Comment Last Three
Each of these is a proven way of creating jobs and restoring prosperity. But Congress has failed to even try to act on most of them.
Helping people. Joe Pitts has voted five times to extend unemployment benefits and voted twice to offer first-ever emergency COBRA subsidies for Americans who have lost their employer-subsidized health insurance. Congress recently let those COBRA subsidies expire. For people in need, COBRA is a Catch-22: when you need it, you can’t afford it. Congressman Pitts wrote legislation to fix this problem in the future without increasing spending. The 19 month-old “stimulus” was supposed to limit unemployment and create jobs. Instead it has only put us further in debt, and most of the jobs it “saved” are those of government workers.
Stable and Low Taxes. Every American taxpayer, rich and poor, will face the largest tax increase in American history on January first. Despite a bipartisan majority in Congress who want to stop it, Democratic leaders have done nothing but use the issue for political fodder, accusing Republicans of wanting to cut taxes for the rich. The result? Employers, most of whom are in higher tax brackets, are refusing to expand and hire until they know what is going to happen to their taxes. This has hurt everyone.
Balance the Budget. Our government is $13 trillion in debt. Forty-two percent of this year’s federal spending is borrowed money. We have $107 trillion in binding commitments we have no plan to pay for. This is extremely dangerous to our current and future prosperity. It has to stop.
More and Cheaper Energy. Everything that happens in our economy requires energy. From manufacturing to simply driving to work, our economy runs on electricity, gasoline, and diesel. The law of supply and demand is simple: the more we have, the cheaper it is. Lower energy costs will mean more money for investing in new jobs. Instead, this Congress dedicated the better part of a year on a plan to make energy MORE expensive.
Wise and Consistent Regulation. Cap and Trade, Obamacare, “Card Check” and many of the other initiatives this Congress has focused on constitute major disruptions to America’s regulatory structure. Businesses aren’t only waiting to find out what will happen to their taxes—they’re also waiting to find out what new regulations are going to cost them. In the meantime, they aren’t hiring.
Open New Markets. New markets for American goods would very quickly create tens of thousands of new jobs. At least three already-negotiated trade agreements have been left unratified by this Congress. South Korea, Panama, and Colombia are just three of the countries who are eager to buy more of our goods but can’t until Congress acts. That has cost jobs.
Build Infrastructure. Building roads and highways is the government’s responsibility, and now is a perfect time to invest in this. This would do more than create construction jobs. Traffic jams and poor infrastructure make our economy less efficient, and that limits job creation. Despite strong bipartisan support for “shovel read” infrastructure investment, less than seven percent of the “stimulus” bill was dedicated to this.
The “stimulus” failed. It is no wonder why. The day the bill was passed, the Wall Street Journal called it “a political wonder that manages to spend money on just about every pent-up Democratic proposal of the last 40 years.” The Pitts Plan for job creation is what America needs.
A Pledge to America reflects House Republicans’ commitment to tackling the issues most important to the American people including job creation, controlling the federal budget and repealing the unpopular healthcare reform bill.
Rep. Pitts’ statement follows:
“The House Republicans’ Pledge to America represents our effort to listen to the American people and focus our legislative agenda on their priorities. The first priority must be growing our economy and creating jobs. We cannot accomplish this through debt-fueled stimulus bills or government takeovers of the healthcare, banking, automotive and energy industries.
“Congress must create tax and regulatory certainty so that Americans can confidently move our economy forward. While the first priority is creating jobs, the Pledge also lays out how we intend to lead the nation by stopping out-of-control spending, repealing the government takeover of healthcare, reforming Congress, and keeping our nation secure. Our nation faces great challenges, but principled solutions, grounded in the Constitution, can restore faith in government and move our country forward into a free and prosperous future.”
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We know that the priority of every American is resurrecting this flagging economy. Despite a stimulus bill that will cost taxpayers over $1 trillion, unemployment has soared to nearly 10 percent. Each report of new unemployment claims confirms that American workers and families are hurting.
There is a fundamental disagreement between Republicans and Democrats about the best way to move our economy forward. In the past two years, the solutions offered by the administration and Congress have been government takeovers of the banking, healthcare, student loan, energy, and automotive industries.
