Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Friday, December 18, 2009

Morning Must Reads

Altoona Mirror: Shuster gets $6 million for contracts: Last summer when employees of a Bedford defense contractor were in Oklahoma testing an experimental weapons control program, a soldier spoke of a battlefield dilemma he'd faced in Iraq.

He wanted to launch a rocket toward the enemy but couldn't put down his rifle to work the command keyboard because he was under fire.

Szanca Solutions' program for voice-activated control of systems like rocket launchers could have helped him then, and a $2 million earmark from U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster may ensure the firm can finish its development, so future soldiers won't face a similar dilemma.

Somerset Daily American: Congressmen push for 219 funding

Somerset Daily American: Flight 93 Memorial to get $4 million

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

GITMO Detainees "Never Again"

Morning Must Reads

Politico: Congress Punts Problems to 2010: “The House, anxious to go home, is to begin voting Wednesday on four year-end bills, most of which share one thing in common: a two-month punt on every tough issue, from managing the federal debt to helping the nation’s growing ranks of long-term unemployed… It makes for a remarkable February, when President Barack Obama’s 2011 budget is also due. And all this will be sandwiched between January’s Senate debate on the Federal Reserve’s management and what promises to be a painful March fight in the House over new war funding for Afghanistan.”

Roll Call: GOP Promises Consequences for GITMO Move: “Congressional Republicans expressed outrage Tuesday over President Barack Obama’s plan to transfer detainees from the Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, prison facility to Thomson, Ill., and warned that Democrats in the House and Senate will pay a stiff price if they agree to the proposal. Ownership of the Thomson prison could be transferred to the Justice Department by January, but the first vote on whether to allow detainees to be held indefinitely on U.S. soil — a key aspect of the proposal — might not occur until next September at the earliest, right as the 2010 elections enter the home stretch…But Republicans said broader efforts in the House and Senate appeared unlikely for now. Instead, Republican aides said GOP lawmakers are content to continue their rhetorical war on the administration and Congressional Democrats.”

Wall Street Journal: Obama's Push on Jobs Gets a Slow Start: “President Barack Obama used the backdrop of a suburban Virginia Home Depot Tuesday to press his plans for job creation, the third event in four days in which the president has tried to show his concern for economic woes on Main Street.

But political realities are clouding Mr. Obama's efforts. On Tuesday, House Democratic leaders unveiled a $75 billion job-creation package that doesn't include the two new ideas the president proposed last week: tax rebates for home energy-efficiency renovations -- dubbed "cash for caulkers" -- and tax credits for small businesses that hire new employees.

A presidential push to loosen lending to small business has been weakened by the big banks' repayment of federal bailout money to get out from under government control. And looming over all of Mr. Obama's efforts on the jobs front is an annual budget deficit running at a projected $1.4 trillion that White House aides promise to address in the fiscal 2011 budget release in February.”

Monday, December 14, 2009

**COMMUNITY NOTICE**Shuster Staff to Hold Office Hours in Cambria County


Members of Congressman Bill Shuster’s district staff will hold office hours in Cambria County this Wednesday, December 16th from 2:00 to 3:00pm.

These office hours are an opportunity for residents of Cambria County to meet with members of Congressman Shuster’s district staff to discuss issues related to the federal government like social security and veterans affairs.

WHO: Members of Congressman Shuster’s district staff

WHAT: Northern Cambria Office Hours

WHERE: Boro Building Conference Room located at 1202 Philadelphia Avenue in Northern Cambria, PA 15714.

WHEN: Wednesday December 16th from 2:00 to 3:00pm.

Shuster Signs Letter to Pelosi: Fund Troops, not Profligate Spending

Congressman Bill Shuster joined 173 of his House Republican colleagues in singing a letter to Speaker Pelosi urging her to produce a clean DOD Appropriations Conference Report that does not include miscellaneous spending and the largest debt increase in American history:

“The Democrats under the leadership of Speaker Pelosi are preparing to bring a DOD spending bill to the floor of the House in the form of a Christmas tree laden with gifts to special interests and Democrat priorities,” Shuster said.

“Giving Speaker Pelosi and her leaders in Congress a blank check to spend more by increasing our debt ceiling by $1.8 trillion is irresponsible and to tie it to legislation to fund our soldiers fighting in Afghanistan is reprehensible,” Shuster continued. “We need to pass a clean defense spending bill without delay.”

