Saturday, October 31, 2009
Friday, October 30, 2009
“After weeks of meeting behind closed doors, House Democrat leaders today unveiled their most recent in a line of health care plans. This new plan is the product of months of secret negotiations and backroom deals. This plan was concocted without the transparency promised by President Obama or any Republican input.
Undoubtedly, the Democrats’ Pelosi Health Care Bill includes the same heavy handed government takeover of health care that will raise health care costs, add to our national debt, hurt seniors, small businesses and force families out of their current coverage.
Every American should have access to affordable, quality health care. Health care reform should include a more open health care market place creating competition and choice; reform that allows patients to be cared for by the doctor of their choice; and meaningful medical malpractice reform. These reforms can be implemented quickly, and have the greatest impact on driving down the cost of health care. These are common sense reforms which have bipartisan support, but the Pelosi Health Care bill contains none of these.
I believe we can accomplish this and fix what is broken in our health care system while keeping what works, and without forcing a nearly trillion dollar government takeover of nearly a sixth of our economy.”
As Speaker Nancy Pelosi led her House Democrats down the Capitol steps Thursday morning for a health-care pep rally, the sound system began to crank out . . . wait, that's not U2's "Elevation," is it?
Alas, it was.
I need you to elevate me here
At the corner of your lips
At the orbit of your hips
Eclipse, you elevate my soul
I've lost all self control . . .
Okay, you can stop blushing now.
Whenever politicians stage pep rallies to roll out the details of a new policy, the proceedings should be taken with a grain of salt. But Thursday's effort by House Democrats came with six 50-lb bags of salt -- ice melting salt, to be specific, placed on the bases of the six U.S. flags on the stage to keep them from toppling over in the wind and marring the event with unwanted visuals and ruinous metaphors.
The Democrats' preparations were elaborate. They chose a spot, on the West Front of the Capitol, near where Newt Gingrich unveiled the Contract With America 15 years ago. They had red, white and blue, convention-style signs that, instead of displaying the names of states, offered messages such as "Expand Coverage" and "Strengthen Medicare." They shared the stage with about 30 "real people," flown in from around the country, who could tell tales of health-care woe. One Capitol police officer, claiming she was acting under instruction from Pelosi's office, even kept Republican staffers from entering the event.
But for all the precautions, policy pep rallies have a way of taking unwanted turns, and Thursday's did almost immediately after Pelosi stepped to the microphone. "Nancy Pelosi, you'll burn in hell for this," said a man's voice, amplified by a bullhorn, from about 50 yards away.
"Thank you, insurance companies of America," Pelosi replied to the heckler. Actually, they were anti-abortion protesters, and they were loud.
"In this legislation, we will immediately begin to close the doughnut hole," the speaker proclaimed.
"We won't pay for murder!" a heckler heckled.
"Prevention and wellness are an important part of this legislation," the speaker declared.
"We won't pay for murder!" a heckler repeated. Finally, police were able to silence the activists, who held a gruesome poster showing an aborted fetus and signs demanding "Kill the bill."
As legislators, Pelosi and her lieutenants did an impressive job putting together a health-care reform compromise that likely has enough support to pass. Her watered-down version of the "public option" -- leaving the government insurance plan to negotiate rates with providers rather than imposing Medicare rates -- meant that Thursday's rally included a few moderates from the "Blue Dog" coalition along with the party's liberals.
But Pelosi's legislative finesse was not matched by her skills as a pep rally organizer. Only about 80 House Democrats, roughly a third of the caucus, were on the stage on the cool and gray morning. The others, Pelosi tried to explain to the crowd, "are in hearings, because the work of Congress does not stop just because we have an important message to give to you."
Another possible reason for the sparse attendance: health care may be hugely important, but it's hard to get fired up about the nitty gritty of policy. "The uninsured will have access to a temporary insurance program -- we're calling it a high-risk pool -- from the date of enactment until the exchange is available!" Democratic Whip Jim Clyburn told the rally.
