Thursday, February 25, 2010
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Congressman Shuster’s district staff will hold office hours this Thursday from 2:30 to 3:30pm in Roaring Spring, PA. at the Roaring Spring Borough Council's office located at 116 Spang Street.
Congressman Shuster’s district staff will hold office hours this Friday from 2:00 to 3:00pm in Berlin, PA. The office hours will take place in the Auxiliary Room of the Berlin Borough Council Building located at 700 North Street in Berlin.
Congressman Shuster’s district staff will hold two sessions of office hours this Friday in Mifflin County:
From 10:00 to 11:00am office hours will take place at the McVeytown Borough Office located at 10 North Queen Street in McVeytown.
From 1:30 to 2:30pm office hours will be held at the Belleville Senior Center located at 40 South Kish Street in Belleville.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
"Despite White House rhetoric to the contrary, the President’s costly, job-killing health care proposal does not implement a single major GOP reform that would lower costs for families and small businesses. It just takes solid Republican ideas to lower costs, waters them down, and fails to deliver reform that can actually be effective. For instance, the President’s proposal to address junk lawsuits is little more than a grant program that would have a limited impact at best. The President’s proposal also prevents states from implementing proven reforms recognized by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and other independent analysts as effective in reducing junk lawsuits. Make no mistake, out-of-touch Washington Democrats remain very much in the pockets of their trial lawyer allies."
A mere three days before President Obama's supposedly bipartisan health-care summit, the White House yesterday released a new blueprint that Democrats say they will ram through Congress with or without Republican support. So after election defeats in Virginia, New Jersey and even Massachusetts, and amid overwhelming public opposition, Democrats have decided to give the voters what they don't want anyway.
Ah, the glory of "progressive" governance and democratic consent.
"The President's Proposal," as the 11-page White House document is headlined, is in one sense a notable achievement: It manages to take the worst of both the House and Senate bills and combine them into something more destructive. It includes more taxes, more subsidies and even less cost control than the Senate bill. And it purports to fix the special-interest favors in the Senate bill not by eliminating them—but by expanding them to everyone.
The bill's one new inspiration is a powerful federal board that would regulate premiums in the individual insurance market. In all 50 states, insurers are already required to justify premium increases to insurance commissioners, who generally have the power to give a regulatory go-ahead, or not. But their primary concern is actuarial soundness and capital standards, making sure that companies have enough cash to pay claims.
The White House wants to create another layer of review that will be able to reject any rate increase that is "unreasonable or unjustified." Any insurer deemed guilty of such an infraction by this new bureaucracy "must lower premiums, provide rebates, or take other actions to make premiums affordable." In other words, de facto price controls.
Insurance premiums are rising too fast; therefore, premium increases should be illegal. Q.E.D. The result of this rate-setting board will be less competition in the individual market, as insurers flee expensive states or regions, or even a cascade of bankruptcies if premiums are frozen and the cost of the care they are expected to cover continues to rise. For all the Dickensian outrage about profiteering by WellPoint and other companies, insurance is a low-margin business even for health care, and at least 85 cents of the average premium dollar, usually more, is devoted to actual health services.
Price controls are always the first resort of national health care—i.e., Medicare's administered prices for doctors and hospitals. This new White House gambit is merely a preview of ObamaCare's inevitable planned medical economy, which will reduce choice and quality.
The coercive flavor that animates this exercise is best captured in the section that purports to accept the Senate's "grandfather clause" allowing people who like their current health plan to keep it. Except that "The President's Proposal adds certain consumer protections to these 'grandfathered' plans. Within months of legislation being enacted, it requires plans . . . prohibits . . . mandates . . . requires . . . the President's Proposal adds new protections that prohibit . . . ban . . . and prohibit . . . The President's Proposal requires . . ." After all of these dictates, no "grandfathered" plan will exist.
Meanwhile, the new White House plan further vitiates the remnants of cost-control that remained in the House and Senate bills. Now the highly vaunted excise tax on high-cost insurance plans won't kick in until 2018, whereas it would have started in 2013 in the Senate bill, and this tax will only apply to coverage that costs more than $27,500.
Very few plans ever reach that threshold, and sure enough, this is the same $60 billion deal the White House cut in December with union leaders who have negotiated very costly benefits. Now it is extended to all to avoid the taint of political favoritism.
