Friday, June 26, 2009

Government-imposed dust bowl to continue


On Wednesday, under the cover of darkness, the House Rules Committee decided to prevent a vote on my amendment to the 2010 Department of Interior spending bill - an amendment that would have halted the insane actions of our government that have deprived California communities of access to water.

Last week, a similar amendment that I offered was narrowly defeated on the House Floor, 218 to 208. The amendment would have passed if Congressman George Miller had not forced several Democrats to change their votes (to see what happened, click here).

Despite the loss, we were able to force a vote and put lawmakers on the record, and on notice – the American people are watching. The Rules Committee decision Wednesday night has effectively shut down the democratic process. It was a crass political maneuver in violation of House Rules and long-standing legislative protocol.
Yesterday, I made this statement on the floor of the House of Representatives:
"Madam Speaker, 636 days and counting. This is the number of days that have passed since I asked the Democrats in this body to take direct action and avoid destruction of the San Joaquin Valley. Instead, we've had 636 days of inaction, 636 days of a man-made drought, a California dust bowl.
"Last week there was a close vote, apparently too close for the Democrat leadership. The bipartisan amendment I offered would have stopped the Obama administration from taking additional measures to starve the people of the San Joaquin Valley of water. The Democrat leadership will not risk the possibility of defeat again. No mistakes this time. No vote will be allowed on the House floor this week on my new amendment to the Interior bill.
"The hypocrisy of this situation is that the Democrat majority champions working families but in reality is just backing the radical environmental element in this country. For the San Joaquin Valley, the Democrats in this House have chosen the 3-inch minnows over working families.
"What we are witnessing is the greatest elected assembly in the history of the world starving its citizens of water, acting like a despot who tortures the innocent just to stay in power. Make no mistake - raw power is what we're witnessing, power that injures and wounds, exercised at the highest levels of this government, straight from the Obama White House and the Democrat leadership in this Congress. They will say anything and do anything to keep power. Their victims are my constituents, the people of the San Joaquin Valley, who have done nothing to deserve this cruelty at the hands of this government. The clock is ticking. There's very little time left. This Congress must act and act now.
"At this moment, Madam Speaker, Members of this body are at the White House having a luau; and in the meantime, there's 40,000 people without jobs in the San Joaquin Valley because of the inaction by the Democrats and this Congress. Come back. Stop the luau. Stop the partying, and come back, and vote ``no'' on this rule and allow an amendment on this bill to bring people of the San Joaquin Valley.
"Come back. Stop the party. Come back now."

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The American Energy Act - We need to go nuclear

I and other members of the American Energy Solutions Group unveiled legislation on June 12th that will provide the United States long-term energy security – the American Energy Act, H.R..2846. A key component of the Republican bill is nuclear power – an area of energy policy I have spent considerable time examining.

The American Energy Act will:

  • Facilitate the construction of 100 nuclear reactors;
  • Create 240,000 high paying jobs, many of which would be permanent positions;
  • Yield more than $43 billion in new economic activity, generating $9.5 billion in new tax revenues;
  • Cut CO2 emissions in the United States by 40%;
  • Generate inexpensive power for more than 118 million households.
Republicans recognize that energy security means economic security. We understand that an "all of the above approach" is the only way to offer the American people lower energy costs today, while providing affordable long-term alternatives.

The construction of nuclear power plants in America is essential if we are to be serious about affordable electrical energy – energy that is clean, safe and capable of fueling the next generation of hybrid cars. Without nuclear power, our country will be forced to ration energy through high prices and taxes. We will fall into economic stagnation and experience long-term challenges that will be difficult to endure.

Congress must act on the American Energy Act. It is time to give the American people meaningful energy reform and real solutions to the problems we face.

The legislative text of the American Energy Act is here.

Audit the Fed!


On June 12, I became a cosponsor of H.R. 1207, the “Federal Reserve Transparency Act of 2009”, introduce last February by Rep. Ron Paul. With the Federal Reserve active in the recent bailouts, stronger measures are needed by the Government Accountability Office to audit the Federal Reserve System. It will make the Fed far more open and accountable to Congress and the American people.

