Friday, May 28, 2010
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Congressman Bill Shuster is pleased to announce the launch of a brand new social networking initiative that will give Americans the ability to engage in the process of building a new policy agenda for the nation: AmericaSpeakingOut.com.
“Americans from across the country have been speaking out but Washington isn’t listening. Democrats have pursued a partisan agenda instead of dealing with the issues that impact the lives of my constituents on a daily basis. America is ready for a new agenda in Washington and the nation deserves a Congress that acts to implement the priorities of the people not the partisan political whims of Speaker Pelosi and her friends.
The time has come for a new agenda – and a new way of doing business in Washington. It’s time that the party in power remembers that this is a government by and for the people. It’s time the priorities of the American people drive the agenda in Congress.
That is why I am joining my Republican colleagues to introduce AmericaSpeakingOut.com, a never before seen social networking site based on cutting edge technology that will give my constituents and all Americans the ability to discuss issues, promote ideas and enter into a dialogue with their neighbors and Republican members of Congress.
The ideas debated on this site, combined with the bedrock principles congressional Republicans share will help create the agenda that will change the way Washington works for the better. I invite my constituents to take part in the dialogue.”
In addition to this statement, Congressman Shuster wrote a blog post on Liberty Pundits expanding on the "America Speaking Out" project. The media is welcome to link to this post on their websites.
- MYTH: The new health care law “will provide you and your family with greater savings and increased quality health care”FACT: The Democrats’ health overhaul jeopardizes seniors’ access to providers and eliminates Medicare health plans for millions of seniors.Medicare’s own actuaries found that the one-half trillion dollars in Medicare cuts are so drastic that they caution: “providers for whom Medicare constitutes a substantive portion of their business could find it difficult to remain profitable and, absent legislative intervention, might end their participation in the program (possibly jeopardizing access to care for beneficiaries).”The Medicare actuaries also warn that the $206 billion in cuts to the Medicare Advantage program will result in seven million Medicare beneficiaries no longer being able to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan.Moreover, Medicare’s own actuaries found that the one-half trillion dollars in Medicare cuts are so drastic that they caution: “providers for whom Medicare constitutes a substantive portion of their business could find it difficult to remain profitable and, absent legislative intervention, might end their participation in the program (possibly jeopardizing access to care for beneficiaries).” The Medicare actuaries also warn that the $206 billion in cuts to the Medicare Advantage program will result in seven million Medicare beneficiaries no longer being able to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan.
- MYTH: Because of the new health law “you will see new benefits and cost savings” and “Medicare will continue to cover your health costs the way it always has”FACT: According to the independent Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and Medicare actuaries, seniors in Medicare health plans will see their benefits cut and costs increase because of the Medicare cuts made in the Democrats’ health overhaul. Currently more than 10 million Medicare beneficiaries receive their Medicare benefits through a Medicare Advantage plan.CBO notes that “Medicare Advantage plans …provide their enrollees with extra benefits” that traditional Medicare does not offer (e.g. dental and vision coverage, reduced copayments, lower premiums, etc.). However, because of Democrats’ drastic Medicare cuts, the non-partisan CBO predicts the value of extra benefits received by seniors enrolled in MA will be slashed by $816, on average, in 2019.The Medicare actuaries also predict that, “The new provisions will generally… result in less generous benefit packages. [Medicare Advantage] plans use rebate revenues to reduce Medicare coinsurance requirements, add extra benefits such as vision or dental care, and/or reduce enrollee premiums for Part B or Part D of Medicare.” These rebates, which fund these extra benefits, will be gutted by the $206 billion in cuts to the Medicare Advantage program.
