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Thompson Times August Newsletter (2011)

August 25, 2011
Newsletter

Hello 5th District Residents,

In the June 2011 edition of the Thompson Times, I wrote to you as Washington was entering a historic debate over the national debt. Since that time, I am proud to relay that the U.S. House of Representatives has presented real solutions to this growing crisis. Despite opposition from the White House and Senate, the House was able to bring forward and pass tangible measures that prescribe real fiscal discipline in Washington in order to address past obligations and avoid default. Quite simply, we have to stop spending money we don't have. That is why I am pleased with the historic spending reductions included in the Budget Control Act (BCA) of 2011. The bill, now signed into law, represents a new fiscal path for the country.

As many of you already know, America’s federal budget deficits have reached historic and unsustainable levels and federal spending is at its highest mark since 1945. Today, America faces a national debt totaling almost $14.4 trillion and the federal government has been borrowing more than 40 cents on every dollar leaving the Treasury. While some, including myself, have been signaling the alarm for quite some time, this unsustainable rate in spending increases has prompted mainstream concern over the United States’ ability to meet its financial obligations.

While some have put forward honest reforms, others have attempted more budget tricks and accounting gimmicks; the same schemes that have led our country to such an alarming fiscal position. The debt reduction bill produced by the Senate chamber purported to offer $2 trillion in savings.  After a full review, more than half of the cuts were found to rely on reducing spending in Iraq and Afghanistan over the next 10 years, despite the fact that our drawdown in Iraq is set for completion in the next several months and has already been accounted. Feeble accounting is precisely the reason the House rejected this measure and insisted on true spending reforms, such as those included in the BCA.

The debt limit debate, along with each spending measure considered during this session, has been about more than just our need for fiscal reform. They have been about the future of the country, the economic security of our families and small businesses, and looking toward a prosperous America for future generations. As your representative in Congress, I will continue to work tirelessly towards this and other goals as we enter the second half of 2011.

Sincerely,

Budget and Spending Reform Offensive: Passage of the Budget Control Act (BCA) of 2011-

Under our constitutional system, you cannot govern from one branch of government or one legislative chamber alone. Nevertheless, there is no question that the budget and spending reform offensive put forward by the U.S House of Representatives provided a much-needed check on the White House, while fundamentally changing the trajectory of federal spending. I’m proud to have helped lead this fight to restore fiscal responsibility and save our children and grandchildren from a legacy of debt. However, the task at hand is far from over. Moving forward there is much work to be done. The Budget Control Act gets the ball rolling on these much needed reforms and below are a few highlights: 

  • Enforces spending caps to reduce and restrain spending over the next ten years, requiring a spending reduction of one dollar for every dollar increase in the debt limit.
  • Establishes a Joint Committee for a second round of deficit reduction measures, with immediate sequestration (automatic spending cuts) should the committee’s legislation not be enacted or falls short of the amount of the debt limit increase. 
  • Creates a path for a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution of the United States. 
  • Raises the debt limit by $900 billion immediately, pushing off any default. 
  • Includes no tax hikes, and ensures that if tax increases are a part of future proposals, the House can easily vote them down.

Our debt crisis is a result of Washington spending too much, not taxing or borrowing too little. American families have had to tighten their belts and do more with less, and we now are going to see this same fiscal restraint and responsibility coming from Washington – the likes of which we haven't seen in a long, long time. While the BCA has now been signed into law, it’s just one step on the road to restoring fiscal solvency for our country.

Representing Our Rural Communities and Ensuring Equality for Needy Students: Introduction of the ACE Act -

On July 12th, I formally introduced H.R. 2485, the All Children are Equal (ACE) Act. This important bill aims to address a gross inequity in the way formulas are calculated under Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (currently known as No Child Left Behind), which provide funds to local school districts in order to improve the education of disadvantaged and poverty-stricken students.

 The current formula has the perverse effect of diverting funding from higher poverty school districts to more populous school districts, regardless of the overall percentage of poverty. In effect, the ACE Act levels the playing field for impoverished students and ensures that funding is equitable in accordance with the original intent of the law. The ACE Act does not cost the taxpayer one dime and simply fixes a systemic flaw that keeps Title I funds from those most in need, including every single Title I eligible child in the 5th Congressional District. Recently, the Erie Times announced their support for the ACE Act through an editorial, “Thompson's education bill makes sense.”   

From the editorial, “U.S. Rep. Glenn Thompson's "All Children are Equal Act" ought to be called the "All Children Should Be Equal Act," considering they clearly are not treated as equals in many ways. But Thompson's bill makes a lot of sense… The bill would restructure how the federal government distributes Title I funding, giving more dollars to smaller districts...Title I funds are the largest pool of federal funds targeting poor students in elementary and secondary schools… Thompson deserves credit for the bill perhaps mostly because it's a creative attempt to help districts that have been subject to huge state cuts as states reel from big deficits related mostly to the national recession…”

I believe that most people agree, no child should be put at a disadvantage because of their geographic location or the size of their school, and the ACE Act will ensure that all children are truly treated in an equal manner under the law.  I plan to push for passage of this critical legislation as the House takes action on broader education reform measures in the Fall.  If you would like to learn more about the ACE Act or the disparities of Title I funding, please take the time to visit my website.  

