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Thompson Times July Newsletter (2012)
Since my last newsletter, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a historic ruling on the constitutionality of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA). On June 28, 2012, in a 5-4 decision, the court largely upheld the ACA as constitutional, ruling that the law's "individual mandate" – which forces Americans to purchase health care or pay a penalty – falls within Congress' power to tax. Despite the President having made previous claims that failure to comply with the individual mandate would not result in a tax, the Supreme Court ruled that in fact this is indeed a tax.
The President has touted this law as a way to increase access to health care and lower costs. Unfortunately, what we've encountered is an endless web of misguided and costly regulations, taxes, fees, and penalties, which increase costs and decrease access. The court ruling it a tax is just the latest reminder of the countless broken promises made by proponents in favor of the law, which remains just as fundamentally flawed and unaffordable as the day it was signed into law.
Despite the Supreme Court upholding Obamacare’s individual mandate as a tax, the provision is a relatively small portion of the law’s financing scheme. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office’s original assessment, only 5% of its total is raised through the individual mandate.
Of the total cost, 62% of the law’s funding comes from new taxes and the remaining 38% comes from “savings.” In this case Obama’s double speak for “savings” really translates into dramatic cutbacks to our country’s senior citizens by cutting Medicare benefits, forcing many from the greatest generation to pay more out of pocket for the benefits they’ve clearly earned. President Obama has been so concerned about the potential political fall-out from these scheduled cuts that he moved over $8 billion in taxpayer funds to postpone—until after the election—cuts to the market-oriented Medicare Advantage program.
The biggest share of Obamacare’s revenue, $210 billion, is to come from increasing the Medicare payroll tax. There are also $109 billion in new taxes on healthcare providers, including limiting the deductibility of medical expenses at $102 billion, and a job crushing 2.3% excise tax on medical device manufactures. These taxes will surely take their toll on Pennsylvania’s medical device manufactures, eating up valuable capital that could otherwise be used for innovation, research and development. This will put America’s ability to compete in a global market further at risk.
It is clear that President Obama will stop at nothing to gain reelection, he has pushed the barriers with unprecedented expansions of executive-branch powers, and believes that he alone is above the constitution, by spending billions of taxpayer dollars without Congressional consent.
For these reasons, on July 11, 2012, the House considered H.R. 6079, which would fully repeal the ACA and prevent dozens of new taxes totaling more than $600 billion from taking a huge toll on American families and small businesses.
Having spent nearly 30 years as a professional working in a non-profit health care setting, I support certain provisions under the ACA, including the elimination of excluding those with pre-existing conditions from insurance plans, allowing adult dependents up to 26 years of age to remain on their parent’s insurance plans, and the expansion of low-cost clinics into underserved areas. However, I believe that these provisions should be included in future legislative efforts to repeal and replace this law, which must be done in a manner that actually reduces cost and expands access, without sacrificing quality, innovation, and patient choice.
I hope that you will take the time to read more about this issue and other important topics discussed below. As always, I benefit greatly from hearing your thoughts and concerns. Please don’t hesitate to be in touch by calling one of my offices or through the website at www.thompson.house.gov.
Congressman Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson
Health Care Ruling Does Not Change a Fundamentally Flawed Law:
On July 11, 2012, the House approved H.R. 6079, the Repeal of Obamacare Act. During floor debate over the measure, I highlighted the broken promises made by proponents of the law and reiterated the necessity of its repeal. This is the second time the House has voted in favor of a full repeal of ACA. In addition to H.R. 6079, the House has also passed individual bills to repeal some of the ACA’s most egregious provisions. On June 7th, the House passed H.R. 436, the Health Care Cost Reduction Act of 2012, which would repeal an overly burdensome tax on medical devices and technologies that, if implemented, will stifle innovation, undermine economic growth, and end up raising consumer health care costs.
Congressional Oversight Mission to the Theater of War:
From June 8th to June 16th, 2012, I joined Congressman Todd Platts (R-PA) for a Congressional Oversight Mission to Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bahrain, Yemen, and Egypt to review issues relating to U.S. commitments in the war theater and the war on terror, and to meet with U.S. military, civilian, and foreign leaders.
It was a true honor to meet and interact with some of the outstanding individuals that are serving our country abroad. Click here to view additional photos.
Supporting the "No Budget, No Pay Act":
Developing a budget framework for our fiscal obligations as a nation is the most basic responsibility of Congress. While the U.S. House has passed a budget for the last two fiscal years, the U.S. Senate has failed to do the same. On May 15th, I joined as a cosponsor to H.R. 3643, the No Budget, No Pay Act, which would require Congress to pass a budget by October 1st of every year, the start of the nation's fiscal year, before members of Congress can receive their monthly salary. If Congress fails to do its job, members of Congress don’t deserve a paycheck. The No Budget, No Pay Act will force Congress to make the tough choices necessary to get our nation back to fiscal solvency.
(Above: Thompson with constituent, Staff Sergeant Matthew McClement; Thompson with Airforce Airmen and Navy Sailors in Afghanistan)
Expanding Economic Opportunities For Our Forest Producing Communities:
On May 31, 2012, I introduced H.R. 5873, the Forest Products Fairness Act of 2012, which will open new opportunities for forestry producers by allowing their products to qualify for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Biobased Markets Program. USDA’s Biobased Markets Program was originally created to provide new markets for farm commodities and encourage consumers to purchase environmentally-friendly, biobased products. Unfortunately, as implemented under current law, most forest products are excluded from both the federal procurement preference and the market label of the program. The Forest Products Fairness Act, which was recently included in the House Agriculture Committee’s 2012 Farm Bill, will enable producers to qualify and market their products as “USDA Certified Biobased.”
This policy change will serve as a win-win for consumers and producers, along with the promotion of healthy, well managed forests, and the protection of communities that rely on these jobs and industries to survive.
(Above: Thompson at the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Rancher Picnic - June, 2012).
Meeting the Transportation Needs of Our Rural Communities:
The House recently passed H.R. 4348, a bipartisan House-Senate Highway Bill agreement, which reauthorizes federal highway and transportation programs through the end of fiscal year 2014. Earlier in June, I initiated a letter to the House-Senate Highway Bill Conference Committee urging dedicated funding levels for bridges not on federal-aid highways, otherwise known as “off-system bridges,” which was included in the final agreement. These provisions will ensure that communities not on federal-aid highways, including many rural communities in the 5th District, are able to undertake bridge safety improvements without undue financial burden.
More News from GT:
Thompson Introduces Bipartisan Bill To Expand Use Of Telemedicine For Veterans: Click here.
Thompson Agriculture Subcommittee Completes Final Farm Bill Reauthorization Hearing with Review of Energy & Forestry Programs: Click here.
Thompson Delivers Keynote Speech Before 38th Annual Pennsylvania Career & Technical Education Conference: Click here.