Tag Archives: Marsha

Feds Say No Prosecution of Guitar Owners; Mum on Gibson

By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Owners of musical instruments made with illegally imported wood don’t face prosecution, two federal agencies say in a letter that addresses fears stirred up after a major Tennessee guitar-maker was raided.
“The federal government focuses its enforcement efforts on those who are removing protected species from the wild and making a profit by trafficking in them,” the U.S. Justice Department and the Interior Department wrote to U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn.
Blackburn and other congressional Republicans have been pressing the federal agencies to meet with them about Aug. 24 raids on Gibson Guitar Corp. factories in Memphis and Nashville where agents seized pallets of wood, guitars and computer hard drives. Gibson chief executive Henry Juszkiewicz has publicly blasted the raids as an example of the federal government risking U.S. jobs with over-zealous regulation.
After the raid, Juszkiewicz attended a speech by President Barack Obama as a guest of Blackburn and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.
The letter from Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich and Christopher J. Mansour, director of legislative affairs at Interior, said those who “unknowingly possess” an instrument made from illegally imported materials don’t have a criminal problem.

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State Government, Big Corporations Benefit from Health Care ‘Slush Fund’

FedEx may be a profitable Fortune 100 company, but it still sought help from the federal government to pay health benefits to workers who retired early, says the Tennessean.
So did other Tennessee employers such as Nissan North America, International Paper, the state of Tennessee and the city of Nashville. The subsidies are an often-overlooked provision of health-care reform.
They were meant to help those not yet eligible for Medicare by encouraging employers not to drop health benefits for workers who retire before age 65. But much of the money has gone to large, profitable corporations, prompting Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn and other Republican lawmakers to deem it a corporate “slush fund.”
The $5 billion Early Retirement Reinsurance Program was supposed to last until key provisions of the health-care reform law take effect in 2014. But it stopped accepting applications in May after spending roughly half its funds in less than a year. The program has paid out more than $34 million to Tennessee employers.