A small number of people, many of them paid staffers standing off to the side, offered polite applause for the high risk pool.
"From the date of enactment, we'll hinder price-gouging with sunshine requirements on insurance companies to disclose insurance rate increases!"
Light applause for rate increase sunshine requirements.
"From the date of enactment, COBRA health insurance coverage will be extended until the exchange is available and displaced workers can have affordable coverage!"
Modest ovation for temporary COBRA extension.
Speakers were told to limit themselves to a minute apiece, but no attention was paid to the rule, and by minute 50, the pep rally had lost whatever modest amount of pep it had at the start.
Still, there were moving moments, as when Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy (Ohio) spoke of her battle with multiple sclerosis. And Rep. John Dingell (Mich), who succeeded his father in Congress in 1955, recalled the birth of Medicare in 1965.
"I did have the privilege of sitting in the chair when we passed Medicare," he said, and "I used this here gavel to preside over the House." The audience gave a cheer -- a hearty one, this time -- when he held up the instrument. "And I'm going to lend it to whoever it is who gets to preside over this legislation, because a good piece of wood doesn't wear out with one great event."
It was a powerful image. But then it was time for the lawmakers to walk back up the steps into the Capitol, and the sound system piped out another U2 song, "City of Blinding Lights," with another unhelpful message:
The more you see, the less you know
The less you find out as you go
I knew much more then than I do now
As the health care debate continues in Washington, we wanted to make sure that you had a chance to hear what the Doctors who serve in the United States Congress think of the issue. As medical professionals who have spent decades providing medical care to actual patients, they have real concerns about increasing the government's role.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Instead of dealing with high unemployment and a stifling debt, House Democrats have packed the House schedule with “filler” legislation including a bill to mark the birthday of the Chinese philosopher Confucius (H.Res.784).
“As unemployment hovers at 8.8 percent in Pennsylvania and inches closer to double digits nation-wide, House Democrats seem more comfortable celebrating the birth of Confucius than addressing our economic troubles,” Shuster said.
“Close to 3 million jobs have been lost since Democrats passed a stimulus bill that they promised would grow the economy and halt unemployment. Over the course of one year, our national debt load has grown by $1.42 trillion. These are unsustainable numbers that must be reversed by adopting policies that encourage private enterprise to grow, not the federal government.”
House Republicans are ready to do some serious work on the issues that matter to my constituents in Pennsylvania and Americans coast to coast,” Shuster added. “I, along with my Republican colleagues are ready for the debate. Will the Democrats listen?”
Monday, October 26, 2009
Thursday, October 22, 2009
“Temporary Beltway Sanity” (The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board)
Yesterday saw some rare good news on the health-care front, with the stealth Democratic plan to move $247 billion in ObamaCare costs off the books collapsing in the Senate on a procedural vote of 47 to 53. Maybe there's more anxiety among Democrats about a huge permanent increase in government health spending than the White House is willing to let on.
A dozen Democrats (plus independent Joe Lieberman) voted against Majority Leader Harry Reid's gambit, which would have superseded automatic cuts in Medicare payments to doctors scheduled for 21% next year and higher after that. Democrats had included this fix as part of "comprehensive" reform but that pushed costs too high, while President Obama is insisting on a bill that doesn't increase the deficit on paper.
So Mr. Reid's inspiration was to decouple these payments from ObamaCare as stand-alone legislation, while hoping everyone ignored the phony budget math. The media did mostly ignore this subterfuge. But enough Republicans developed enough backbone that they spooked Democrats like North Dakota's Kent Conrad, who for once stood by their supposed deficit-hawk convictions. Notwithstanding the anesthetizing effect of Congress's now-routine trillion-dollar cost estimates, more than a few Democrats are still capable of sticker shock.
Mr. Reid said yesterday that he expects the Senate to "pick this up again" after it dispenses with ObamaCare, perhaps by correcting the doctor-payment formula for only two years at a cost of $24 billion. No doubt that too would be deficit-financed, though the new problem is that Democrats wouldn't be meeting the American Medical Association's price for backing ObamaCare.
