e-News July 24, 2009

1. The Week Just Past
2. Speaker Pelosi’s Health Care “Reform”: By the Numbers
3. Hiding from the Ugly Budget Truth
4. Closing Gitmo: “these are hard, consequential decisions”
5. Accepting a nuclear armed Iran?
6. Bad Idea of the Week:  Nationalizing Student Loans
7. Taking Aim at air noise

The Week Just Past

“I don’t have to read the unemployment statistics to know that the American people are hurting and continuing to lose jobs.  They are struggling to make ends meet, worrying about their next paycheck and whether their job is in jeopardy.

“The Obama Administration and Congressional Majority promised that their trillion-dollar ‘stimulus’ would create jobs ‘immediately’ and unemployment would not rise above 8%.  We all know now that in June alone, almost half a million private sector jobs were lost, driving unemployment to 9.5% - its highest level in almost three decades.

“It is very clear the trillion-dollar economic ‘stimulus’ isn’t stimulating much beyond more government, more borrowing and more debt.

“Every American has the right to ask: ‘where are the jobs?’  We cannot tax, borrow and spend our way back to prosperity.

“Small businessmen and women, not government, are the engine of our economy.

“If Speaker Pelosi has her way, the House will vote this coming week on a $1.5 trillion government takeover of health care in America.  If enacted, the Obama-Pelosi health care bill would increase the federal deficit by $239 billion, despite the fact that it contains $808 billion in new taxes.  In fact, the Majority imbedded an automatic tax increase in their bill by doubling the 1% and 1.5% small business taxes in 2013.

“I have seen estimates that 4.7 million private sector jobs could be lost as a result of these increased taxes.  Small businesses - the sector we are counting on to lead us out of the recession - would be particularly hard hit. 

“Now, don’t get me wrong: I support efforts to make quality health care coverage affordable and accessible for every American.  I understand that any time a child or a parent goes without the care they need, it represents a very serious personal crisis for that family.
“Fundamentally, those who like their current health care coverage should be able to keep it. Genuine health care reform should put patients and their health first, and should protect the important doctor-patient relationship!

“We can and must accomplish these goals by using a process that is bipartisan, careful and deliberate.  Health reform is too important to be force-fed to Congress, like the economic ‘stimulus’ bill and the ‘cap-and-trade’ energy tax, just to satisfy some campaign promise or meet an artificial, political timetable.  As health care affects every man, woman and child in America, it is important that we ‘get it right.’”   

Recommended Reading

“Destroying Private Insurance” in Monday’s Washington Times:

Speaker Pelosi’s Health Care “Reform”: By the Numbers

Here’s a list of important numbers relevant to the 1,018-page health care “reform” package that Speaker Nancy Pelosi is rushing through the House:

114 million—Number of individuals who could lose their current coverage under the bill, according to non-partisan actuaries at the Lewin Group;

4.7 million—Number of jobs that could be lost as a result of taxes on businesses that cannot afford to provide health insurance coverage, according to a model developed by White House Economic Advisor Christina Romer;

$818 billion—Total new taxes on individuals who cannot afford health coverage, and employers who cannot afford to provide coverage that meet Washington bureaucrats’ standards;

$1.28 trillion—New federal spending in this plan over the next ten years, according to a Congressional Budget Office score of selected elements of the bill;

$239 billion – Expansion of the federal budget deficit despite inclusion of $818 billion in new taxes in the bill; 

0.6%—Percentage of all that new spending occurring in the bill’s first three years—representing a debt and tax “time bomb” in the program’s later years that will explode for future generations;

$88,200—Definition of “low-income” family of four for purposes of government-provided health insurance subsidies;

33—Entitlement programs the bill creates, expands, or extends—an increase from an earlier draft;

53—Additional offices, bureaus, commissions, programs, and Washington bureaucracies the bill creates over and above the entitlement expansions—also an increase from the discussion draft;

$10 billion—Minimum loss sustained by taxpayers every year due to Medicare fraud; the government-run health plan does not reform the ineffective anti-fraud statutes and procedures that have kept Medicare on the Government Accountability Office’s list of high-risk programs for two decades;

Zero—Prohibitions on government programs like Medicare and Medicaid from using “cost-effectiveness” research to impose delays to or denials for access to life-saving treatments;

2017—The year the Medicare Hospital Insurance Trust Fund will be exhausted—a date unchanged by the bill, which re-directs “savings” from Medicare to fund new entitlements for younger Americans;

$2,500—Promised savings for each American family from health reform, according to then-Senator Obama’s campaign pledge—savings which the Congressional Budget Office has confirmed will not materialize, as the bill will not slow the growth of health care costs;

Hiding from the Ugly Budget Truth

The White House started the week by announcing that it would delay its mid-year budget review until next month – when the Administration hopes fewer Americans will be paying attention.  The annual midsummer budget update is sure to show higher deficits and unemployment and slower growth than projected in President Barack Obama's budget in February and update in May.

