e-News September 25, 2009

  1. The Week Just Past
  2. Facts about Senator Baucus’ Healthcare ‘Reform’ Proposal
  3. Bad Idea of the Week: Fewer Border Patrol Agents?
  4. Town Meetings Tomorrow
  5. Spread the eNews
  6. Contact Rep. Frelinghuysen

The Week Just Past

“Reforming health care in America to bring down costs and improve accessibility to quality, affordable care for America’s families should be one of Congress’ top priorities.   There is no doubt about it.  And I support reform.
“However, it cannot and should not completely dominate all of our attention and energy as the country faces so many other critically important issues. 

“First and foremost is the battered economy.  Private sector jobs have been disappearing at an alarming rate! 

“We remain in the grips of a very serious recession.  And yet, the bloated $1 trillion economic ‘stimulus’ package jammed through Congress in February has been the only attempt to create good private sector jobs, and it has failed! 

“Congress should be working on a bipartisan basis to improve the economic climate to allow American businesses, large and small,  to grow again.   

“And with all the focus on health care, the attention that needs to be paid to Afghanistan is lacking.   The Congress and the nation need to hear directly from Gen. Stanley McChrystal, U.S. commander in Afghanistan.  I am concerned that the President’s apparent decision not to ‘rush’ into any decision on committing more troops to Afghanistan will have serious repercussions.

“In a report leaked to the Washington Post this week, Gen. McChrystal offered a stark assessment of conditions in Afghanistan and said more military force is needed, although he did not make a specific request. 

“It is up to the President – the Commander-in-Chief – to make this call.  But with insufficient troops in the field, we put the troops who are already in the field at greater risk. Secondly, if we don’t come to a decision soon we will miss the window of getting more troops into the theater as the spring thaws occurs, when additional troops are necessary.

“But the bottom line is Congress can do more than one thing at a time.  Getting health reform right is very important.  But we should not be ignoring so many other important challenges facing America.: a trade war with China, weakened ballistic missile defenses and continued federal interventions in the financial markets, to name just a few!”

Recommended Reading:

Afghanistan is worth U.S. commitment by Tim Haake in the Washington Times, September 10, 2009:

Facts about Senator Baucus’s Healthcare ‘Reform' Proposal

The focus of the Congressional health care debate this week was the proposal offered in the Senate Finance Committee by its Chairman Max Baucus.   He unveiled the framework of the bill last week.  This week he convened the Finance Committee to begin considering over 500 amendments with a goal of completing the Committee ‘mark-up’ this week.  

Rodney supports reform. Unfortunately, the Baucus bill that is being portrayed in the media as a ‘compromise,’ appears very similar in many important respects to the unacceptable proposals supported by the President and many Congressional Leaders:

Fact: Medicare Cuts Mean Reduced Benefits, Fewer Choices for Seniors. The Baucus plan cuts Medicare by nearly $500 billion, slashing coverage millions of seniors depend on. These benefit cuts will ultimately eliminate choices currently enjoyed by seniors today. Doug Elmendorf, the head of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, told the Senate Finance Committee this week he “expected the Medicare Advantage plans to lose 2.7 million enrollees over the next decade” as a result of the Baucus plan.  Nearly 150,000 New Jersey residents are enrolled in Medicare Advantage.

FACT: Individual Mandate Results in Hefty Tax Increase for Millions of Americans. The Baucus plan mandates that every American buy health insurance or pay a hefty new tax to Washington of up to $1,900 per year. Especially during a recession, this new tax will place another large burden on the family budget.

FACT: No Lawsuit Abuse Reform to Reduce Health Care Costs. The Baucus plan includes only a non-binding “Sense of the Senate” with respect to the very pressing issue of junk lawsuit reform. Serious changes are needed to reduce costly, unnecessary defensive medicine practiced by doctors trying to protect themselves from frivolous lawsuits.

FACT: New Taxes Harm Small Businesses, Costs Jobs. The Baucus plan saddles small businesses that have more than 50 employees with a new tax of up to $199,600 per year if they do not provide health coverage to their employees. Census data compiled by the Small Business Administration, however, reveals that the Baucus “small business exemption” – for businesses with fewer than 50 employees – will still subject many small employers to new taxes and mandates. In fact, this so-called “exemption” could still subject 220,000 small businesses that employ 44% of all small business employees and 22% of the entire private sector workforce to the new taxes and mandates.

