Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Welch and Shuster join small business owners calling for credit and debit card fairness

Congressman Bill Shuster joined Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) and a group of convenience store owners Tuesday morning as they delivered two million signatures from customers urging Congress to put an end to unfair credit and debit card swipe fees.

At a Capitol Hill press conference, Welch and Bill Shuster called on their fellow lawmakers to support legislation they wrote, the Credit Card Interchange Fees Act (H.R. 2382), which would help level the playing field between consumers, small businesses and credit card companies by requiring greater transparency and prohibiting unfair and abusive practices. The two million new signatures add to 1.7 million signatures delivered by store owners to Congress last September.

Welch also announced during the event that he will be introducing legislation requiring debit card payments to be processed in the same manner as paper checks, resulting in lower fees for merchants. Though debit cards function as the electronic equivalent of checks, debit card issuers charge egregious fees, while checks clear at a nominal rate.

“Today two million Americans added their voices to the chorus calling for fairness for the small businesses that drive our economy. Two million more Americans are recognizing that swipe fees kill good-paying, local jobs and drive up costs for consumers. Two million more Americans are saying ‘enough is enough,’” said Rep. Welch. “We must take action to rein in the abusive practices of the credit card industry and ensure that small businesses get a fair deal.”

American consumers and merchants pay $48 billion each year in hidden credit and debit card fees – more than twice those charged in countries like the United Kingdom and Australia.

“As a former small business owner, I know how hard it is to make a payroll, pay taxes and fees and try to make a profit all at the same time,” Shuster said. “For far too long, Interchange Fees have been an unnecessary impediment for businesses and that needs to change. It is my hope Congress will consider the merits of our bill, as well as the serious struggle of business owners and consumers alike in their need for transparency, simplicity, and fairness when it comes to the issue of Interchange Fees.

Shuster Announces 2010 Congressional Art Competition Entires

Congressman Bill Shuster is pleased to announce that the student entries for the 2010 Congressional Art Competition are now on display to the public at the Omni Bedford Springs Resort.

The work of seven local art students will be shown at the Bedford Springs Resort until May 4th. The entries submitted for the competition are as follows:

•“Windmills of Somerset County” by Julie Day, Berlin Brothersvalley H.S., Somerset, County

•“Chimney Rocks” by Sarah McCormick, Blair County Christian School, Blair County

•“Yesterday’s Tomorrow” by Desiree Cavalancia, Indiana Area Sr. H.S., Indiana, County

•“Rails to the Future” by Ashley Garner, Central H.S., Blair County

•“Memories of the S1 Engine” by Bryan Housley, Altoona Area H.S., Blair County

•“I Pledge Allegiance” by Melissa McCray, Greencastle Antrim H.S., Franklin County

•“A Scenic View of the Juniata” by Zachary Slaughter, Juniata Valley H.S., Huntingdon County.

One winner will be selected from this group to represent the 9th district in Washington, DC in June and the winning entry will be showcased in the Capitol Complex for a year.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Shuster meets students from Marion Center High School

Congressman Shuster meets Honors Government students from Marion Center High School. These students recently won the "We the People" Constitution Competition for Pennsylvania This is the first championship for Marion Center in the history of the school's participation in the competition. To mark their effort, Congressman Shuster entered the following extension of remarks into the Congressional Record:

Rep. Bill Shuster

Extension of Remarks

April 15, 2010

Madam Speaker, I rise today to recognize the accomplishments of the Honors Government class of Marion Center High School, which took first place at the “We the People” Pennsylvania state competition at Valley Forge.

The “We the People” competition measures students’ knowledge and understanding of the Constitution, and Marion Center’s Honors Government class proved well-acquainted with our principles of government. The following students: Emilie Borst, Tori Buzzelli, Toni Corosu, Alycia Frampton, Jed Gallo, Cody Miller, Brandon Snickles, Nick Stanisha, Jozzie Stuchell and Sarah Wolfe have all demonstrated their thorough understanding of the supreme law of our land. These young men and women, as well as their teacher Chris Peters, should be commended on this impressive accomplishment.

Preserving our nation’s unique character requires an understanding of our Constitution that these students have so ably displayed. Their dedication to this important responsibility of citizenship is outstanding. I congratulate Marion Center High School’s Honors Government class on its feat of civic knowledge and academic excellence, and I trust that these promising young citizens will continue to excel in their endeavors.

