Getting America Back On a Sustainable Fiscal Course Through Budget Discipline

May 1, 2012

Greetings,

The Thompson Times has been on hold for several months as my office transitioned our official website (www.thompson.house.gov) and newsletter to a new operating system which is now complete.

The new website offers constituents better tools for keeping up to speed with developments in Washington and better access to my legislative work and oversight initiatives, in addition to more ways and a more user-friendly format to communicate with my offices and access services. I encourage everyone to visit www.thompson.house.gov to take advantage of these new improvements.  

Since our last communication, the U.S. House of Representatives has been quite busy on numerous fronts.  I’ve also been traveling the 5th District and meeting with as many constituents as possible in order to best advocate your most pressing concerns in Washington, D.C.  

There is no question that families and small businesses continue to struggle under a fragile economy, and that all of us are feeling the pinch of high gas prices.  For this reason, boosting economic growth and expanding jobs remain at the forefront of the House’s agenda.  

In addition to this work, I’d also like to update you on several legislative successes that I’ve had on proposals introduced over the last year.  

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.  

Sincerely,

Getting America Back On a Sustainable Fiscal Course Through Budget Discipline:

On March 29, 2012, the House passed H. Con. Res. 112, the fiscal year 2012 budget resolution by a vote of 228-191. For the second year in a row, the House put forward and passed a budget framework that changes the spending trajectory of the nation, which is needed more than ever with America’s debt fast approaching $16 trillion. 

Table of the House-passed budget resolution  The budget plan makes the tough but necessary choices to get our country back on a sustainable fiscal course, while preserving and strengthening critical safety net programs for our seniors.

The proposal also provides needed tax relief, through a tax code that’s flatter, fairer and more efficient, in order to provide families with the certainty they need to plan and invest in their future. Unfortunately, it’s been almost three years since the Senate has had the courage to do the same.

Child and Education Advocacy: National PTA Congressional Voice for Children Award:

On March 8, 2012 I was proud to receive the National PTA Congressional Voice for Children Award, which is presented annually to two Members of Congress in recognition of outstanding leadership related to child and education advocacy.  The award was given in part for my work on two important education bills in the areas of college and career-readiness and Title I formula fairness.  

Congressman Thompson receives award from National PTACollege and Career-readiness: On October 12, 2011, I introduced H.R. 3154, the Education for Tomorrow’s Jobs Act, which would provide new flexibility for school districts in order to better align secondary education with career opportunities.  The bill encourages the creation of partnerships between schools, local industry, and other community stakeholders, to ensure students obtain both the knowledge and skills to succeed in life. H.R. 3154 recently advanced as part of House Education Committee's Elementary & Secondary Education Reauthorization.

Title I Formula Fairness: H.R. 2485, the All Children Are Equal (ACE) Act, a bill I introduced on July 12, 2011 would correct a flaw in the current Title I funding formula, which has the perverse effect of diverting funding from higher poverty school districts to more populous school districts, regardless of the actual poverty rates.

Thompson Bill Expanding Service Member Healthcare Access Becomes Law:

On December 31, 2011, President Obama signed into law the Servicemembers’ Telemedicine and E-Health Portability (STEP) Act, legislation I introduced in 2011. The STEP Act has been praised by our military leadership, including recently retired General Peter Chiarelli, Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, as reported recently in the Army Times: “A provision of the act, aimed at expanding federal exemptions for behavioral telehealth consultations across state lines, removes the requirement for health care providers to be licensed in the state in which their patients are being treated. Gen. Peter Chiarelli, then-Army vice chief of staff and an advocate for providing behavioral health counseling to soldiers in their homes via telehealth, praised the new law as a “big victory.” “It’s the biggest step forward we’ve seen in two years,” Chiarelli told Army Times. “For me, it is huge. We have just to take advantage of it.”…”

Better Policies That Help America Begin Lowering Energy Costs, Prices at the Pump:

Everywhere I go Americans are feeling the pinch of high gas prices.  In response, President Obama has begun to claim he supports an “all of the above” approach to energy.  Although the words sound inclusive, a glance at the record suggests the President really means “none of the below,” at least not on federal lands when it comes to production of fossil fuels. 

Graph on Gas Prices and Energy PoliciesPresident Obama’s Administration recently confirmed that total production of oil, natural gas and coal on federal land dropped by 7 percent since the President took office. From 2010 to 2011, total federal oil and natural gas production is down 14 percent and 11 percent, respectively. Under the Obama Administration, 2010 had the LOWEST number of onshore leases issued since 1984.

In the U.S., our demand is down 6% year over year, and prices are still skyrocketing because of global demand and supply. But that doesn’t mean we cannot influence prices.  The Washington Post (3/13/2012 p. 5) recently argued that global oil prices have been driven up by a decline in global supply relative to demand of “about a million barrels of oil a day.”  That’s a lot of oil.  But let’s keep it in perspective. It’s less oil than the Keystone XL pipeline President Obama blocked could carry each day to US refineries.    

In February, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 3408, with a bipartisan vote of 237-187. H.R. 3408 expands offshore energy production, encourages the development of 1.5 trillion barrels of oil shale in the Rocky Mountain West, and approves the Keystone XL pipeline. This is one of many energy-related proposals that have passed the House with bipartisan support and been denied consideration by the Senate and President. Click here to view a recent speech on this issue.

Encouraging Small Business Formation: JOBs Act Signed into Law:

On March 8, 2012 I voted to support H.R. 3606, the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act, which passed the House by a vote of 390-23.  This legislation is a compilation of bipartisan House bills that will provide real solutions to encourage job growth by removing certain regulations impeding small businesses and startups from forming. The measure passed the Senate on March 22, 2012 and was signed into law by the President on April 5, 2012. Passage of the JOBS Act will help pave the way for more small-scale business development which is critically needed in localities across the country, including the many rural communities of the 5th Congressional District.

"Spirit of Enterprise" Award from U.S. Chamber of Commerce:

Thompson receives "Spirit of Enterprise" Award from U.S. Chamber PresidentIn April, I received the “Spirit of Enterprise” Award from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for a strong record on job creation and pro-growth economic policies. The award is based on rankings the U.S. Chamber gives members of Congress for key votes on legislation that would promote economic growth and job creation.

Included among the key votes were my support for repealing the President's health care law, a national energy policy that includes the Keystone XL pipeline to help boost the economy and reduce our dependence on foreign energy, and legislation to ease burdens on small business by repealing the onerous 1099 paperwork mandate and the three percent tax withholding mandate.

More News From GT:

Agriculture Subcommittee Chairman Thompson Explores Ways to Improve U.S. Forest Health, Rural Economic Growth.  To view the news release, click here.

Rep. Thompson Nominee, Zippo CEO Gregory Booth Appointed to U.S. Department of Commerce Manufacturing Council.  To view the news release, click here.

Thompson Holds Public Forum on Forestry in State College. To view the news release, click here.

Thompson’s Career & Technical Education Bill Advances as Part of House Elementary & Secondary Education Reauthorization. To view the news release, click here