FACT: Higher Health Care Costs for Working Families. The Baucus plan would actually raise insurance premiums for working families, not lower them. In a letter to Chairman Baucus, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office stated “premiums in the new insurance exchanges would tend to be higher than the average premiums in the current-law individual market…” Meanwhile, a recent study published in Health Affairs found that a government-run plan similar to the one being proposed in the House Democrats’ bill could cause annual insurance premiums for a family of four to increase by more than $4,500.

FACT:  $420 Billion in New Tax Increases on Families & Small Businesses. The Baucus plan includes a host of new taxes on American families and job creators. Taxes on individuals who are uninsured, taxes on employers that do not offer health insurance coverage, and taxes on health care products like wheelchairs and other medical devices and insurance are just some of the more than $420 billion in new tax increases included in the bill. At a time when families and small businesses are already struggling to make ends meet, new taxes of this magnitude would only further slow the economy and raise the cost of care for those patients who need it most.

FACT: Lower Wages and More Unemployment. The Baucus plan would impose a new $27 billion tax on employers, including small businesses, that cannot afford to provide health coverage or that don’t offer coverage. The effect of this type of tax, similar to a payroll tax increase, would ultimately fall squarely on workers in the form of lower wages or reduced employment.

FACT: Higher Taxes on American Manufacturers.  In order to find revenue to “pay for” his plan, Senator Baucus included massive new taxes on various industry segments in the health care sector. These new taxes include $17.2 billion tax on pharmaceutical manufacturers, a $30 billion tax on medical device manufacturers, and a $45 billion tax on health insurers. These massive tax increases on American manufacturers will be passed on to American families, and they will make the cost of health care more expensive. These tax increases will also serve as a major disincentive for innovation, capital investment and job creation. With some Senate Democrats clamoring for additional – and costly – subsidies, how many more tax increases will be added before it goes for a vote in the Senate? When will Democrats reveal what other tax increases they have in store for American working families and employers?

While House Democrats have written legislation in three different committees, the Senate Finance Committee is taking a different approach. The Committee is working off of a framework document that summarizes what they would like to do, but doesn’t offer specifics on how it would be done. That leaves big questions about just how this plan will work and does not allow for a full and transparent debate on the plan. At a time when the American people are asking their legislators, “Have you read the bill?” the clear answer among Senate Finance Committee members will be “no.”

Recommended Reading II:

The President’s Definition of a Tax in the Monday Wall Street Journal:

Recommended Reading III:

Seven months after its passage, the government’s ‘stimulus’ spending has slowed to a crawl once again, according to the Washington Times:

Bad Idea of the Week: Fewer Border Patrol Agents?

The U.S.-Mexico border is over 1,200 miles long and our own government says long stretches of it are “easily breached.”   In addition to the flow of persons violating U.S. law by ‘jumping the border,’ there have been documented instances where persons “linked to terrorism” have been intercepted.

Town Hall Meeting Tomorrow
Rodney will be conducting another public town hall meeting tomorrow.  The latest in his series of regularly scheduled meetings will be held: 

Saturday, September 26
9:00 AM to 11:00 AM
Montville Township High School Auditorium
100 Horseneck Road, Montville, NJ, 07045

Rodney will also provide an update of his work in Congress, including his efforts to oppose tax hikes and large federal spending increases, promote homeland security, support America’s military service members and their families as the senior Member of Congress from New Jersey on the House Appropriations Committee.

All concerned citizens in the 11th Congressional District are invited to attend. Constituent service staff will be available to address individual concerns. 

Seating may be limited.  People requiring special accommodations should contact Rodney’s office (973-984-0711) at least 48 hours prior to the scheduled town hall meeting.

If you cannot attend tomorrow, the next town hall meeting will be held:

Saturday, October 3
9:00 AM to 11:00 AM
Mount Olive Middle School Auditorium
160 Wolfe Road, Budd Lake, NJ 07828