Tag Archives: barack obama

Avnet - Fortune Global 500

Insight Forms Group to Facilitate American-Chinese Business

Tim and Eric Crown, Arizona brothers who founded Insight Enterprises, have formed a partnership with Robert Parker, the former Insight Vice President of Financial Services.  Insight Enterprises is a Fortune 500 computer services company with sales in excess of $5 billion in 2012.  Together they formed the Crown Parker Advisory Group, a successful business development company focused on United States and China business relationships.

Crown Parker Advisory Group has also been working with members of the Bush family.  The group has worked together with Neil Bush on several transactions in China, as well as organizing an appearance by former President George W. Bush at the American Century Golf Championship in Lake Tahoe, Nevada.

Crown Parker Advisory Group specializes in strategic partnerships, mergers and acquisitions, raising capital and government relations.  They are working with clients in China and the United States, in the fields of clean energy, logistics, entertainment, commodities and banking.  Most recently, the group has assisted in the development of a new cold chain logistics company in China.

This past February, Robert Parker had the pleasure of interviewing China’s then-incoming President Xi Jinping, for FOX News, during his visit to Los Angeles.  At the request of the People’s Republic of China, Parker attended events at the Palm Springs’ summit between President Xi Jinping and President Barack Obama.  “We appreciate President Xi Jinping’s confidence in this new model of relations between the United States and China,” says Parker.

Robert Parker and Eric Crown have been interviewed and supplied commentary on local and national programs including, FOX News and CCTV in Asia regarding U.S. and China business relations.  Parker, who now considers President Xi Jinping a friend, says he feels confident that under the leadership of President Xi Jinping, China and the United States will succeed together in business and in friendship.

Brewer

Brewer’s Medicaid expansion plan secured

Arizona lawmakers have endorsed a key element of President Barack Obama’s health care law in a huge political victory for Republican Gov. Jan Brewer, after a lengthy fight over Medicaid expansion that divided the state’s Republican leadership.

The expansion that will extend health care to 300,000 more low-income Arizonans came after months of stalled negotiations, tense debates and political maneuvering as Brewer pushed the Medicaid proposal through a hostile Legislature.

She secured her victory Thursday after lawmakers passed Brewer’s $8.8 billion state budget that included the Medicaid expansion provided under a key provision of the Affordable Care Act. The Legislature’s Republican leadership called it “Chicago politics” and labeled Brewer a puppet master, but Brewer remained undeterred as she prepared to sign the measures into state law.

“The day has been a red-letter day for the people of Arizona,” Brewer told reporters after the budget votes Thursday. “It was a win, win, win all the way around.”

Brewer, an early critic of the Affordable Care Act, surprised the nation when she acknowledged the Medicaid expansion as the law of the land in her State of the State address in January. She noted that rejecting an expansion would mean Arizona taxpayers would subsidize care for those in other states while receiving no benefits themselves.

The expansion is expected to help reduce the amount of uncompensated care hospitals must absorb and help cut what Brewer called a hidden health care tax that people who buy insurance pay, through higher premiums, to cover others’ care.

After the Legislature secured her political win, Brewer softened her support for the health care law.

“Medicaid was here long before Obama health care. I have never liked Obama health care,” she told reporters after the vote. “It has nothing to do with Obama health care.”

The expansion is optional under last year’s Supreme Court decision upholding the health care law, and many Republican governors rejected it.

In all, 23 states plus Washington, D.C., are moving ahead with the expansion, while 15 states have turned it down. Another 12 states are still weighing options.

Nearly all the states refusing are led by Republicans. Several of the states accepting have Republican governors, but most are led by Democrats.

Washington will pick up the entire cost of the expansion for the first three years and 90 percent over the longer haul. It’s estimated that less than $100 billion in state spending could trigger nearly $1 trillion in federal dollars over a decade.

In Arizona, Republican leaders in the Legislature called the expansion a massive government overreach that would drive the federal government deeper into debt. They predicted the government promises of paying for the expansion would turn out to be false.

“This is the biggest mistake we’ve made in the Arizona Legislature this year and maybe ever,” said Republican Sen. Kelli Ward, of Lake Havasu City.

