Thompson Times October Newsletter (2010)

September 27, 2010

A Pledge to America

Elected officials often are judged by what they say and how they vote.  Equally as important is how they listen to their constituents and learn from them.

In the last two years the majority in Washington has either not heard what the people are saying or they have not been listening.  Either way, their agenda has created almost 10 percent unemployment, added to the National debt, saddled us with an indecipherable health care law and punished businesses with a heavy-handed approach to regulation, taxes and mandates.

The GOP is offering a new agenda based on what we heard from our constituents in letters, phone calls and e-mails, at meetings, and town halls.

“A Pledge to America” is a 48-page document that details what the American people told Republicans over the month of August and through several outreach platforms, such as YouCut and America Speaking out.

The Pledge includes a plan to jump start the economy by ending the cloud of uncertainty that has fallen over the country—a plan to get people working again.  In a recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, by an eight to one margin small business owners said that Washington’s policies and regulations these days are more likely to hurt than help.

We propose to keep the Bush-era tax cuts during this uncertain economy so that businesses will have stability and certainty.  I repeatedly have said that uncertainty has been the reason behind the fact that small businesses are not hiring and not investing.  If you don’t know what is coming next, you tend to have a bunker mentality—just keep your head down and don’t make any decisions you will be sorry for later.

Republicans will pledge to rein in the regulations that are proliferating faster than the national debt is growing.  We will do that by requiring congressional approval of any new federal regulation that may add to our deficit or make it harder to create jobs.  Then we will get rid of the 1099 Internal Revenue Service mandate in the new health care law.  The law added a requirement to all small businesses that they fill out a 1099 IRS form for every purchase they make of $600 or more.  The added paperwork can add a great deal of money to the cost of doing business.

There is a real fear for the future when citizens look at the overwhelming more than $13 trillion debt the Nation has run up.  Here is a line from the Pledge:  “Within three years. Our government will spend more than $1 billion a day just to pay the interest on our debt.  That money won’t build roads, fight terrorism, secure our borders or support Medicare for seniors.  It is simply the cost of Congress’ failure to control spending.”

We intend to cut government spending back to 2008 levels, before the stimulus or the bailouts.  We are going to cut Congress’ budget and continue to hold weekly votes on spending cuts that have been generated from feedback through YouCut.  And we will impose a net federal hiring freeze for non-security employees.

The third part of the Pledge involves repealing and replacing the health care law that is so complicated that no one understands it.  In one estimate, the law creates 159 bureaucracies and commissions.  The non partisan Congressional Research Service essentially threw its hands up in the air and concluded that “the precise number of entities that will be created…is unknowable.”  If it is “unknowable” by the premier research arm of the Congress, the rest of us are in trouble.

We want to enact medical liability reform, allow people to purchase health insurance across state lines, ensure access for patients with pre-existing conditions and expand health savings accounts.  I believe these measures can lower cost, improve access, keep innovation and stop interference between the patient and the physician—my tenets for any health care reform.

There is a section in the Pledge that addresses reforming Congress.  The promise is to put bills on line for at least three days before it comes up for a vote, similar to H.Res.554, which I have cosponsored.  The goal is that Members understand the legislation on which they must vote.  The real need for Members of Congress to actually read legislation was no more apparent than when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggested to the American public, “we have to pass the bill, so you can find out what’s in it.”

On keeping the Nation secure both at home and abroad, the Pledge includes taking action to secure the borders and enforcing our immigration laws.  We will fully fund the missile defense system and implement the sanctions against Iran.

The Pledge is not intended to be comprehensive.  But it is a start.  Since coming to Washington, I have advocated for real transparency and accountability and I believe the Pledge to America will hold us to these goals and will get America back on track.

Thompson a “Guardian of Small Business”: Thompson receives the “Guardian of Small Business” award from the National Federation of Independent Business President and CEO, Dan Danner.  The award is in recognition of his support of small business in the 111th Congress.  Guardian awards are given to U.S. Representatives who vote favorably on key small business issues at least 70 percent of the time.  The awards went to 245 members of the 535-member House and Senate.

Proposed Ban Went Over Like a Lead Balloon: At the end of August, the Environmental Protection Agency came to its senses and said it will not ban lead in ammunition saying that it did not have the legal authority to do so under the Toxic Substances Control Act.  When that Act was written, it officially exempted ammunition.  But the EPA is still looking at banning lead fishing sinkers.

In denying a petition to ban lead ammunition, the EPA wrote, “EPA is taking action on many fronts to address major sources of lead in our society, such as eliminating childhood exposures to lead; however, EPA was not and is not considering taking action on whether the lead content in hunting ammunition poses an undue threat to wildlife.”

The Agency was petitioned for the ban by the American Bird Conservancy and the Center for Biological Diversity, among others.

Curiously, lead ammunition was looked at during the Clinton years.  Back in 1999, EPA senior science adviser William Marcus examined the issue of lead ammunition and saw no cause for concern.  He wrote in a letter that lead on the soil surface “does not break down.”  He continued, it “does not pose an environmental or human hazard. …In water lead acts much the same as in soil."

In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tested to see if eating an animal that has been shot by lead ammunition posed a risk to human health. That group conducted 736 blood tests on hunters and reported in 2008 that lead ammunition produced very small changes in lead exposure, with concentrations well below CDC benchmark levels of concern.

The lead from lead sinkers does not break down in water.  The EPA’s website has a list of sources of lead danger and lead sinkers is not among them.  It is curious that the EPA is still considering the petition for a ban on lead fishing sinkers.

To ensure this proposal does not advance, I have joined my colleagues from the Congressional  Sportsmen’s Caucus in sending a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, which formally requests a dismissal of the petition.

California has banned lead ammunition in certain areas where the California condor has its habitat.  There, biologists knew that 12 of 51 condor deaths were the result of lead poisoning.  It seems condors are not very picky about how they eat their carrion and often ingest bullets and bullet fragments.  A California law bans lead bullets in specified areas where condors forage—but it was not a statewide ban.

If the petition had been successful, hunters would have been impacted severely nationwide.  Lead ammunition is dense and heavy, which gives it greater stopping power and more accuracy.  Using non-lead ammunition in guns designed for lead causes them to wear out faster and the ammunition is twice as expensive.

Lead ammunition can be dangerous for obvious reasons and lethal if your aim is steady—but not because of its toxic content.  It is my hope that the EPA will decide not to ban lead sinkers as well.