaign designed to mislead the public.”
Rep. Smith said the hearing would examine the EPA’s “unprecedented regulatory agenda and the manner in which the EPA has used suspect science, questionable legal interpretations, and flawed analysis to justify these regulations.”
Rep. Smith asked, “Why would the EPA want to hide this data from the American people? Either the data is science fiction or doesn’t exist?”
The Clean Power Plan will stifle economic growth, destroy American jobs, and increase energy prices, harming low income Americans the most. Rep. Smith sponsored a bill last year requiring the EPA make public the research it uses to write environmental rules.
In her prepared statement, Administrator McCarthy did not address Smith’s points of bypassing Congress and its regulatory agenda.
The Hill reported that McCarthy testified that energy prices will go down after coal fired plants are closed (under stringent EPA regulations) and renewable energy sources take off, a contention Rep. Smith challenges.
U.S. Rep. Gary Palmer, R- Ala., used the hearing to highlight how EPA regulations are killing jobs.
Yellowhammer reported that Palmer played a video featuring coal miners who had lost their jobs.
“Administrator McCarthy, if you don’t remember anything else out of this hearing today, I want you to remember the faces and the voices of the people who’ve had their lives absolutely destroyed by the EPA’s policies,” Palmer said after showing McCarthy the video.
“You know it’s really easy to sit here and have this discussion about these regulations and try to deny they have an impact on people, but, you know, you are having an impact on people and unnecessarily so,” Palmer said.
JUDGE STRIKES OBAMA RULE ON FRACKING ON PUBLIC LANDS
A federal judge in Wyoming said the Interior Department lacked the authority to issue stricter hydraulic fracturing regulations, blocking the Obama Administration’s end run around Congress, the Wall Street Journal reported.
U.S. District Judge Scott Skavdahl in a Tuesday ruling invalidated the Interior Department’s regulation, saying it lacked the authority to issue it because Congress hadn’t given the agency such authority.
Judge Skavdahl, nominated by President Obama in 2011, said the issue before his court wasn’t whether fracking “is good or bad for the environment or the citizens of the United States,” but whether Congress had given the Interior Department the authority to regulate fracking.
The department’s rule “is in excess of its statutory authority and contrary to law,” Judge Skavdahl wrote.
The government is expected to appeal, which would send the case to a federal appeals court and possibly to the Supreme Court.
This week’s ruling is the latest setback for President Barack Obama’s environmental agenda, which he has pursued largely by issuing regulations and bypassing Congress.
Last October, a federal appeals court blocked an EPA rule that sought to put more bodies of water and wetlands under federal protection, the Journal reported. A final decision on that matter is pending.
In February the Supreme Court temporarily blocked a major regulation limiting carbon emissions from power plants, dealing an early and potentially fatal blow to a rule central to administration efforts to address climate change.
Congressional Republicans and industry groups pointed to this week’s ruling as evidence that Mr. Obama has been overstepping his authority.
“Only Congress can write laws,” House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., said Wednesday. “Agencies acting without authority from Congress is simply illegal.”
The fracking regulation issued by the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management in 2015 applies to oil and gas drilling on federal lands, which produce 11 percent of the natural gas consumed in the U.S. and 5 percent of the oil. State regulations govern fracking on private and state lands.
Industry trade groups applauded the judge’s ruling.
The “decision demonstrates BLM’s efforts are not needed and that states are – and have for over 60 years been – in the best position to safely regulate hydraulic fracturing,” said Neal Kirby for the Independent Petroleum Association of America.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
GOP draws battle line with ObamaCare alternative
The Hill (Sullivan 6/22) “Speaker Paul Ryan on Wednesday formally unveiled the House GOP alternative plan for the Affordable Care Act, billing it as the culmination of years of party pledges and effort. ‘”For six years now, we’ve promised to repeal and replace ObamaCare and make healthcare actually affordable,” the Wisconsin Republican said at an event at the American Enterprise Institute. ‘Well, here it is: a real plan – in black and white – right here’.
“The plan envisions a simpler system than ObamaCare with limited financial assistance, lighter regulation and less federal spending on healthcare. It allows for less generous, basic health plans, as opposed to ObamaCare plans, which must cover an array of required elements. The plan does not include some key details, like dollar amounts on how much financial assistance it would provide, which are crucial for assessing its effect on coverage and the budget.
“‘We’re not at the legislative language point,” said House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price (R-Ga.), when asked about the lack of specifics. ‘Nothing’s happening from a legislative standpoint on this before this president leaves office’.
“The plan centers on a tax credit to help people afford coverage. Unlike ObamaCare’s financial assistance, which increases based on income to give more help to low-income people, the Republican plan’s assistance would be flat and based on age. Backers of the plan argue that it is a positive that the market would be opened up to allow people to buy skimpier coverage instead of heavily regulated, more comprehensive coverage required under ObamaCare.”
Expanding the Path to Retirement Security
U.S. Chamber of Commerce (Donohue 6/20) “As we live longer, it is even more critical for Americans to focus on their financial futures, looking beyond day-to-day needs and planning for long-term security. But a new rule by the Department of Labor … could jeopardize the retirement security for millions of people by imposing new restrictions and unworkable requirements on financial advisors.
“The advisors to small business plans will be hit with extensive new requirements and restrictions, making it more challenging and expensive to serve their clients. These higher costs will be passed on to small businesses, leaving some companies no choice but to stop offering retirement plans. Some may stop serving small businesses altogether, resulting in fewer options for workers.
“Moreover, the DOL rule includes a troubling provision that creates significant new legal risk for financial advisors, who will now face the threat of class action lawyers challenging their every move. This will only encourage frivolous class action lawsuits and line the pockets of plaintiffs’ lawyers, while consumers get pennies on the dollar in settlement. Financial advisors will find it harder to help small-dollar savers with the greatest need for retirement advice.
“Earlier this month, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce joined forces with business allies and mounted a court challenge to the fiduciary rule. We believe that the DOL overstepped its authority and crafted a legally flawed rule that will restrict choice and access at a time when we need to make it easier, not harder, for people to save for the future. By going to court, we hope we can reverse this course and ensure that hardworking Americans have an expanded path to long-term financial security.”
(Tom Donohue is President and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which is represented exclusively in Alabama by the Business Council of Alabama.)