Republicans control the Legislature and all statewide elected offices in Arizona, but the Medicaid fight highlighted internal fractures between those who want smaller government and others who, like Brewer, who said broader health care access is good for the state.

“The bottom line here is greed,” said Sen. Al Melvin, a Tucson Republican who is running for governor and voted against the Medicaid expansion. “The people who want this know in their hearts that Obamacare is going to collapse under its own weight.”

A newly formed coalition of Democrats and moderate Republicans worked closely with Brewer to stand up to the conservative leaders who had blocked debate on the Medicaid expansion for six months. Lawmakers worked through the night Wednesday to get the plan through the House, and the Senate vote came hours later Thursday afternoon.

“I’ve never seen the case where a governor has rolled over her own party because she was throwing a temper tantrum,” said Republican Rep. Eddie Farnsworth, of Gilbert.

Senate President Andy Biggs said lawmakers had little information about what was in the budget before passing it.

“I am deeply and profoundly disappointed at the manner at which this came down,” he said.

Brewer dismissed the insults, predicting that all would be forgiven and Republican leaders would move forward together.

“Tomorrow they’ll probably say ‘I’m sorry’ or we will just forget it,” she said. “I just try to listen and let it go.”

It was a year of wins and losses for Arizona’s GOP.

The Legislature voted to adjourn its 2013 session early Friday morning after passing a slew of other bills, including an election overhaul that could make it more difficult for voters to obtain and return mail ballots. Biggs had to beg for extra votes to get the measure opposed by Democrats and voter outreach groups passed in the Senate.

Among the bills left on the floor was a proposal that would have prohibited abortion clinics from using Medicaid dollars to fund administrative costs and allowed for unannounced inspections, a top GOP priority.

Still, Brewer signed more than 100 bills advanced by conservative Republicans throughout the marathon session, including a measure that bars cities and counties from destroying guns turned over to police at community buyback events and instead requiring that they be resold. She also signed bills that will wildly increase campaign finance limits for state candidates and require unemployed workers to present documents showing they were fired before they can receive benefits.

Through it all, Brewer made it clear that the Medicaid expansion was her top priority. She held multiple rallies featuring low-income patients on the Arizona Capitol lawn and during the final month of the session, Brewer refused to sign any other bills until lawmakers passed a budget that included the health care expansion.

The Medicaid plan would cover people making between 100 percent and 138 percent of the federal poverty level and restore coverage to more than 100,000 childless adults who lost Medicaid coverage because of a state budget crunch. About 1.3 million Arizonans already are covered by the state’s plan.

Brewer

Brewer's Medicaid expansion plan secured

Arizona lawmakers have endorsed a key element of President Barack Obama’s health care law in a huge political victory for Republican Gov. Jan Brewer, after a lengthy fight over Medicaid expansion that divided the state’s Republican leadership.

The expansion that will extend health care to 300,000 more low-income Arizonans came after months of stalled negotiations, tense debates and political maneuvering as Brewer pushed the Medicaid proposal through a hostile Legislature.

She secured her victory Thursday after lawmakers passed Brewer’s $8.8 billion state budget that included the Medicaid expansion provided under a key provision of the Affordable Care Act. The Legislature’s Republican leadership called it “Chicago politics” and labeled Brewer a puppet master, but Brewer remained undeterred as she prepared to sign the measures into state law.

“The day has been a red-letter day for the people of Arizona,” Brewer told reporters after the budget votes Thursday. “It was a win, win, win all the way around.”

Brewer, an early critic of the Affordable Care Act, surprised the nation when she acknowledged the Medicaid expansion as the law of the land in her State of the State address in January. She noted that rejecting an expansion would mean Arizona taxpayers would subsidize care for those in other states while receiving no benefits themselves.

The expansion is expected to help reduce the amount of uncompensated care hospitals must absorb and help cut what Brewer called a hidden health care tax that people who buy insurance pay, through higher premiums, to cover others’ care.

After the Legislature secured her political win, Brewer softened her support for the health care law.