While the White House claims to eliminate the "Cornhusker Kickback," the Medicaid bribe that bought Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson's vote, political appearances are deceiving. As with the union payoff, what the White House really does is broaden the same to all states, with all new Medicaid spending through 2017 and 90% after 2020 transferred to the federal balance sheet. Governors will love this ruse, but national taxpayers will pay more.
And more again, because the White House has adopted the House's firehose insurance subsidies. People earning up to 400% of the poverty line—or about $96,000 for a family of four in 2016—will qualify for government help, and, naturally, this new entitlement is designed to expand over time.
The Administration also claims to have discarded the House's 5.4-percentage-point surtax on joint-filers earning more than $1 million a year, but it sneaks it back in by expanding the Senate's expansion of the 2.9% Medicare payroll tax to joint income about $250,000. The White House would now apply that tax for the first time to income from "interest, dividends, annuities, royalties and rents," details to come.
The larger political message of this new proposal is that Mr. Obama and Democrats have no intention of compromising on an incremental reform, or of listening to Republican, or any other, ideas on health care. They want what they want, and they're going to play by Chicago Rules and try to dragoon it into law on a narrow partisan vote via Congressional rules that have never been used for such a major change in national policy. If you want to know why Democratic Washington is "ungovernable," this is it.
Monday, February 22, 2010
From the CBO Director's Blog:
This morning the Obama Administration released a description of its health care proposal, and CBO has already received several requests to provide a cost estimate for that proposal. We had not previously received the proposal, and we have just begun the process of reviewing it—a process that will take some time, given the complexity of the issues involved. Although the proposal reflects many elements that were included in the health care bills passed by the House and the Senate last year, it modifies many of those elements and also includes new ones. Moreover, preparing a cost estimate requires very detailed specifications of numerous provisions, and the materials that were released this morning do not provide sufficient detail on all of the provisions. Therefore, CBO cannot provide a cost estimate for the proposal without additional detail, and, even if such detail were provided, analyzing the proposal would be a time-consuming process that could not be completed this week.
Under the President’s proposal - released this morning at 10am and modeled after Senator Reid’s plan that passed the Senate, according to ABC News - there is no prohibition on abortion coverage in federally subsidized plans participating in the Exchange. Instead the proposal includes layers of accounting gimmicks that demand that plans participating in the Exchange or the new government-run plan that will be managed by the Office of Personnel Management must establish “allocation accounts” when elective abortion is a covered benefit (p. 2073-2074). Everyone enrolled in these plans must pay a monthly abortion premium (p. 2072, lines 18-21), and these funds will be used to pay for the elective abortion services. The Obama proposal directs insurance companies to assess the cost of elective abortion coverage (p. 2074-2075), and charge a minimum of $1 per enrollee per month (p. 2075, lines 8-10).In short, the President’s proposal continues to defy the will of the American people and contradict longstanding federal policy by providing federal subsidies to private health plans that cover elective abortions. The proposal does include a “state opt-out” provision if a state passes a law to prohibit insurance coverage of abortion, but it’s a sham because it does nothing to prevent one state’s tax dollars from paying for elective abortions in other states.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
One Year Stimulus Anniversary:
365 Days and $862 Billion Later, No Results for the American People
A Timeline of Fail - the Stimulus by the numbers:
Source: House Republican Whip
February 17, 2009: $787 billion Recovery Act signed into law. Unemployment rate stands at 7.6%.
February 17, 2009: Administration releases specific state-by-state numbers reflecting the expected impact of the Recovery Act.
February 17, 2009: The nation’s first Recovery Act project is announced, a new bridge in Tuscumbia, MO.
February 24, 2009: President Obama announces that Vice-President Biden will “lead a tough, unprecedented oversight effort – because nobody messes with Joe.”
March 3, 2009: President unveils “Recovery Act” logo designed by the same Chicago firm that helped create the Obama Campaign logo.
March 4, 2009: CNN reports on the controversy surrounding the first Recovery Act project in a segment titled “A New ‘Bridge to Nowhere.’”
March 6, 2009: Department of Labor announces that 651,000 jobs were lost in February and that the unemployment rate rose to 8.1%.
March 16, 2009: Press reports indicate that even Recovery Act “Czar” Earl Devaney is questioning the state-by-state jobs figures released by the Administration.
April 3, 2009: Department of Labor announces that 663,000 jobs were lost in March and that the unemployment rate rose to 8.5%.
April 13, 2009: The Administration announces 2,000th Recovery Act project, but an ABC News fact check reveals that far fewer projects are actually underway.
