Boehner Answers Community's Questions
Last month, in this column, I invited residents of the Eighth District to submit questions to me via e-mail at AskBoehner@mail.house.gov. I will answer some of them in this column. I plan to reserve one column per month to answer questions submitted to that e-mail address, and I urge you to take advantage of this opportunity and ask me any question that's been on your mind: about a law that isn't quite clear to you; about a federal agency with which you've had some trouble; or about a legislative matter you want me to explore. This month, I've chosen a few questions from our neighbors in the Eighth District and another question my office has received frequently as of late. So, let's get to it:
"What is the government doing about rising gasoline prices?"
Ray in West Chester
First of all, contrary to what some want to believe, spikes in gas prices are not the result of "price gouging." Countless congressional and Department of Energy investigations have confirmed this. Instead, it's a simple matter of supply and demand. Today, the U.S. imports nearly 60 percent of its oil - an all-time high. The petroleum-exporting nations that provide this oil are cutting supply, while American consumers are increasing demand, especially as the summer approaches. The result: sky-high gas prices.
So what can the government do? To start, we can send President Bush long-awaited energy legislation that would reduce our dependence on foreign oil by increasing domestic energy production, improving conservation, and promoting more renewable fuel usage. With my vote, the House has done its part by approving this legislation last November. Unfortunately, it stalled in the Senate. However, I remain hopeful they will act soon.
"Do you agree with Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan's suggestion that we may need to reduce Social Security spending in the future?"
Dennis in Fairfield
Do I agree with cutting Social Security benefits? No. Do I agree that improvements must be made to Social Security to preserve the system? Absolutely.
Social Security expenses are expected to exceed revenues in 2013 and to deplete the trust fund by 2029. That's twenty years earlier than expected a decade ago. As more Baby Boomers head toward retirement, I personally support allowing more flexibility and involvement for individuals in Social Security. Any solution must be VOLUNTARY and protect current benefit levels, however, while allowing for personal investment decisions, should a beneficiary choose to participate.
"I've recently seen television ads claiming President Bush wants to eliminate overtime pay to employees. Is this true?"
Bill in Dayton
These ads are deceptive, and that's putting it mildly. The Department of Labor has, in fact, moved to revise half-century old labor laws that currently cause low-income workers to be classified as "white collar" employees and unfairly deny them overtime pay. I think we'd all agree it's unacceptable that current, outdated regulations can require someone earning as little as $8,060 to qualify as a white collar employee and therefore not receive overtime pay. Let's be clear: these new regulations would not "eliminate" overtime. Conversely, the proposal will provide additional protections to low-income workers and ensure they are entitled to overtime pay.
And finally, here's a question my office receives frequently, especially with so many of our young men and women stationed around the world as part of our Armed Forces:
"Is it true that some military personnel are not receiving necessary body armor?"
This is not true. All military personnel - including those in the National Guard - whose mission requires body armor are receiving it, either upon leaving the United States or arriving wherever they are stationed. For example, military police patrolling a bridge in Baghdad will receive body armor, but personnel monitoring information systems in Qatar would not, because their mission does not require it. In short, all those requiring body armor receive it.
I hope you find these questions and answers informative. I look forward to answering more next month in this column. Once again, I invite you to e-mail your question - along with your first name and hometown - to me at AskBoehner@mail.house.gov. I look forward to hearing from you.