“Medicaid was here long before Obama health care. I have never liked Obama health care,” she told reporters after the vote. “It has nothing to do with Obama health care.”

The expansion is optional under last year’s Supreme Court decision upholding the health care law, and many Republican governors rejected it.

In all, 23 states plus Washington, D.C., are moving ahead with the expansion, while 15 states have turned it down. Another 12 states are still weighing options.

Nearly all the states refusing are led by Republicans. Several of the states accepting have Republican governors, but most are led by Democrats.

Washington will pick up the entire cost of the expansion for the first three years and 90 percent over the longer haul. It’s estimated that less than $100 billion in state spending could trigger nearly $1 trillion in federal dollars over a decade.

In Arizona, Republican leaders in the Legislature called the expansion a massive government overreach that would drive the federal government deeper into debt. They predicted the government promises of paying for the expansion would turn out to be false.

“This is the biggest mistake we’ve made in the Arizona Legislature this year and maybe ever,” said Republican Sen. Kelli Ward, of Lake Havasu City.

Republicans control the Legislature and all statewide elected offices in Arizona, but the Medicaid fight highlighted internal fractures between those who want smaller government and others who, like Brewer, who said broader health care access is good for the state.

“The bottom line here is greed,” said Sen. Al Melvin, a Tucson Republican who is running for governor and voted against the Medicaid expansion. “The people who want this know in their hearts that Obamacare is going to collapse under its own weight.”

A newly formed coalition of Democrats and moderate Republicans worked closely with Brewer to stand up to the conservative leaders who had blocked debate on the Medicaid expansion for six months. Lawmakers worked through the night Wednesday to get the plan through the House, and the Senate vote came hours later Thursday afternoon.

“I’ve never seen the case where a governor has rolled over her own party because she was throwing a temper tantrum,” said Republican Rep. Eddie Farnsworth, of Gilbert.

Senate President Andy Biggs said lawmakers had little information about what was in the budget before passing it.

“I am deeply and profoundly disappointed at the manner at which this came down,” he said.

Brewer dismissed the insults, predicting that all would be forgiven and Republican leaders would move forward together.

“Tomorrow they’ll probably say ‘I’m sorry’ or we will just forget it,” she said. “I just try to listen and let it go.”

It was a year of wins and losses for Arizona’s GOP.

The Legislature voted to adjourn its 2013 session early Friday morning after passing a slew of other bills, including an election overhaul that could make it more difficult for voters to obtain and return mail ballots. Biggs had to beg for extra votes to get the measure opposed by Democrats and voter outreach groups passed in the Senate.

Among the bills left on the floor was a proposal that would have prohibited abortion clinics from using Medicaid dollars to fund administrative costs and allowed for unannounced inspections, a top GOP priority.

Still, Brewer signed more than 100 bills advanced by conservative Republicans throughout the marathon session, including a measure that bars cities and counties from destroying guns turned over to police at community buyback events and instead requiring that they be resold. She also signed bills that will wildly increase campaign finance limits for state candidates and require unemployed workers to present documents showing they were fired before they can receive benefits.

Through it all, Brewer made it clear that the Medicaid expansion was her top priority. She held multiple rallies featuring low-income patients on the Arizona Capitol lawn and during the final month of the session, Brewer refused to sign any other bills until lawmakers passed a budget that included the health care expansion.

The Medicaid plan would cover people making between 100 percent and 138 percent of the federal poverty level and restore coverage to more than 100,000 childless adults who lost Medicaid coverage because of a state budget crunch. About 1.3 million Arizonans already are covered by the state’s plan.

hispanic

Cox honors Latina entrepreneurs

Cox Business announced today a partnership with Prensa Hispana newspaper, Azteca AméricaPhoenix and the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (AZHCC) to recognize successful Latina entrepreneurs whose talent and innovation in the businessworld are helping other small businesses grow throughout Arizona.

“According to the 2013 AZ Women-owned Business Enterprise Report we released earlier this year, Latinas make up the single largest minority group among women-owned businesses,” said Mónica Villalobos, Vice President for the AZHCC. “This is a tremendous accomplishment, and our partnership with Cox Business is a great way to show our support to these entrepreneurs that are making a tremendous impact in our community.”

