The year is rapidly drawing to a close with America moving dangerously close to the fiscal cliff that could spell economic disaster for taxpayers and small businesses as well our national defense, which would face devastating cuts. According to estimates from the non-partisan Tax Policy Center, the tax increases would add $3,500 to the average family’s tax liability. Military and program cuts would happen because of a process known as sequestration, which results from the inability of last year’s Super Committee to reach an agreement on cutting our bloated national debt.
No one wants to go over this cliff, but House Republicans are, so far, the only elected officials who have put forward a plan to address this fiscal nightmare.
We can all agree that America needs more revenue, but the good citizens of Missouri’s Fourth Congressional District did not send me to Congress to raise their taxes. I support creating jobs and pro-growth tax reform - a simpler, fairer tax code with lower rates that will give our economy a boost. Job growth will happen if we remove onerous government regulations, lower energy costs by becoming energy independent, repeal and replace the government takeover of health care, and create certainty in the economy. A simpler, fairer tax code will lower the corporate tax rate from the current 35 percent and prevent jobs from moving overseas. In addition, it would eliminate many tax loopholes and encourage companies to bring money made overseas back into the United States economy. We must also help small businesses, family farms, investors, and other job creators by eliminating the inheritance tax and the Alternative Minimum Tax.
Tax increases set to take effect if we go over the fiscal cliff will slow our fragile economy, making it harder to balance the budget and tougher to put Americans back to work. As I have shared on a number of occasions, Ernst & Young estimates the tax increases would reduce employment by 710,000 jobs. We cannot allow this to happen.
We must also protect national defense from crippling cuts that would, in the words of President Obama’s Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, “hollow out” the nation’s military force. These unwarranted defense cuts must be replaced with smarter, safer, and more sensible changes in other programs. These changes have been outlined by House Republicans in our pro-growth tax reform proposal. If President Obama and Senate Democrats don’t want to embrace this common sense solution to our fiscal problem, they must put forward solid proposals of their own. Speeches and talking points don’t count. It is time to put forward a framework. Time is running out!
On another matter, I want to remind you that the Medicare Open Enrollment period, offering our senior citizens important Medicare health care choices, is coming to a close. Seniors should evaluate their health status as well as the coverage, co-pays, deductibles and other details of their current plans to be informed consumers who are more likely to pay less for coverage.
Doctor and hospital choice is very important. Seniors who are comfortable with the plans they currently have should check whether the doctors and hospitals they are now using will be available in the future and whether changing plans might affect that relationship. Medicare beneficiaries might also want to determine whether any new plan they sign up for might not include pharmacies that are part of their current prescription drug plan’s network. These are important facts that must be considered when choosing or changing a Medicare plan.
With the Open Enrollment period comes renewed concerns about this vital program due to insufficient Medicare reimbursement for health care providers and increased regulatory burdens. Additionally, the Medicare Board of Trustees warns that without changes the Medicare Hospital Insurance Trust Fund will go bankrupt in 2024 due to increased costs and usage. The looming physician shortage coupled with additional pressures from the President’s health care law will only compound this problem. My fellow Representatives are joining me in the effort to address costs to protect Medicare for current and future generations. I am committed to reining in these runaway costs while protecting and preserving this program that is critical to the well-being of our nation’s senior citizens.
The Medicare Open Enrollment period ends on Friday, December 7th. For information on Medicare benefits and the health and drug plan options in any part of the Fourth District, I urge seniors to call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).