• Fighting for a level playing field online for Oregon businesses

    When 90 percent of a small business’ sales are online and its workforce has grown from nine employees to 24 in two short years, it’s vital Congress not unfairly tilt the level Internet playing field that helped that expansion.

    That’s the story at Daddies Board Shop in Northeast Portland and why Ron has stood with Daddies and so many other small businesses across Oregon in the fight against what’s termed the Marketplace “Fairness” Act.

    “Fairness” is of course in the eye of the beholder since this bill would have unfairly forced Oregon companies to collect sales tax for other states when a resident in another state made a purchase. In today’s competitive economy, it’s critical for companies to expand their market in other states, and it’s unfair and expensive for them to play tax collector when they do.

    Like owners of so many other Oregon small businesses that rely on online sales, Daddies’ owner Daron Horwitz says it’s the level playing field of the Internet that allows his business to compete with big retailers around the world.

    After checking out Daddies’ world-class products during a visit this month, Ron told Daddies Board shop employees their business is exactly the kind of business he’s proud of as an Oregonian.

    My goal is to keep the Internet free and open -- as it always has been,” he said. “After all, that’s the underpinning of what’s allowed Internet commerce to flourish.”

    For now, thanks to the efforts of Sen. Wyden and his bipartisan coalition, the MFA appears to have been disconnected in this Congress. Businesses across Oregon can breathe easier and keep selling their great Oregon products. And, if legislation tries to tip the scales against small businesses in the future, Ron will go to the mat again.

    This scheme would make Oregon businesses collect sales taxes for hundreds of other state and local governments,” Ron said. “It essentially forces Oregon companies to subsidize Texas’s government. That’s not fair to Oregon, and it’s not fair to small businesses nationwide.”

  • “Upholding the Oath”

    Remarks by Wyden on Receiving Panetta Institute Jefferson-Lincoln Award for Public Service

    "I have had the honor of representing Oregon in the Congress--in both the House and Senate--since the days when I had a full head of hair and rugged good looks. To me, even now, it remains heartening and amazing that this country afforded so much opportunity to me --the son of German immigrants who fled the Nazis and lost family at Kristallnacht and Theresienstadt.

    My father arrived with little more than his wits and dreams. The path both my parents took led them to serve America in World War II. They started a family here and my father found success as a journalist and my mother as an economist. That path led me to commit to public service, and eventually, to join all of you tonight.

    It is my firm belief this unbroken path could succeed only in this one country, the United States of America.

    America, where everyone in government, from Senators and Congresspeople to every civil servants, are bound by the rule of law and the Constitution.

    This obligation is embodied in the oath each of these individuals take--it is the same for all of us-- to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

    Tonight, I would like to suggest that bipartisanship, crossing the aisle, being willing to have a conversation with someone who may disagree with you is not just a good idea, it is part of that oath I take as a public servant.For example, rejecting an idea just because it comes from the other side is not just foolish it means putting party ahead of the oath.

    So you might ask now, what is this bipartisanship this fellow is talking about? First, bipartisanship should never be about just sitting down with someone from the other side, taking each other's bad ideas and rolling them together. It should be about getting together, digging into a variety of ideas for best addressing a big challenge our country faces, and not caring what ideological label is attached to them.

    That's why next week and in the months ahead, I intend to work with members of Congress from across the political spectrum to fix the rotting economic carcass we call the American tax code, protect the Medicare guarantee so as to affordably address the great new challenge for Medicare which is chronic disease, and advance our cherished Constitutional principles with the Ben Franklin adage that anyone who gives up their liberty for a bit of temporary security, deserves neither.

    There is one more point I would like to make tonight about our Constitution and public service. I believe the oath public servants take requires constant vigilance against the sort of wrongdoing that has previously bent our American system of government almost to its breaking point--for example, with the shameful internment of Japanese Americans during World War II not very far from here. In those moments, when government actions are taken against "the other", the citizen who is not like us, or does not believe the same things we believe, or is fighting to reveal wrongdoing in our government, we see the consequences of failed oaths and how those failures chip away at our system, piece by piece by piece.

    The good news is our system has responded to those moments and mistakes as our Founding Fathers intended.

    Americans with differing political philosophies took a look back at the government's misguided actions -- and painful as they frequently were - worked to correct them. The fight against policies born out of prejudice and paranoia continues to this day.

    I believe the best tradition of public service is the defense of our Constitution and the oath that public servants take to protect it. That oath undergirds the bipartisanship that is so necessary to solve the big challenges in Washington and helps guard against those who would trample the Constitution in service of a lesser cause. I believe that oath is about exactly the values this award represents and it is why I am very grateful for this honor and privilege. Thank you again."

  • Enforcing trade rules to create jobs in Oregon

    Sen. Wyden has long fought for manufacturers in both Oregon and throughout the United States to be on a level playing field worldwide when it comes to their competitors.

    His battle against illegally subsidized Chinese solar companies proved successful on Thursday when SolarWorld announced it plans to add 200 full-time employees over the next nine months, adding a new solar-panel production line and expanding its advanced cell production capacity in Hillsboro.

    The $10 million expansion, which brings the company’s total investment in Oregon to nearly $630 million, increases the total number of Oregonians employed at the Washington County facility to about 900.

    What we are seeing today is a textbook case of how enforcing American trade laws can help create family-wage manufacturing jobs,’’ Sen. Wyden said at a news conference to make the announcement in Hillsboro with SolarWorld USA president Mukesh Dulani.

    The bottom line is we have got more evidence that Oregon can compete and Oregon can win in the global economy, added Sen. Wyden, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. “We have better workers making high-quality products and they are going to be in demand around the world.”

    He also praised SolarWorld both for the addition of 200 high-tech manufacturing jobs back into the Portland-area economy in the next nine months and for fighting the illegal Chinese subsidy of that country’s solar companies.

    And he thanked Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley and Oregon Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, whose congressional district includes Hillsboro, for their work with him on achieving justice for SolarWorld.

    At the news conference, Dulani took pride in SolarWorld’s growth, its employees and their perseverance in the face of illegal Chinese business practices. He also delivered his “heartfelt thanks” to Sen. Wyden.

    This day marks a great turnaround for this company and we should all be especially proud,” Dulani said. Today we stand here to say to our workers and to our children …  that solar manufacturing is here to stay, and we will fight very hard to make sure it does.”

    Without Senator Wyden’s support, this will not be possible,’’ he said. “He has been a great friend to this company through all of the tough times and we are very happy to have him here today to celebrate our good news.”  

    After the news conference, Sen. Wyden spoke to about 200 employees at a forum that began with re-hired employees Zach Von Weller and Robert Thatcher presenting Sen. Wyden with a commemorative plaque to say “thank you” for his work supporting the solar industry.

    Sen. Wyden spoke at the employee forum about Oregon’s green manufacturing base and the United States standing poised to be a worldwide leader in cutting-edge solar research, development and production.

    Sen. Wyden told the employees that he had sounded the alarm three years ago that China was taking America’s “manufacturing jobs” by dumping products in the United States below cost. He said then and now that the trade laws must be used to enforce the rules of free and fair trade.

    As a result of investigations by Sen. Wyden’s office, by SolarWorld, and ultimately by the Department of Commerce and the International Trade Commission, the evidence became clear that China was cheating and that Oregon workers were hurt.

    These investigations enabled the U.S. government to slap import tariffs -- the enforcement of America’s trade laws -- on solar panels from China.

    The bottom line is these jobs are certainly worth fighting for,” Senator Wyden said, “which is why I am so honored to be a partner in this.