Update from Congressman Culberson
I hosted the first ever Internet/telephone town hall meeting last Thursday night, broadcast live from my Washington office. I answered questions from constituents via telephone, direct messaging, and email through a live video stream on my website. This exciting new technology gives me the opportunity to maintain a constant and direct dialogue with you. I will be hosting these meetings throughout the summer, and I hope you will participate. You can also catch me on Twitter.com, where I send regular updates from the House floor and the halls of Congress, and on Qik.com, where I film and post video updates on the Internet. This technology allows us to bypass the mainstream media and shine sunlight into the darkest corners of Congress.
The House again considered the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) patch last week, which passed and will now go to the Senate for consideration. I voted against this bill, which maintains the status quo AMT structure for one year, but it also raises taxes on carried interest by taxing private equity at ordinary income tax rates rather than the lower capital gains rates. The bill also strikes the manufacturing tax credit for the five largest, domestic, integrated oil and gas companies, and reduces the manufacturing tax credit for independent, domestic oil and gas companies from 9% to 6%. With record gas prices and oil around $140 a barrel, the worst thing Congress can do is discourage domestic production by raising taxes. The bill does not single out any other industry that receives the manufacturing tax credit. The permanent tax increases included in this bill total nearly $62 billion.
I also voted against the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act because it guts Medicare Advantage, which provides health insurance coverage for 1,244 seniors in District 7. Medicare Advantage is the only private health insurance option for seniors that competes with Medicare, letting seniors choose their own coverage plan. I support FULL reimbursement for physicians who treat Medicare patients and I believe the entire reimbursement formula should be reworked rather than just passing temporary fixes. Physicians should not be punished for treating Medicare patients and they should not be forced to rely on short-term gimmicks to fix a long-term problem.
Last Thursday, the Supreme Court delivered a landmark decision overturning the District of Columbia's ban on hand guns, and upholding the Second Amendment rights of individuals to keep and bear arms. The underlying issue was the interpretation of whether the "right to bear arms" applied to individuals or to state militias. The decision marks the first time the Supreme Court has ever conclusively interpreted the meaning of the Second Amendment since it was ratified 217 years ago. I am thrilled with the Court's decision to uphold the Constitution and validate our individual liberty.
I am spending this week's district work period in Houston, meeting with constituents and attending official events. I am fighting hard to increase domestic energy production and working with my colleagues to bring supply in line with demand and enact practical and long-term solutions to our energy crisis. I am also pleased to announce that the successful zero-tolerance program, Operation Streamline, has been implemented in Brownsville. Under this program, anyone caught illegally crossing the southern border is prosecuted, jailed, and deported. This program has proved very effective at reducing crime, drug trafficking, and illegal crossings in the sectors where it has been implemented, and I will not rest until law and order is restored along the entire southern border.