Rep Allen West: Weekly Wrap, Legislative Update, The Coming Week and More

Dear Patriot,

Greetings to our constituents, fellow Floridians, and all Americans.  It is time again for my weekly update report, as I reflect upon another week.

Sadly, the United States Senate voted this week on the selective use of the federal tax code as a weapon for political posturing, instead of doing authorization and appropriation legislation. By a vote of 51-48, with Vice President Joe Biden in attendance in case of a tie vote, the Senate voted to raise taxes on the top two out of six existing income tax brackets.

I find it quite perplexing that politicians can artificially determine what is “rich” in America for the intended purpose of targeting and demonizing a group. Many small business owners pay their company taxes on their individual returns with a total income of $200,000 for an individual or $250,000 for a family.

The additional revenue resulting from this tax increase on these two brackets is barely enough to fund our  Federal Government at its current spending rate for 10 days.  Similar to the misguided logic of the “Buffet Rule” (which would only yield $40 billion over 10 years), this policy is politically driven, not driven by sound economic principle.

The recently released Ernst and Young report clearly articulates the danger of these targeted tax increases on American small businesses, which are no doubt the economic engine of this country.

As I sit here, I am seeing more liberal progressive legislative actions and presidential Executive Orders resembling what Frederic Bastiat termed in his essay, “The Law” as legal plunder. The problem is, when the American people are told the truth, like with the 20 taxes in the Patient Protection Affordable Care Act (PPACA), which I prefer to call the Patient Protection Unaffordable Tax Act, the left uses guilt tactics claiming anyone against it doesn’t have a heart.  Instead, the liberals and the current Obama Administration want you to believe theCongressional Budget Office (CBO) rescoring of the PPACA this week is all rosy, which it clearly is not.

Highlights of CBO report on PPACA:

– The gross cost of the bill for 2012-2022 is $1.683 trillion instead of the $1.762 trillion assessment from a March review. The original estimate was $940 billion, so it is still not anywhere near good news for Americans. Also, the primary reason for the $289 billion decrease is because the CBO expects fewer states to participate in the legislation’s MEDICAID expansion– ruled optional by the United States Supreme Court June 28th decision.

– 3 million more Americans will be uninsured compared to the March analysis.

– The new “individual mandate tax” will impose a tax increase of $55 billion over the next 10 years  on Americans.

– The PPACA’s employer mandate penalties will impose a tax increase of  $117 billion on job creators.

All of these taxes on the horizon and then we also learn this week the United States is at a 46-year-high for the number of Americans in poverty.  The Obama Administration has managed to drive more than nine million Americans into poverty in less than four years.

In closing, I find it unconscionable that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) refused to recognize the 40th Anniversary of the massacre of the 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics by Islamic terrorists, something I remember as an 11–year-old child.

40 years later and we are still contending with this scourge, but at an even greater scope. Just two weeks ago, five Jewish tourists were killed in a bus bombing in Bulgaria. We have recently had Israelis attacked by Islamic terrorists from the Sinai. Almost daily rockets and missiles are fired into southern Israel from the Gaza strip, courtesy of Hamas. Hezbollah has grown into an even greater threat to Israel, and we all are aware of the intentions of the radical Islamic theocracy of Iran towards Israel.
Right here in America we still await the trial of Army Major Nidal Hassan, accused of gunning down his own fellow American soldiers at Fort Hood Army Installation two years ago.  News reports this week reveal Al Qaeda in Iraq is seeking to unleash new attacks against America.  If we do not call this radical terrorism out for what it is when we see it and realize when tolerance becomes a one way street, it leads to cultural suicide, we will continue down the path of surrender in the face of the most determined, resolute enemy the free world has ever known.

I would hope the IOC reevaluates its position and allows a moment of silence at the opening ceremony.  If it fails to do the right thing, I fear the Olympic flame will not burn as bright.

