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The Friday Faxline

Op-Ed

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Location: Washington, DC


The Friday FAXLINE

The Weekly Update from Congressman Joe Pitts

Helping small businesses provide health coverage

Small businesses are the job creators in our economy and employ half of all the private sector employees in the United States. They represent the face of innovation in our market. Yet, small business owners continually make clear that providing healthcare remains one of their greatest challenges. So I have joined with Small Business Committee Chairwoman Nydia Velazquez (D-NY) to introduce legislation in order to assist small businesses in providing healthcare to their employees. The CHOICE Act allows small businesses to form health insurance cooperatives and to then transfer the risk of catastrophic medical costs to a captive excess claims insurer. This will mitigate the risk of high cost insurance claims that drive-up insurance premiums for small employers. The legislation is supported by a wide variety of business groups including the National Association of Realtors and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, just to name a few.

Ignoring entitlement problems

Virtually all independent experts have confirmed what most of the public already knows: rising health care costs and the retirement of the Baby Boomers make Medicare's financial future precarious. Yet, while Republicans have advanced plans to improve this important program's solvency, Democrats seem intent on ignoring the looming entitlement crisis until it is too late. In fact, this week, Democrats in the House voted to ignore a provision in law that forces Congress to take action when Medicare spending reaches a designated threshold. The Medicare program faces unfunded liabilities of $86 trillion. This means the House voted this week on legislation to fix the $1.2 trillion housing crisis but voted specifically to ignore an $86 trillion crisis in Medicare.

A comprehensive energy plan

Over the last several weeks, Republicans in the House have rolled out bill after bill to address the skyrocketing price of gas at the pump. Speaker Pelosi and the Democratic leadership in the House have yet to allow a vote on any of these bills. This week, House Republican Leader John Boehner introduced a comprehensive bill that encompasses many of the best ideas put forth by House Republicans. The bill, called simply the American Energy Act, is a comprehensive measure to help reduce gas prices by harnessing new technologies, encouraging greater conservation and efficiency, and increasing American energy production in an environmentally-safe manner. House Republicans plan to push for an up-or-down vote on the legislation before Congress adjourns for the August recess. It would simply be irresponsible if Congress left town for August without voting on real legislation that comprehensively addresses the energy crisis.

Tax cuts actually increase tax revenue

The IRS just released income tax data for 2006, and, as the Wall Street Journal pointed out, it turns out that cutting taxes does increase tax payments. In fact, as the Journal points out, the 2003 tax cuts "caused what may be the biggest increase in tax payments by the rich in American history." The top 10 percent of income earners paid 71 percent of taxes. In fact, the top 50 percent paid 97.1 of taxes. Interestingly, U.S. millionaires increased from 181,000 to 354,000 just three years after the tax cuts. This proves that when taxes are lowered, the economy grows and with tax rates lower, individuals were less interested in finding tax shelters, meaning tax payments actually increased. This should put to rest the notion that the "rich" don't pay their fair share. Taxes paid by millionaires increased to $274 billion in 2006 from $136 billion in 2003, all under Republican government.

Quote of the Week

"To achieve lasting peace and stability, Colombia must have more foreign investment and free trade. Congress's approval of the trade promotion agreement would establish a commitment to open markets that would increase growth and investment. Moreover, it would allow American products to enter Colombia duty-free."

--U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Colombian Minister of Defense Juan Manuel Santos, writing in the Wall Street Journal.


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