e-News June 18, 2010

The Week Just Past:  Fiscal Responsibility?
Holding Funding for Troops in Afghanistan and Iraq Hostage
Rodney Votes to Repeal Individual Health Mandate
Health Care Coverage: Remember “Nothing in our plan requires you to change”
Using the B.P. Oil Spill to Push ‘Cap and Tax’
Rodney’s Listening Tour
FALLOUT:  The End OF Free Checking?

The Week Just Past:  Fiscal Responsibility?

“Last week, President Obama wanted us to believe that his administration had changed and that it was now committed to reining in its free-spending ways. 

“First, his budget director instructed federal agencies to trim their budgets by five percent, even though this is a ‘tiny measure’ that wouldn’t even take effect for roughly 16 months and wouldn’t be used to pay down the deficit.  But it was ‘progress’ nonetheless. 

“Following on this announcement, he met with Congressional leaders last Thursday to discuss ways to take decisive action to cut spending.  

“But then, on Saturday night, President Obama sent a letter to Speaker Pelosi, asking Congress to ‘quickly approve’ $50 billion in new ‘stimulus’ spending.   He also asked lawmakers to ‘be patient’ with him for adding even more spending to a trillion-dollar ‘stimulus’ that isn’t working and piling more debt on our kids and grandkids.
“I wonder if the President is aware that so far this fiscal year, the federal government has spent $935 billion more than it brought in, with four months left to go.  The U.S. ran a record $1.42 trillion deficit in the fiscal year which began October 1, 2009.

America doesn’t need more debt, it needs leadership. Debt spending is the easy answer, leadership requires tough choices. The good news is that those tough choices will lay a foundation upon which America can create jobs and see entrepreneurship, economic freedom and opportunity for many generations to come.”

Holding Funding for Troops in Afghanistan and Iraq Hostage

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates this week urged Speaker Pelosi and House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey to pass an Afghanistan war funding bill, warning that unless the military gets the requested $33.5 billion soon, service members may start missing paychecks.  “We could reach a point in August where money in the base budget runs out, and we will need to begin furloughs for civilian employees and we won’t be able to pay active-duty” personnel, Gates warned.

The Senate has passed its version of the “Supplemental Appropriations” bill.  House action on the funding has been delayed by Democrats hoping to use it to provide funds to bailout out cash-strapped states. And, Chairman Obey has told reporters that “he would withhold action on the war funds until there was some resolution on another bill extending jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed and popular tax breaks for individuals and businesses.”

“I find offensive the notion of holding funding for our troops in Afghanistan hostage to domestic political goals,” Rodney said.  “In addition, it is wrong to threaten civilian DoD employees with furloughs just because Congress can’t or won’t get its work done!”

Rodney to Vice President Biden: Pass a “Clean” Supplemental

On June 10, Vice-President Joseph Biden wrote to Rodney, the ranking Republican on the House Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee, in support of the Administration’s budget request for the National Nuclear Security Administration – the agency that runs the nation’s nuclear weapons and reactor activities. 

Rodney wrote back this week, “as we consider your request, we understandingly are concerned about the President’s decision to close the Yucca Mountain geological repository.  The American people, who contributed over $10 billion to the project before your Administration cancelled it, deserve better.

“More importantly, we hope you can help us with another critical effort to strengthen our national defense:  passing the Fiscal Year 2010 Supplemental Appropriations act through an open, deliberative process.  This war funding bill has been held up for five months by the House Democrat majority, delaying critically needed assistance for our troops, so they could add billions of dollars in extraneous provisions.  This bill is now even further delayed to serve as a vehicle for additional spending proposed by your Administration.  Our troops should not suffer in order to provide a politically expedient way to spend billions more taxpayer dollars.”

Read Rodney’s letter to Vice-President Biden here.

Rodney Votes to Repeal Individual Health Mandate

The President’s recently enacted government take-over of health care requires every American to purchase health insurance or pay a new tax if they don’t purchase a form of coverage deemed “acceptable” by federal bureaucrats.
Late Tuesday afternoon, Rodney voted to repeal the individual mandate.  Unfortunately, the motion failed on a vote of 187-230.

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that by 2016, the individual mandate tax penalty will hit the middle- and low-income Americans the hardest. Because of this, repealing the mandate will reduce the budget deficit - if individuals are not forced to buy insurance, then they will also not be forced to accept taxpayer-funded subsidies to help them afford the mandated insurance.  In fact, the repeal motion would have reduced the deficit by $252 billion between 2010 and 2020.