The House is expected to take up the DOD Appropriations Conference Report in the next few days. The text of the letter bearing Shuster’s signature is attached below and a copy can be found online here.
The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Speaker of the House
U.S. Capitol
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Madam Speaker,

We write today to express our strong opposition to reports that the Democrat Majority is considering attaching unrelated and extremely controversial proposals, such as an increase in the public debt limit, to the Fiscal Year 2010 Defense Appropriations bill. We object to maneuvers to use our troops as leverage to enact proposals that the Majority either cannot pass on their own or for which they wish to avoid directly voting on and we will oppose a Defense Appropriations package that includes such provisions.

Unfortunately, there seems to be pattern developing this year of using legislation that supports our men and women in uniform to pass other contentious proposals that are extraneous to our troops. We should supply those who risk their lives for our country with the resources they need without conditions and without using them to accomplish other legislative goals. House Republicans stand ready to help the Majority enact a defense bill that meets the needs of our troops, but we will not assist your effort to use the troops to enact an increase in our national debt limit so as to finance the irresponsible spending policies of your party.


(174 House Republicans)

Shuster Votes to End Tarp

On Friday, Congressman Bill Shuster voted for a Republican motion to block any more funds from being spent through the Troubled Asset Relief Program. Instead, the Republican motion would have used TARP funds to pay down the debt and lower our sky-high debt ceiling. The motion failed 190-232.

“Like so many government programs before it, TARP has begun to develop a life of its own and must be stopped. The American people do not want to see this program turn into another round of bailouts or a new political slush fund.

Instead of looking for more ways to ‘spread the wealth around’ with TARP money while raising the national debt ceiling by a massive $1.8 trillion, congressional Democrats should focus their attention at paying down the debt and getting our economy back on the right track.

The American people want an end to the bailouts and all of the reckless spending now taking place in Washington. Speaker Pelosi and her colleagues could have shown the nation that they are serious about governing responsibly. They failed the test.”

Friday, December 11, 2009

Wall Street Journal Editorial - Worse than the Public Option

“Worse Than the Public Option” (The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board)

It's hard to imagine a better illustration of the panic and recklessness stringing ObamaCare along in the Senate than the putative deal that Harry Reid announced this week. The Majority Leader is claiming that a Medicare "buy-in" for people from ages 55 to 64 has overcome the liberal-moderate impasse over the "public option." But if anything, this gambit is an even faster road to government-run health care.

The public option—an insurance program open to everyone, financed by taxpayers and run like Medicare—is intended as a veiled substitute for "single-payer" Canada-style insurance. Under the cover of "choice" and "competition," the entitlement would quickly squeeze out private insurance as people gravitated to "free" coverage and the government held down costs via price controls the way Medicare does now.

Mr. Reid's buy-in simply cuts out the middle man. Why go to the trouble of creating a new plan like Medicare when Medicare itself is already handy? A buy-in is an old chestnut of single-payer advocate Pete Stark, and it's the political strategy liberals have tried since the Great Society: Ratchet down the enrollment age for Medicare, boost the income limits to qualify for Medicaid, and soon health care for the entire middle class becomes a taxpayer commitment.

In the case of Medicare, this means expanding a program that is already going broke. Medicare reimburses doctors and hospitals at rates 70% to 80% below those of private insurers, which means below the actual treatment costs in many cities and regions. Providers either eat these losses—about half of U.S. hospitals are running a deficit or close to it—or they raise prices for private payers. This cost-shifting isn't dollar for dollar, but all empirical research shows that it adds tens of billions of dollars to consumer health bills, and this will accelerate if several million new patients are added to Medicare. That means higher prices for health insurance.

Adverse selection will also be a big problem, as the people who choose to join will inevitably be higher risk or in poorer health. Mr. Reid hasn't released any details on his plan, if they even exist, but would the sub-65 uninsured who join Medicare be subsidized? If so, in what sense is this one-hand-subsidizes-the-other taxpayer self-dealing a "buy-in"? It sounds simply like a huge Medicare expansion, especially if employers decide to drop coverage for anyone older than 55.

As for costs, how does adding new beneficiaries square with Democratic promises that they will cut Medicare spending on paper by two percentage points a year for the next two decades—just as the baby boomers retire and health costs continue to climb?

This last-minute, back-room ploy shows again that Democrats are simply winging it as they rush to pass something—anything—that can get 60 votes by Christmas. President Obama praised the proposal as "a creative new framework," while Finance Chairman Max Baucus told the Washington Post, "If there's 60 Senators who can reach agreement, I'm for it." Now there's a model standard to use for reordering 17% of the U.S. economy.