Steadfast and Loyal,

Congressman Allen West’s Website: west.house.gov

Legislative Update:

–  Offshore Energy — On Wednesday, the United States House of Representatives approved H.R. 6082, the Congressional Replacement of President Obama’s Energy-Restricting and Job-Limiting Offshore Drilling Plan, by a vote of 253-170, I VOTED YES.  H.R. 6082 would officially replace, within the 60-day Congressional review period under the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Lands Act, President Barack Obama’s Proposed Final Outer Continental Shelf Oil & Gas Leasing Program (2012-2017) with a congressional plan that will conduct additional oil and natural gas lease sales to promote offshore energy development, job creation, and increased domestic energy production to ensure a more secure energy future in the United States.  H.R. 6082 would require the Secretary of the Interior, in order to conduct lease sales in accordance with the lease sale schedule established under the bill, to prepare a multi-sale environmental impact statement for all lease sales required under this Act that are not included in the Proposed Final Outer Continental Shelf Oil & Gas Leasing Program (2012-2017).  According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), implementing H.R. 6082 would increase offsetting receipts collected from lease sales over the 2013-2022 period, thus reducing net direct spending by about $600 million over that period.  In addition, CBO estimates that implementing the bill would cost $35 million over the 2013-2017 period, assuming appropriation of the necessary amounts.

– Regulations — On Thursday, the United States House of Representatives approved H.R. 4078, the Red Tape Reduction and Small Business Job Creation Act, by a vote of 245-172, I VOTED YES.  H.R. 4078 is a package of seven bills aimed at providing additional regulatory relief from the red tape that continues to burden our small businesses.  The bill would impose a freeze on economically significant regulations that harm the economy until unemployment reaches six percent or below; permanently prevent “lame duck” administrations from issuing economically significant regulations (“midnight regs”); ensure that impacted parties have a right to intervene before federal agencies agree to binding legal settlements (“sue and settle”); require independent federal agencies to comply with the same regulatory review requirements as other agencies and requires increased transparency with respect to unfunded mandates; create a streamlined process for consideration of federal permits for construction
Next Week
– Preventing Tax Increases — Next week, the United States House of Representatives is expected to consider legislation not only to stop the tax hike set for next year but also establish a pathway to comprehensive tax reform next year – sending a clear signal to families, employers, and the financial markets that taxes will not go up on January 1, 2013.  According to a study by Ernst and Young, the President’s small business tax increase will destroy more than 700,000 jobs and reduce wages for average American workers by two percent.  In 2010, a two-year extension of the 2001 and 2003 tax policies won broad bipartisan support including “yes” votes from 40 sitting Democrat Senators, 85 sitting Democrat House Members and President Obama.  Prior to that vote, President Obama said “You don’t raise taxes in a recession.”  House Republicans agree and will vote to provide some certainty in our struggling economy by ensuring no families or small businesses are hit with a job destroying tax increase.

– Pro-Growth Tax Reform — In addition to stopping the tax hike, the United States House of Representatives will vote on legislation that provides a pathway to pro-growth tax reform.  H.R. 6169, the Pathway to Job Creation through a Simpler, Fairer Tax Code Act of 2012, would require the House of Representatives and U.S. Senate to consider legislation containing the following principles for tax reform, included in the last two House-passed budgets: (1) consolidation of the current individual income tax brackets into not more than two brackets and a top rate of not more than 25 percent; (2) reduction in the corporate tax rate to not more than 25 percent; (3) repeal of the Alternative Minimum Tax; (4) broadening of the tax base to maintain revenue between 18 and 19 percent of the economy; and (5) change from a ‘‘worldwide’’ to a ‘‘territorial’’ system of taxation.

Highlights of the Week:

–  Monday, 23 July; flew back to Capitol Hill; attended a policy briefing with former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton on the Syrian Civil War; met with Steve Cernak, Port Director, Port Everglades to discuss Port priorities to include deepening and widening United States Army Corps of Engineers study and Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund.

