e-News July 17, 2009

1. The Week Just Past
2. Summary of the House Leadership Health Package
3. The President’s “Apology Tour” (continued)
4. Bad Idea of the Week:  Stiffing The Taxpayer
5. National Debt Watch: Rising Tide of Red
6. Our Energy Future
7. The House Endorses the Port

The Week Just Past

“House Speaker Pelosi unveiled the Majority’s health care proposal this week and, as anticipated, it is largely a government takeover of health care fueled by a new tax on small businesses that will destroy more American jobs.  In the midst of one of the steepest recessions in recent memory, a small business tax will make matters worse for middle-class Americans trying to survive, keep their jobs and provide for their families.

“There is no doubt that we must reform health care in America.  We cannot not support the status quo, but want to work in a bipartisan fashion to lower health care costs and expand access to needed treatments while protecting choice and flexibility for patients.  We must develop a ‘reform’ package that builds on these key principles to ensure that working families and individuals can keep the coverage they already have, including the freedom to have the doctor-patient relationship of their choice. This is what distinguishes our healthcare system – however imperfect – from those like Canada and Great Britain, where patients must endure weeks and months of waiting before they can see specialists or schedule surgery, therapy or other treatments.

“Unfortunately, Speaker Pelosi’s proposal will force more than 114 million Americans out of their current private health care plans as well as move millions of seniors out of their current coverage and onto the government rolls.  Working families, small businesses, and older Americans deserve better. 

“Remarkably, the bill suggests serious cuts in Medicare funding which could further reduce payments to doctors treating seniors. Translated, more and more doctors will probably stop treating Medicare patients.

“The proposal deliberately ignores the current medical lawsuit crisis which forces doctors to practice defensive medicine by ordering unnecessary tests and procedures.  Common-sense liability reform will help your doctor continue to treat your family.

“If Speaker Pelosi is serious about real job creation and true health care reform that provides more access to treatments and less interference from Washington bureaucrats,  she will scrap this government takeover and work in a bipartisan way on a plan that helps small businesses create jobs and gives all Americans better access to quality care.”

Summary of the House Leadership Health Package

The Majority’s bill virtually guarantees a nationalization of health care — one defined by federal regulation, a myriad of new programs, and higher federal spending. The bill would ensure the heavy hand of Washington bureaucrats over every aspect of health care, levying costly new taxes on individuals and businesses who do not comply with mandated participation!

The costs of this bill’s provisions—only partially masked by budgetary gimmicks and “smoke-and-mirrors” accounting—cost well over $1.5 trillion, financed largely by significant job-killing tax increases imposed on small businesses during a recession.

The current bill is chock full of provisions that should worry all Americans: 

  • Creation of a government-run health plan that experts say would result in 114 million Americans losing their current private health coverage—a clear violation of the President’s pledge to allow individuals to keep their current health plan;
  • More than half a trillion dollars in tax increases on certain income filers, a majority of whom are small businessmen and women —and $818 billion in tax increases overall;
  • Insurance regulations that would raise costs for nearly all Americans, particularly young Americans, and confine choice of plans to those approved by a board of Washington bureaucrats (and surely put local insurance agents out of business);
  • New price controls on health insurance companies that provide perverse incentives to keep individuals sick rather than managing chronic disease, while impeding patient access to important services just because those services do not provide a direct clinical benefit;
    Massive expansion of Medicaid—fully paid for by the federal government—to all individuals with incomes below 133 percent of the Federal Poverty Level ($29,326 for a family of four), replacing the existing private health coverage of millions with taxpayer-funded health care;
  • Language opening employers operating group health plans to state laws —subjecting employers to review by 50 different state court rulings, thereby raising costs and encouraging more employers to drop their current health plans;
  • Establishment of a Washington-centered health Exchange that would abolish the private health insurance market outside the Exchange—and could evolve into a ‘single-payer’ approach due to the Exchange’s ability to cannibalize existing employer plans;
  • Creation of a brand new government board, the “Health Benefits Advisory Committee,” that would empower federal bureaucrats to impose new mandates—including a mandate to obtain and provide abortion coverage—on individuals and insurance carriers;
  • Taxation of individuals who do not purchase a level of health coverage that meets the dictates of a board of Washington bureaucrats—including those who cannot afford the coverage options provided;
  • New, job-killing taxes—over $200 billion worth—on employers who cannot afford to provide their workers health insurance, which could result in up to 4.7 million private sector employees losing their jobs;
  • Penalties as high as $500,000 on employers who make honest mistakes when filing paperwork with the government health board—which would likely dissuade businesses from continuing to provide coverage, increasing the amount of health care provided through the bureaucrat-run Exchange;
  • “Low-income” health insurance subsidies to a family of four making up to $88,200;
  • Damaging cuts to the popular Medicare Advantage plans for older Americans that would result in millions of seniors losing their current health coverage;
  • Expanded price controls on pharmaceutical products that would discourage companies from producing life-saving breakthrough medicines and medical devices, resulting in a loss of jobs in New Jersey’s pharmaceutical industry, our state’s largest employers.

