Thursday, March 25, 2010
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
The Sentinel: Area shares mixed feelings on healthcare overhaul
Sunday, March 21, 2010
This evening, the House will vote on one of the most important pieces of legislation in 50 years. Congressman Shuster has opposed the Democrats’ reform proposal from the start and will vote no. Shuster issued the following statement in advance of the House vote:
“Tonight, the House will vote on legislation that will reshape our nation. The federal government will take control over one sixth of our private economy in order to extend government approved health care across America. Never before in our history has such an important issue been brought to the floor on a party line vote. In fact, the only bipartisan agreement on this bill has been the opposition against it.No one disputes the need for health care reform in America that lowers costs and protects those with pre-existing conditions, but this bill is not the answer. The reality is that we cannot even afford the government we have today and we cannot afford the disastrous fiscal and economic consequences this bill will place on future generations.The Democrats’ bill will create a $2.4 trillion entitlement when fully implemented. Our deficit, already dangerously in the red, will grow by $662 billion in 10 years. The bill raids Medicare and Social Security to pay for these new entitlements and will require $529 billion in new taxes while national unemployment hovers around 10 percent. This health care bill is nothing short of a road map to fiscal insolvency.One of the cornerstone principles of this nation is that we have a government by the consent of the governed. For over a year, the President and Congressional Democrats have pushed this health care plan over the vocal objections of the American people, my own constituents and House Republicans who have offered solutions only to be denied at every turn.It didn’t have to be this way. Health care reform could have been achieved through bipartisan cooperation and a sharing of ideas between the political parties. The American people deserve better than this.”
Saturday, March 20, 2010
During the rally, Shuster spoke to dozens of activists from the 9th district and across Pennsylvania who descended on Washington, DC in advance of tomorrow’s House vote on health care reform.
“The American people have been telling Congress for over a year that they don’t want this big government takeover of health care,” Shuster said. “Today, thousands of Americans, including many of my constituents came to the Capitol on their own to make their voices heard again before tomorrow’s vote.”
“I join my constituents here today and the thousands back in Pennsylvania who oppose this bill,” Shuster added.
Friday, March 19, 2010
Courtesy of the Republican Ways and Means Committee staff, this document provides a side by side comparison of the tax increases in the Senate-passed health bill (H.R. 3590), the Senate bill combined with the proposed reconciliation bill (H.R. 4872), and the reconciliation bill alone. The chart also shows tax increases in the bills that violate the President’s pledge to not raise taxes for anyone earning less than $200,000 for singles and $250,000 for couples.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
House Democrats Reject Up or Down Vote on Healthcare
What a Way to Celebrate “Sunshine Week” in Washington
Today, House Democrats voted down a Republican resolution to require an actual up or down vote in the House on the Senate health care bill. This is the same resolution Shuster signed onto as an original cosponsor yesterday to defeat the “Slaughter Solution.” Shuster released the following statement on today‟s vote:
“I find it sadly ironic that in the middle of "sunshine week,‟ House Democrats would vote to oppose the most transparent act in American government; the up or down vote.
The American people are calling on their Congress at the top of their lungs to stop this poison pill called health care reform. No matter the volume, Speaker Pelosi and her leadership continue to play deaf to the people‟s demands.
By moving forward on the 'Slaughter Solution,' House Democrats think they are pulling a fast one on the American people. Speaker Pelosi and the White House say that the American people don‟t care about the process. I disagree. My constituents back home care about the Constitution and they want their elected representatives to protect it. I‟ll do my part by opposing the Democrats‟ health care bill.”
NOTE: March 14 to the 20th is the annual “sunshine week” in Washington, DC, a seven day period dedicated to government openness and transparency.