This one-of-a-kind campaign includes a series of 30-second spots produced in English and Spanish, that highlight two outstanding Latina Entrepreneurs in Phoenix. These spots will run across the Cox channel line up throughout the month ofJune. Through the media partnerships, honorees’ stories will also appear on the pages of Prensa Hispana newspaper, Azteca América Phoenix’s newscasts and through communication vehicles of the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

“These women embody a true entrepreneur spirit of creativity, dedication and hard work, that positively impacts our community and state’s economy,” said Steve Rizley, Sr. Vice President and General Manager, Cox Communications.  “We hope that all the efforts these Latina entrepreneurs are doing to contribute to Arizona’s business growth inspires others to do wonderful things for our state.”

The individuals featured in the Phoenix campaign are:

Linda Valenzuela, MIA Cosmetics
LindaValenzuela is a make up artist, master stylist, and owner of Mia Cosmetics, a growing force aimed at satisfying the real and fantasy beauty needs of individuals through quality products and services. A professional stylist for over 10 years, Linda’s work has appeared in fashion magazines, catalogues, and runways, including W Magazine, SkyMall and FIDM Prom Web LA. Linda is a popular guest teacher and lecturer at notable cosmetology and art schools, as well as volunteer instructor for the Fresh Start Women’s Foundation. Her talent is so hard to miss, that she was chosen to apply make up to President Barack Obama and Maria Elena Salinas – one of the most renowned Latina journalist in the U.S. – during their visit to Phoenix last year.

Beatriz Alatorre de Hong, Paletas Betty
Beatriz Alatorre de Hong is the president and owner of Paletas Betty, an ice cream and cream-pops shop in Chandler andTempe. Founded in 2011, Paletas Betty uses simple from scratch recipes that deliver the freshest experience possible. With classic Mexican flavors and newly invented flavors Paletas Betty is Betty’s way of sharing the happiness sheexperienced as a child eating paletas. This year, Betty is focusing on increasing their presence in existing markets by doing more community events and forming strategic partnerships.

Barbara.Barrett

Barrett named to Smithsonian board

Paradise Valley resident Barbara Barrett was appointed this month to the Smithsonian Institution’s Board of Regents.  She will serve a six-year term as a citizen regent on the board that is the governing body of the renowned institution that consists of 19 museums and nine research centers. In addition, the Smithsonian has numerous relationships with other cultural and research institutions. Her appointment to the board of regents was signed by President Barack Obama on January 10th and her term began immediately. No stranger to the Smithsonian, she also served as a member of the National Air and Space Museum in the 1980s, and has spent much of the last ten years serving on the Smithsonian National Board.

Prior to accepting the position, Barrett completed a stint as interim president of Glendale’s Thunderbird School of Global Management. She is CEO of luxury resort Triple Creek Guest Ranch, located in Darby, Montana. She also serves on the governing boards of the RAND Corporation, Aerospace Corporation, Sally Ride Science Foundation, Lasker Foundation and Space Foundation.

Brewer

Brewer will let feds run health exchange for Ariz.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has decided against creating a state-run health insurance exchange to implement a key part of President Barack Obama’s federal health care law.

Brewer’s decision announced Wednesday means the federal government will set up an online marketplace for the state, offering subsidized private health coverage to the middle class. The governor reiterated her unwavering opposition to the health care overhaul, and said there were too many costs and questions associated with a state-run exchange.

“The federal government would maintain oversight and control over virtually every aspect of our exchange, limiting our ability to meet the unique needs of Arizonans and the Arizona insurance market,” she said in a statement.

Brewer joins other Republican governors in such states as Texas and Maine who have balked at creating state-run exchanges, although others in Nevada and New Mexico have opted to proceed. She sent a federal official a one-page letter conveying her decision.

Her announcement preceded a Dec. 14 deadline for states to declare whether they’d run their own exchanges.