– Tuesday, 24 July; attended a breakfast with Hillsdale College President Dr. Larry Arnn and Dr. Richard Vedder, Professor of Economics, Ohio University on Federal Student Aid and the Law of Unintended Consequences; met with House Ways and Means Committee Senior Staff on the issue of Russia Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) legislation; addressed the Junior Statesmen Foundation summer seminar students on the idea of a Constitutional Republic and its roles and responsibilities; met with young constituent, Alexis Stannis, of Pompano Beach who was honored by the Wireless Foundation as a Wireless Samaritan for Heroic Action; met with Todd Homan, Senior Vice President, Aurora Diagnostics on pathology lab cuts and elimination of MEDICARE IOAS exemption; dinner with Army buddy Colonel (Retired) Valerie Jircitano, with whom I served multiple tours of duty (Ft. Riley, Korea, and Ft. Bragg).

-Wednesday, 25 July; attended the quarterly Army Aviation Caucus breakfast briefing which focused on the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) mission and capabilities and had the honor of sitting  next to one of the Bin Laden raid pilots; participated in the first ever joint Committee hearing with House Armed Services and Veterans Affairs Committee to discuss key transition issues for troops transiting from Active Duty to Veteran; met with government affairs team for Florida Power & Light and NextEra Energy, Inc. to discuss full spectrum development programs and plan for a visit to nuclear power plant in St. Lucie County; presented a one-minute House floor speech on the dangers of sequestration– you can see my speech here; attended a Small Business Committee hearing on “Small Business Survival in the Recession.

– Thursday, 26 July; participated in a panel discussion with colleague Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) and House Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. Buck McKeon (R-CA) sponsored by the YG Network Policy Forum on the topic of Department of Defense sequestration; met with constituents Jason Lovelady and former United States Army Special Forces Soldier Rafael Rivera on the launch of their new small business; had lunch with my cousin, United States Air Force Major General Ed Bolton.

– Friday, 27 July; met with Consul General Chaim Shacham of Israel- picture here; addressed the United States Department of Commerce Export Free Trade Agreement event at Northwood University; met with dear friend Dr. Mary Drabik, Provost, South Florida Bible College; conducted our monthly town hall meetings in Pompano Beach and Jupiter focusing on “Stop the Tax Hike”- more details here. 

Rep Allen West – Weekly Wrap, Legislative Update and Highlights of the Week

Dear Patriot,

Greetings to our constituents, fellow Floridians, and indeed all Americans.  I want to take the time in this missive to discuss something that many Americans need to take a closer look at—tax policy. First, some historical perspective.  Back in 1913, just prior to the inauguration of America’s first “Progressive” presidential administration, Woodrow Wilson, the United States made a decision to change tax policy in America. The decision was to base taxation on production, i.e. income, as opposed to consumption of certain goods and services.  The Sixteenth Amendment states: “The congress shall have the power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several states, and without regard to any census or enumeration.” ??This amendment to the constitution gave the federal government the power to tax a person’s income. These income taxes would be used to pay for the government’s new programs. Taxes were not based on a flat rate but could change according to the amount of income earned. In effect, the richer you are, the more taxes you pay. If you’re poor, you get a break.  What was created was a “progressive tax” system, based upon the level of one’s income.

Today, in 2012, we find we have gone beyond the ideal of funding the basic functions of the federal government.  We are now using the tax code as a weapon. The United States has six individual tax brackets that extend from 10 percent to 35 percent, at the current tax rates. The current administration uses the tax code to manipulate certain groups and punish others.

The President supports increasing only the top two personal income brackets from 33 percent to 37 percent and 35 percent to 39.6 percent. We already have the highest corporate business tax rate in the world at 39.6 percent.  Higher personal income tax will only punish producers and is unlikely to generate more tax revenue.

As Thomas Sowell recently wrote:
“As far back as the 1920’s, a huge cut in the highest income tax rate — from 73 percent to 24 percent — led to a huge increase in the amount of tax revenue collected by the federal government. Why? Because investors took their money out of tax shelters, where they were earning very modest rates of return, and put their money into the productive economy, where they could earn higher rates of return, now that those returns were not so heavily taxed.”

In 2008, then Senator Barack Obama admitted he supported raising tax rates on higher income earners in the name of “fairness.” In other words, our government should enact targeted tax increases upon certain productive segments of society in order to funnel those dollars to economically dependent segments—-they are poor simply because the others are rich.

In fact the entire tax code is now being used to further social policy.  The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is an example.  In this law, there are 21 new taxes on the American people. Since the individual mandate has been ruled a tax, we now face the legal precedent of behavior modification by way of taxation.