At a press conference this morning with House & Senate GOP leaders, House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH) dismissed President Obama’s sales pitch to rank-and-file Democrats that “the fate of his presidency” is on the line with the upcoming health care vote and also discussed the House vote expected today on the resolution offered by Rep. Parker Griffith (R-AL) to block the “Slaughter Solution”:
“Well, it’s pretty clear that Democrat leaders here in Congress and the President aren’t listening to the American people. Because the American people are saying, ‘stop!’ and they’re screaming at the top of their lungs. The President’s latest ploy as he’s dealing with Members trying to convince them to vote against their constituents and to vote with him, is to make the point that his presidency is on the line. Well, I’m sorry Mr. President, this isn’t about you. It’s not about the office you hold and it’s not about the Speaker. This is about the American people and the health care system that they want for our country. We’ve made clear that it’s time to scrap this bill and start over on commonsense reforms to make our current health care system better. But no, they are going to continue to ram, ram, ram this bill through the Congress. Every kind of scheme known to man to try and get it through the Congress without a vote.
“We’re going to have an opportunity for the Members today to vote on a straight up-or-down resolution, about requiring a straight up-or-down vote on this bill. It’ll be part of our Previous Question when we get a Rule bill up, and Members will have a chance to vote on that. But I can tell you this, that Republicans in the House and Senate have worked closely together or the last year, and we’re going to continue to work closely together to do everything that we can do to make sure that this bill never, ever, ever passes.”
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
“Process matters,” Shuster said. “The American people were outraged when the Democrats passed the stimulus without reading it and they are doubly angry today that Speaker Pelosi is endorsing a scheme to pass healthcare without the basic requirement of an up or down vote.”“A recorded vote on this health care bill will be the kiss of death for many Democrats and Speaker Pelosi knows it,” Shuster added. “Why else would they concoct the ‘Slaughter Solution’ to hide from their constituents?”“House Republicans will join with the American people to demand accountability from their Congress. It starts with an up or down vote on health care.”
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Monday, March 15, 2010
Friday, March 12, 2010
Rail re-regulation may be catastrophic public policy
America has the greatest freight rail network in the world. Our system is the most efficient of its kind, and relies on virtually no subsidies from the federal government. Over a century ago, America’s railroads ushered in the great advancements in industry, which sparked America’s emergence as an economic power on the world stage. America’s railroads revolutionized transportation, gave promise to freedom of movement, and made business more efficient.
Today, we find ourselves in the midst of a freight rail renaissance. America’s freight railroads carried over 2.26 billion tons of freight in 36 million cars over 140,000 miles of track in 2008. Dollar for dollar, the freight rail industry carried this cargo more efficiently and at a lower operating cost than other modes of transportation with rail fuel efficiency up 94 percent since 1990.
Yet given their successes and self-reliance, the railroad industry is in Congress’s crosshairs. Stark choices will be made that will have important implications for railroads and the American economy. The question is this: Will America’s railroads continue to be given the freedom necessary to grow their industry without direct interference by the federal government, or will Congress re-regulate it?
Re-regulation would be a potentially catastrophic public policy that could erase 30 years of positive growth, and threaten to reduce the railroads to the ruinous decreases in services and disinvestment not seen since the 1970s. I firmly believe that if Congress re-regulates rail, it will be only a matter of time before our once self-reliant railroads are forced to rely on taxpayer dollars to invest in infrastructure and safety improvements as federal mandates mount.
These debates are occurring at a time when the rail industry is already dealing with massive new mandates that threaten to undermine our rail renaissance. Recent unfunded mandates to retrofit equipment with Positive Train Control systems are expected to cost in excess of $10 billion, with limited operational benefit. This mandate will divert scarce capital from critical investments in one of the most capital-intensive businesses in the world.
The rail industry already spends a large amount of its revenues on capital investment. Between 1996 and 2005 freight rail spent 17.2 percent of its revenue on capital spending. Compare this number to other industries in the same time period. Electrical utilities invested 12.6 percent of their revenues in capital investment; 4.4 percent for the R&D heavy computer electronics industry; and only 2.7 percent of revenues for the petroleum and coal products manufacturing industry.
If railroads are not free to put their dollars into the projects that make the most economic sense, and are instead forced to spend their profits complying with legislative mandates, the long-term viability of the industry is threatened.
