The Week Just Past
"President Obama this week signed into law the most significant legislation of this generation -- a bill that gives to our federal government almost total control of health care decisions of every American family, doctor, patient, home health aide, hospital or nursing home. And, after just two hours of debate last Sunday night!
"Let me make it clear, I support health care reform, but not Speaker Nancy Pelosi's version. At a time when most Americans want Congress to focus on job creation and economic opportunities, the Speaker rammed President Obama's health care proposal through Congress and ignored the voices of my constituents and the American people.
"The price-tag Speaker Pelosi put on this package was just under a trillion dollars. She even claimed that, due to its deep and broad tax increases and Medicare cuts, the measure will actually bring down the budget deficit.
"Who does she think she's fooling?
"This massive bill will cost $2.6 trillion in its first decade of operation and is constructed using budget gimmicks and "creative' accounting. For instance, it double counts Social Security payroll taxes, long-term care premiums, and Medicare savings in order to make it appear more fiscally responsible. Well, it's an illusion.
"The Pelosi health bill is also chock full of onerous mandates on businesses and everyday citizens, including a provision that forces everyone to buy an insurance policy whether they need it or not. Violate this requirement and you will face escalating fines.
"And how would the government know if you refuse to have a policy deemed "acceptable' by Washington-based bureaucrats? Well, the bill gives the IRS funding to hire about 16,500 new agents and auditors to track down violators! In fact, the healthcare bill contains $10 billion to hire IRS agents and very little money to train additional doctors, nurse and other health professionals!
"Rather than spending a trillion dollars on dramatically expanding the size and reach of the federal government and providing subsidies for insurance companies, as the Pelosi bill does, we should continue to fight for common-sense reforms: giving individuals the same health-insurance tax break businesses get (which would cost less), curbing junk medical lawsuits, enabling people to buy insurance across state lines, increasing the amount of money they can sock away tax free for medical expenses, and permitting small businesses to band together to pool risk and lower rates.
"It's an uphill fight, but an important uphill fight all the same.
"Never before has such a monumental change for our country been carried out without the support of both parties. It is regrettable that this debate has fostered unprecedented division at a time when this nation needs to come together and address the serious economic and security challenges we face.
"Now what's the good news? It is heartening to see so many Americans actively engaged on this issue. In addition to the hundreds of citizens who attended my Town Hall meetings, nearly 16,000 of my constituents called, emailed, faxed and wrote to convey their views. They have done their best to listen to the arguments, study the legislation and communicate with me.
"The strength of our democracy is an active and engaged public.
"Of course, in Washington, there has been a preoccupying focus on health care and now the President proposes to target the foreclosure crisis, which the Administration has virtually ignored until this week. But everyone knows that nothing will happen until people have jobs and the means to pay their mortgage obligations!
"Now more than ever, Congress needs to focus on jobs, careers and opportunities to revitalize the American economy and promote economic freedom."
Recommended Reading: Thursday's excellent Wall Street Journal editorial, "ObamaCare Day One" is worth a read:
Washington Knows Best!
One aspect of the health care bill that is taking effect immediately is that chain restaurants (20 or more outlets) will be required to prominently display nutrition information.
More than 200,000 fast food and other chain restaurants will have to include calorie counts on menus, menu boards and even drive-throughs. This rule will also apply to vending machines carrying convenience foods.
The new law directs the Food and Drug Administration to create a new national standard for menu labeling, superseding a growing number of state and city laws.
This Week's "Other" Government Takeover
Tucked away in the health care package was yet another government takeover -- this one absorbing the program that tens of millions of Americans have used successfully over the year to pay for college.
Since 1965, the Federal Family Education Loan Program has helped students and parents by providing low-cost, federally guaranteed loans. This public-private partnership offers students and schools choice and competition among loan providers. There's no doubt, it's been a popular program which leveraged the innovation and competitive forces of the private sector with Congressionally mandated benefits and protections that keep interest rates and fees low.
The health care bill included a section that ended this program and turned the federal government into the sole originator and collector of student loans, forcing about 4,000 schools in the federal government's "Direct Loan" program.
Direct Loans are financed with Treasury borrowing. This places a stunning amount of long-term debt on the books at a time when America is borrowing more than ever from China and our other foreign creditors. In addition, much more taxpayer spending will be required to hire the thousands of additional employees at the U.S. Department of Education required to manage yet another expansion of the size of the federal government. (And some observers report that as many as 35,000 private sector jobs will be lost through this conversion.)
