Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong opposition to this conference report on the War Supplemental Appropriations. I wonder what happened to all of my colleagues who said they were opposed to the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. I wonder what happened to my colleagues who voted with me as I opposed every war supplemental request under the previous administration. It seems, with very few exceptions, they have changed their position on the war now that the White House has changed hands. I find this troubling. As I have said while opposing previous war funding requests, a vote to fund the war is a vote in favor of the war. Congress exercises its constitutional prerogatives through the power of the purse.
This conference report, being a Washington-style compromise, reflects one thing Congress agrees on: spending money we do not have. So this “compromise” bill spends 15 percent more than the president requested, which is $9 billion more than in the original House bill and $14.6 billion more than the original Senate version. Included in this final version -- in addition to the $106 billion to continue the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq -- is a $108 billion loan guarantee to the International Monetary Fund, allowing that destructive organization to continue spending taxpayer money to prop up corrupt elites and promote harmful economic policies overseas.
Last week, another bill was passed and signed into law that takes more of our freedoms and violates the Constitution of the United States. It was, of course, done for the sake of the children, and in the name of the health of the citizenry. It’s always the case that when your liberty is seized, it is seized for your own good. Such is the condescension of Washington.
The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act will give sweeping new powers over tobacco to the FDA. It will require everyone engaged in manufacturing, preparing, compounding, or processing tobacco to register with the FDA and be subjected to FDA inspections, which is yet another violation of the Fourth Amendment. It violates the First Amendment by allowing the FDA to restrict tobacco advertising in multiple ways, as well as an outright ban on advertising any cigarettes as light, mild or low-tar. The FDA will have the power of pre-market reviews of all new tobacco products, and will impose new user fees, meaning taxes, on manufacturers and importers of tobacco products. It will even regulate the amount of nicotine in cigarettes.
Congressman Ron Paul's Federal Reserve Transparency Act, HR 1207, has reached and surpassed the level of 218 cosponsors in the House of Representatives, which means it is now cosponsored by a majority of the members.
The 218th cosponsor was Dennis Kucinich (OH-10), and the bill has since received its 222nd cosponsor.
Last week, General Motors finally declared bankruptcy. Many in government thought $20 billion in taxpayer dollars would save the company, but as predicted, it only postponed the inevitable. The government will dump another $30 billion into GM and take a 60 percent controlling interest for it. Public officials are now involving themselves in tactical business decisions such as where GM’s headquarters should move and what kind of cars it will build.
The promise that this is temporary and will eventually be profitable is supposed to ease the American people into accepting this arrangement, but it is of little comfort to those who remember similar promises when the American taxpayers bought Amtrak. After three years, government was supposed to be out of the passenger rail business. 40 years and billions of dollars later, the government is still operating Amtrak at a loss, despite the fact that they have created a monopoly by making it illegal to compete with Amtrak. Imagine what they can now do to what is left of the great American auto industry!
- ``We urge the United States government to reject the global warming agreement that was written in Kyoto, Japan in December, 1997, and any other similar proposals. The proposed limits on greenhouse gases would harm the environment, hinder the advance of science and technology, and damage the health and welfare of mankind.
- There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth's atmosphere and disruption of the Earth's climate. Moreover, there is substantial scientific evidence that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide produce many beneficial effects upon the natural plant and animal environments of the Earth.''
In the last few years in interviews on the economy, I have been asked what I would do if I were in charge. In answering the question I usually started with explaining the errors we made that gave us the crisis. The interviewer frequently responded by saying that he wasn’t interested in the cause of the problem, only what we should do now to correct it.
This is a typical attitude in Washington. But, we cannot expect correct policies to be implemented if we don’t understand the cause of the crises. Instead, we have pursued all the wrong policies. Let me list a few mistakes we have made.
I rise to oppose this unnecessary and counter-productive resolution regarding the 20th anniversary of the incident in China’s Tiananmen Square. In addition to my concerns over the content of this legislation, I strongly object to the manner in which it was brought to the floor for a vote. While the resolution was being debated on the House floor, I instructed my staff to obtain a copy so that I could read it before the vote. My staff was told by no less than four relevant bodies within the House of Representatives that the text was not available for review and would not be available for another 24 hours. It is unacceptable for Members of the House of Representatives to be asked to vote on legislation that is not available for them to read!
With a faltering economy, and skyrocketing costs, healthcare continues to be a critical issue for all Americans. Unfortunately government encroachment into the doctor/patient relationship is poised to exacerbate our problems with healthcare.
As an OB/GYN with over 30 years of experience in private practice, I understand that one of the foundations of quality healthcare is the patient's confidence that all information shared with his or her healthcare provider will remain private. And yet, the Federal Government plans to undermine this trust with establishment of mandatory electronic medical records collections and “unique health identifier” numbers assigned to all Americans. Funding for this program was among the numerous provisions jammed into the stimulus bill rushed through Congress earlier this year.
While Congress is sidetracked by who said what to whom and when, our nation finds itself at a crossroads on the issue of torture. We are at a point where we must decide if torture is something that is now going to be considered justifiable and reasonable under certain circumstances, or is America better than that?
Madam Speaker, I rise to introduce the Affordable Gas Price Act. This legislation reduces gas prices by reforming government policies that artificially inflate the price of gas. While the price of gas has not yet reached the record levels of last year, over the last two months the average price of gas has risen approximately 16%. In some areas, the price of gas is approaching $3.00 per gallon. There is thus a real possibility that the American people while soon by once again hard hit by skyrocketing gas prices.
Madam Speaker, I rise to introduce the Protect Patients’ and Physicians’ Privacy Act. This legislation protects medical privacy, as well as quality health care, by allowing patients and physicians to opt out of any federally mandated, created, or funded electronic medical records system. The bill also repeals the sections of federal law establishing a “unique health identifier” and requires patient consent before any electronic medical records can be released to a third party.
Madam Speaker, today I am introducing the Coercion is Not Health Care Act. This legislation forbids the federal government from forcing any American to purchase health insurance, and from conditioning participation in any federal program, or receipt of any federal benefit, on the purchase of health insurance.
I have been very pleased with the progress of my legislation, HR 1207, which calls for a complete audit of the Federal Reserve and removes many significant barriers towards transparency of our monetary system. This bill now has nearly 170 cosponsors, with support from both Republicans and Democrats. Senator Bernie Sanders has introduced a companion bill in the Senate S 604, which will hopefully begin to gain momentum as well. I am very encouraged to see so many of my colleagues in Congress stand with me for greater transparency in government.
Madame Speaker, I rise to introduce legislation to help Americans struggling with consumer debt by excluding discharges of debt from the definition of taxable income. Currently, when someone is relived of consumer debt, such as credit card debt, they are taxed on the forgiven debt. So, for example, if a credit card company agrees to forgive $12,000 of a $15,000 debt, the debtor’s taxable income increases by $12,000---even though the debtor does not actually have an additional $12,000 in his or her bank account.
While much of the country’s attention is on other issues, a serious situation is developing in Pakistan that threatens to plunge us into another fruitless and bloody war. It is very frustrating to see that many who were so vehemently against the wars of the last administration have suddenly lost interest in foreign policy simply because we were promised change.
Those still paying attention know that nothing could be further from the truth. Very little has changed, except perhaps rhetoric, but what does that matter when the bombing missions are only getting deadlier? Rather than drawing down violent military interventions into the affairs of other countries, the new administration is escalating the foreign policy of the previous administration.