A decision to create an exchange would have been subject to approval by the Republican-led state Legislature. Though the Nov. 6 election results reduced the size of Republicans’ majorities in the state House and Senate, a Brewer push to create a state-run exchange would have faced a fight from GOP lawmakers who oppose the law.

An alliance of hospitals, insurance companies and business groups wanted Arizona to have a state-run exchange, arguing that it would increase coverage while giving the state flexibility in designing a program to its liking.

Conservative advocacy groups such as the Goldwater Institute stood in opposition. They said Arizona shouldn’t help implement a law that could foist new expenses on the state and raise health insurance prices for residents.

Senate President-designate Andy Biggs said he appreciated Brewer’s thoughtful deliberation.

“Any exchange run by Arizona would still include an inappropriate imposition by the federal government on our state,” the Republican lawmaker said.

“State control is a mirage,” agreed Sen. Nancy Barto, a Republican who heads the Senate’s health committee.

The incoming Senate minority leader, Democrat Leah Landrum Taylor, said Brewer’s decision was a “missed opportunity to establish health care solutions that are tailor-made for the unique needs of the state.”

House Minority Leader Chad Campbell, a Democrat, said Brewer’s decision was grandstanding that reflected “an extremist agenda.”

Brewer’s administration spent two years planning for a possible exchange, accepting federal grants totaling approximately $31 million to pay for the advance work.

The grant money is paid to the state to reimburse it for costs, Brewer spokesman Matthew Benson said. Most of the money remains unspent and available to pay for costs for working with the federal government on its creation of an exchange, he said.

As part of that planning, Brewer in September selected a minimum benefits package for a state-run exchange based on current insurance coverage for state employees. She noted in a Sept. 28 letter to the Obama administration that the package she chose excludes abortion coverage.

On another implementation issue with state versus federal considerations, Brewer has decided it would be better to have the state run its own program to review health insurance rates, rather than leave that to the federal government. The state has formally approved rules for a rate-review program.

Brewer still must decide whether to expand eligibility for the state’s Medicaid program as called for by the law.

78456333

Campaign issue: Energy

Americans depend on energy for everything from driving their cars to powering factories, homes and offices — and of course our smartphones, laptops and tablets. How that energy is produced and where it comes from affect jobs, the economy and the environment.

Where they stand:

President Barack Obama proposes an “all of the above” strategy that embraces traditional energy sources such as oil and coal, along with natural gas, nuclear power and renewable sources such as wind, solar and hydropower. Obama has spent billions to promote “green energy” and backs a tax credit for the wind industry that his Republican rival Mitt Romney opposes. While production of renewable energy has soared, critics point to several high-profile failures, including Solyndra, a California solar company that went bankrupt, costing taxpayers more than $500 million.

Romney pledges to make the U.S. independent of energy sources outside of North America by 2020, through more aggressive exploitation of domestic oil, gas, coal and other resources and quick approval of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to Texas. Obama blocked the pipeline because of environmental concerns but supports approval of a segment of it.

Why it matters:

Every president since Richard Nixon has promised energy independence — a goal that remains elusive. In 2011, the U.S. relied on net imports for about 45 percent of the petroleum it used, much from Canada, Mexico and Saudi Arabia. Still, U.S. dependence on imported oil has declined in recent years, in part because of the economic downturn, improved efficiency and changes in consumer behavior. At the same time, domestic production of all types of energy has increased, spurred by improved drilling techniques and discoveries of vast oil supplies in North Dakota and natural gas in states such as Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York and West Virginia. Production also is booming in traditional energy states such as Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana.

The natural gas boom has led to increased production, jobs and profits — and a drop in natural gas prices for consumers. Natural gas, a cleaner alternative to coal, has generally been embraced by politicians from both parties.

Still, there are concerns. Critics worry that popular drilling techniques, such as hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, which allow drillers to reach previously inaccessible wells, could harm air, water and health. Hydraulic fracturing, also called fracking, involves blasting mixtures of water, sand and chemicals deep underground to stimulate the release of gas. Environmental groups and some public health advocates say the chemicals have polluted drinking water supplies, but the industry says there is no proof.