These new taxes exist only to fund a bureaucratic nanny-state with central control of healthcare, including the funding of 159 new government agencies and 16,000 new IRS agents.  It is merely a means by which to redistribute wealth in America.

We tax capital gains, dividends, and we have a death tax. We are also taxing Americans for services they use, like the new tanning tax in the healthcare act. Where will it end?

One of the grievances Thomas Jefferson listed against King George III in the Declaration of Independence was for imposing taxes “without our consent.”  It looks like we as a nation have come full circle.

President Barack Obama says he is all about “fairness?”  Currently, 47 percent of American wage-earning households don’t pay a dime in federal income taxes. Is that fair? How much hard-earned American taxpayer dollars is required to legislate “fairness?”

We need a flat tax, to eliminate the dividends and death tax, to keep the capital gains tax at 15 percent or lower, to bring the corporate tax rate down to between 22 percent to 25 percent, reduce deductions, eliminate corporate loopholes, and reduce the scope of the federal government to only the essential services individuals and the private sector cannot provide. We are at a critical mass for federal government spending.  We are trillions of dollars in debt and about to close our fourth straight year with trillion dollar deficits. More taxes will only go to further expand the government. We all know the extra American taxpayer dollars will not be going to debt or deficit reduction.

The first progressive administration in 1913 got this ball rolling.  The current progressive administration is taking it to a whole other level.
Steadfast and Loyal,

Legislative Update: 
– Repeal of the President’s federal takeover of healthcare law — On Wednesday, the United States House of Representative approved H.R. 6079, the Repeal of Obamacare Act, by a vote of 244-185, I VOTED YES.  Five members of the Democrat Party voted for the repeal. The bill would repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA), and Title I and subtitle B of Title II of the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010.  In addition, the bill would include various findings regarding PPACA.  Specifically, the bill would state: “Despite projected spending of more than two trillion dollars over the next 10 years, cutting Medicare by more than one-half trillion dollars over that period, and increasing taxes by over $800 billion dollars over that period, the law does not lower health care costs.”  And, “the law imposes new or higher taxes on American families and businesses, including 12 taxes on families making less than $250,000 a year.”  Concluding, “The law expands government control over health care, adds trillions of dollars to existing liabilities, drives costs up even further, and too often put Federal bureaucrats, instead of doctors and patients, in charge of health care decision making.  The path to patient-centered care and lower costs for all Americans must begin with a full repeal of the law.”

– Mining Production — On Friday, the United States House of Representatives approved H.R. 4402, the National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act of 2012, by a vote of 256-160, I VOTED YES.  The legislation would streamline approval of domestic mineral exploration and development projects by eliminating duplicative analysis, providing for timely filings for litigants, and allowing 30 months for the lead agency to prepare, consider and reach a decision on permitting for mine development. The bill would also define domestic mine projects that provide strategic and critical minerals as “infrastructure projects” in order to expedite the permitting process.  According to the Congressional Budget Office, implementing H.R. 4402 would have no significant impact on the federal budget.

This Week

– Defense Appropriations — The United States House of Representatives is expected to consider the Department of Defense Appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2013.  In total, the bill would provide $519.2 billion in regular funding for the Department of Defense, an increase of $1.1 billion over the Fiscal Year 2012 level and $3.1 billion above the President’s request, according to CBO.  In addition, the bill contains $88.5 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) for Defense activities related to the Global War on Terror.  The legislation would include $128.5 billion to provide for 1,401,560 active-duty troops and 843,400 reserves.  This funding level is $2.6 billion below last year, due to the reduction in troop totals.  This also includes a 1.7% pay raise for the military, which is in-line with pending Defense authorization legislation.