“I repeat: there is no doubt that we must reform health care in America.  We must develop a ‘reform’ package that lowers health care costs and provides more access to more doctors and treatments while allowing that families and individuals can keep the coverage they already have, including the freedom to consult with the doctor of their choice.

“The next two weeks are very important for our nation.  Health care constitutes 17 percent of America’s economy.  Besides the devastating consequences this plan will have on an individual’s medical care, the damage to our economy will be serious and, possibly, irreversible.”

Recommended Reading:

From Thursday’s

CBO Chief Criticizes Democrats' Health Reform Measures;
Director Says Proposed Changes Would Weaken Economy

Recommended Reading II:

From Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal:

Big Pharma Gets Played

The President’s “Apology Tour” (continued)

President Obama returned to the United States early this week from his most recent international trip.   Clearly, the President has the responsibility to represent the United States abroad.   “I agree with the assessment of many who have labeled this most recent trip another “International Apology Tour” – the third since January,” said Frelinghuysen.

Earlier this year, the President proclaimed in France that that America “has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive” toward Europe.

In the Czech Republic, he declared the U.S. has “a moral responsibility to act” on arms control because only the U.S. had “used a nuclear weapon.”

In Latin America, he said the U.S. had not “pursued and sustained engagement with our neighbors” because we “failed to see that our own progress is tied directly to progress throughout the Americas.”

In his Cairo speech to the Muslim world, he said, “9/11 was an enormous trauma to our country. The fear and anger that it provoked was understandable, but in some cases, it led us to act contrary to our ideals. We are taking concrete actions to change course…”

And then last week, he attended the G8 Summit in Italy and faulted the U.S. for not doing enough in the past on the “climate change.”

“The United States is by no means perfect,” said Frelinghuysen.  “However, I do not believe that any President or representative of the United States government owes these apologies to anyone.   The remarkable American cemeteries abroad, in Normandy, Flanders Fields, the Ardennes, Sicily, Tunisia, and Manila to name a few, are ample evidence of the incredible sacrifice and the contributions America has made in the name of freedom!” 

Recommended Reading III:
David Ignatius in Thursday’s Washington Post: “Kicking the CIA (Again)”

Bad Idea of the Week: Stiffing the Taxpayer

President Obama announced in June that some financial institutions would be allowed to repay federal Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) dollars.  But now Rep. Barney Frank (MA), the Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, is proposing to spend any TARP profits before they can be returned to the taxpayers.  He has introduced a bill that would take “profits” from the program and immediately redirect them toward housing proposals favored by some fellow Democrats. 

The original TARP legislation required that money made from the program “shall be paid into the general fund of the Treasury for reduction of the public debt.”  Chairman Frank, however, wants to spend the money before it can be used to pay down anything! 

With the budget deficit now over $1 trillion and the national debt approaching $12 trillion (see below), this is a very bad idea.