The doctors lobby said in a statement that it was "deeply disappointed" by the vote, and that "Congress created the Medicare physician payment system, and Congress needs to fix this problem once and for all." If the AMA has any sense at all they'll see that they're being played for fools. (We recognize that this is a rhetorical "if.")
As for the Democrats who are worried about spending, or claim to be worried, we trust they understand that the entire premise of ObamaCare rests on automatic future spending cuts like the doctor payments that will never happen in practice, among other budget gimmicks. If they can't eat a mere $247 billion, then they shouldn't eat ObamaCare's other future trillions.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Facing a Republican demand for a vote on subpoenaing Bank of America for the records of the Countrywide VIP program, the Oversight and Government Committee Majority today met in private for more than thirty minutes and decided to abandon a scheduled 2 p.m. committee mark-up at 2:35 pm without appearing on the dais to formally convened the meeting. Republican members were forced to sit in the hearing room while Democrats mulled to position. While the Majority cited a conflict with a Financial Services Committee meeting for the after-the-fact cancellation explanation, numerous Democrats, including those on the Financial Services Committee, were captured on video leaving the Oversight Committee meeting space after the cancellation.
House Republicans recognize that the engine of job creation in America is small business, not government. That’s why two weeks ago, House Republicans sent President Obama and Speaker Pelosi a letter outlining six better solutions to create jobs:
- Allow small businesses to take a tax deduction equal to 20 percent of their income.
- Let small businesses join together to purchase health insurance for their workers the way large businesses and labor unions do.
- Enact genuine legal reform and policies that incentivize wellness to reduce health care costs for small businesses.
- Lower taxes for all taxpayers by reducing the current 15 percent rate to 10 percent and reducing the current 10 percent rate to 5 percent.
- Expand health savings accounts (HSAs) to provide additional flexibility to small businesses in providing health care to their employees.
- Increase the net operating loss carry back from 2 to 5 years to provide struggling employers with additional resources to keep their doors open.
Speaker Pelosi’s $1 trillion “stimulus” clearly isn’t working - and Democrats’ plans to tax entrepreneurs isn’t encouraging small businesses to create jobs. Government is by definition a bureaucratic and wasteful institution - it doesn’t possess the innovation and risk taking that exists in the private sector, which, when unleashed to its fullest potential, results in expanding businesses and new job creation.
The GOP Leader blog has more information on the VAT here.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Friday, October 16, 2009
From the Republican Whip's Daily Update:
Speaker Pelosi Declares The Moment Of Truth For The Public Option. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday told fellow Democrats the time has come for all members of the party to say where they stand on the government-run health insurance program. Pelosi informed her caucus that she will be asking which of the various public options members can support, or if they cannot support any at all. The Hill
However, Members And Leadership Aides Admit The Public Option Still Lacks The Necessary Votes In The House. Liberals and even some leadership aides suggest the speaker has about 200 votes for a public option tethered to Medicare — not the 218 she needs … “This is becoming a false choice,” said Utah Rep. Jim Matheson, an influential Democrat in the conservative Blue Dog Coalition. “I find it interesting how the discussion seems to be dominated by the public option, but I think there are other top-line issues that will be more important for how some members vote.” Politico
Senate Bill To Shield Doctors Would Add $240 Billion To Deficit. “It’s not fiscally responsible,” Mr. Bayh said. “I could not vote for a bill that raises the deficit by $240 billion, not at a time when we are already hemorrhaging red ink. The physicians’ issue needs to be addressed, but not in a way that increases the deficit.”Mr. Conrad, who is chairman of the Budget Committee, was furious at the possibility that Congress might adjust payment rates for doctors without offsetting the cost. “I don’t agree with just adding that amount to the debt,” Mr. Conrad said, adding, “I won’t vote for it.” The New York Times
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Shuster-Holden Resolution Honoring Troops from the PA Guard and the 56th Stryker Passed by the House
Friday, October 9, 2009
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Today, the House of Representatives considered H. Res. 795, a resolution introduced by Congressman Bill Shuster, a member of the House Natural Resources Committee, honoring the people of Shanksville, Pennsylvania and the Flight 93 Ambassadors for their efforts in creating the Flight 93 temporary memorial and encouraging the completion of the National Park Service Flight 93 National Memorial by the 10th anniversary of September 11, 2001.