I opposed bailouts and government takeovers when they were pushed by President Bush, and I’ve continued to oppose President Obama’s efforts. The American economy doesn’t succeed because of crafty government policies. It succeeds because Americans are free to innovate and invest.
The first objective of the Pledge to America is to create jobs, end economic uncertainty, and make America more competitive. This means standing against job-killing tax hikes that are due to take effect on January 1, 2011. Our plan calls for growing new and existing small businesses through a tax deduction equal to 20 percent of their business income. We also need to repeal the burdensome new tax-reporting requirement created by the health care reform bill. Finally, we need to make sure that bureaucracy is not strangling businesses that are seeking to create new jobs.
One of the greatest causes of uncertainty in the business community is the threat of massive tax increases to pay for a government that is growing fast. The Pledge calls for an immediate stop to stimulus spending. Over $200 billion remains unspent and we must act quickly to prevent more waste. This also means permanently cancelling the TARP bailout program and returning the money to the Treasury.
The federal government has grown at an extraordinary rate in the last two years. We must put the breaks on and revert to fiscal year 2008 spending levels. Once we’ve pared back spending, we need hard caps of the same type that allowed us to balance the budget in the 1990s. When I came to Congress, I co-wrote four consecutive balanced budgets that each paid down the debt. This wouldn’t have been possible without hard restraints on the growth of government.
One way to get back to balanced budgets is to repeal the healthcare law. Contrary to White House claims, the Congressional Budget Office and Medicare’s own actuaries have shown that Obamacare will not pay for itself. This new law will be an extraordinary weight on government, businesses, and, most importantly, doctors and patients. We are committed to repealing the law and replacing it with free-market solutions.
Every poll shows that trust of Congress is at a record low. The Pledge commits our party to giving Members and the American people time to thoroughly read legislation before it is considered. Congress needs to stop ignoring the Constitution and the limits it places on legislative power. We would require a statement explicitly citing the constitutional authority that justifies a piece of legislation.
Finally, Congress has a responsibility to keep our nation safe. The Pledge commits House Republicans to strengthening our border, keeping detained terrorists out of the U.S., funding missile defense, and requiring tough sanctions on Iran.
I wholeheartedly endorse these policies, but my work also goes beyond what is in the Pledge. I’m listening to my constituents in the 16th District and introducing bills based on what I’m hearing from them. The recently introduced COBRA Affordability Act came about because of the struggles many have had paying for health insurance after losing a job.
Republicans are going to press for these policies to be enacted immediately. We’re going to keep listening to the American people and keep offering clear solutions that put them, not government bureaucrats, in charge.
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Today, Washington in more out of control than ever. The insatiable liberal appetite for more taxing, more spending, and more regulation have done so much to disrupt the economy that even responsible employers are simply unwilling to invest and hire until the smoke settles.
Meanwhile, I have written a detailed plan for creating jobs and prosperity. I have refused to request earmarks. I have voted “no” on spending bills, just as I did when Tom DeLay and George Bush were spending too much. This Congress’s agenda is the number-one impediment to American prosperity. On November 2, we will have a chance to change that.
It is true that the House and Senate have failed to agree on budgets before, but never before has the House chosen to skip the process altogether.
Congress is required by law to write a budget every spring: setting spending limits for each area of government, establishing a five-year spending plan, and giving instructions to the powerful Appropriations committees. I served on the House Budget Committee my first two terms in Congress, and we successfully balanced the budget four years in a row. Writing a budget was critical to making that happen.
So why has Congress decided not to write a budget this year? The truth? The numbers would be so shocking to people the Democratic leadership has decided it is better for them politically to just take the hit for not doing their job.
Numbers don’t lie. Trillions of dollars in new spending, combined with a struggling economy, has taken its toll. The price tag is so high Congressional leaders don’t want you to see the numbers. Hence, no budget.
Democrats in Congress are increasingly nervous that their leaders’ policies are heading them for big trouble with the voters. At the top of their list of complaints is the lack of even a plan to reverse growing unemployment. Read this very interesting article for more on this.