I talked to Dr. Paul in May and offered my support to get him the 218 supporters needed for a majority in the House of Representative. I even told Dr. Paul I would be the 218
th sponsor.

But the hard part now begins in the Congress. The Democratic leadership in the House will never allow H.R. 1207 to come to the floor for a vote. They will keep it bottled up in the Financial Services Committee. 218 supporters of the bill must also sign a Discharge Petition. A Discharge Petition starts the process of the “discharge rule,” which forces a bill out of committee and to the House floor for a vote. This is the only way H.R. 1207 will ever see the light of day.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Paul Rodriguez fighting for us...

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: Recently, vital water pumps in California were shut down to protect a 2-inch minnow. Now, since then, farmers and workers have been protesting that decision and appealing to lawmakers to reverse it.

Our own Ainsley Earhardt visited the region in May. Take a look at this.

AINSLEY EARHARDT, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): California's Central Valley is considered by many to be the richest and most productive farmland in the nation. But this land is being threatened by the small, harmless-looking minnow called the delta smelt.

Recently, it landed on the endangered species list, prompting a federal court to shut down vital pumps to farmers to help preserve it.

(on camera) All of the farmers along all of this land, 2/3 of the state of California have depended on water to grow their crops. The water is turned off here, so none of these farmers can expect to get any water.


EARHARDT (on camera): Two years ago, I wouldn't have been able to do that. This was a canal full of gushing water irrigating the farmland here in the San Joaquin Valley. But as you can see, it is all dried up.

(voice-over) The pumps were turned off after environmentalists won a federal court case.
REP. DEVIN NUNES, R-CALIF.: What we have today is a manmade brought on by laws, passed by Congress, to where we're starting the breadbasket of the world and starving it of water to save little fish, which is outrageous.
HANNITY: And joining me now is actor/comedian Paul Rodriguez. He has been an outspoken opponent of shutting down the pumps.

Paul, good to see you.

You know, we're not going to be farmers any longer. We're going to be selling fire wood, because our trees won't last another six months without any water.

It's really a sad situation that those of us who chose to farm, my mother and my family in the central San Joaquin, perhaps the most fertile soil in the world, are now just sitting there getting ready to go on welfare or some other kind of support because we can't farm.

HANNITY: Paul, this is so serious, and it's almost mind numbing that this could happen. All right. So we showed the little delta smelt, this little minnow fish that is now on the endangered species list. Now, they literally have shut down — you are getting and farmers are getting zero percent water. Their trees and their farms are dying. Is that right?

RODRIGUEZ: Yes, in other years they've given us less allocation, and we've put in drip irrigation. And we've tried to compromise to try to continue to get our crops out. But now the second opinion from the federal state fisheries commission has come out, and they're saying that our actions were like 300 or 400 miles inland. Our actions is also threatening the killer whale, the steel head, and also the green sturgeon. Now, these fish I've never seen.

HANNITY: But the killer whale is, what, 60 miles away?

RODRIGUEZ: The killer whale — I've never seen one on the highway, you know, but apparently we're affecting — we're affecting their reproduction, you know.

I don't know what to do. It's so ridiculous. They might as well put — they've taken 80,000 jobs. Mendota, the city of Mendota and Firebaugh has 41 percent unemployment, the — unemployment the highest in the nation.

I don't know what they want us to do. We tried to get the attention of the administration. Mr. Salazar was gracious enough to fly over our valley but didn't land. I don't know why. There's plenty of places to land, you know, because there's no farming going on. It's pathetic.

How I got involved is simply because there was no water coming to our farm, and the problem here is that there isn't a drought. There's plenty of water. We've tried everything from doing bubbles and lights to prevent the fish. We've asked for a peripheral canal. They closed all these ideas.

I think that when the Endangered Species Act was put on, they didn't take human — humans into consideration.