May 8, 2009: Department of Labor announces that 539,000 jobs were lost in April and that the unemployment rate rose to 8.9%.
May 12, 2009: Reports begin to surface of dead people, some deceased for 40 years or more, receiving $250 stimulus checks.
May 13, 2009: The Administration releases its first quarter Recovery Act report stating that as of May 5, $28.5 billion had been spent.
May 21, 2009: The Administration quietly releases a footnote to its previous report announcing a $10.4 billion accounting error that reduces the actual spending by roughly one-third of what was reported a week earlier.
May 27, 2009: President Obama marks the 100 day anniversary of the Recovery Act by claiming that 150,000 jobs have been saved or created.
May 29, 2009: Politifact.com reports on the President’s claim of 150,000 jobs created or saved, saying it is “not much better than a guess presented as a fact.”
June 5, 2009: Department of Labor announces that 345,000 jobs were lost in May and that the unemployment rate rose to 9.4%.
June 22, 2009: Administration releases rules for counting jobs “saved” and “created.”
July 2, 2009: Department of Labor announces that 467,000 jobs were lost in June and that the unemployment rate rose to 9.5%.
July 8, 2009: It is reported that the Administration will spend up to $18 million to revamp its recovery.gov website.
July 27, 2009: Congressional Democrats claim highway and transit spending from the stimulus has created or sustained 48,000 jobs.
July 31, 2009: ProPublica checks in on the Democrats’ claim of 48,000 highway and transit jobs created or sustained and says the estimate suffers from “fuzzy math.”
August 5, 2009: Reports indicate that only 12% or $70 billion of stimulus funds have been spent.
August 7, 2009: Department of Labor announces that 247,000 jobs were lost in July and that the unemployment rate was little changed at 9.4%.
August 17, 2009: Speaker Pelosi marks the six month anniversary of the Recovery Act, saying, “the Recovery Act is already paying dividends for workers, families, and small businesses.”
September 3, 2009: Vice President Biden states that the Recovery Act is "doing more, faster, more efficiently, and more effectively than most expected."
September 4, 2009: Department of Labor announces that 216,000 jobs were lost in August and that the unemployment rate rose to 9.7%.
September 28, 2009: Reports indicate that Recovery Act spending has reached $102 billion.
October 2, 2009: Department of Labor announces that 263,000 jobs were lost in September and that the unemployment rate rose to 9.8%.
October 15, 2009: Administration announces that contracts awarded with Recovery Act funds have created or saved 30,383 jobs.
October 29, 2009: Associated Press analysis reveals that the 30,883 job count previously released by the Administration overstated the jobs created or saved. “The AP review found some counts were more than 10 times as high as the actual number of jobs; some jobs credited to the stimulus program were counted two and sometimes more than four times; and other jobs were credited to stimulus spending when none was produced.”
October 30, 2009: Administration announces Recovery Act has saved or created 640,329 total jobs.
November 6, 2009: Department of Labor announces that 190,000 jobs were lost in October and that the unemployment rate rose to 10.2%--surpassing the 10% unemployment mark for the first time since 1983.
November 16, 2009: The press reports that many of the jobs created or saved were, according to the government’s official website, created or saved in congressional districts that do not exist.
November 16, 2009: Appropriations Chairman David Obey (D-WI), one of the principal authors of the Recovery Act, condemns the inaccuracies reported on recovery.gov as “ludicrous mistakes.”
November 19, 2009: Administration confirms that they cannot confirm their claim that 640,329 jobs were saved or created by the Recovery Act.
December 4, 2009: Department of Labor announces that 11,000 jobs were lost in November and that the unemployment rate edged down to 10.0%.
December 18, 2009: Administration sends out a memo saying they will no longer count jobs created or saved, but instead count jobs funded in whole or in part by the Recovery Act.
January 8, 2010: Department of Labor announces that 85,000 jobs were lost in December and that the unemployment rate remained at 10.0%.
January 26, 2010: The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) increases the estimated cost of the Recovery Act by $75 billion to $862 billion plus interest.
February 3, 2010: Reports indicate that one-third of stimulus funds have been spent.
February 5, 2010: Department of Labor announces that 20,000 jobs were lost in January and that the unemployment rate edged down to 9.7%.
February 12, 2010: The press reports that Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent Democrat Members of Congress a memo stating that "The Recovery Act is a hallmark achievement of this Congress…"