Obama’s Chief Actuary Says 50% of Seniors Will Lose Their Medicare Advantage Plans

From GOP Conference:

“If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. Period. If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan. Period. No one will take it away. No matter what.”

President Obama, June 15, 2009

Despite President Obama’s pledge that all Americans would be able to keep their health insurance plans, the chief actuary of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) concluded that under ObamaCare, half of all seniors who have Medicare Advantage plans will lose their coverage.

In a new analysis of ObamaCare, CMS concluded:

“We estimate that in 2017, when the MA provisions will be fully phased in, enrollment in MA plans will be lower by about 50 percent (from its projected level of 14.8 million under the prior law to 7.4 million under the new law).” Page 11

For previous ObamaCare Flatlines, go to http://www.gop.gov/obamacare

Friday, April 23, 2010

ObamaCare: CMS Confirms Health Care Spending Will Increase

Via the House Republican Conference's Press Shop:

“And it [the health reform plan] will slow the growth of health care costs for our families, our businesses, and our government.” President Obama, September 10, 2009

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released a new analysis of ObamaCare, confirming that our nation’s health care costs will increase rather than decrease under ObamaCare and violating a pledge President Obama made to the nation on September 10, 2009. CMS concluded:

  • National health care expenditures will increase by $311 billion.
  • Health care increases to 21% of GDP by 2019.
  • ObamaCare spends more than $828 billion for health care coverage. (CMS didn’t analyze all the tax increases, such as HSAs, FSAs, increasing the AGI threshold, etc.)
  • The government will spend $410 billion to expand Medicaid.
  • Medicaid enrollment increases by 20 million new beneficiaries.
  • 18 million people will be uninsured (excluding 5 million illegal immigrants).
  • Uninsured and those employers who don’t offer coverage will pay $120 billion in taxes.
  • 50% of seniors will lose their Medicare Advantage plans.
  • Some of the Medicare cost-control mechanisms may not be sustainable.
  • Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) will run a deficit in 15 years.
  • The $5 billion for High Risk Pools is not enough.
  • Doctors may drop out of Medicare because of the changes in Medicare reimbursement rates.
  • Medicare “savings” may be difficult to achieve.

For previous ObamaCare Flatlines, go to http://www.gop.gov

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

ObamaCare Fails Test

Via GOP Conference: For previous ObamaCare Flatlines, see http://www.gop.gov/obamacare

“If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. Period. If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan. Period. No one will take it away. No matter what.”

- President Obama, June 15, 2009

Well, not really.

According to this story, 45,000 Hoosiers will be forced to drop their current, private coverage and will be dumped on Medicaid.

ObamaCare expands Medicaid eligibility to 133 percent of federal poverty line. Indiana created a private health insurance plan for the workers whose income was below 200 percent of federal poverty level. The innovative program combined an account with an insurance policy, and one satisfied customer is concerned Medicaid won’t be as “flexible” as her current plan.

Ways and Means GOP: Democrats Finally Admit Premiums to Rise Under Government Takeover of Health Care

Shuster Takes Part in New Media Challenge

Congressman Shuster is pleased to announce that he is taking part in the first ever House Republican Conference “New Media Challenge;” a competition to strengthen the presence of Republican lawmakers on popular social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.

“I am pleased to be part of this innovative and friendly competition with my Republican colleagues,” Shuster said.

“There is a popular misconception that Republicans aren’t technologically savvy but in reality, Republican members of Congress have dominated emerging technologies to get our message out to the American people.”

Over the past few years, Congressman Shuster has been developing a strong presence online. In addition to his official website (www.house.gov/shuster), the congressman hosts a popular blog that is updated daily with news, videos and information (www.billsblogpa09.blogspot.com). Shuster also maintains a YouTube Channel (www.youtube.com/repshuster) and has an official Facebook fan page (www.facebook.com/rep.shuster). The most recent addition to Shuster’s online effort is his Twitter page (www.twitter.com/repbillshuster) where he has over 1,600 people following his posts.

“I invite my constituents to log on and see how I am using sites like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to communicate with people in Pennsylvania and across the country,” Shuster added. “By following me online, my constituents can have instant access to information and a forum to express their views.”