As for Democratic voters, even Tuesday’s primary—which included a big win for Democrats in western Pennsylvania—contained an ominous sign for Democrats going into the fall: Democrats stayed home in unexpectedly high numbers. Read this from a pollster on what this means.
I’ve had several Democrats call and write to me asking how they can switch parties. I received this email from a woman on Sunday: “Hello, please help me change parties…. I am currently a Democrat. … I was raised a Democrat, my father a carpenter in the union. I can no longer belong to a party I do not believe in,,.please tell me how I change parties.”
If you would like to change your registration or register to vote for the first time, registration forms are available at most public libraries and many other government offices. If you can’t find one, please call my office and I’ll send you one!
Pitts, GOP lawmakers: spike idea of consumption tax
By TOM MURSE, Staff Writer
U.S. Rep. Joe Pitts is leading a GOP effort to pressure President Barack Obama's debt commission into spiking the idea of a nationwide consumption tax as a way to close the budget deficit.
"With unemployment at nearly 10 percent, Americans cannot afford the burden of a new job-killing tax," Pitts wrote in a letter to the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform on Thursday.
The letter was signed by 153 other congressional Republicans, including House GOP Conference leaders including Leader John Boehner, Whip Eric Cantor and Chairman Mike Pence.
White House spokesmen have said repeatedly that the president has not proposed and is not considering such a tax, commonly referred to as a value-added tax. But Obama hasn't completely rejected the idea, either, saying in interviews that the tax is "something that has worked for some countries."
Many European countries impose a VAT, which taxes the value that is added at each stage of production of certain commodities. It could apply, for instance, to raw products delivered to a mill, the mill's production work and so on up the line to the retailer.
Suggestions of imposing a VAT in the United States have grown in the face of a looming $1.6 trillion budget deficit in the current fiscal year that began Oct. 1. Obama's debt commission began meeting in April and is expected to producing a plan to reduce the deficit.
Republicans lawmakers, however, are suggesting the commission focus on spending cuts, not new taxes.
"A new value-added tax is no way to revitalize an American economy that needs to create millions of new jobs," Pitts said in a statement. "European VAT taxes have not prevented these countries from going into deep debt, they have only slowed job growth."
The lawmakers, who did not identify potential budget cuts in their letter, said a value-added tax of 19 percent did not save Greece from its debt crisis.
"The result of increased government spending and taxation in Greece has been a consistently high unemployment rate of nearly 10 percent and a bankrupt government," the lawmakers wrote in their letter.
Asked where he would cut spending, Pitts said he would freeze discretionary spending and propose a one or two percent across the board cut in spending.
Pitts called, additionally, for a repeal of the new healthcare law and replacing it with cheaper alternatives, as well as saving and strengthening entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security.
"Long term, entitlements are the biggest problem," said Pitts. "We have $107 trillion in binding entitlement promises Congress has no plan to pay for. Whatever we do, we should not be creating new entitlements we can't afford."
(This report contains information from our wire services.)
First of all, we’re finding that medical costs will rise nationwide. According to a report from the federal agency that administers Medicare and Medicaid, national health expenditures will increase by $311 billion over ten years because of the new law. There was lots of talk during the debate over health care reform about “bending the cost curve.” Unfortunately, the bill appears to have bent the cost curve up instead of down.
This same report indicated that individuals who purchase health insurance on their own can expect to pay an additional $2,100 a year. The individual market was already pricing out many consumers, but now costs will rise even faster. For now, individuals can choose to drop coverage and pay for medical costs out of pocket. In the future, all Americans will have to purchase insurance or face IRS penalties.
Premiums are not the only area where expenses are projected to rise. Because of new taxes and fees on prescription drugs and medical devices, the agency report states that costs would be “passed through to health consumers.”
Throughout the debate, President Obama insisted that Americans who like their coverage would get to keep it. Just weeks after the law went into effect, it’s already apparent that this was empty rhetoric.
Medicare Advantage programs were established to introduce market reforms to the Medicare program. The flexibility of the Medicare Advantage programs have made them popular with seniors, especially lower income beneficiaries. Nearly 30,000 seniors in the 16th Congressional District elect one of these plans.