- MYTH: “The new law creates a program to preserve [employer-based retiree health plans] and help people who retire before age 65 get the affordable care they need.”FACT: Retirees and workers’ health benefits are jeopardized by the Democrats’ health law.Immediately following passage of the health overhaul, some of America’s biggest companies began warning that the tax changes to the retiree drug subsidy program in the Democrats’ health care bill will reduce earnings by billions of dollars, threatening their ability to offer and retain retiree health benefits.Fortune.com reported more bad news for American retirees as a result of the Democrats’ new health care law. After reviewing internal company documents, Fortune.com found that four major U.S. employers (AT&T, Verizon, Deere and Caterpillar) are considering “dumping the health care coverage they provide to their workers in exchange for paying penalty fees to the government.") These companies currently offer health benefits to well over 2.3 million employees, retirees and their dependents -- a figure which exceeds the population of 15 states as well as the District of Columbia. An AT&T report notes that they spent $4.7 billion on medical costs but would be taxed a much lower amount ($600 million) under the Democrats’ law for not offering their 1.2 million employees, retirees, and their dependents’ health care benefits – a savings of $4.1 billion for the company. Fortune.com estimated Caterpillar could reduce its expenses by 70% if they eliminate health benefits and instead pay the tax.Unfortunately, the retiree reinsurance program in the Democrats’ law that is touted in the Obama Administration’s brochure will not protect these retirees. The Department of Health and Human Services’ own regulations warn that the new law’s subsidy for retiree insurance is vastly underfunded and will run out of money, stating, “Because funding for this program is limited, we expect more requests for reimbursement than there are funds to pay the requests.” Furthermore, the Administration’s own actuaries estimate that the funds for this program could run out as soon as next year.
- MYTH: “The new law provides affordable health insurance through a transitional high-risk pool program for people without insurance due to a pre-existing condition.”FACT: Despite that fact that Medicare beneficiaries are already insured and have no use for a high-risk pool, the Obama Administration’s statement must be selling a different policy, because it certainly doesn’t reflect what was just signed into law.First, the Obama Administration actuaries note that the Democrats’ high-risk pool program is significantly underfunded. The actuaries predict, “By 2011 and 2012 the initial $5 billion in Federal funding for this program would be exhausted, resulting in substantial premium increases to sustain the program...”As a result, 19 states have refused to participate for fear they will be forced to pick up the tab when the federal funds run out. Even states choosing to participate are planning to deal with the unsustainable funding levels. For example, New Mexico plans on limiting the number of enrollees to 1,500, just a fraction of the estimated 50,000 uninsured New Mexicans with a pre-existing condition.Further, the Democrats’ health law allows the Secretary to establish waiting lists to enroll in these insurance pools, which does nothing to “provide affordable health insurance” to anyone.
- MYTH: “More Affordable Prescription Drugs”FACT: CBO predicts that Medicare Part D premiums will increase because of the Democrats’ law. However, only a small portion of seniors will actually see any real direct benefit, because just one-in-ten beneficiaries are responsible for prescription drug spending in the "donut hole."CBO predicts that Medicare Part D premiums will increase because of the Democrats’ law. However, only a small portion of seniors will actually see any new benefits. Most seniors will just have to pay more to receive the exact same benefits they have today.
- MYTH: “Your choice of doctor will be preserved.”FACT: The Democrats’ health law, which this brochure is touting, did nothing to address the Medicare physician payment formula (“SGR”).A physician survey found that because the new health law included no long-term physician payment solution but left a 21% cut to Medicare physician rates, nearly 7 in 10 physicians would no longer participate in Medicare if the cuts go into effect.American Medical Association President J. James Rohack, M.D., said current Medicare law with no long-term physician payment solution “will also exacerbate the existing physician shortage, as physicians retire early or are forced to limit the number of Medicare patients they can treat – right as the baby boomers enter Medicare.”
- MYTH: The Medicare cuts are “a result of reductions in waste, fraud, and abuse.”FACT: Being able to get health treatment is not wasteful, nor is it abuse.Medicare’s own actuaries found that the one-half trillion dollars in Medicare cuts are so drastic that they caution: “providers for whom Medicare constitutes a substantive portion of their business could find it difficult to remain profitable and, absent legislative intervention, might end their participation in the program (possibly jeopardizing access to care for beneficiaries).”