Because the individual mandate is enforced by a tax penalty, the IRS will have to hire 16,000 additional federal employees to implement the law. Repealing the mandate would eliminate the need for new IRS employees.

This vote was a vote for personal choice and deficit reduction, said Rodney.  “As Americans, we expect the right to choose what we purchase – we don’t need Washington telling us what to buy. With the debt now topping $13 trillion, every opportunity to reduce the deficit and stop spending must be taken seriously.”

Health Care Coverage: Remember “Nothing in our plan requires you to change”

Back on September 9, President Obama delivered a much bally-hooed address to the nation on his health care proposals and proclaimed: “First, if you are among the hundreds of millions of Americans who already have health insurance through your job, or Medicare, or Medicaid, or the VA, nothing in this plan will require you or your employer to change the coverage or the doctor you have.  (Applause.)  Let me repeat this: Nothing in our plan requires you to change what you have.” 

Now, draft regulations from the Obama administration indicate that up to 69 percent of employer-provided plans may be forced to change their health plans when the new health care law’s mandates and requirements begin in 2014. 

President Obama and Speaker Nancy Pelosi promised that existing health plans could be “grandfathered” and would be exempt from all the new mandates and requirements so long as they did not make changes to the plans, such as increasing a deductible or eliminating a benefit.  

However, Obama administration officials now estimate that potentially up to 69 percent of employer plans would lose their grandfather status by having to make changes to their plans and be forced to buy a new plan because their current plans would not meet the new requirements. 

Read more here.

Recommended Reading II: Charles Millard writing in the June 9 Wall Street Journal about a vital federal pension agency that is in trouble: “Washington and Your Retirement. The agency that guarantees private-sector pensions is deep in the red.”

Using the B.P. Oil Spill to Push ‘Cap and Tax’

President Obama chose the unfolding Gulf of Mexico crude oil crisis, now in its ninth week, as the topic of his first-ever Oval Office speech to the nation.  He used to speech on Tuesday night to claim his Administration is in “charge” in the Gulf but also to promote his controversial “cap and tax” national energy tax proposal.

“The speech lacked inspiration and we won’t cap that well with words,” said Rodney, the Ranking Republican on the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water.  “The Administration should be telling the American people how it will stop the leak and defend the Gulf and the coast from damage instead of taking advantage of the crisis to push his ‘cap and tax’ proposal.  Frankly, we won’t help the families in the Gulf region or across this country by raising the cost of energy on every American in the worst economy in 25 years.

“The spill is an ongoing tragedy for America, the Gulf Coast region, its economy, and our environment. Our first priority must be to stop the leak and do everything possible to preserve the livelihoods of those in the area,” he said.  “BP must bear the entire financial burden for this disaster.  American taxpayers shouldn’t pay a dime.”

Recommended Reading III:  Tuesday’s editorial in the Wall Street Journal, “Obama’s Political Oil Fund.”

Recommended Reading IV: An excellent commentary, “Who’s the Enemy in the War on Terror?” by Senator Joseph Lieberman in Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal.

Rodney’s Listening Tour

Rodney will hold additional public town hall meetings this month.  All area residents and concerned citizens in the 11th Congressional District are invited to participate.

He will provide an update on his work in Congress, including his efforts to oppose tax hikes and large federal spending increases, promote homeland security, and support America’s military service members and their families.

The Town Meetings will be held on Saturday, June 26:

9:00 AM
Ridge High School
268 South Finley Avenue
Basking Ridge, NJ 07920

12:00 noon
Pequannock High School
85 Sunset Road
Pompton Plains
, NJ 07444

Seating may be limited.  Persons with disabilities requiring unique arrangements should call 973-984-0711. 

As always, constituent service staff will be available to address individual concerns.  

Recommended Reading V:  A great perspective by David Brooks writing about the future of “democratic capitalism” in the Tuesday New York Times, “The Larger Struggle.”

FALLOUT:  The End OF Free Checking?

Bank of America Corp. and other banks are preparing new fees on basic banking services as they try to replace revenue lost to new regulatory rules imposed by the Obama Administration.  This push is expected to spell an end to free checking accounts for many Americans.

Free checking accounts, which have been widely available for more than a decade, have been a boon to consumers and attracted low-income customers to the banking system for the first time.

Customers will likely be required to pay new monthly maintenance fees on the most basic accounts that don't generate a lot of activity. To avoid a fee, customers will have to maintain certain account balances or frequently use other banking services, such as credit and debit cards, automated teller machines and online accounts.

Recommended Reading VI: Tuesday’s Washington Post editorial, “Bad Bargain, Congress should let states handle their own labor relations.”