March 4, 2008—GDP growth slowed to a crawl in the 4th quarter, as did personal income growth in January. Producer prices for finished goods increased in January while orders for durable goods fell, and trouble continues in the housing market.
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Health Reform Bills Fail to Advance
A variety of legislative proposals recommended by a special Maui health care panel died last week after failing to clear a key House committee ahead of its deadline. Included among the measures was a business-supported tort reform bill that would have capped noneconomic damages at $500,000 for high risk specialties, and it would have put a limit on catastrophic damages at $3 million.
Source: The Maui News
By Thomas J. Donohue, President and CEO, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Primaries in Texas and Ohio today could determine the Democratic nominee for president. For many voters, the election will be a referendum on free trade, particularly the North American Free Trade Agreement.
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President and CEO Small Business Mavericks
In a victory for the Chamber and its members, the House overwhelmingly approved a bill to extend a trade program with Andean countries.
Vision, Good People, Passion
By Thomas F. McLarty III
Throughout my life, I've had the great fortune of being involved in a fourth-generation family business, first working with my late father who was a mentor and partner and now with my two sons.
There are a number of changes for tax year 2007 that small business owners need to take into account.
Increased Section 179 limits. The maximum Section 179 deduction for property placed in service in 2007 is $125,000. Under a new law recently signed by the president (see cover story), Section 179 expensing allowances will double to $250,000 for 2008.
Domestic production activities deduction. This deduction percentage increases from 3% to 6%.
House Majority Leader Outlines Agenda
After 25 years in the House, Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) was voted House Majority Leader after the Democrats won control in the November 2006 elections. Sheryll Poe, uschamber.com staff writer, sat down with the majority leader to discuss the Democrats' progress so far and the business agenda ahead.
The U.S. Chamber earned the Public Affairs Council's Grassroots Innovation Award for its successful, groundbreaking 2007 online grassroots campaign to rally businesses and the public against union card check legislation, which would all but eliminate secret ballot elections in union organizing campaigns in favor of a card check process.
U.S. Chamber Study Details Cost Trends
The average dollar amount that employees received in benefits increased from $18,489 in 2005 to $21,527 in 2006, according to the Chamber's 2007 Employee Benefits Study.
Medically related benefits accounted for the largest share of employer benefit costs at 12.1%, followed by retirement benefits at 10.4%. Payments for vacation, holidays, and other paid time off accounted for 9.8% of costs, according to the study.
From the Blogosphere-ChamberPost
H-2B Seasonal Visa Reform
By Kelly Hunt
The following is taken from an entry posted on the U.S. Chamber's blog, Chamberpost. Please visit here to comment.
JOIN THE CONVERSATION
The positions of the major presidential candidates on key business issues were presented in "Presidential Primary Season Lifts Off" (uschamber.com, January 2008). The story generated a number of responses from visitors to www.uschambermagazine.com, including calls to cover more candidates and more issues.
Costly Health Plan Nixed-The Senate Health Committee voted down Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's (R) $15 billion plan requiring almost all Californians to hold private health insurance. The plan would have forced insurers to accept nearly all applicants and employers to contribute toward their workers' health benefits or pay into a state fund.
Source: Los Angeles Times
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H.R. 3195 ADA Restoration
Act of 2007