My latest thoughts on healthcare

Insurance costs are growing too rapidly, many Americans are without coverage, and access to quality health care is not equal.

Serious and credible health-care reforms must empower patients and health providers, must provide universal access to quality care - not simply access to a government insurance card, and must be fully financed. These basic principles are contained in the Patients' Choice Act, a comprehensive reform bill I introduced with Rep. Paul Ryan and Sens. Tom Coburn and Richard Burr.

However, a significant and world-changing difference exists between our plan and the reforms sought by President Obama and his allies.
Congressional Democrats are moving forward with a plan that will cost taxpayers more but does not provide universal access to quality care. It will simply enlarge failing government programs and paper over long-term challenges. The Kennedy plan, for example, is expected to cost at least $1 trillion. Another plan, supported by the White House, is conservatively expected to cost $1.6 trillion. In sharp contrast, the Patients' Choice Act costs the taxpayer nothing more than what is already being spent today - meaning our plan is budget neutral. In fact, we believe it will result in significant net savings.

What Democratic leaders have failed to recognize is that taxpayers are not clamoring to spend more money on health care. We spend enough today, far more than other industrialized nations. The key to reform is to spend our money efficiently and to give Americans more control over their health. The last thing Congress should do is make insurance more expensive while raising taxes - yet that is exactly what Democrats propose.

The price tag alone should be enough to call into question the quality of the Democratic proposal. The details will end all doubt. The plan is a looming disaster. It envisions the establishment of a new health insurance bureaucracy in Washington. Despite the rhetoric of choice, the new agency would decide what health coverage you are permitted to receive and it will drive cost containment through the rationing of benefits.

In short, despite the personal nature of medical treatment, the Democratic plan seeks to centralize control of medicine in our nation. Americans who don't fit into a predefined "best practices" recipe cooked up in Washington will find themselves without proper health care. Those with chronic illness or disability will be particularly abused by the new system - as will other populations that benefit from innovation and adaptability.

Furthermore, while the Democrats talk about choice, their plan will actually remove options for most Americans. According to an independent study by the Lewin Group, three-fourths of Americans with private insurance - 120 million people - will be involuntarily forced into a government health program under the Democratic plan. Worse, the Congressional Budget Office has determined that the plan will only reduce the number of uninsured by 16 million - about a third of the total.

Democrats talk about universal coverage and choice, but don't deliver. My colleagues and I do.

If you have insurance through your employer, you can keep it. If you need to buy insurance, it will be affordable and accessible - even if you have a preexisting condition. And if you are low-income, you will get extra assistance that will allow you to exit the current system - and provide access to the same private market used by other Americans.

Our plan works by giving every single American Medi-Choice rebates - an advanceable and refundable tax rebate. The rebate alone will cover 70 percent of the cost of the average health plan in America today - meaning that monthly insurance costs will drop considerably for virtually everyone. However, affordability can only be assured if the American people are empowered and the profiteers in the health-care industry are exposed to meaningful competition. State-based health exchanges will create a venue for that competition and be a clearinghouse where consumers can shop for the coverage they want.

The Patients' Choice Act also, for the first time, offers quality health care to low-income Americans. As we speak, millions of Americans receive their health insurance through the government under Medicaid. Democratic reforms propose adding millions more to this system. However, Medicaid "insurance" does not mean access to health care and increased spending has not and will not yield better outcomes. It is second-class medicine.

Democratic leaders scowl at this description, but how else to describe a system in which only 20 percent of physicians will see Medicaid patients? A system in which Medicaid patients are more likely to die after cardiac surgery than those in private insurance or three times more likely to die during cancer treatment? Low-income Medicaid beneficiaries struggle to receive the care they need, yet Democrats want to vastly expand the rolls. This is neither compassionate nor in the best interest of the American people. There is a better way.

The Patients' Choice Act will give every American access to private health care. Our plan takes power away from government bureaucrats and insurance executives and gives that power to you.