National Debt Watch: Rising Tide of Red

The government announced this week that the federal budget deficit - the gap between the revenues Washington collects and the money it spends – reached $1 trillion in June.  This figure shatters every deficit record by far and threatens any possible economic recovery with high interest rates and low value for our dollar. 

President Obama, Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Reid have pushed spending programs that add more to our national debt than all previous presidents—from George Washington to George W. Bush—combined. Our children and grandchildren will be paying the bill for many years to come. 

Here are the grim figures:

The National Debt:

  • As of June 30, the national debt stood at $11.5 trillion.
  • $37,609 for every man, woman, and child in America.

Increase in the Last Month:

  • During the month of June, the national debt increased by $223.7 billion.
  • That is an increase of $7.5 billion a day; $310.7 million an hour; $5.2 million a minute; and $86,295 a second.
  • The government spent $18 billion just on interest in June, which works out to $600 million a day in interest payments.  That’s money that cannot be used to send one student to college, pay one doctor’s bill, buy a single helmet for our soldiers, complete one foot of our border fence or put one police officer on the street;

Increase Since Democrats Took Control of Congress:

  • As of June 30, 2009, the national debt had increased $2.9 trillion since the Democrats took control of Congress on January 3, 2007.
  • That works out to an increase of $9,342.83 per person.

Increase Since President Obama Took Office:

  • As of June 30, 2009, the national debt had increased $918 billion since President Obama took office on January 20, 2009.
  • That works out to an increase of $2,991.72 per person.

Foreign Ownership of the National Debt:

  • At the end of April, the U.S. government owed China $763.5 billion. 
  • This year alone our debt to China has increased by $36.1 billion.
  • We owe Japan $685.9 billion and we owe oil exporting nations such as Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, and Kuwait $189.5 billion.

Recommended Reading IV:

Robert Samuelson in Monday’s Washington Post, “The Consequences of Big Government”:
Our Energy Future

On Wednesday, Ranking Republican Rodney Frelinghuysen managed debate on the Fiscal Year 2010 Energy and Water Appropriations bill on the House Floor.  Here is an excerpt from his opening statement:

“…I would have preferred much more support for nuclear power here in the United States and the greater availability of nuclear loan guarantees.  Given what China and India and other nations are doing to build new nuclear plants, we could produce much more electricity ourselves, while adding American jobs, if the Administration and the House and Senate Majority leadership were more supportive.

“The President and Congressional leadership appear to have a strong bias against nuclear power, as well as oil and gas production, which will leave our nation severely disadvantaged.  Energy intensive industries, like what is left of our American manufacturing base, will no longer be able to compete with nations which are making nuclear and other types of capital investments a priority and that are not subjecting themselves to self-imposed ‘cap and trade’ emissions reductions.

“Our lack of investing in nuclear power, so well illustrated in the recent passage of the so-called American Clean Energy and Security Act, is a gift that will ‘keep on giving’ to our economic competitors, China and India, whose economies are already sucking away U.S. jobs at an alarming rate…”

The House Endorses the Port

After days of debate, the House approved the Energy and Water Appropriations bill, including a critical boost in funding for the Port of New York and New Jersey harbor deepening project.  Due solely to Representative Frelinghuysen’s leadership, federal financial support for the project was raised in the bill to $92 million, up from $64 million proposed by the Obama Administration this Spring.  

“The Port is a major economic driver in our region, generating nearly 300,000 jobs and over $70 billion of commerce a year serving 37 million people,” said Frelinghuysen, the Ranking Republican on the Energy and Water Subcommittee.  “I added $28 million back to the harbor deepening program to keep the program on track.  After all, if large ships cannot navigate the shallow port channels, they will take their cargo - and their tens of thousands of jobs - elsewhere on the East Coast.”

For years, the Army Corps of Engineers has been working to dredge the main shipping channel of the Port to a depth of 50 feet, allowing the largest ocean-going vessels to use the port’s facilities.