The Obama administration’s most recent budget also proposed a new tax on freight rail to pay for the Federal Railroad Administration’s safety enforcement program. However, the rail industry does not have unlimited capital to pay for new regulatory measures imposed by Washington. Fortunately, this proposal has received bipartisan opposition on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. To proceed with this new tax would be both shortsighted and harmful.
Instead of penalizing the rail industry for its success, Washington should be promoting new investment to keep America’s railroads in the driver’s seat of the global economy. That’s why I support tax credits for the expansion and rehabilitation of the nation’s rail infrastructure.
Tax credits are a proven policy tool to encourage businesses to invest in worthwhile projects. Because the railroads still pay for their projects under tax credit plans, tax credits ensure that the railroads will only pursue projects that make sense. Direct grants, on the other hand, could be seen as “free money” that would not be subject to the same rigorous business decisions. There are two tax credit bills that I support, including a 25 percent tax credit for rail projects that expand the rail network and ease congestion, and a short line tax credit that expired at the end of last year.
America’s railroads are at a crossroads. The direction Congress moves will have a lasting impact on American competitiveness. Washington must resist the urge to over-regulate an industry that has proven to be largely self-sufficient and capable of weathering economic stress. I will do my part as a member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to make sure it does not happen.
Shuster is a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
by Scott Rasmussen and Doug Schoen (The Wall Street Journal Op-Ed)
One of the more amazing aspects of the health-care debate is how steady public opinion has remained. Despite repeated and intense sales efforts by the president and his allies in Congress, most Americans consistently oppose the plan that has become the centerpiece of this legislative season.
In 15 consecutive Rasmussen Reports polls conducted over the past four months, the percentage of Americans that oppose the plan has stayed between 52% and 58%. The number in favor has held steady between 38% and 44%.
The dynamics of the numbers have remained constant as well. Democratic voters strongly support the plan while Republicans and unaffiliated voters oppose it. Senior citizens—the people who use the health-care system more than anybody else and who vote more than anybody else in midterm elections—are more opposed to the plan than younger voters. For every person who strongly favors it, two are strongly opposed.
Why can't the president move the numbers? One reason may be that he keeps talking about details of the proposal while voters are looking at the issue in a broader context. Polling conducted earlier this week shows that 57% of voters believe that passage of the legislation would hurt the economy, while only 25% believe it would help. That makes sense in a nation where most voters believe that increases in government spending are bad for the economy.
When the president responds that the plan is deficit neutral, he runs into a pair of basic problems. The first is that voters think reducing spending is more important than reducing the deficit. So a plan that is deficit neutral with a big spending hike is not going to be well received.
But the bigger problem is that people simply don't trust the official projections. People in Washington may live and die by the pronouncements of the Congressional Budget Office, but 81% of voters say it's likely the plan will end up costing more than projected. Only 10% say the official numbers are likely to be on target.
As a result, 66% of voters believe passage of the president's plan will lead to higher deficits and 78% say it's at least somewhat likely to mean higher middle-class taxes. Even within the president's own political party there are concerns on these fronts.
A plurality of Democrats believe the health-care plan will increase the deficit and a majority say it will likely mean higher middle-class taxes. At a time when voters say that reducing the deficit is a higher priority than health-care reform, these numbers are hard to ignore.
The proposed increase in government spending creates problems for advocates of reform beyond the perceived impact on deficits and the economy. Fifty-nine percent of voters say that the biggest problem with the health-care system is the cost: They want reform that will bring down the cost of care. For these voters, the notion that you need to spend an additional trillion dollars doesn't make sense. If the program is supposed to save money, why does it cost anything at all?
On top of that, most voters expect that passage of the congressional plan will increase the cost of care at the same time it drives up government spending. Only 17% now believe it will reduce the cost of care.
The final piece of the puzzle is that the overwhelming majority of voters have insurance coverage, and 76% rate their own coverage as good or excellent. Half of these voters say it's likely that if the congressional health bill becomes law, they would be forced to switch insurance coverage—a prospect hardly anyone ever relishes. These numbers have barely moved for months: Nothing the president has said has reassured people on this point.
The reason President Obama can't move the numbers and build public support is because the fundamentals are stacked against him. Most voters believe the current plan will harm the economy, cost more than projected, raise the cost of care, and lead to higher middle-class taxes.
