Last month’s federal raids on the company that makes Gibson electric guitars were a gift to Republicans who have spent years railing about more obscure issues like boiler MACT regulations and particulate emissions standards.
Here, at last, was a controversy the average person could grasp: Overreaching regulators were out to kill rock ‘n’ roll.
Still, House Republicans are having some trouble getting the issue to gain traction on the Hill.
The Justice and Interior departments have rebuffed the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s request for a briefing on the Gibson raid, with the agencies refusing to comment on their ongoing investigation into the possible importation of illegally harvested ebony and other woods from countries such as Madagascar and India.
Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.), chairwoman of the committee’s Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade Subcommittee, hasn’t scheduled a hearing on the raid but hasn’t ruled one out, said her senior adviser Ken Johnson.
“American jobs are at stake, and Bono Mack hopes the Justice Department takes into account common sense and not just the letter of the law,” he said.
The fight between the government and the Gibson Guitar Corp., maker of instruments such as the Gibson Les Paul, features some similarities with the GOP’s typical complaints about the Obama administration’s regulatory agenda — especially in the impact on jobs.
“Gibson is a well-respected American company that employs thousands of people,” House Speaker John Boehner said in a speech this month to the Economic Club of Washington. “The company’s costs as a result of the raid? An estimated $2-3 million. Why? Because Gibson bought wood overseas to make guitars in America. Seriously.”
Gibson CEO Henry Juszkiewicz sounded a similar theme when complaining to reporters about the roughly $1 million in wood and instruments that the federal agents seized in August from company facilities in Nashville and Memphis, Tenn.
“We aren’t in the wrong, yet our entire operation has effectively been noticed to be shut down,” Juszkiewicz said during a news conference after the raid. “Over the last two years, we’ve hired 580 American workers. Just in the last two years. We’re one company that’s manufacturing in the U.S., hiring people and yet, the government is spending millions of dollars on this issue.”
Home-state Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn further raised Juszkiewicz’s political profile by inviting him to be her guest during President Barack Obama’s Sept. 8 jobs speech to Congress.
Blackburn is also scheduled to appear at an Oct. 8 “We Stand With Gibson” rally and concert that dozens of tea party, libertarian and other conservative groups are sponsoring in Nashville.
The House needs to have the Obama Administration officials in for a little chat and Rep Mary Bono Mack should expedite the hearings as soon as possible. This is typical BS from the Feds and it has to stop harassing American businesses.
Looks to me an easy solution will be to relocate the factory offshore and import into the USA, a finished product. I am sure some of those countries that export the wood would love to have a new factory in their country.
I mean, how stupid is that because of a law first meant to regulate bird feathers in hats, the Lacey Act.
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