Rep Allen West’s Weekly Wrap Up, Legislative Update and Highlights of the Week

Dear Patriot,

Greetings to our constituents, fellow Floridians, and all Americans. It is time again for my weekly update report to you all.

As I was coming into the office Friday morning, I listened to CSPAN’s Washington Journal.  The topic of the show was “Congress Kicking the Can.” I love to listen to the callers, and in fact it’s a big reason why I enjoy being on Washington Journal.  The show and guests are totally unscripted.  No surprise, one of the callers blamed everything in Washington on the Republican-controlled House of Representatives and kept praising President Obama for the great job he is doing. I sat listening, waiting for the caller to give us some example of the great things President Obama is doing for our country. Needless to say, that never happened. Instead, I became even more convinced that many Americans are now more uninformed than ever before.

Later Friday morning, the July jobs numbers were released, and sadly, at 8.3 percent, the losing streak continues. We have now spent 42 consecutive months with unemployment at or above 8 percent.  Even worse, the true employment rate, which takes into account unemployed, underemployed and discouraged workers (the U-6 computation) places the country at 14.8 percent. This has been termed by economists as the worst recovery the country has ever known.

A record 9.3 million Americans in the last three and a half years have gone into poverty, a 46-year high. America’s second quarter Fiscal Year 2012 Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth was a mere 1.5 percent. Just to show you how dire this really is, in comparison, at this point in the Reagan recovery in 1984, the GDP growth was almost five times that- at 7.1 percent.

These are the facts and a result of the incompetence and utter failure of this community organizer to present a viable economic vision for America. Never forget that the Obama stimulus plan was supposed to have lowered unemployment in America to 5.6 percent by this time.

Who will take responsibility for the failure of Obamanomics? Could it be the fault of those pesky top two percent wage earners? The real truth is that the top one percent of wage earners in America fork over 37 percent of federal taxes, the top 25 percent contributes 89 percent. The Obama plan to raise taxes on the top brackets (those making more than $200,000 single or $250,000 as a married couple) yields only $85 billion a year, enough to fund the federal government for about 10 days. As well, an independent report by Ernst and Young estimates this would result in more than 700,000 jobs lost.

I would like to ask the caller from Washington Journal this morning if she believes the state of America right now is a reflection of the “great things” accomplished by President Obama?

Earlier this week, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to visit the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME), and see firsthand the power of the American free market as I talked with traders on the floor. I was honored to meet Mr. Terry Duffy, Chairman of the Board of the CME and be interviewed on his trading floor by Rick Santelli, click here.

It seems President Obama is now seeking to associate himself with former President Bill Clinton’s economic policies. However, the real analysis has to come with the comparison of leading our country after the mid-term election debacles of 1994 and 2010. Clinton pivoted away from big government spending policies and worked with a Republican-led House of Representatives and United States Senate, coining the phrase in his State of the Union address, “The era of big government is over.”  He enacted welfare reform combined with tax policy, and created a surplus.  The GOP legislative body maintained fiscal conservative principles and worked with the President to carry the country forward.

President Obama has accomplished completely the opposite.  He tripled down on failed liberal progressive economic, regulatory, and monetary policies and continues to believe Keynesian economic models of government spending are the way forward.

Americans also deserve President Obama to address the looming issue of sequestration and the “hollowing out” of our military. The principal role under the Constitution is for the President to serve America as its Commander-in-Chief. I would like to know what Commander in Chief would decimate the greatest and most superior military force the world has ever known. Repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” seems to have become far more important to President Obama than maintaining the preeminent fighting force in the world.

The excuse that he has no choice because the military is apparently bankrupting our budget is absurd and untrue. Mandatory spending is the driver of our debt and represents 62 percent of the budget.  With these cuts to our military, we are looking at a devastating reduction not only of our men and women in uniform, but also to those who support them in the defense industry. Florida is looking at losing some 56,000 jobs with implementation of sequestration. Here is an interview from this week where I discuss sequestration, click here.

As I close, we all need to face the facts about where this country is headed. You might be surprised to find out where the political term, “Forward” comes from. I can tell you that it does not come from our free market heritage and it certainly does not describe the governing principles best for our Constitutional Republic.

Steadfast and Loyal,

Legislative Update:

–  Preventing Tax Increases — On Wednesday, the United States House of Representatives approved H.R. 8, the Job Protection and Recession Prevention Act of 2012, by a vote of 256-171, I VOTED YES.  The bill would provide a one-year extension of all current individual tax rates, as well as the 15 percent top rate on capital gains and dividends. The proposal would also extend for one year the estate tax rates at their current levels, the $1,000 child tax credit, marriage penalty relief and certain educational tax credits. The bill would also provide higher small business expensing limits for one year and would repeal the personal exemption phase-out and the “Pease” limitations in 2013. Finally, the bill would provide a two-year AMT patch, which would be adjusted for inflation.  In total, the bill would prevent a tax increase of $383.6 billion, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT), and it would prevent the President’s small business tax increase from destroying more than 700,000 jobs and reducing wages for average American workers by 2 percent—outcomes predicted in a recent study by Ernst and Young.

– Pro-Growth Tax Reform — On Thursday, the United States House of Representatives approved H.R. 6169, the Pathway to Job Creation through a Simpler, Fairer Tax Code Act of 2012, by a vote of 232-189, I VOTED YES.  H.R. 6169 would provide an expedited pathway to pro-growth tax reform in 2013.  The bill would require the House of Representatives and United States Senate to consider tax reform legislation according to an expedited timeline. Under the bill, expedited procedures would be applied to a tax reform bill containing principles 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.

  – Agricultural Disaster Assistance — Also on Thursday, the United States House of Representatives approved H.R. 6233, the Agricultural Disaster Assistance Act of 2012, by a vote of 223-197, I VOTED YES.  H.R. 6233 would provide supplemental funding for drought relief by retroactively reauthorizing expired disaster assistance programs for fiscal year 2012.  The cost of the disaster assistance ($383 million) would be more than offset with reductions in spending for United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) conservation programs ($639 million in savings). The net effect of the spending and offsets would reduce spending over ten years by $256 million.

Highlights of the Week:

– Tuesday, 31 July; met with Army Corps of Engineers representatives and Town of Palm Beach Mayor Gail Coniglio to discuss finalizing agreement on sand transfer plant renovations funding and operations.

-Wednesday, 1 August; participated in the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) full committee hearing on sequestration implementation options and effects. It was a very heated hearing because Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Jeffrey Zeints was quite partisan in his position of not having any solutions and blamed Republicans for not raising taxes on the top two percent of American wage earners; attended the retirement ceremony of Army Sergeant Major Tammy Coon; participated in Small Business Committee hearing on impact of Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) regulations on small business; addressed the Constituents of Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ilinois) during their Washington Fly-In.

– Thursday, 2 August; participated in the House Armed Services Committee full committee classified briefing on Transition in Afghanistan; participated in House Armed Services Committee Military Personnel subcommittee closed briefing on the Air Force Investigation of the Lackland AFB sexual assault crimes.

– Friday, 3 August; addressed 200 college students from across the country as part of the Young America’s Foundation National Conference at George Washington University.

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