e-News March 19, 2010

The Week Just Past
The Price-tag of the Obama-Pelosi-Reid Health Bill
Active Military and Veterans: Health Care Alert!
Committee Work: Defense and Energy/Water Subcommittees
Town Hall Meeting Cancelled

The Week Just Past

“As I write this, the most significant legislation of this generation is headed toward a possible Sunday or Monday vote.  Speaker Nancy Pelosi has assured colleagues from her party that they will be politically protected because House members will be given only 30 minutes for debate on a House rule, not the bill itself! So much for the voices of my constituents being heard!

“At a time when most Americans want Congress to focus on private sector job creation and reviving consumer confidence and our economy, the Speaker has apparently determined that she will ram President Obama’s health care proposal through Congress by any means possible.

“It appears that the Speaker has decided to utilize a seldom-used maneuver and have the House approve the Senate-passed health bill without a vote!  During the same week that President Obama asked members of his own party to show ‘courage’ and vote in favor of his bill, this ‘deem and pass’ mechanism would allow Democrats to avoid a direct vote on the Senate bill.

“On both procedure and policy, this bill deserves strong opposition.  In addition to forcing everyone in America to buy health insurance, whether they want it or need it, this legislation represents a government takeover of health care and contains over $523 billion in Medicare cuts and over $569 billion in tax increases, something that is very unwise in a recession. 

“You may be interested to know that 130 economists released a letter this week, rejecting Speaker Pelosi’s prediction that the Obama health care proposal will actually create jobs.  They wrote that the bill contains many provisions – new taxes and insurance mandates – that will eliminate jobs, reduce wages and hinder job creation.”

“The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) issued a preliminary cost estimate (see below) for the President’s bill.  Even though the estimate is based on incomplete data, the Majority seems happy that the bill costs nearly $1 trillion.  They also claim that it will reduce the deficit. 

“Only in Washington, D.C. can you spend a trillion dollars and say you are actually saving taxpayer’s money!”

Recommended Reading: Fred Barnes in the Thursday Wall Street Journal: “The Healthcare Wars Are Only Beginning.”  A good read:

Opposing “Deem and Pass”

Rodney has cosponsored House Resolution 1188, which is designed to ensure an up-or-down vote on the Senate’s health care bill. The resolution would prevent the Speaker from bringing a rule or order to the floor that provides for the disposition of the health bill the Senate passed on Christmas Eve, unless it also allows for an up-or-down vote on the Senate bill. This would prevent Speaker Pelosi from “deeming” the Senate bill as passed.

Recommended Reading II: Gerald Seib in Friday’s Wall Street Journal, “Whether or Not Congress ‘Deems,’ Public is Steamed”:

The Price-tag of the Obama-Pelosi-Reid Health Bill

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) yesterday released a “preliminary” estimate of the Obama-Pelosi-Reid health care legislation and reported it will total nearly one trillion dollars. However, the CBO document cautioned that its estimate was not yet complete, and included assumptions such as future tax increases and cuts to federal programs to be voted on and approved in future years – an unlikely political scenario.

The CBO also did not count discretionary spending, saying, “CBO has not completed an estimate of the potential impact of the legislation on discretionary spending, which would be subject to future appropriation action.” The House and Senate Budget Committees and the House Appropriations Committee estimate that this discretionary funding will exceed $100 billion, and could potentially reach into the hundreds of billions of dollars.

Rodney blasted the Majority leadership in the House for trying to force approval of the health care legislation without a complete accounting of its costs and its effects on the budget deficit and national debt.

“No one in Congress – not any House Member, Senator, or staffer – has a complete estimate or thoroughly understands what this 2,700-page bill is going to cost the American people,” he said. “Yet, Speaker Pelosi is expecting the House to blindly approve this flawed piece of legislation that will place a massive – and still unknown – burden of debt upon generations of American families,” Rodney said.

Noted with Interest:  Washington has an expensive habit of underestimating the real cost of government programs:

In 1965, it was estimated that by 1990, Medicare Part A would cost the federal government $9.1 billion. In reality, 1990 spending was $67 billion – seven times greater.

And then there’s Medicare Part B. Created in 1965, the program was supposed to be funded through a $3 premium and $500 million in federal revenue. In 2008, Medicare Part B required $146.8 billion in government revenue – a 4300 percent increase.

Recommended Reading III: Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal editorial “ObamaCare’s Worst Tax Hike” which illuminates one particularly damaging tax increase tucked inside the President’s health care proposal, a new 3.8% top tax rate on “unearned income.”  For the first time, the Medicare FICA tax will be extended beyond wages to include interest, dividends, capital gains, annuities, royalties and rents.   This new tax will be particularly damaging to New Jersey’s seniors, many of whom depend on their interest, dividends and annuities to cover their monthly expenses and potential nursing home costs:

Active Military and Veterans: Health Care Alert!

Unless Speaker Pelosi makes a significant change to President Obama’s health care legislation, the House will endorse a bill this weekend that could impact coverage for 9.2 million military personnel, retirees and their families. 

The health “reform” bill the House passed in November contained an unambiguous provision that explicitly exempted TRICARE from any changes mandated by the House legislation.  However, the Senate-passed bill contained no such protection.  The House is expected to consider the Senate-passed bill in the next few days.

“America’s troops, their families and retirees have earned quality health care,” said Rodney, a Vietnam veteran. “To reassure our nation’s warfighters and their families that their health care will not be damaged directly or indirectly by these ‘reforms,’ Speaker Pelosi must agree to correct the Senate bill BEFORE the House votes on it.  Current and former service personnel are counting on her.” 

Committee Work: Defense and Energy/Water Subcommittees

The Defense Appropriations Subcommittee held a hearing on Wednesday regarding the Pentagon’s contracting practices in war zones in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Concerned about potential infiltration by extremists, Rodney pressed senior Defense Department officials for information on background checks on Afghan nationals hired to work for U.S. or NATO contractors.

The Energy and Water Subcommittee, on which Rodney serves as Ranking Republican Member, held three hearings.
On Wednesday the Subcommittee took hours of testimony on energy efficiency and renewable energy and energy reliability.   Thursday’s hearing topic was the Department of Energy’s environmental management.

The Energy and Water Development Subcommittee’s hearing on Tuesday focused on the Department of Energy’s efforts to enhance science in America.  While American science arguably continues to be the best in the world, our margin of leadership is neither as wide nor as clear-cut as it has been in the past. 

Keith Bradsher wrote about this in Thursday’s New York Times “China Drawing High-Tech Research From U.S.”  This is a most disturbing article and worth reading!

Recommended Reading IV:  Jay Solomon and Richard Boudreaux in Friday’s Wall Street Journal, “Russia Greets Clinton with a Gift to Iran”:

Town Hall Meeting Cancelled

Speaker Pelosi has decided to keep the House in session to vote on the President’s health care proposal.  As a result, Rodney has cancelled his public town meeting scheduled for Saturday, March 20. The session had been planned for 9 a.m. at Ridge High School in Bernards Township.

For more information, please call 973-984-0711.