Here are congressman Shuster's floor remarks in support of his legislation:
Here is the full text of Shuster's legislation honoring the Flight 93 Ambassadors and the people of Shanksville for their efforts protect and honor the crash site of Flight 93:
HRES 795 IH
October 1, 2009
Mr. SHUSTER submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on Natural Resources
Whereas, on September 11, 2001, the passengers and crew of United Flight 93 courageously gave their lives, thereby thwarting a planned attack on our Nation's Capital;
Whereas the Flight 93 crash site is a profound national symbol of American patriotism and spontaneous leadership of citizen heroes;
Whereas the people of Shanksville, Pennsylvania, came together as a community to protect the sacred ground and construct a temporary memorial where Flight 93 crashed on September 11th;
Whereas the Flight 93 Ambassadors, created by members of the Shanksville community after the tragic events of September 11th, have exhibited selfless dedication and leadership by preserving and recounting the heroic story of the brave intervention of the passengers and crew against the terrorists to the memorial's visitors; and
Whereas in large part due to the efforts of the community and Flight 93 Ambassadors, Congress authorized the creation of a permanent national memorial as part of the National Park System under Public Law 107-226, the Flight 93 National Memorial Act: Now, therefore, be it
- Resolved, That the House of Representatives--
- (1) honors the Shanksville, Pennsylvania, community and Flight 93 Ambassadors for--
- (A) their foresight, dedication, and leadership in protecting the Flight 93 temporary memorial, the preservation and sharing of the heroic story of the brave intervention of the passengers and crew against terrorists; and
- (B) their efforts to establish a permanent national memorial to Flight 93; and
- (2) encourages the Secretary of the Interior and the National Park Service to complete the Flight 93 National Memorial, as authorized by the Flight 93 National Memorial Act, by the 10th anniversary of the September 11th attacks.
From GOP Conference:
“I know that ultimately the measure of an economy is, is it producing jobs that help people support families, send their kids to college?”
—President Barack Obama, September 20, 2009
Last week, the Department of Labor reported the highest unemployment rate in 26 years—9.8 percent for the month of September. Sadly, 9.8 percent only tells part of the story of the struggles of average Americans. A deeper look at the numbers reveals the true cost of the Democrats’ economic policies, especially for the nation’s most vulnerable people.
15,142,000: People unemployed and looking for work—the highest number ever.
263,000: Jobs eliminated in September.
1,916,000: People laid off in September—the highest number in one month ever.
2,884,000: Jobs lost since Democrats’ “stimulus” was passed in February.
9,179,000: People who are working only part-time because they cannot find full time employment.
2,219,000: People who want work, but who are not currently looking because of state the economy.
5,438,000: People unemployed and searching for work for more than 27 weeks—the highest level ever.
1,112,000: Job seekers that are new entrants to the workforce and have yet to find a job.
26.2: Average number weeks job seekers are unemployed after losing their jobs—the highest number since the statistic was first recorded in 1948.
25.9%: Unemployment rate among job seekers between the ages of 16 and 19—the highest level since the statistic was first measured in 1948.
15.4%: Unemployment rate among African Americans—the highest level since 1985.
12.7%: Unemployment rate among Hispanics and Latinos.
17%: Rate of underemployment, accounting for the unemployed and those who are unable to find adequate work.
15%: Unemployment rate among job seekers without a high school degree.
65.2%: Rate of the U.S. population in the workforce—the lowest level since 1986.
58.8%: Rate of the U.S. population who currently has a job—the lowest level since 1985.