– Sequestration — This week, the House of Representatives is expected to consider the Sequestration Transparency Act of 2012.  The bill would require the Administration to submit to the United Sates Congress a detailed preview of the sequestration required by the Budget Control Act (BCA).  Under the BCA, the spending authority of many federal departments and agencies will be reduced on January 2, 2013.  After accounting for 18 percent in debt service savings, the required reductions amount to $984 billion to be distributed evenly over 9 years – or $109.3 billion per year.  Thus, each year $54.7 billion in reductions will be necessary in both the defense and non-defense categories.  House Republicans have passed legislation (H.R. 5652) to replace these cuts with responsible savings through reform.  However, the United States Senate has yet to act.  The American people have a right to know how the White House plans to implement the sequestration cuts.  Specifically, this bill would require the president to submit a report to United States Congress that includes an estimate of the sequestration amounts necessary to achieve the required reduction for each spending category.

Highlights of the Week:
–  Monday, 9 July; taped show “Politically Speaking” with host Todd Bonlarron for PBC Channel 20.

– Tuesday, 10 July; addressed approximately 35 students attending the Bill of Right’s Constitutional Academy Program on House of Representatives’ Floor on subject of fundamental principles of a Constitutional Republic, and fielded their questions; attended House Armed Services Committee classified briefing on Intelligence Support to combat theaters of operation; met with 17 members of the South Florida Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) on critical legislative matters and tax/regulatory policy adverse effects on construction industry and small businesses; met with representatives from AIPAC on US-Israel security relationship, emerging events in Egypt and Syria, and Iran’s military ambitions; met with Florida Bankers Association President Alex Sanchez regarding the SBA 504 loan program and avenues of unleashing capital for small business growth; selected for meeting with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and four top National Security/Foreign Policy advisors on Iran-Syria; finished the day with a floor speech on Patient Protection Affordable Care Act impacts on small businesses.

– Wednesday, 11 July; attended House Armed Services Committee classified briefing on annual report on Military and Security developments involving the People’s Republic of China, met with Ms. Karen Wilson (Coconut Creek), her brother Randall Winston (Producer of TV SITCOMs Scrubs and CougarTown), and representatives of the Lupus Foundation of America on the issue of Lupus disease awareness; attended Small Business Committee hearing on the Federal Motor Vehicle Compliance Safety program and adverse effects on the small trucking business owners; attended House Armed Services Committee Emerging Threats and Capabilities subcommittee hearing on the Future of US Special Operations Forces. My concern is that we are over-extending this capability beyond its intended mission set/scope.

– Thursday, 12 July; met with Mr. Ted Yeats and five students from the Christian Campus organization, The Navigators, to discuss the role faith has played in my life; met with South Florida constituents ahead of Small Business Investigations, Oversight, and Regulation subcommittee hearing on the Marine Industry…during which I was afforded the opportunity to Chair the hearing….you can view the hearing here and see pictures here. Met with two Washington Center interns, Bonny Varghese from Cooper City and Nicole Dagata from Delray Beach, and discussed several policy issues; met with former Congressman JC Watts regarding an initiative called Insight America United focused on assisting GOP minority Capitol Hill staffers in professional development; met with Mr. Tom Bethel of the American Maritime Officers association who brought along Medal of Honor winner United States Air Force Colonel (Ret.) Leo Thorsness, a former F-105 pilot who was shot down and spent 6 years as a North Vietnamese POW.

Friday-Sunday; family time in South Florida

Rep. Allen West Statement on the United States Supreme Court Healthcare Ruling

(WASHINGTON)— Congressman Allen West (R-FL) released this statement today after the United States Supreme Court announced it has ruled to uphold the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act:

“The United States Supreme Court has ruled to uphold the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act by extending the power of the United States Congress to tax Americans’ behavior.  This is a sad day for Americans, as they will be taxed to pay for benefits they may not need or want as part of the insurance they are forced to buy. With this decision, Congress has been granted infinite taxation power, and there are no longer any limits on what the federal government can tax its citizens to do.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will hit the middle class especially hard, as hundreds of thousands of jobs will be lost as businesses try to avoid the penalties and costs created by the healthcare law. The healthcare law will cost trillions of dollars, raise costs for employers and create huge incentives for them to drop health insurance.

Benjamin Franklin did indeed state, ‘In this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.’However, Dr. Franklin never envisioned the federal government would use its power of taxation to punish people for not purchasing health care.  Today, individual sovereignty in America has been defeated.”