Tiberi: Spending Must Be Cut
Over the August District Work Period, I traveled aroundCentral Ohio talking to you, I heard from many people concerned about healthcareand energy legislation currently being debated in Congress. I also talked withthose struggling to find work and support your families. I know folks arelooking to the government for help. People voted for change last fall and nowthey're waiting and hoping it will come.
I had high hopes when President Barack Obama was swornin, too. We had just completed one of the most partisan periods I've seen inWashington. President Obama had talked about finding a common ground, workingtogether regardless of party, and coming up with good solutions for allAmericans.
Then came the Stimulus package. Many people of allpolitical parties agreed, Congress needed to do something. However whenlegislation was being written, there was no bipartisanship. The President wassaying all the right things, but Democratic leaders in Congress apparentlydidn't get the memo. Republicans weren't invited to the table to discussanything or to present our ideas -- common sense things, like making surestimulus money was distributed in a timely manner, or making sure measures thatwere funded by the stimulus plan would have an immediate impact on theemployment market. The result? Unemployment continues to increase, the economyisn't growing, and the unprecedented spending in the Stimulus bill has driven usdeeper into debt.
Next, Congress moved to energy reform. SinceRepublicans have constantly discussed an all of the above energy plan, I hadhoped we would be included in crafting a plan that would create American energyand leave no energy sources off the table to lower energy prices and put us onthe track of energy independence. Unfortunately, Democrats had different goals,and created a national energy tax that will tax everyone who has the audacity toturn on a light. This bill especially punishes Ohioans, because most of ourenergy comes from coal. We'll pay higher taxes because they expect our state tocomply with standards set by California. Californians' average electricityrates are forty percent higher than the average Ohioan. Rather thanincentivizing the change, they plan on penalizing folks, which means more moneyout of the family checkbook and more money to the federal government.
I'm sure you've heard the now familiar refrain thatRepublicans don't have a plan, and are the party of no. Not true.Republicans do have a plan. The American Energy Act would encourage the use ofall types of energy, natural gas, domestic oil, wind, solar, clean coal, andclean coal, while incentivizing the creation of green energy right here in theUnited States. It would expand energy production right here at home so we areless dependent on foreign countries and put us on the path toward energyindependence. Rather than promote an open and honest debate about this bill andtheir bill, Democrats exerted heavy pressure on members of their own party toensure passage of their Cap and Tax plan. Their bill narrowly passed the Houseand I can only hope Senate leadership can work with members of both parties tocome up with a better national energy plan.
This brings us to the present, where healthcare reformis dominating the headlines. We all agree healthcare reform is needed. We allagree healthcare is too expensive. We all agree that an individual should notlose coverage because of preexisting conditions or because they lose their job.Rather than using these principals as a guide, and taking President Obama'sguidance about finding common ground and coming up with a plan to address theseproblems, Democratic leaders again shut out Republicans and our ideas. In fact,during debate on this bill in front of the Ways and Means Committee, Democratsvoted down every single amendment offered by a Republican. In all, fiftyamendments offered by Republican members were rejected by Democrats. There hadto be at least one good amendment in those fifty. Ensuring healthcare plansthat people are satisfied with won't change, bringing down the cost, and makingsure there is no individual mandate for insurance are not extreme positions.However, Speaker Nancy Pelosi calls some people that support those ideas,un-American. Now, there's talk about not trying to gain Republican votes onthis bill and to move forward with only Democratic support. We weren't awareDemocrats were trying to get Republican votes to begin with. Not being invitedto participate pretty much signals that.
While President Obama continues to ask Congress to worktogether, Democrats in the House continue to highlight divisions. They aren'tlistening to the President's call for change, they aren't getting the message.Some will say that what I have written about is typical partisan complaining,that Republicans were no better when they were in control. That may be true forsome members. But there were good stories, too, that many people never heard.When I wrote the Older Americans Act reauthorization, the measure thatauthorizes social programs our seniors depend on, I worked alongside myDemocratic counterpart throughout the entire process. The bill that became lawwas better because of it. We weren't focused on encouraging our allies to spendhundreds of thousands of dollars in misleading advertisements in a non-electionyear. We were focused on having a positive impact on the lives of our country'sseniors.
Over the last month, five different ads have been run onTV and radio, paid for by liberal activists, which are deceptive and just plainnot true. When political payback, and scheming is the focus, not passinglegislation, it's the American people that lose out. We're facing seriousproblems in serious times. Americans should be able to look to their electedleaders for solutions, not political games. As always I will continue workingfor you. Your future should look bright and not loom with coming governmentregulations and the shadow of the tax man. Right now, Congressional leaders arespending, spending, spending. They are driving this country further into debt,forcing our children and grandchildren to foot the bill for this unprecedentedspending and expansion. I want to leave my daughters with a country that'sbetter off than the one we have right now, I don't want my children or yourchildren having to fix the problems we've created. So I'll continue working andperhaps Democratic leaders will finally hear President Obama's call forcompromise and bipartisanship and we in Congress can truly begin to make adifference again.