Friday, October 21, 2011

Hartzler: Supercommittee must not cut defense spending

In her weekly newsletter, Fourth District Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler says the supercommittee must take defense spending off the table when it starts recommending budget cuts.

As representatives of the people return to Washington following a working week in their home districts, we are taking a fresh look at the many problems associated with President Obama’s health care law, passed last year. In a nutshell, the health care law is starting to unravel.

On the Friday before we left Washington, the Obama Administration cut a major planned benefit from the President’s 2010 health care law when it told Americans that a program to offer insurance for long-term care was unsustainable. This realization is not new to many of us who saw this problem from the beginning, but it marks the first time we are seeing the Administration publicly tell the country that an important piece of the plan is simply too expensive and unworkable.

This program, the Community Living Assistance Services (CLASS) Act, was to have been financed by participants and was intended to provide a basic lifetime benefit of at least $50 a day in the event of illness or disability. A major problem, totally overlooked by the Obama Administration, is that a benefits package this generous would have required premiums so high that few healthy people would enroll. A simple study of this program should reveal that it would have soon collapsed. It is a positive sign that the Administration has finally come around to admitting that a key component of its health care law is not financially viable and had to be dropped. Sadly, it is but one of many problems associated with this health care law. It is time to repeal this unworkable plan and replace it with common sense reforms which will increase access and lower health care costs without a government takeover. I will continue to work toward that end. America’s health care depends on it.

You might be aware that the so-called “supercommittee” of twelve Senators and Representatives is working on cutting about $1.5 trillion from projected borrowing over the next decade. The House Armed Services Committee, of which I am a member, sent a letter to the “supercommittee” warning the panel that further cuts to the military will put our country at risk. It has been pointed out to the “supercommittee” that a plan to cut $465 billion in the military budget over the next ten years is already in place and deeper cuts would be irresponsible as they might put vital missions at risk.

The “supercommittee” must present a plan by Thanksgiving. Failure to reach agreement would trigger a $1.2 trillion cut in spending – with much of that total coming from national defense. We are strongly advising these members to avoid further cuts which would destroy jobs, stall the economy, and cut as many as 200,000 servicemen and women from our fighting force. They must not turn a superpower into a regional power.

Cutting our huge debt was the topic of discussion as I met with the Butler Rotary Club this week. I shared many of the concerns I have with Washington’s out-of-control spending and the need for the federal government to live within its means – just as American families must do – while at the same time preserving our national defense. It can be done. As for calls from President Obama to raise taxes on job producers, I offered some facts from the Internal Revenue Service regarding the tax burden. According to the 2010 IRS database, 70 percent of total U.S. taxes received each year are paid by the top 10 percent of American earners who make 46 percent of the income. The President says this group must pay its “fair share.” The facts say they’re paying it now! We don’t need to raise taxes to create jobs. We need Washington to get out of the way of small businesses by removing onerous regulations, lowering the corporate tax rate, repealing President Obama’s health care law, and promoting American energy.

We also talked about the need for a Balanced Budget Amendment to the U.S. Constitution – which I co-sponsor in the House – and the opportunity we will soon have to vote on it in Congress. That is the best way to force Washington to live within its means. As one Rotarian said, “We have to make do with what we have – Washington should, too.”

It is always a pleasure to hear from you and to listen to your views and concerns. If you plan to visit the Washington area, please stop by our office at 1023 Longworth House Office Building. In the 4th Congressional District, you are welcome to come by our offices in Jefferson City, Harrisonville, Lebanon, and Sedalia. You can also keep up with us by going to our website at where you can link to our pages on Facebook and Twitter. It is an honor to serve you.

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