Thursday, May 20, 2010
Only 12 percent of small businesses would benefit from the ObamaCare tax credit
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Bipartisan Bill Calls for National Standard for Engineered Glass Beads
Today the House Republican Economic Recovery Working Group launched YouCut, a first-of-its kind initiative that empowers people with the ability to vote online and on their mobile devices for spending cuts they want the House to consider. Everyone knows that Washington has a spending problem. YouCut is an effort to start addressing the culture of spending in Washington that has produced a formidable national debt. Start voting now online here.
Friday, May 7, 2010
Thursday, May 6, 2010
In March 2009, we predicted an imminent recovery from the brutal recession the U.S. entered in December 2007. It wasn't a tough prediction to make: The Fed had basically started printing money, pushing short-term interest rates to zero in late 2008 and causing the yield curve to go steeply positive.
An upward-sloping yield curve is in fact the most reliable indicator of a coming rebound. Given that, a recovery in GDP was baked into the cake well before the new administration took office.
Which is why we can only shake our heads as President Obama, House Speaker Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Reid and other Democrats congratulate themselves for the turnaround.
If anything, their $862 billion stimulus and $700 billion corporate bailout, not to mention the $10 trillion in deficits projected over the next decade, have blunted the sharp rebound that would have created hundreds of thousands more jobs than we have now.
Yet Harry Reid has the chutzpah to accuse Republicans of "making love to Wall Street," a laughable claim given that his own party took twice as much from big Wall Street firms as the GOP.
Then there's Nancy Pelosi, touting her party's policies: "It is all about a four-letter word: jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs. We are all about jobs." Really, Madame Speaker? Since Democrats took control of Congress and the White House, we have had one financial meltdown, one steep recession and the loss of 8 million jobs, half of them in the last year alone.
OK, but didn't the economy start to recover last summer? Yes. But which economy are we talking about? The public sector is expanding rapidly and adding jobs. But that's come at the expense of the private sector, the economy in which most Americans live.
Far from recovering last summer, the private economy is only now emerging from its downturn (see chart). It suffered six straight quarters of year-over-year decline — the longest such string since the Depression. In the first quarter, it grew at a modest 2.8% — the first gain since 2008's second period. Hardly rip-roaring.
For those who call this a "V-shaped" recovery, we agree only to a point. Yes, the overall economy has retraced lost ground. But, again, private sector GDP, as the chart shows, tells a different story. It remains well below its peak in the fourth quarter of 2007. Indeed, even after the first quarter's gain, private output is still $233 billion, or 2.1%, below its previous quarterly high.
Better than anything, this explains why we've lost 8 million jobs since the recession began. And why it took until March of this year for the job market to actually start growing again.
In other words, the real economy continues to suffer — thanks to the incompetence of our government and its regulators. What matters isn't the public sector, which only consumes wealth. It's the private economy, where all wealth is created.
Debates over whether this recovery looks like a "V" or a "U" thus miss the point. Our concern is for the future of the private sector, which is grim if current trends continue.
The Fed has added $2.3 trillion to its balance sheet, while flooding the economy with more than $1 trillion in newly created dollars. This is a monetary stimulus the likes of which have never been seen.
What happens when the central bank starts to unwind it? The answer is, interest rates will rise sharply and the recovery will be derailed. This year we'll most likely see a decent rebound with 3% growth or more. But next year is anybody's guess.
The private economy faces so many other imponderables and potential pitfalls that it's safe to say this is the most uncertain period since World War II. What about the collapse of public finance around the world? The planned tax hikes on entrepreneurs? The coming 60% jump in capital gains taxes? What about the soaring new costs to pay for ObamaCare?
For a truly healthy economy, the private sector needs capital, entrepreneurial talent, fair regulation and low taxes. Most of all, it needs a governing class that recognizes that our country was built on free markets, not big government.