Washington Watch- October 26, 2012
Federal Spending and the Budget
The federal budget continues to be one of the most debated and complex issues facing America. To help understand the budgetary work that you and I have to do, I encourage you to review The Heritage Foundation’s recently released “Federal Spending by the Numbers 2012.” The Heritage Foundation, a policy think-tank, has put together an excellent array of charts and explanatory notes highlighting our budgetary challenges.
Specifically, the report notes that total federal spending has increased “71 percent faster than inflation” over the past two decades. This means that spending is consuming an ever greater share of our national economy, as measured by Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The primary drivers of this spending are Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. Heritage estimates that by 2048, spending on these three programs will consume all of the government’s tax revenues. That leaves no tax revenue for defense, interest on our outstanding debt, nutrition programs, education, health research, NASA, veterans, the environment, national parks, or anything else.
Clearly, we are on an unsustainable spending trajectory that must be curtailed. As Congress begins to address the “Fiscal Cliff,” please know that I am committed to reforming our federal spending.
President Barack Obama has touted his infamous health care law as this country's greatest health care reform proposal, but as you and I both know, the most innovative and successful health care reforms are happening in the private sector and at the local level. Just this past week, the Washington Post highlighted a cutting-edge grant opportunity from the privately-funded Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that seeks to use data and expertise from physicians and hospitals on "super utilizer" patients to figure out why these 5 percent of patients represent 60 percent of our health care costs and how to fix that inequity. If we are to reform health care and control costs, we have to understand why so few patients are responsible for so much of our health care spending. More spending is not the answer, but smarter spending certainly has a role to play.
Domestic Energy Production
A study released on Tuesday confirmed what you and I already know: domestic energy production means more American jobs, more economic growth, and more national security. In this particular study, global research firm IHS examined the process for recovering new energy resources through hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.” This relatively new technology has allowed us to recover unconventional oil and gas that was thought to be unrecoverable only a few years ago. It will have already led to 1.7 million jobs and $62 billion in new revenue by the end of this year and has the potential to lead to 3.5 million jobs and $2.5 trillion in revenue over the next two decades. Despite the fact that states already regulate this process to great effect and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) itself has admitted there are no proven cases that back up their environmental concerns, the Obama Administration has made clear its intention to preempt state efforts with a new one size fits all regulation that could smother future production and implement a de facto moratorium on new drilling on federal land. If the Administration is successful, this promising technology could be essentially shut down and we will have squandered yet another chance to grow our economy and move closer to true energy independence.
This week Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) released a report entitled “The Imperial Presidency,” highlighting some of President Obama’s most dramatic executive branch overreaches. As pointed out by the House Education and Workforce Committee here, many of these administrative moves by President Obama have impacted education and labor policies. For example, while No Child Left Behind has been controversial itself, the President’s waiver-scheme simply replaces one bad Federally-controlled policy with another. The President could and should instead work with Congress to truly reform education by sending authority and control back to the states.
The President has also gone around Congress to pursue a radical labor agenda. Regulations have been promulgated to allow unions to carry out “ambush” elections and to create “micro-unions” to divide and conquer a business’ workforce. The President has used the National Labor Relations Board to block companies attempting to move or open new operations in right to work states like Georgia. I encourage you to visit the House Education and Workforce Committee website to read the entire report on “The Imperial Presidency.” Time and again this President, and Presidents in the past, have attempted to expand executive branch power into areas that the Constitution places within the exclusive domain of the Congress. Congress must reclaim its proper Constitutional authority, and during the 112th Congress, the House has worked to do just that.
Libya and Egypt
Many of you have contacted me over the past month to share your concerns about the Obama Administration’s troubling response to the terrorist attacks directed at our diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt. I absolutely understand your frustration and anger. The American people deserve an honest exchange from their elected representatives. We deserve to know the truth about the events surrounding the attacks on our consulates and embassies in the Middle East, and we need to know the actions taken by the White House and the U.S. Department of State prior to and following the violence.
I would like to take this opportunity to tell you that Congress is actively pressing the Administration to provide the American people with the truth about September 11, 2012. Additionally, this week, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) sent a letter to President Obama calling on him to provide the American people with the answers they need to cope with this tragedy.
I applaud my colleagues’ leadership, and hope that the Administration chooses to be forthcoming in the weeks ahead. We cannot sufficiently protect our men and women serving overseas if we do not know the truth about our intelligence failures.
In these important days and weeks, may God bless you, your family, and the world's beacon of freedom, America.
Member of Congress