Because of deep cuts in the program, Republicans estimated that one in four seniors could see their Medicare Advantage plan cancelled. These estimates were wrong. Now the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services estimate that half of seniors will lose the coverage that they currently have.
Seniors on Medicare Advantage aren’t the only ones who could see changes to Medicare. The law cuts $575 billion out of Medicare over the next ten years. It’s difficult to clearly identify how this will change the program, but many doctors warn that they may not be able to continue seeing Medicare patients if the cuts are too severe. Already, Medicare reimbursement rates are far below those paid by private insurers.
Shortly after passage of the health care bill, companies such as AT&T, Caterpillar, Verizon and John Deere released statements noting that the new law would affect their bottom line. These companies were immediately attacked by leading Democrats as trying to undermine the health care law.
I serve on the House Energy and Commerce Committee and Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) immediately scheduled a hearing so that he could interrogate the CEOs of these companies. Only after scheduling the hearing did he come to understand that federal regulations require companies to publicly report such information. They were just acting in accordance with the law.
Documents demanded by the Energy and Commerce Committee show that these four companies are evaluating whether to drop their current healthcare coverage and instead pay government penalties established in the new law. Just these four companies cover over 2.3 million workers. There’s no easy way to tell how many other companies are trying to figure out whether dismantling their employee health benefits will benefit their bottom line.
It hasn’t been 100 days since enactment of the new health care law, and there are bound to be other surprises down the road. I opposed the bill because I don’t believe that centralizing decisions about health care in Washington will reduce costs or improve care.
There were good things done in the healthcare law like allowing young people to stay on their parents’ plan longer and ensuring that Americans are not denied coverage for pre-existing conditions. I think we can take action to preserve the parts of the plan that every American agrees on and introduce real market-based reforms. There’s time to make major changes, but we shouldn’t wait long to make improvements.
Taxes – The Democrats have advocated for dozens of new and increased taxes. Many more taxes, including your income taxes, are scheduled to automatically shoot up in January. If you were an employer and you knew your tax burden was about to go up—but had no idea by how much—would you risk expanding and hiring right now?
Regulation—From Obamacare to Cap and Trade, the Democrats’ have been pushing for huge new burdens on businesses large and small. If you were an employer and you knew the cost of doing business was about to skyrocket, would you risk expanding and hiring right now?
Government debt—The federal government has $107 trillion in spending promises it has no plan to pay for, prompting Moody’s to warn of a downgrade of federal debt securities within the next decade. That’s exactly what started the debt spiral that is embroiling Greece and other European countries right now. Even Britain is realizing how much trouble they are in because of years of liberal spending. Knowing that our massive government debt could lead to an even worse economic crisis within ten years, would you expand your business and hire right now?
The keys to job creation are low and stable taxes, less government, and less spending and debt.
In the last half of the 12-year stretch Republicans had in the Congressional majority, we lost faith with the American people--and that’s why the Democrats are in charge to begin with! Republicans spent too much, for starters. But there were also too many scandals, and too many inexcusable mistakes. I found myself voting against my own party more and more. I voted against No Child Left Behind. I voted against TARP (the Bush bank bailout). I voted against nearly two-thirds of the annual appropriations bills the GOP passed during the Bush Administration.
The Tea Party movement has not resulted just from anger at the Democrats. It resulted from anger at both parties. What does that mean for November? This election needs to be about what’s good for America, not just about what’s good for the Grand Old Party. It can be the start of something great for the GOP as well, but only if Republicans stick to their principles and actually deliver on the things we as a party are supposed to believe in: less government, less spending, family values, law and order, and wise national defense.
The Tea Party movement will probably be good for the GOP this year. But after the election, if Republicans win the majority in Congress, the movement will be there to hold the party accountable. If we don’t live up to our promises to be the party that can actually do budget math, we will have the Tea Party folks to reckon with. This is a very good thing for America. Accountability is always a good thing.
Instead of fixing this problem, Obamacare adds to it. Instead of ensuring that every American has the healthcare they need, the new law makes it much harder to keep the entire system from collapsing into bankruptcy. It is hard to overstate how irresponsible this is.
Please read these articles to learn more. Every American should read these!