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Armed Services Committee Republicans Draw Attention to New Report on Iran’s Military

House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Howard P. “Buck” McKeon (R-Calif.), Armed Forces Strategic Forces Subcommittee Ranking Member Mike Turner (R-Ohio), and Republican members on the committee today called attention to elements included in and certain information excluded from the Department of Defense’s Military Power Report on Iran. The report, which was mandated in last year’s National Defense Authorization Act, is designed to provide Congress and the Administration with an assessment of the Iranian regime’s current and future military strategy.

Rep. McKeon: “The Pentagon’s new report confirms Iran’s efforts to support and cultivate terrorist surrogates throughout the Middle East to attack American citizens and interests. The rogue regime has re-armed Hezbollah and provides the terrorist group hundreds of millions of dollars a year. The assessment also makes it perfectly clear that Iran has gone to great lengths to protect and hide its nuclear infrastructure. Nearly as troubling, Iran is developing anti-access, aerial-denial capabilities with its investments in mobile coastal defense cruise missiles, rockets launchers, coastal artillery and ballistic missiles.”

“Unfortunately, the report failed to include information that is critical to truly assessing Iran’s military capability and future intentions. The Department of Defense failed to provide adequate information on the funding provided to each branch of Iran’s military, the Revolutionary Guards-Quds Force or the country’s special operations forces. Additionally, the report lacked specific information about Iran’s regional strategy and military doctrine—and failed to provide a sufficient assessment of Iran’s conventional or unconventional capabilities.”

“In addition to my concerns about what is not included in the report, I’m bothered by the Administration’s attempts to downplay Iran’s militant ideology in the report. I question the Department’s assessment that the goal of the Iranian strategy is ‘the survival of the regime’ and its ‘ideological goals have taken a back seat to pragmatic considerations.’ This flies in the face of the regime’s efforts to export the Ayatollah’s radical religious vision beyond Iran’s borders.”

Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio): “Despite the Administration’s insistence last September that the long-range missile threat was slower to develop, the Administration’s own report confirms that Iran could develop and test an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of reaching the U.S. by 2015. Therefore, I remain gravely concerned that Administration’s Phased Adaptive Approach is not designed to protect our homeland until 2020. I will look to include specific initiatives in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011to address Iran’s development of missile capabilities and the ensure the U.S. homeland and our Allies are adequately protected before the threat develops.”

Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.): “The Iranian regime has done nothing to prove itself as anything but a threat to the United States and our allies in the Middle East and Europe. The Administration is doing a disservice to our military by failing to produce a candid report on the military strength of the Iranian regime,” said Congressman Bill Shuster. “I am particularly concerned that the Administration’s report omits significant information about their development and deployment of active denial systems that could defeat our inventory of short and long range missile systems. This is critical information that will have a important impact on the security posture of our interests in the Persian Gulf and that of our allies. This omission must be corrected.”

McKeon and Turner indicated that they will look to include specific initiatives in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011 to force the Administration to develop a comprehensive, long-term strategy to deal with Iran’s nuclear ambitions and military build-up. The House Armed Services Committee is expected to consider the annual defense policy bill in May.

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Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Democrat's Tax Agenda - You Pay More

“I can make a firm pledge, under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase. Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes.”

— President Barack Obama, September 12, 2008

Thursday, April 15, 2010, is Tax Day, the deadline for Americans to send their-hard earned money to Washington. Sadly, the current level of taxation is not enough to pay for the ongoing Democrat expansion of government. Since January 2009, Democrats have raised taxes by $679.3 billion, including $569 billion for ObamaCare. All told, there have been 14 violations of the President’s pledge not to raise taxes on those who make less than $250,000 a year. But it doesn’t end there - more is in store:

President’s Budget: The President’s Budget proposes to increase taxes by more than a trillion dollars, including:

$968 billion tax increase on upper-income families and small businesses:
$364 billion from expanding the top two income tax brackets and reinstating the 36 percent and 39.6 percent rates.

$105 billion from increasing the tax rate on capital gains and dividends from 15 percent to 20 percent.

$208 billion by reinstating the personal exemption and limitation on itemized deductions.

$291 billion by limiting the itemized tax deduction to 28 percent of value.

$49 billion tax by reducing the “tax gap,” the difference between taxes owed and taxes paid.

$122 billion in higher taxes related to changes in the U.S international tax rules and enforcement.