Similarly, the Keystone XL pipeline could help make the nation more energy secure — or pollute the environment in the event of a spill. Developer TransCanada says the 1,700-mile pipeline from western Canada to refineries along the Texas Gulf Coast would pipe more than 1 million barrels of oil per day, more than 5 percent of the nation’s current oil consumption.

Opponents say the pipeline would bring “dirty oil” that would be hard to clean up after a spill.

Wind and solar power have grown, thanks in part to support from Obama, but their success is tenuous. Besides Solyndra, several solar companies have declared bankruptcy in part because of Chinese competition. Wind companies are laying off workers while Congress dithers on a tax credit crucial to the industry.

The changes aren’t likely to have an immediate effect on the cost of the energy source Americans are most familiar with: gasoline. Gas prices are dependent on crude oil prices, which are set on the global market.

78433079

Politics and Social Security

The issue:

Unless Congress acts, the trust funds that support Social Security will run out of money in 2033, according to the trustees who oversee the retirement and disability program. At that point, Social Security would collect only enough tax revenue each year to pay about 75 percent of benefits. That benefit cut wouldn’t sit well with the millions of older Americans who rely on Social Security for most of their income.

Where they stand:

President Barack Obama hasn’t laid out a detailed plan for addressing Social Security. He’s called for bipartisan talks on strengthening the program but he didn’t embrace the plan produced by a bipartisan deficit reduction panel he created in 2010.

Republican challenger Mitt Romney proposes a gradual increase in the retirement age to account for growing life expectancy. For future generations, Romney would slow the growth of benefits “for those with higher incomes.”

Why it matters:

For millions of retired and disabled workers, Social Security is pretty much all they have to live on, even though monthly benefits are barely enough to keep them out of poverty. Monthly payments average $1,237 for retired workers and $1,111 for disabled workers. Most older Americans rely on Social Security for a majority of their income; many rely on it for 90 percent or more, according to the Social Security Administration.

Social Security is already the largest federal program and it’s getting bigger as millions of baby boomers reach retirement. More than 56 million retirees, disabled workers, spouses and children get Social Security benefits. That number that will grow to 91 million by 2035, according to congressional estimates.

Social Security could handle the growing number of beneficiaries if there were more workers paying payroll taxes. But most baby boomers didn’t have as many children as their parents did, leaving relatively fewer workers to pay into the system.

In 1960, there were 4.9 workers for each person getting benefits. Today, there are about 2.8 workers for each beneficiary, and that ratio will drop to 1.9 workers by 2035.

Nevertheless, Social Security is ripe for congressional action in the next year or two, if lawmakers get serious about addressing the nation’s long-term financial problems. Why? Because Social Security is fixable.

Despite the program’s long-term problems, Social Security could be preserved for generations to come with modest but politically difficult changes to benefits or taxes, or a combination of both.

Some options could affect people quickly, such as increasing payroll taxes or reducing annual cost-of-living adjustments for those who already get benefits. Others options, such as gradually raising the retirement age, wouldn’t be felt for years but would affect millions of younger workers.

Fixing Social Security won’t be easy. All the options carry political risks because they have the potential to affect nearly every U.S. family while angering powerful interest groups. Liberal advocates and some Democrats oppose all benefit cuts; conservative activists and some Republicans say tax increases are out of the question.

But Social Security is easier to fix than Medicare or Medicaid, the other two big government benefit programs. Unlike Medicare and Medicaid, policymakers don’t have to figure out how to tame the rising costs of health care to fix Social Security.

Social Security’s problems seem far off. After all, the program has enough money to pay full benefits for 20 more years. But the program’s financial problems get harder to fix with each passing year. The sooner Congress acts, the more subtle the changes can be because they can be phased in slowly.

Many Arizona Small Businesses And Banks Say A Federal Loan Program Isn’t Needed - AZ Business Magazine Nov/Dec 2010

Many Arizona Small Businesses And Banks Say A Federal Loan Program Isn’t Needed

President Barack Obama has signed a bill that aims to increase small business lending. But it’s not exactly popular among Arizona’s small companies and community banks. They question whether a multibillion-dollar loan fund created by the legislation will achieve its goal.