National Center for Policy Analysis: "Social Security and Medicare Projections: 2009"
New York Times: "Payback Time: Wave of Debt Payments to Hit U.S. Government" (read the multimedia sidebar, too)
Newsweek: "An Empire at Risk" (cover story)
Forbes: "The 81% Tax Increase"
New York Times: "Moody's Says U.S. Debt Could Test Triple-A Rating"
Not content to just criticize, I issued a memorandum to my constituents on the day Congress passed that bill. I called for tax reduction, increased energy production, and trade promotion as the three things that would genuinely stimulate the economy.
A year later, in Wednesday’s State of the Union Address, the President finally called for these three things in what appears to be a serious way. While I disagree with much of what he called for in his speech, we at last agree on some of the areas we should be focusing our efforts.
It’s a year late. But I’m glad to see the President finally realize that tax cuts are the quickest and surest form of stimulus. I’m glad to see him recognize that we need to expand energy production, not constrict it as his “cap and trade” proposal would do. I’m glad to see him realize that we must open new markets for manufacturers to sell their wares to.
If he had acted on these things a year ago, unemployment might really have stayed under eight percent. It remains to be seen if he will actually act on them even now.
The number-one issue in American right now is unemployment. In Chester County, the unemployment rate is 6.5 percent. In Lancaster County, it’s 8 percent. In Berks County, it’s 9.1 percent. Those are serious numbers. But unemployment isn’t about numbers. It’s about people, and we have to remember that we’re not talking about statistics. We’re talking about real people who are struggling to put food on the table.
What can we do about it? Jobs don’t come from the government. Jobs come from businesses and entrepreneurs who act on good ideas, take risks, and invest in people. Government can make this easier, or government can make this harder.
Government can make it easier by leaving more money in private hands. High taxes take money out of the economy, hampering job creation. Government borrowing also hampers economic growth, as money that might be invested in job-creating enterprises goes to government bonds instead.
This Congress is breaking records when it comes to taxing and borrowing. Letting the 2001 tax cuts expire amounts to the largest tax increase in history, and it will apply to every taxpayer. The Democrats' health legislation includes large tax increases. The “cap and trade” national energy tax will amount to a massive tax increase.
What is driving this? Spending. Under this Congress, government spending is simply out of control.
I can remember, as a child, when I first heard the word “trillion.” It was a word kids used the way they say “zillion” or “kabillion.” It may as well have been a made-up word. Like “googolplex” it was a real number, but too big to be used for anything but exaggerating.
Unfortunately, that’s no longer true.
Back in January, the Congressional Budget Office said the federal deficit would total $1.2 trillion this year, and $3.1 trillion over the next decade. Those are shocking numbers. If you started spending $1 million a day—every day—on the day Jesus was born, and kept spending until now, you still would not owe even three-quarters of $1 trillion.
But as shocking as those January numbers were, they didn’t account for the return of tax-and-spend big government liberalism. This summer, CBO estimated this year’s deficit at $1.6 trillion—the biggest since World War II. Over the next decade, they say the deficit will grow by $7.1 trillion. If President Obama gets his entire legislative agenda into law, that number increases to $9 trillion, more than doubling the already huge debt he inherited.
At the end of the Carter presidency (tough economic times!), the national debt was equal to one-third of the nation’s gross domestic product. The White House predicts the debt will be larger than 100 percent of GDP by the end of President Obama’s four-years in office.
It is hard to comprehend numbers this large. Imagine, for instance, that you tried to count to a billion. If you counted one number per second—and that’s pretty fast—it would take you almost 32 years to do it. How long would it take to count to a trillion? Almost 32,000 years. You would have had to start in the Paleolithic Age!
Elections have consequences. Americans voted for “change” last year. Unfortunately, the change we got was not the kind we need.
Polling data show that majorities as large as 71 percent do not believe the government should run or subsidize programs that perform or pay for the procedure. That was reflected in a recent vote in the House of Representatives to bar new programs in the Democrats’ proposed health overhaul from paying for abortion. The amendment passed with broad bipartisan support. Every pro-choice Republican and a great many pro-choice Democrats voted for it. One fourth of all Democrats voted “yes,” including most of the twelve Democrats from Pennsylvania. The amendment reflects the mainstream of American opinion. It reflects the conviction of decent Americans who recognize that however much people may disagree on this issue, we should respect each other enough to not publicly fund something many of us find abhorrent.