That's a tough sell when the economy is hurting and people want reform to lower the cost of care. It's also a tough sell for a president who won an election by promising tax cuts for 95% of all Americans.
Thursday, March 4, 2010
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Congressman Shuster submitted the following remarks to the Congressional Record yesterday as the House moved to pass H.Res. 1112, "Congratulating the Pennsylvania State University IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon (THON)"
A little over a week ago, I spent a very memorable and moving afternoon watching Penn State students taking part in THON, the annual Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon. THON at Penn State is no small event. It remains the largest student-run philanthropy in the world which since 1977 has raised over $68 million for the Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State Children’s Hospital to fight childhood cancer.
THON involves over 15,000 student volunteers from Penn State’s University Park campus and its nineteen commonwealth campuses. Over 700 dancers take part in THON’s marquee event: a 46 hour dance marathon at the Bryce Jordan Center. Thousands of other students join in as moralers, family and public relations, entertainment, donor relations, finance, communication, hospitality, logistics, technology, rules and regulations, and ‘OPP’erations team members. These students’ year-long efforts culminate in THON weekend - truly an amazing and uplifting sight to see.
All of the student dancers, volunteers and sponsors who participated in this year’s THON deserve recognition from Congress and the thanks of Americans everywhere for their work to help end the scourge of childhood cancer. Their hard work resulted in raising $7.83 million this year, breaking last year’s record of $7.5 million.
I am proud to say that my own daughter was among the hundreds of students who took part in THON 2010. Ali served on the Morale Committee “Jule Runnings” and helped lift the spirits of exhausted dancers, massage tired feet, and lead the hourly line-dance to keep everyone moving to stay motivated for their cause.
Penn State students are joined by hundreds of Four Diamonds Families from Penn State Children’s Hospital who look forward to THON all year round. Four Diamond Families often develop lifetime friendships with the Fraternities, Sororities, and organizations that “adopt” them and spend time with them throughout the year. At THON weekend you will find the kids running throughout the event, participating in talent shows, playing games with the dancers, getting piggyback rides and even starting water-pistol fights with unsuspecting volunteers. The culmination of the weekend is Family Hour – when families share the struggle in the fight against childhood cancer with everyone in attendance. This was a deeply emotionally moving hour that brought the struggle of childhood cancer into a personal light. Some of the stories had happy endings, some did not. But each story was an inspiration to keep fighting for the cure for childhood cancers. These children and families are why Penn State dances.
THON is a life changing event for anyone who attends or takes part in the event. And while Penn State students are hoping to change the lives of children affected by childhood cancer, more often than not it’s the students whose lives are changed by participating in THON. Love truly does “Belong Here.” We Are Penn State - For the Kids.
Here are some interesting results from the monthly Shuster Standard E-Newsletter's health care reform poll. Last month, Shuster asked over 3,000 of his newsletter subscribers for their reactions to the health care debate. Results are still trickling in, but with over 200 respondents answering, here are the results from one of the questions from the poll:
Do you believe Congress should move forward with health care reform in its current form or start over in smaller, more incremental steps?
No, Congress should stop and start over: 82.62%
Not Sure: 5.67%
Yes, move forward: 11.70%
"A string of electoral defeats and the great unpopularity of ObamaCare can't stop Democrats from their self-appointed rendezvous with liberal destiny—ramming a bill through Congress on a narrow partisan vote. What we are about to witness is an extraordinary abuse of traditional Senate rules to pass a bill merely because they think it's good for the rest of us, and because they fear their chance to build a European welfare state may never come again."
"President Clinton preferred to use reconciliation to pass HillaryCare in the 1990s, but he was dissuaded by West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd, who argued that it would be an abuse of the process. Mr. Byrd, author of a four-volume history of Senate rules and procedures, told the Washington Post last March that "The misuse of the arcane process of reconciliation—a process intended for deficit reduction—to enact substantive policy changes is an undemocratic disservice to our people and to the Senate's institutional role," specifically citing health reform and cap and trade."