The latest polls show public support for the Senate plan falling into the mid-30%-range. The remaining supporters must not be paying attention.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Hold Your Breath: CO2 is now hazardous to your health

Declaring CO2 a Dangerous Pollutant First Step Paving the Way for Costly Cap and Trade

Congressman Bill Shuster released the following statement today after the EPA formally declared carbon dioxide a dangerous pollutant:

“Today’s move by the EPA naming carbon dioxide and five other gasses dangerous pollutants is a purely political move by the Obama Administration to save face on the eve of the Copenhagen summit and to counteract failing support for cap and trade in Congress.

In reality, the EPA finding is nothing more than a Trojan Horse that will completely bypass the legislative process by enacting cap and trade through a change in federal regulation. This is a costly decision that could easily cost the American people over $2 million in economic activity and kill millions of jobs every year not to mention $3,100 for each Pennsylvania family $3,100 in higher electricity costs.

The American people are facing a 10 percent unemployment rate and they are asking the President and Congress “where are the jobs?” My constituents do not want to trade away our future economic freedom to placate leftist European politicians on the issue of global warming, which in the midst of the climategate controversy, may not even be occurring.

It’s time for the Obama Administration and Congress to stop enabling the politicization of science and return to the realm of the practical like creating jobs and getting our economy growing again.”

Obama Misery Index

Republicans on the Ways and Means Committee have put together a graph showing how public debt and unemployment have grown over the past 10 months - calling it the "Obama misery index."

Shuster Signs Letter Supporting Navy SEALS Facing Court Marshall

Congressman Shuster has signed a letter in support of the three Navy SEALS who face court marshall for allegedly striking one of the world's most wanted terrorists in the stomach after capturing him in Iraq.

The terrorist in question, Ahmed Hashim Abed, is the alleged planner of the March 2004 ambush in Fallujah that resulted in the murder, mutilation and desecration of four Blackwater contractors. Two of the murdered contractors were hung over a bridge on the Euphrtates River after being burned and mutilated. Video of this atrocity was broadcast across the world on the major news networks.

The letter makes the point that prosecution of these sailors for such an apparently limited action would have a negative impact on others in the military who risk their lives in dangerous and often ambiguous situations.

Shuster reacts to President Obama's Afghanistan strategy

Morning Must Reads

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Huntingdon County Emergency Management Wins Cutting Edge Communications Equipment

Congressman Bill Shuster is pleased to announce that Huntingdon County Emergency Management has been selected to receive a lightweight, battery powered, man- portable communications system through the Commercial Equipment Direct Assistance Program (CEDAP).

The TAC-PAK Huntingdon County Emergency Management will receive can provide an emergency responder with the ability to establish a mobile Emergency Operations Center with the capability to provide Internet connectivity with up to 99 other first responder units. The TAC- PAK is designed to be a self-contained crisis center, complete with a satellite telephone, rugged laptop computer, and a wireless router. It can be deployed anywhere at anytime and is considerably smaller than a command van or bus.

This is great news for the people of Huntingdon,” Shuster said. “This communications system will allow first responders to establish immediate situational awareness in times of emergency which is critical to saving lives. I congratulate the Huntingdon Emergency Management Agency for their selection by Homeland Security.”

“We are grateful for this supportive award, as we would be unable to bridge this technology gap without assistance under the CEDAP program,” said Adam L. Miller, Director of Emergency Management. “We have many areas where topography and technical limitations currently make communications very difficult or impossible, and this technology will help us establish a critical link to life-saving information in the field.”

Friday, November 20, 2009

Shuster Cosponsors Legislation to End the Revolving Bailouts of the TARP Program

“TARP money has been used for its original purpose and the billions of dollars left over has become walking around money for the government, or worse, a political slush fund for the Obama Administration. It’s time to end the TARP program once and for all." -Congressman Bill Shuster

Congressman Bill Shuster has become an early cosponsor of legislation that would end the Troubled Asset Relief Program on December 31st of this year and deny any extension of the program by the Treasury Department, which still has that option unless Congress acts now.

“President Bush proposed the TARP program to help steady our banking system through a time of uncertainty and stress not seen in our economy since the Great Depression,” Shuster said. “The program was designed to be limited but like so many government programs it has begun to develop a life of its own. It is time for Congress to put TARP to rest once and for all.”