$90 billion in tax increases imposed on financial institutions, referred to as a “financial crisis responsibility fee,” which will be passed onto consumers.

$59 billion in tax increases associated with the repeal of “last-in, first-out” inventory accounting practices, which assumes that an entity sells, uses or disposes of its newest inventory first.

$40 billion in tax increases related to the repeal of tax credits for the production of natural gas, oil, and coal fuels.

$24 billion in increased taxes on carried interest, levied on investment partnerships by treating carried interest as normal income, more than doubling the tax rate from 15 percent to 39.7 percent.

Fiscal Commission: In an attempt to levy more taxes upon the American people, President Obama created a fiscal commission to address our looming fiscal crisis. The commission, comprised of a Democratic majority, will be tasked with presenting Congress with options for tackling the unsustainable imbalance resulting from entitlement programs. Unfortunately, Democrats have refused to take tax increases off the table and are likely to use the guise of a “bipartisan” commission to further increase taxes on the American people.

Value-Added Tax: The more than a trillion dollars in proposed tax increases in the President’s Budget hasn’t stopped the Obama Administration from searching for additional ways to increase revenues through disguised tax increases. There is now discussion of imposing a European style value-added tax [VAT].

The value-added tax is a type of national sales tax, imposed on the valued-added at each stage of production that applies to countless products and services. With small incremental taxes at each phase of production, increasing taxes is easy— and less noticeable. A tax of this sort would increase the costs of every day household and small business items and services, which would significantly impact low to middle income Americans.

On April 15, millions of American taxpayers will file their income taxes. This day will be a sad reminder of how the Democrats have squandered their hard-earned money to expand the size of government, bail out Wall Street, enact a failed stimulus, and enlarge our unsustainable entitlement programs. Taxpayers should not be further punished because Washington’s fiscal house is out-of-control. It is time, especially during this difficult economic recession, for Congress to help alleviate the tax burden of hard-working Americans and set an example of being fiscally responsible.

Read more at www.gop.gov

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Tick Tock: More Democrat Spending

Must Read Story: EPA to Regulate USe of Airplane Deicers

EPA aims to regulate airports’ use of deicing fluid, drawing safety concerns from pilots, and airlines

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Health care taxes are on their way....and fast....

The Tax Man Cometh: From GOP Conference

The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates people who use their HSAs, FSAs, or HRAs to pay for over the counter drugs that aren’t prescribed by a doctor will pay an additional $5 billion in taxes.

Open your medicine cabinet and your first-aid kit and take a look:

- Baby aspirin
- Children’s cough syrup
- Band-Aids
- Cold and chest relief
- Antibiotic ointment and first aid creams
- Anti-flu medication
- Pain relievers
- Cough drops
- Throat lozenges
- Antacids
- Sinus medications
- Allergy medications
- Nasal sprays
- Smoking cessation aids
- First Aid creams
- Pedialyte
- Calamine lotion
- Sleep aids
- Motion sickness pills
- Contact lens solution

ObamaCare makes these and additional over the counter medications and health care items taxable withdrawals from an HSA, HRA, and FSA beginning January 1, 2011.

According to AHIP, 8 million Americans used HSAs for routine medical care in 2008 (the most recent date for data). The IRS doesn’t count the number of families who use FSAs, but health care experts estimate that 30 million Americans use FSAs to pay for their family’s medical care.

Morning Must Reads

The New York Times: “Rescue workers continued the precarious task early Wednesday of removing explosive methane gas from the coal mine where at least 25 miners died two days before, but they had not received any signs of life from the four people still missing.”

The Washington Times: “The Obama administration's nuclear strategy review made public on Tuesday keeps in place all strategic weapons needed to fight a nuclear war and presents only minor policy changes, a move that upset arms-control advocates who had sought major cuts in U.S. forces.”

The Associated Press:North Korea has sentenced an American teacher to eight years of hard labor and ordered him to pay a $700,000 fine after he crossed illegally into the country -- the fourth U.S. citizen to be detained by the isolated regime since last year.”

Politico: A federal appeals court threw a major roadblock into the Federal Communications Commission’s Net neutrality plans as well as its broader National Broadband Plan, ruling that the agency lacks the authority to regulate the Internet.”

Reuters: The United States should consider raising taxes to help bring deficits under control and may need to consider a European-style value-added tax, White House adviser Paul Volcker said on Tuesday.”