Last week, the WOTC Coalition’s Paul Suplizio was busy keeping us informed while taking on two peripheral challenges valuable to our effort to make WOTC permanent. In addition to issuing Mr. Suplizio’s “Outlook and strategy” memo, which I have published below, the Coalition has also submitted formal letters to Attorney General Eric Holder and Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew on separate issues that affect the WOTC program.
The letter to Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew asks him to take appropriate actions to update the nation’s list of qualifying Rural Renewal Counties. These counties are part of the WOTC program’s group of “Designated Communities,” which also include federal Empowerment Zones (and formerly included federal Renewal Communities). Employees who are Designated Community residents qualify under the WOTC program.
The letter to Attorney General Eric Holder is about improving the use of WOTC to encourage the hiring of ex-felons, another one the WOTC program’s target groups. Specifically,
We have written to Attorney General Eric Holder for two reasons, first, to make sure he’s aware of Administration policy that WOTC should be made permanent and the Department of Justice can help by weighing in on WOTC renewal;
and second, to call attention to the fact that many people in half-way houses and other agencies helping ex-offenders find work aren’t aware of WOTC or aren’t using it effectively to ensure a person obtains a job appropriate to his or her qualifications and experience.
Congress has not yet rallied the political will to make WOTC a permanent feature of the tax code. The actions requested of these two officials, however, are logical and reasonable in the current political environment. They will hopefully create more allies and increased opportunities for communication and persuasion toward our goal.
The following is published with permission.
Subject: Outlook And Strategy For WOTC Campaign In Coming Months
From: “Paul Suplizio” <email@example.com>
Date: Tue, August 27, 2013 6:29 am
August 26, 2013
Treasury Secretary Lew warned Congress today it must raise the Federal debt ceiling by mid-October to avoid government default. This comes as a shock for expectations were Treasury wouldn’t hit the ceiling till mid-November.
It’s a boon for WOTC because we can work for extension as part of a mid-October deal, and if that doesn’t happen—should Congress “kick the can down the road” by funding government and suspending debt ceiling short-term—we’ll have another chance before year-end when both White House and Congress will be under heavy pressure on three fronts—debt ceiling, government funding, and sequester. The legally mandated across-the-board budget cuts known as “sequester” are due to take effect January 15th if there’s no agreement.
Three issues require action Congress cannot duck—spending, debt ceiling, and sequester—another “fiscal cliff.” President Obama, Speaker Boehner, and Majority Leader Reid must reach a deal or the government shuts down, the nation defaults, or sequester kicks in.
Our goal is for permanent WOTC to be part of that deal. We start in a good position because the President’s budget calls for WOTC to be made permanent; WOTC will be advanced in the talks by White House negotiators, and seconded by Democratic leaders. But the three-way talks (Senate, House, White House) could fail, leaving us no choice but to prepare a stand-alone tax extenders bill and rally support for it even as we pursue the talks for a fiscal cliff deal on the chance they might succeed.
The first act begins when Congress returns on September 9th, as the Parties will have three weeks to agree on funding the government for Fiscal Year 2014, starting October 1st. Speaker Boehner’s plan is to pass a continuing resolution to fund the government until debt ceiling needs to be raised—which we now know is October 15th
Objecting to this plan are around 90 House Republicans who want to eliminate funding for The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). If these 90 vote against the CR of their own leaders, Republicans will be able to deliver only 143 votes in favor—far short of 217 for majority. The Speaker would thus have to count on Democratic support for the CR, which is unlikely as the proposed CR shifts funds to defense from domestic programs Democrats favor.
Moreover, Republicans have a rule not to propose bills without support of 217 of their side. When he meets with his caucus on September 9th, the Speaker will either have to accommodate the 90 holdouts or persuade them to get on the team.
In any event, a CR must pass the House and Senate and be signed by the President by midnight on September 30th or the government shuts down. We expect that CR will fund the government through October 15th, at which time a another CR must be passed to fund the government for a further period AND a bill to suspend or increase the debt ceiling must be passed to avoid national default (the two bills can be combined).
President Obama has made clear he wants a “clean” bill increasing the debt ceiling, without conditions. At the same time, he’s made repeated proposals on the budget, infrastructure, and the economy that he wants to negotiate—in the past he’s even expressed willingness to consider cuts in entitlement spending. Talks on the debt ceiling aren’t going to be talks on debt alone, but will canvass what each side says it wants, and the President has made clear he wants to talk about taxing overseas earnings of multinational companies to fund infrastructure and a lower corporate tax rate.
When the talks turn to taxes, WOTC and the other tax extenders in the President’s budget will come up, so from September 9th onward, as long as talks continue, it’ll be up to us to lobby House and Senate Republicans—those listed in our 50-State Lobbying Plan—to make permanent WOTC part of any agreement.
It’s unlikely Congress and the President can reach accord in the limited time between September 9th and October 15th, so look for a temporary debt ceiling bill and a further CR that will carry the talks to December, when the coming sequester will weigh on negotiators if they reach no deal. The entire country was hit by the last sequester and may be roiled by the one coming—labor unions, small businesses, defense contractors, Wall Street, etc, etc—this force aroused could bring about a deal.
Republicans, however, are determined to keep sequester in place through 2018 as provided in law, and they can achieve this by walking away from the talks. In politics, the odds are always greater that talks will fail. Therefore, we must be prepared with a tax extenders bill and start pushing it early.
If talks falter, your Coalition and others are prepared to get a tax extenders bill introduced. We have a good case for a stand-alone extenders bill covering expiring provisions of the tax code, as Chairmen Camp and Baucus have supported extension pending tax reform, and Senate Leaders Reid and McConnell support tax extenders as well. We’re beginning now, and by October 15th we aim to have an extenders bill drawn up and will be prospecting co-sponsors parallel with the talks, so it will take only a Leader decision to bring it to the floor.
In sum, we’ll be working concurrently on two equally important trajectories in the days ahead. As negotiations take shape over debt ceiling and sequester, we’ll press congressional Republicans to urge their leaders to make permanent WOTC part of any agreement. Concurrently, we’ll make the case for introducing a stand-alone tax extenders bill, organize support for the bill when introduced, and if chances for success of the talks wan, we can meet with House and Senate Leaders to push for passage before year-end.
Our campaign during the August recess was very gratifying, and we are enormously proud of everyone who participated. Many thanks to all! Given what lies ahead, we can see our summer campaign was very timely. House and Senate Republicans in states east of the Mississippi were pretty strongly lobbied by multiple contacts, and the same applies to Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Colorado, Arizona, Texas, and California. There are still a few days left for you to meet with your Republican congressman or senator—we can help you arrange a meeting or phone call, just call us at 703-587-4566!
Should you have any questions or comments, please contact me anytime.
PAUL E. SUPLIZIO
President, WOTC Coalition