A More Productive Debate in Washington Aimed at Fostering Economic Growth – It’s all about jobs - 

When it comes to job creation, voters of the 5th District and our nation’s small business owners have called for Washington to rein-in runaway spending, cut red tape, and lower costs so our economy can create jobs. However, there still remains the misnomer that Government creates jobs. That premise is simply false, the government cannot create real wealth, the government can only reallocate wealth. Real job creation comes from the private sector and my efforts in Washington have been in attempt to facilitate and environment in which jobs can be created and the economy can grow. The problem remains clear – government is too big, too intrusive, and costs too much to operate. All of these things prevent the private sector from growing. Less costly paperwork for job creators means more jobs for American workers.  Below are some recent initiatives to help spur job retention and growth: 

  • 1099 Repeal (H.R. 4): The bill repealed the job‐destroying 1099 provision, which was a new reporting requirement for businesses that passed under the health care reform bill in March of 2010. H.R. 4 was signed into law on April 14, 2011.
  • Repealing Off‐Shore Drilling Ban (H.R. 1231): The bill reverses the President’s ban on offshore exploration, promoting leasing in the areas with the most prospective energy resources. I was an original cosponsor to H.R. 1231, which passed the House on May 12, 2011.  It’s simple – why are we importing more oil than ever when we can produce our own?
  • Halting EPA’s Regulatory Overreach (H.R. 2584): The bill prohibits the EPA from implementing overly burdensome and unlawful regulations and ensures new regulations are commercially viable; EPA’s recent regulatory actions prohibit job creation and economic growth. H.R. 2584 passed the House on July 27, 2011. 
  • Health Care Takeover Repeal (H.R. 2): The bill reduces the deficit by $700 billion, ending costly tax-hikes and burdensome mandates by repealing the 2010 health care law.  H.R. 2 passed the House on January 19, 2011.   
  • Bailout Program Termination (H.R. 839): The bill terminates $29.9 billion of TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) funding for a failed housing program that has been singled out for low uptake and the Treasury Department’s failure to monitor the program’s success. H.R. 839 passed the House on March 29, 2011.
  • Spending Reductions: The House has continued to work at cutting spending through the annual appropriations process. For the first time in the history of modern federal budgeting, House Republicans will cut discretionary federal spending for two straight years. The Senate has yet to pass even one of the appropriations bills for fiscal year 2012. 

Proactive Congressional Oversight: Ensuring Domestic Production of Energy Resources - 

In May, the George Washington National Forest (GWNF) released a “Draft Revised Land and Resource Management Forest Plan” that included a proposed ban on horizontal drilling on all GWNF lands.  The ban is yet another example of the many burdensome regulations and administrative actions put forward by the Obama Administration for no good reason other than to prevent the production of our own natural gas on federal lands.  

Forest management does not mean closing off every parcel of productive land – the two can coexist, and do in many cases, including on Jefferson National Forest lands – less than 200 miles from GWNF.  While not finalized, the draft ban is of concern because it demonstrates yet another step in the wrong direction, moving our nation away from the responsible, multiple-use of federal lands and the development of all our natural resources. 

That’s why I recently initiated a Joint Oversight Hearing, “Challenges facing Domestic Oil and Gas Development: Review of Bureau of Land Management/U.S. Forest Service Ban on Horizontal Drilling on Federal Lands.” The hearing was held by the Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation, Energy & Forestry, on which I serve as chairman, and the Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources.  The hearing’s panel received testimony from a number of experts regarding the proposed ban on horizontal drilling in the GWNF. Witnesses testified about the safety of hydraulic fracturing when paired with horizontal drilling and the job creation associated with natural gas production on our public lands.

Horizontal drilling provides significant benefits by reducing the footprint of oil and gas production and allowing for directional drilling in order to leave areas of environmental concern undisturbed. That’s why I’ll remain committed to working with the U.S. Forest Service, state and local officials, industry and other partners to ensure that our local communities continue to reap the economic and energy resources provided through our national forests. 

Recognizing and Remembering a True American Hero: Army Pfc. Ross Andrew McGinnis - 

As most of you know, since 1947 every August the Little League Baseball World Series is held in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Each year, Little League International recognizes Little League graduates who have become outstanding role models as adults, for induction into the Little League Museum Hall of Excellence. Among previous recipients of this honor include prominent figures such as Vice President Joe Biden in 2009, General Peter Pace in 2003, and Former New York Mayor Rudi Giuliani in 2002.

This year’s ceremony, which started August 18, will prove to be extra special. For 2011, Little League International plans to enshrine the first ever Little League graduate known to have received our nation's highest military award, the Medal of Honor. That person is Army Private First Class Ross Andrew McGinnis, of Knox, Pennsylvania.

Ross McGinnis played second base and outfield for six years and is a graduate of Little League in Knox Pennsylvania. He later chose to serve his county by joining the U.S. Army.  In 2006, Army Pfc. Ross McGinnis heroically gave his life to save four of his fellow soldiers from a grenade blast inside a Humvee during Operation Iraqi Freedom. On June 2, 2008, McGinnis was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously by President Bush for his heroic actions.    

Because of McGinnis’s bravery and commitment to others, four men will live on to enjoy their families and their futures. To the McGinnis family, we are proud of your son, a true American hero.