It is estimated that of the original $700 billion in the TARP account, close to $317 billion remains unobligated to financial institutions even though the banking crisis has passed. Additionally, questions have been raised over TARP payments to large banks like AIG that have gone beyond TARP’s original mandate. To end any future abuse of taxpayer money, Congressman Shuster believes the TARP program should be ended.

“The American people are tired of bailouts and seeing billions of dollars given to Wall Street banks even though the banking crisis is over,” Shuster said. “The American people want jobs and a robust economy, but that won’t happen quickly while we are burdened by a $12 trillion dollar debt.”

“The money left over in the TARP account shouldn’t be dumped into a political slush fund to pad the pockets of the friends of the Obama Administration or Wall Street executives; the money should be used to pay down our debt,” Shuster concluded.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Congressman Shuster on Speaker Pelosi's "Doc Fix"

“Doctors who treat Medicare patients must be reimbursed properly to avoid a breakdown in care,” Shuster said. “However, it’s time for the Democrats in Congress to realize that when you find yourself in a hole, stop digging. Congress is digging America a budgetary hole and we can’t afford to be buried $210 billion deeper.”

Medicare reimbursement to doctors is scheduled to fall by 21.5 percent in January and by another 2 percent every year after that under a complex formula known as the sustainable growth rate. Speaker Pelosi’s “doc fix” legislation would address the falling reimbursement rates paid to doctors for treating Medicare patients by eliminating the sustainable growth rate. The cost for this “doc fix” is $210 billion, which will not be paid for by Congress and will add to our growing deficit. In addition, because the cost of the Democrats’ “doc fix” is not offset, that $210 billion could spiral into a $1.9 trillion increase in Medicare’s unfunded liabilities over a 75 year period.

“It would be dishonest and simply irresponsible for the government to pay doctors with borrowed money,” Shuster said. “The alternative Republican ‘doc fix’ I support and voted for today is the right way to uphold our commitment to doctors, the patients they treat and the American taxpayer by not adding one dime to the deficit.”

Senate Healthcare Plan Requires a "Monthly Abortion Fee"

Republican Leader John Boehner's blog points out that the current Senate healthcare bill proposed by Senate Majority Leader Reid contains language that calls for a national monthly premium fee for abortion for those taking part in a government healthcare plan.

Leader Boehner points out that in the Senate bill:

Beginning on line 7, p. 118, section 1303 under “Voluntary Choice of Coverage of Abortion Services” the Health and Human Services Secretary is given the authority to determine when abortion is allowed under the government-run health plan. Leader Reid’s plan also requires that at least one insurance plan offered in the Exchange covers abortions (line 13, p. 120).

What is even more alarming is that a monthly abortion premium will be charged of all enrollees in the government-run health plan. It’s right there beginning on line 11, page 122, section 1303, under “Actuarial Value of Optional Service Coverage.” The premium will be paid into a U.S. Treasury account – and these federal funds will be used to pay for the abortion services.

Section 1303(a)(2)(C) describes the process in which the Health Benefits Commissioner is to assess the monthly premiums that will be used to pay for elective abortions under the government-run health plan and for those who are given an affordability credit to purchase insurance coverage that includes abortion through the Exchange. The Commissioner must charge at a minimum $1 per enrollee per month.

This is alarming information that completely goes against the Stupak Amendment passed in the House by an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote to deny federal funding for abortions in the House healthcare bill.

More to come on this soon...

Karl Rove in the WSJ: The Permanent Campaign Continues

Read it here:

"What we are seeing with the White House's timing in releasing its decision on KSM and other terrorists is a presidency clinging to campaign tactics that aim to dominate the 24-hour-news cycle. The problem is that ploys that work in a campaign don't work nearly as well when you're in charge of the executive branch. Once in office, you have to live with the consequences of a policy decision.

The debate now taking place over trying terrorists in civilian courts is showing this White House that it cannot escape the hard realities that come with making presidential decisions. Not even Friday afternoons can offer sanctuary from dangerous or ill-considered policy choices."

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

More Information on Recovery.gov Recovery Board Chairman Can’t Certify Any Jobs Data

Adding to the brewing controversy over the Obama Administration’s inability to accurately report the jobs “saved or created” by the stimulus on its $18 million dollar Recovery.gov website is this report from ABC News: “Recovery Board Chairman: We Can’t Certify Jobs Data at Recovery.gov.”