“The American people have good reason to be worried about the mountain of debt this White House and this Congress have built in such a short period of time.  They are spending and borrowing with reckless abandon,” said Frelinghuysen.  “This postponement is a blatant attempt to hide a record-breaking deficit as the President and Speaker Pelosi attempt to rush through Congress an expensive government takeover of health care.” 

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) last week estimated that the House Democrats’ government takeover of health care would increase the deficit by $239 billion over the next 10 years, while the non-partisan CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf Congress that the Democrats’ plans will drive health care costs even higher.

Recommended Reading II

Robert Samuelson in Monday’s Washington Post:   “The Squandered Stimulus:”

Closing Gitmo: “these are hard, consequential decisions”

In a clear sign of the difficult issues it faces in grappling with how to close the terrorist detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the Obama Administration this week delayed completion of reports examining U.S. detention policy.  The work of a Justice Department task force, which had been scheduled to send a report on detention policy to the President last Tuesday, has been extended for six months.  A senior White House official told reporters, “these are hard, consequential decisions.”

“I am not surprised that the Obama Administration appears surprised that it is difficult to develop a new plan for dealing with the dangerous terrorists currently held at Guantanamo Bay,” said Frelinghuysen. 

“This delay is further proof that the Administration has no plan and the President should not have set an arbitrary deadline for closing the facility just to satisfy a political campaign pledge.  Instead of taking unilateral action that could put our nation at risk, the Administration should outline a comprehensive strategy for keeping these terrorists off U.S. soil and for guaranteeing that they can never ‘return to the fight’ against America and the West.”

Accepting a nuclear armed Iran?

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's offer this week of a "defense umbrella" over Gulf Arab allies to prevent Tehran from dominating the region "once they have a nuclear weapon" was widely seen in Israel and around the world as an acceptance of a nuclear-armed Iran.

We can only hope that Secretary Clinton misspoke.  Preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon must remain a U.S. national security imperative.

Bad Idea of the Week: Nationalizing Student Loans

The House Education Committee this week approved legislation that would essentially remove private lenders from the disbursement of subsidized federal student loans.   Instead, the student loans will now be provided by the U.S. Department of Education (a.k.a. the taxpayer) which will have to hire thousands of new public employees to manage this multi-billion dollar program.

“I find it curious that the same Congressional Majority that is pushing vigorously for ‘competition’ in health care by the establishment of an experimental government ‘public option’ would turn around and vote to eliminate competition in the student loan market,” said Frelinghuysen.  “This is the wrong approach for America.”

Taking Aim at Air Noise

Statement of Rep. Frelinghuysen on the House Floor on Thursday as he offered an amendment to the FY 2010 Transportation Appropriations bill:

“Mr. Chairman, Madam Speaker, I yield myself [one minute]. I rise today to offer an amendment, along with my colleagues Leonard Lance and Rush Holt of New Jersey and Eliot Engel of New York, that would force the FAA to halt the implementation of its Redesign of the New York, New Jersey, and Philadelphia Airspace unless they immediately address the issue of aircraft noise over our area.

“While the safety of passengers, their travel time, and the needs of the airline industry’s survival is paramount, so is the right of the people on the ground, not all of whom are “air travelers” themselves, who have a right to a quality of life with a minimum exposure to air noise overheard.

“The FAA has never adequately addressed the issue of airplane noise, despite repeated Congressional requests and statutory requirements to do so.

“There were 13 lawsuits seeking to block this redesign because of noise and other environmental concerns. Members of Congress have proposed several studies that have sought to find other solutions to improve the airspace, so clearly there is support for putting this redesign on hold.

“Madam Speaker, despite the fact that the appropriations bills that fund the FAA have over many years directed the FAA to address the issue of aircraft noise, the FAA has clearly turned a ‘deaf ear’ to this issue.

“Maybe they will hear us this time!

“In closing, I know that many members want to see this redesign continue to move forward to improve the overall efficiency and safety of our nation’s airspace.

“I would just ask that my colleagues keep in mind that not only is this airspace the most complex in the country, but that other projects around the country will face citizen complaints about aircraft noise.
“If the FAA doesn’t address aircraft noise now, when will it?

“Thank you, Mr. Chairman, I urge the adoption of this amendment and yield back the balance of my time.”