There is, however, a small minority in America and in Congress that insists on using this legislation to fund abortion through major government health programs. Much like those on the right who have claimed the health bill sets up “death panels,” the simple facts don’t seem to matter much to them. Politifact.com has posted three “truth-o-meter” studies debunking the claims made by left-wing members of Congress on this issue. National Public Radio and other respected sources have done the same. Nevertheless, the wild claims continue. One of the organizers of a Saturday rally to protest my co-sponsorship of the amendment told the Daily Local News that I oppose birth control—something that is absolutely not true.
All of this reflects the unfortunate side of American politics today. It has become harder and harder for elected officials and activists on opposing sides of the issues to have grown-up, respectful conversations with each other. Lincoln-Douglas debates have been replaced by the Rachel Maddow show. After the House vote, a liberal activist from Lancaster (who intends to run against me next year) wrote on a blog: “Everybody's angry. And everybody wants to punish someone—anyone!—for this travesty!” and then asked readers to give her money.
Given the heated rhetoric, I believe it is important for everyone to remember what this debate is about. It has nothing to do with the legality or availability of abortion. It is purely, and only, about whether or not the government will pay for abortion in the so-called “public option” and through new “affordability credits” if the legislation now in Congress becomes law.
Because the vast majority of Americans do not want public money spent that way, those who do want it spent that way are faced with two options. Either accede to the will of the majority, as Speaker Pelosi has done, or use budget gimmicks to pay for abortion while claiming not to. (Unfortunately, the new Senate bill includes exactly that kind of gimmick.)
There is a saying that “politics is the art of compromise.” That is almost always true. It is not true here. You simply can’t compromise on an either/or scenario. Either we are going to use public funds to pay for abortion or we aren’t. Giving money to a government contractor who then pays for abortions isn’t a compromise. It’s deception. Likewise, pretending that money isn’t fungible, as Senator Reid has done, is not a compromise. Either the government is going to pay for abortion or it isn’t, and Congress needs to be honest about what it is doing.
Democracy relies on the honesty and the good will of elected officials and activists alike. We should compromise when we can and let the majority rule when we can’t. Mudslinging, dishonest “spin,” and Saul Alinsky-style tactics undermine democracy and hurt our country. For decades, the government has not paid for abortion services and it should not start now. That is the overwhelming will of the American people. The House has listened to the people, and the Senate should too.
# # #
- A trillion is a thousand times a billion.
- A trillion is ten times the number of stars in the Milky Way Galaxy.
- It takes 12 years for a million seconds to pass. It takes almost 32,000 years for a trillion seconds to pass.
- A trillion is just over half the size of this year's federal deficit, if the entire Obama legislative program is passed into law.
“Pat Toomey is the right candidate. No one else comes close.
“I worked with Pat in Congress for six years. He is one of the smartest people I’ve ever known. He’s also one of the most caring and passionate people I’ve served with. A lot of politicians have lost credibility in recent years. Pat Toomey isn’t one of them. Pat has good ideas that he actually believes in, and he will work hard to make people’s lives better.
“Pat Toomey is a bona fide fiscal conservative at a time when Washington desperately needs more of them. Pat knows where jobs and prosperity come from, and he knows they don’t come from Washington.
“Pat has strong convictions, but they are convictions with bipartisan appeal. Pat proved during his three terms in Congress that he has the ability to inspire Democrats and Republicans alike.
“Pat Toomey is going to win this race. He is principled, thoughtful, caring, and qualified.”
Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer have the power to decide which bills get voted on and which ones don’t. Unfortunately, that power is being abused to prevent Republicans from even offering amendments to key bills that are on the floor. More and more bills are going through the House with no amendments allowed unless they are pre-approved by the Democratic leadership. There have always been some limits on amendments. But it has never before been done on the all-important appropriations bills that decide how your money is spent. This week, for the first time ever under the modern appropriations process, Republicans had to get our appropriations amendments pre-approved by Democratic Leaders. The reason? They’re scared Democrats will vote with us and our good ideas will become law.