According to the ABC report, Earl Devaney, the chairman of the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, stated the following in response to a congressional inquiry on the reliability of stimulus related jobs data:”

“Your letter specifically asks if I am able to certify that the number of jobs reported as created/saved on Recovery.gov is accurate and auditable. No, I am not able to make this certification.” ABC posted Devaney’s letter on its site.

As noted in a press release sent out earlier this morning, the Recovery.gov site reports that $149,694,747 in stimulus money has been spent in the 9th district to ‘create or save’ 239 jobs at a cost of $626,337 per job.

In addition, Recovery.gov also reports 21.5 jobs were ‘saved or created’ in Pennsylvania’s 23rd congressional district for $1,487,259. Seven jobs were saved for $6,729,345 in district 00 and zero jobs – that’s right – zero jobs saved in the 96th district for $1,960,179. All of these are districts that do not exist.

The inability of the Administration to certify its jobs figures, as well as the chairman of the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board’s lack of confidence in his own website should lead everyone to question whether the 239 jobs reportedly “saved or created” by the stimulus in Pennsylvania’s 9th district actually exist at all.

BREAKING NEWS: Pennsylvania Gains House Seats, Invisible Jobs ….According to the Brain Trust at Recovery.gov

Click the image to enlarge the PA jobs report from Recovery.gov

As news reports continue to break about the flawed job numbers coming out of President Obama’s Recovery.gov stimulus website, Congressman Shuster (PA-09) thought it would be interesting to see for himself how the government’s $18 million website is reporting the number of jobs “created or saved” in Pennsylvania from the trillion dollar stimulus. What he found was surprising and simply defies common sense:

“With national unemployment at 10.2 percent and rising, the American people and many of my own constituents are wondering where the jobs are and I don’t blame them. It’s only right for the people who paid for the trillion dollar stimulus to see what they got for their money. I went to the recovery.gov website to find out and what I found was simply amazing.

According to Recovery.gov, $149,694,747 in stimulus money has been spent in the 9th district to ‘create or save’ 239 jobs at a cost of $626,337 per job. But that’s not all. Recovery.gov also reports 21.5 jobs were ‘saved or created’ in Pennsylvania’s 23rd congressional district for $1,487,259. Seven jobs were saved for $6,729,345 in district 00 and zero jobs – that’s right – zero jobs saved in the 96th district for $1,960,179. The problem is there are only 19 congressional districts in Pennsylvania.

How can we expect the administration to lead our economy into recovery when they take credit for spending $10,176,783 in congressional districts that don’t even exist?”

** At last count; there are only 19 congressional districts in Pennsylvania.

Note: According to ABC News, Recovery.gov was recently given an $18 million dollar grant. The LA Times, $9.5 million has been spent on the most recent update of the site (errors and all), with $8.5 million on the way for additional “improvements.”

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Heritage Foundation: One-Fifth of U.S. Could be on Medicaid

The Heritage Foundation points out the following interesting information about the healthcare reform proposals now being pushed through Congress -
"The current health care proposals before Congress would make Medicaid available to all adults with incomes at or below 150 percent of the poverty line. That would increase Medicaid eligibility to 62.1 million, almost 21 percent of the entire U.S. population. Also, seven states and the District of Columbia would have eligibility rates of at least 25 percent."
See the map here.

Will House Leaders Now Focus on Job Creation?

House GOP Whip Eric Cantor reacts to Speaker Pelosi and President Obama's promise to focus on jobs:

Chairman Obey Slams Bad Stimulus Accounting

The Hill's Blog Briefing Room has a story on House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey calling on the President to immediately fix reporting errors on how many jobs have been "saved or created" through the stimulus. Chairman Obey is quoted in the story as saying:

“The inaccuracies on recovery.gov that have come to light are outrageous and the Administration owes itself, the Congress, and every American a commitment to work night and day to correct the ludicrous mistakes."

The Obama Administration recently deleted upwards of 60,000 jobs from its interim report on job creation tied to the stimulus due to bad accounting. In one instance, the White House reported that jobs were created in an Arizona Congressional District that doesn't even exist.

Where are those jobs being created again?

Apparently, some are being created in the land of make believe, according to ABC news:

"Here's a stimulus success story: In Arizona's 15th congressional district, 30 jobs have beensaved or created with just $761,420 in federal stimulus spending. At least that's what the Web site set up by the Obama administration to track the $787 billion stimulus says.

There's one problem, though: There is no 15th congressional district in Arizona; the state has only eight districts."