There is no doubt that we should be doing everything we can to maximize student access to higher education, especially during these difficult economic times.
But as the old saying goes, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" and then ask the embattled taxpayer to pick up the tab.
Banks and financial institutions. GM. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Health care. And now, the successful private sector student loan program has been "nationalized."
Worth Another Look:
Senator Lamar Alexander (former Secretary of Education) writing in the Washington Post on the Obama Administration's plan to "nationalize" the federal student loan program:
Congress Continues its Spending Spree
Speaker Pelosi decided to celebrate the passage of the job-killing health care bill by bringing forth two bills that are symbolic of the Majority's attitude on private sector job creation, budget deficits and the national debt -- more spending!
First, the House voted on another so-called "jobs" bill that will do almost nothing to create jobs. The legislation is a perfect microcosm of the Speaker's disastrous economic agenda that has delivered America nothing but three million more unemployed Americans and another $2 trillion in debt. H.R. 4849, the so-called "The Small Business and Infrastructure Jobs Tax Act" contains:
* More Taxes -- With $19.4 billion in tax increases, including one falling heavily on companies located in the U.S. and employing American workers, this "jobs" bill would encourage jobs to move overseas and discourage new investment here at home. With unemployment hovering at frightening levels, the last thing we should be doing is discouraging any employer from creating jobs or making new investments.
* More Government -- 80 percent of the tax relief in the bill is directed at bolstering local governments. There's a big difference between small governments and small businesses, and consumer confidence will not rebound until the private sector is the one adding jobs.
* More Spending -- While billions of taxpayer dollars intended for infrastructure in the "stimulus" still remain bogged down in the Washington bureaucracy and red tape, the subsidies to local government in this bill are intended to encourage even more spending on these so-called "shovel ready" projects.
Second, the House adopted H.R. 4899, "The Disaster Relief and Summer Jobs Act," a new $6 billion spending bill that provides $5.1 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and $600 million for a "summer youth jobs" program. None of the FEMA funding is "offset" by spending reductions in other areas of the budget. In addition, there is already $1.4 billion in the pipeline for a Department of Labor jobs program.
Rodney and Energy Panel Grill Secretary Chu
Energy Secretary Steven Chu made an appearance before the Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development on Wednesday and received bipartisan criticism for his lack of responsiveness to Congress. Rodney, the Ranking Republican Member, took specific aim at the Secretary's handling of the closing of the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste depository and the Department's spending of funds from last year's so-called economic stimulus bill.
View the video from the hearing here:
Defense Subcommittee Hears from Gates
Defense Secretary Robert Gates testified before the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee on Wednesday and urged the panel to
Rodney is a senior member of the subcommittee and questioned Secretary Gates and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Michael Mullen about the timetable for withdrawal in Iraq and the U.S. Navy's capacity to execute maritime interdiction operations in the Persian Gulf associated with increased sanctions against Iran.
You can view this exchange here:
Wrong Way on Iran?
Published reports indicate that the U.S. may be backing away from pursuing a number of tough measures against Iran as it continues to develop nuclear weapons. The reports indicate the change in tactics by the Obama Administration is designed to win support from Russia and China for a new United Nations Security Council resolution on sanctions.
Among provisions reportedly removed from the original draft resolution the U.S. sent to key allies were sanctions aimed at choking off Tehran's access to international banking services and capital markets, and closing international airspace and waters to Iran's national air cargo and shipping lines.
This week, Rodney co-signed a letter to President Obama, urging him to "move rapidly to implement your existing authority on Iran and the legislation we send you, and to galvanize the international community for immediate, devastating steps. The hour is late. Now is the time for action."
For more information:
"US softens Iran sanctions plan to win support: report"
Job Creation Fact of the Week
The United States has "free trade agreements" in place with 17 nations and in each case, we export more manufactured goods to these countries than we import from them.
Conclusion: free trade agreements are good for American manufacturers.
Bad Idea of the Week: Double Standard on Trade!
While the President Obama accommodates Speaker Pelosi and Senate Leader Reid's refusal to debate three major pending Free Trade Agreements with Colombia, South Korea and Panama, he is about to sign the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement by executive decree!
Read more from today's Washington Post here: