Washington Watch - 9/12/16
This week I led a group of friends and colleagues on the House Floor to push H.R. 25, the FairTax. In fact, even though the bill is already the single most popularly cosponsored piece of fundamental tax reform legislation in Congress, just this past week I added two additional cosponsors to the bill! For too long, the tax code has been the go-to mechanism for Washington to manipulate the behavior of the American people, and as Chairman Mike Conaway – who also happens to be a CPA – pointed out during our time on the floor, one of the biggest benefits of the FairTax is that it eliminates every special interest exemption and loophole found in the current convoluted code. With your continued partnership, I’m confident we’ll reach our goal of making April 15th just another beautiful spring day. You can hear our FairTax discussion by clicking the picture below.
Right now, the tax writing committee in the House, the Ways and Means Committee, is putting forward its vision for tax reform. The Chairman of the committee, Congressman Kevin Brady from Texas, is a FairTax cosponsor and supporter, so under his direction, the Committee has crafted a proposal closer to a FairTax consumption tax model than anything that we have ever seen before. Is it the FairTax in its entirety? No. Does it move us closer than ever before? Absolutely. Will it use FairTax principles and policies to grow American jobs, build the American economy, and end America’s reign as “Worst and Least Competitive Tax Code on the Planet?” Most certainly. Again, it is the best effort I have ever seen come out of the Ways and Means Committee. Why? Well, one reason is that the power of the tax writing committee comes from adding “wisdom” to the tax code through special deductions, credits, carve outs, and exemptions.
Chairman Brady is trying to end that practice exactly as the FairTax eliminates it. You and I and the millions of others who believe that there is a better way than our current tax code must stand with Chairman Brady and push back against efforts to adulterate his proposal with a new round of exceptions and exemptions. President Ronald Reagan simplified the tax code in 1986, but pressure over the subsequent 30 years for a deduction here and a carve out there led to the complicated, convoluted mess that we have now. It’s tempting for each of us to advocate for a particular tax break that is particularly useful to our lives, but following through on that temptation is what’s given us the absolutely mess that we have today. I hope you will stand with me and Chairman Brady against efforts to further pollute this FairTax-inspired blueprint for tax reform.
I voted for a bill last week that you may not have heard much about, but it’s a critical plank of the House Republican agenda to restore accountability and trust in government. It’s called the “Stop Settlement Slush Funds Act,” and it prevents the Department of Justice from requiring, as a condition of a settlement, a corporation or individual to make a donation to an outside group. It may sound innocuous, but what the Obama Administration has been doing is essentially using the law to compel a private business or citizen to donate hundreds of millions of dollars to private ideological groups to advance its liberal agenda.
For instance, the Department of Justice reached an enormous settlement agreement with some of our biggest banks that included $11 billion in “consumer relief”—purported to help struggling homeowners who were harmed by the Great Recession. But in fact, much of the money was allocated to outside groups like La Raza and the National Urban League. This is money that should have gone to the U.S. Treasury to benefit taxpayers, but is instead going to organizations that focus on lobbying, community organizing, and voter registration for Democrats. The bill we passed this week will end this abuse of government power, and I hope the Senate will vote to pass this bill without delay.
- Augusta Free Press. Goodlatte bill to stop executive overreach passes House
- Albany Times Union. A slush fund by any other name would be a slush fund
The more time that passes by, the clearer it becomes that the Obama Administration’s policy of “strategic patience” towards North Korea has been a strategic failure. The North Korean regime’s latest ballistic missile tests that landed dangerously close to Japanese shores and last Friday’s nuclear test are just the latest examples in a long line of many dangerous and irresponsible acts by the regime. This sort of behavior not only poses a direct threat to North Korea’s neighbors, such as Japan and South Korea, but to America as well. If the international community is going to effectively counter this threat, it absolutely must coordinate its efforts and work together as a team. That’s why I was pleased to see the House unanimously pass H.Res. 634 last week, which emphasizes the importance of the U.S., Japan, and South Korea working together to address the common threat posed by the North Korean regime. While I was happy to see the House send this powerful message of cooperation, it is of the upmost importance that we translate these words into action.
- The Korea Times. US House passes resolution calling for strengthening US-Korea-Japan cooperation to counter N. Korea
- CNN. North Korea claims successful test of nuclear warhead
Last week, the National Small Business Association (NSBA) released its 2016 Mid-Year Economic Report, and while there were some positive findings in the report, I was troubled to learn that 41 percent of small business owners said that a lack of capital is hindering their ability to grow or expand operations. When small businesses aren’t growing and creating jobs, the U.S. economy and American families pay the price. As noted in the NSBA report, capital is the lifeblood of any small business, and that’s as true for a small business operating in a major west coast city as it is for a small business operating in the smallest city in the Seventh District. The good news is that the House passed a couple of bills last week that will make it easier and less-expensive for small businesses access to much needed capital.
The first bill, H.R. 2357, will simplify the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission’s registration and reporting process for small businesses in an effort to reduce compliance costs and increase flexibility during the securities offering process, and it will also establishe a registration exemption for small securities offerings in which the company owners and officers have an existing relationship with potential investors. Another section of H.R. 2357 will prevent the SEC from adding new regulatory burdens on small companies working to raise capital under a simplified securities offering process established by Congress in the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act of 2012.
The second bill, H.R. 5424, will update the Investment Advisors Act of 1940 to lift costly and duplicative regulatory restrictions on private investment funds, like private equity funds, which are an important source of capital for American businesses. Last Wednesday, a constituent from Lawrenceville visited my office to discuss the positive impact that private equity funding has had on her Lawrenceville-based compression garment manufacturing business, Marena, and as it turns out, Marena isn’t the only Georgia business benefiting from private equity funding. Georgia businesses receive more private equity investment than business in all but four other U.S. states. I’m confident that the positive, pro-growth reforms in H.R. 5424 will spur even more private equity investment in our part of the world and across the nation, and I was pleased to see it pass with strong bipartisan support.
Last week, the Budget Committee held a hearing to discuss a number of issues associated with a federal government office that most folks who aren’t in the medical profession have probably never heard of, but which has enormous power and influence over Medicare and Medicaid policy – the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI). CMMI was tasked under the Affordable Care Act with developing and testing health care demonstration projects that could improve patient outcomes and reduce costs, and as health care costs continue to climb, it’s hard to argue that finding innovative ways to deliver quality health care services for less is a bad idea. However, as discussed by several members at the hearing, past demonstration projects have resulted in limited access to health care and medical supplies for some seniors. What we learned at this hearing is that if Congress moves a bill to reverse a demonstration program that is harming seniors, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) would score it as a cost to taxpayers. What’s more, CMMI recently began requiring health care providers and patients to participate in demonstration projects. By mandating participation, CMMI is effectively changing the direction of federal health care policy without approval from Congress.
A very recent example that could impact folks in our district, given that it will apply to 75 percent of all Medicare beneficiaries, is CMMI’s new Medicare Part B payment demonstration program, which will modify Medicare reimbursements to physicians for drugs administered in outpatient settings. Should this demonstration program negatively impact Medicare beneficiaries’ access to medication, CBO scoring will make it much harder for Congress to intervene. That’s why it’s so important for Congress to investigate this issue now and find ways to hold CBO and CMMI accountable for ensuring that these projects don’t harm seniors. I encourage you to click on the link below to listen to the hearing and learn more about these issues.
- Hearing: CMMI: Scoring Assumptions & Real-World Implications
- National Taxpayers Union. Praise for House hearing on CBO’s methods
- Modern Healthcare. Republicans say CBO is biased when scoring new CMS pay models
I am always surprised when I meet someone who doesn’t remember exactly where they were or what they were doing on 9/11, but school has restarted and my experience is that almost no child in school this year will remember. Even seniors in high school this year will only have been two years old in September of 2001. So it is up to us to teach them.
There are so many lessons from that day.There are so many heroes of that day. I can’t pretend to know what is most important for our children to learn, but I know that the story of Flight 93 is near the top. The 40 passengers and crew on Flight 93 didn’t sign up to be heroes. They were just average Americans – along with a citizen of Germany, a citizen of Japan, and a citizen of New Zealand – on their vacation or on their way to work. Yet, in a small period of just over 30 minutes, those men and women transformed from vacationers and commuters into victims of a hijacking, into comforters of their families far away, and into heroes for an entire nation fighting back.
Some people know that they want to be protectors and stand in the gap between others and harm, and so they join the military or law enforcement or the fire department. Those people are and will always be role models for our children. But while the heroes of Flight 93 did not pursue the role of protector, in the very short window in which they were presented with the opportunity, they seized it. For all of the heart-breaking or inspiring or enraging lessons that our children can learn from September 11, 2001, among the most important to me is that while America’s greatness may be protected by our Constitution, that greatness emanates from the ordinary people who comprise its citizenry. America’s legacy – and America’s future – is one of ordinary men and women doing extraordinary things. I will be forever grateful that such heroes live among us. I will never forget.
This week the House is expected to consider H.R. 3590, the “Halt Tax increases on the Middle Class and Seniors Act.” The bill rolls-back an Obamacare tax increase on hard-working Americans who are spending a significant amount of their income on health care expenses. This bill puts more money back in the pockets of our friends and neighbors.
The House is also going to consider H.R. 5620, the “VA Accountability First and Appeals Modernization Act.” The bill will improve the ability of our nation’s veterans to receive timely and accurate decisions on their disability claims, and it will make it easier to fire VA employees who have engaged in gross mismanagement or misconduct. Our veterans deserve our support, and I’m happy that this bill is coming to the floor for a vote.
Member of Congress