The Small Business Jobs and Credit Act of 2010 will establish a $30 billion Small Business Lending Fund within the U.S. Treasury. The Treasury will use that money to purchase preferred shares in small- to medium-size banks that voluntarily participate in the program, injecting new capital that the banks would be encouraged to lend to small businesses. The more loans the banks make, the lower the dividend rate they pay the Treasury.

“As a small business owner, I am allergic to government intervention,” says Charlie O’Dowd, president of Westcap Solar, a Tucson company that sells and installs solar photovoltaic and solar hot-water systems. “I don’t think that this legislation is going to be any more effective than the TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) legislation. In this economy, it’s not that there isn’t money to be borrowed. It’s qualifying for the loan that’s the problem.”

The new law also gives John P. Lewis a bad taste in his mouth. Lewis is president and CEO of Southern Arizona Community Bank in Tucson, and a member of the FDIC’s Advisory Committee On Community Banking.

“Last January, the committee had a robust discussion (on the legislation),” Lewis says. “The committee said, ‘We don’t want to be a part of this.’ Community banks don’t need the additional capital. I have more money than I know what to do with. I need qualified borrowers.”

O’Dowd and Lewis describe a situation that is frustrating for both and that neither believes government policy will resolve. O’Dowd says small businesses’ sales are slow, impacting their ability to qualify for loans. Lewis says his loan demand is flat because there are fewer qualified borrowers.

The Arizona Small Business Association points to a wary small business community that’s in no mood to take on more debt. Earlier in the recession, small businesses tried in vain to obtain bank loans, but now they are in survival mode, says Donna Davis, the association’s CEO.

“Bank loans are not at the top of their list now,” Davis says. “Some businesses have lending fatigue. They just gave up (trying to get loans). Now they are focused on lack of sales. If sales don’t pick up, if work doesn’t pick up, they won’t seek credit. If they can boost sales and profits, then they can justify hiring and expanding.”

One outside observer sees a triumvirate of doubt that the legislation will not mitigate. Dennis Hoffman, professor of economics at Arizona State University’s W. P. Carey School of Business, says this recession has caused consumers, businesses and banks to lose their confidence. Lacking the good credit risk they saw five years ago, banks have “pulled in their oars,” Hoffman says. Creditworthy businesses fret so much over the economy, they don’t even apply for loans. Recession-scarred consumers remain stingy.

“We need to climb this wall of worry to get out of this morass,” Hoffman says. “This is a market-based, private-sector issue that will have to work itself out.”

Gail Grace, president and CEO of Sunrise Bank of Arizona headquartered in Phoenix, doesn’t sense much support for the legislation among Arizona’s banks, and wonders how many community banks would be able to participate.

“Community banks in Arizona are stressed and many may not even qualify for this program,” Grace says. “You will still have to have a fairly healthy bank to qualify for this.”

Not everyone has a dim view of the law. Robert Blaney, Arizona’s Small Business Administration district director, notes that the law will increase the SBA’s loan guarantee from 75 percent to 90 percent, easing banks’ risk on those loans. The law also will lower fees and raise the SBA’s maximum loan amount from $2 million to $5 million. There are thousands of small business owners nationwide that were waiting for the lending bill to become law, Blaney says.

One of those is Benefits By Design, a Tempe company that sets up health benefit plans for small businesses. The company’s president, Kristine Kassel, says there is a need for loans and it would be helpful if just two community banks expanded their small business lending. She adds that any amount of new credit that can be extended to small businesses is a good thing.

Banks interested in acquiring low-cost capital might be attracted to the Treasury fund and they might be enticed by the built-in incentives to direct new-found capital into small business lending, says Dan Stewart, Arizona market president for Mutual of Omaha.

But then he echoes what others say: “The (law) doesn’t encourage banks to take on more credit risk, so qualified borrowers are the key.”

    By the Numbers
    The Small Business Jobs and Credit Act of 2010



  • Establishes a $30 billion Small Business Lending Fund within the U.S. Treasury
  • Treasury will use money to purchase preferred shares in small- to medium-size banks that voluntarily participate in the program
  • SBA’s loan guarantee would increase from 75 percent to 90 percent
  • The SBA’s maximum loan amount would increase from $2 million to $5 million

Arizona Business Magazine Nov/Dec 2010

Midterm elections

Midterm Elections Are Never Fun For A President

Every four years, the United States of America has a presidential election. More Americans turn out and participate in the presidential elections than the lesser recognized midterm elections. The midterm elections occur in the two-year gaps between the presidential elections. In many ways, these midterms are just as important.

While presidents get four-year terms, all 435 members of the U.S. House of Representatives serve only two-year terms. The 100 U.S. Senators serve six-year terms and are staggered, with 33 or 34 being up for election every two years. This means that every midterm election the entire House and a third of the Senate are up for election.

Midterm elections are quite often referendums on the incumbent president, and they are seldom kind. In the last 16 midterm elections since Harry Truman, the incumbent party of the president has lost an average of 24 seats in the House and four in the Senate. In the modern era, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, both two-term presidents, had a good and bad midterm.  Clinton’s disastrous first midterm in 1994, following his attempt at universal health care, is sometimes referred to as the “Republican Revolution.” Democrats lost 54 House seats and eight Senate seats. Clinton bounced back in 1998, gaining five House seats and not losing any in the Senate. Bush did it the opposite way. He had a great first midterm in 2002, on the heels of 9/11, the War on Terror, and the Iraqi War, picking up eight in the House and two in the Senate. In 2006, Democrats regained the House, picking up 30 seats and gaining six in the Senate.

So what does this history mean to us? On Nov. 2, 2010 we have a midterm election that will be a referendum on President Barack Obama. How will he fare? Current expectations are that Obama’s party will lose seats in both bodies of Congress. Some analysts are predicting that the Democrats may lose as many as 30 to 40 seats in the House. This is significant, because they hold a 75-seat advantage. Losing 38 seats means losing the majority. In the Senate, Democrats look to be losing at least four seats, with another five as toss-ups. If they all got to Republicans, the Senate would be at a 50-50 deadlock. Don’t expect all of those seats to go to Republicans.

Our Founding Fathers structured a system of government that contains checks and balances. While they may not have necessarily designed this two-party system, it does appear to provide accountability. When a president wins an election, he has two years to set his agenda and begin to show progress. He faces the consequences of his actions — and the nation’s mood — at the midterm elections. If the country is happy, he might maintain the same congressional support, with voters keeping his party in power. If the country isn’t happy, they might keep fewer of the president’s party in office, thus moderating what he is trying to accomplish.

Even if Republicans don’t take back either body, slimmer Democratic majorities would seem to mean more difficulty for President Obama. Or will they? My belief is that when a president has a large majority he has little incentive to be diplomatic with the opposite party. When he has fewer of his own party in Congress to work with, he then has to reach across the aisle more often and be more of a statesman.

Midterms can be a humbling experience for a president, but they can also be how Americans moderate our federal government.

Climate Change Talks

U.S. Commits To Change At Copenhagen Climate Talks

As some of you may be aware of, the historic United Nations Climate Change Conference is underway right now in Copenhagen. The conference began on December 7 and will continue till the 18th. It is the largest international political conference ever to be held in Denmark, with participants from 192 countries meeting to reach an agreement about how to combat global warming.

Despite some clashes with protesters that that essentially ceased all talks on Dec. 16, the conference pressed on. President Barack Obama is expected to appear on Friday, along with 100 other national leaders hoping to come to a historic agreement between nations.

On Thursday, Dec. 17 Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, announced that the United States would participate in a $100-billion-a-year fund that will help poor nations combat climate change through the end of the decade. Though Clinton did not specify how much the U.S. would be contributing, it is still a huge move for the country and sends a strong message about the nation’s stance on environmental issues.

However, U.S. participation was contingent on reaching an agreement this week, as well as a commitment from China about more transparency in its emissions reporting.

Clinton’s announcement is a high point in the conference, which has been plagued by delays and deadlocked over several issues. Hopefully, discussions will end on a good note and firm plans for progress will be put in place.

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