The Clock Is Ticking
April 29, 2012
The Clock Is Ticking
Every year the Trustees for Social Security and Medicare issue reports on the “health” of these two important programs. This past week we received the updates for 2012 and the news was grim: Medicare’s Trust Fund runs out of funds in 2024 and Social Security’s Trust Fund in 2033 (last year it was 2036). In the “worst-case scenario,” Medicare could run out of money as early as 2017. We have known for years that the tipping point is nearing, and now it is just around the corner. Current and future retirees have an expectation that these programs will be around when they need them; either we need to do something to fix these programs, or at least an end to the charade that nothing is wrong.
President Obama has not only a moral responsibility, but a legal obligation to offer a solution. When Medicare Trustees issue a funding warning - as they have done for the past six years - federal law requires that the President submit a solution within 15 days of presenting his budget. And for four years now, President Obama has neglected this fundamental responsibility to America's seniors! In fact, he has made things worse, as ObamaCare raids $500 billion from Medicare and empowers a panel of unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats in Washington to make decisions about where to cut Medicare.
Tax Storm Is A-Brewin’
Just like real solutions for Medicare and Social Security cannot wait, we have no time to waste in figuring out a solution for the “tax cliff” that looms at the end of the year. Unless Congress and the President act, everyone’s income and capital gains taxes will go up. The death tax will jump to 55%. And family-friendly tax relief will expire. It is in the best interest of our nation to get a solution figured out now, not after an election. This week, several of my colleagues and I talked about the importance of tackling tax reform before “crisis mode” is upon us. Please take a few minutes to watch the video:
Victory for Rural America
As a fifth-generation farmer, I know firsthand that the family farm is one of the best places for a kid to develop an appreciation for hard work and a strong work ethic. That is why I am glad that the Department of Labor finally took our advice and withdrew their proposed regulation severely limiting the ability of kids from working on a farm or ranch. For months now—in town halls, in constituent meetings, at the Ag Committee field hearing in Dodge City last week—I’ve heard from Kansans about the hardships this burdensome regulation would place on their farms, ranches, and most importantly, their families. In last week’s update, I talked about how a young farmer named Zachary Hunnicutt from Nebraska testified that he would be unable to teach his kids how to farm because he owns his farming operation with his parents.
The victory that forced DOL to withdraw the regulation is a testament to the persistence of Americans who raised their voices in opposition to the outrageous and silly proposal. However, work remains to be done. There are many, many other job-killing regulations that lay siege against the family farm and our way of life in rural America. So, we must continue to fight against the onerous rules and red tape that forces producers to waste time on unnecessary paperwork instead of farming and ranching. I hope that in the coming months we will see many more common sense announcements like this one.
Farm Bill Work Continues
The Farm Bill discussions continued this week with Agriculture Subcommittee hearings. The two Subcommittees on which I serve -- the Conservation, Energy, and Forestry Subcommittee as well as Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry – met on Thursday to listen to witnesses on a number of issues.
In our first hearing, we talked about how previous Congresses have taken a “piecemeal” approach to conservation policy, and as a result, there is much duplication. As we work to make our farm programs more efficient and less expensive, combining conservation programs is certainly one option. When the “hurry-up” farm bill was written last fall, they found a way to consolidate 23 programs into 13 for a savings of $6.5 billion over the next ten years. In our second hearing, we heard from producers and economists about a proposed dairy title for the farm bill. I will continue to review the proposals, but I am concerned about adding yet another government program into the dairy and dairy products markets.
Someone Isn’t Telling the Truth
On Wednesday, I had the opportunity to question the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) about their instructions to the Department of Defense (DOD) regarding the required sequester (cuts imposed by the August 2011 debt deal). As you might recall from a previous update, Defense Secretary Panetta indicated to me in February that they had been instructed by the President’s budget office to ignore the sequester, the LAW of the land, and that the sequester was never intended to be implemented. When I asked this top OMB leader if in fact it was true they had told DOD not to plan for it, he claimed not to know!
We put together a brief “comparison” video to show the conflicting testimony. All I want to know is: Who is not telling the truth in the Obama Administration? On the one hand, DOD claims they are following direct instructions from OMB. On the other, OMB pleads ignorance. Someone's not telling the truth here - and who wants to be responsible from the scandal of ignoring the law!? For the sake of America's financial and national security, OMB and DOD need to be honest with the American public. The law of the land is that Defense is supposed to prepare implement the sequester, and it would be irresponsible and illegal for the Obama Administration to not do so.
Upcoming Town Halls & Smoky Hills Public TV Appearance
This Wednesday I will host three town halls (times and locations listed below). After the town hall, I will head to Bunker Hill for “A Conversation with Rep. Tim Huelskamp” on Smoky Hills Public Television. It will air at 7:00 PM on Wednesday and again at 8:30 PM on Friday, May 4. KPTS (Wichita) will also air it at 7:00 PM on Wednesday, May 2. Professor Chapman Rackaway from Fort Hays State University will conduct the interview; we’ll talk about agriculture and the budget. But, we’ll also take your questions, and those can be asked via Twitter using #shptvks01.
Wednesday, May 2, 2012
10:00am – 11:00am
Jewell County Town Hall
Mankato Community Center – Meeting Room
214 N High Street, Mankato
12:00pm – 1:00pm
Smith County Town Hall
Paul's Cafe and Dining Room
114 East Highway 36, Smith Center
2:00pm – 3:00pm
Phillips County Town Hall
Third Street Bakery
729 3rd Street, Phillipsburg
Guests in the Office
DC staff and I met with representatives of the Kansas Chamber of Commerce, including Chairman of the Board and CEO of Murfin Drilling Company (Wichita), Dave Murfin, Vice Chair Ivan Crossland of Crossland Construction Company (Columbus), Jay Allbaugh of Cox Communications (Wichita), Bill Pickert of BKD, LLP (Wichita), as well as Kansas Chamber President and CEO Kent Beisner and Vice President of Political Affairs Jeff Glendening; Jeff Seibel on behalf of Edward Jones (Hays); Marietta Hauser (Johnson) and Helen Norris (Wellington) on behalf of Kansas Farm Bureau; Juanita Jameson (Garden City) and Bob Banks (Topeka) with the State Library of Kansas; Myron Voth (Walton) on behalf of Land O Lakes; Dave Sanderson, a physical therapist (Salina); Brigadier General (BG) Paul Benenati who took command of a new Army Reserve Command based (Wichita) and LTC Rosanna Dolphin; representatives of the Kansas Independent Pharmacy Service, including Peter Stern, CEO; Sam Boyajian of Gardner Pharmacy (Gardner); Jeffrey Sigler of Sigler Pharmacy (Lawrence); LeadingAge PEAK: Jean Bryant, Administrator of The Shepherd's Center in Cimarron and Angela Dailey and David Beck of Brewster Place in Topeka; Jackie Clark from Ash Grove Cement Company (Overland Park); representatives of Kansas BioScience; Dr. John Lohnes and Dr. Robert Gibbs with Kansas Radiological Group; Kent Tyler, President and John Doswell, VP of Sales and Marketing with Collins Bus Corporation (South Hutchinson); representatives of the Kansas Orthopedic Society: Peter Hodges, M.D. (Manhattan), President, Charles Craig, M.D. (Newton), Councilor, Brad Daily, M.D. (Salina), President-elect, and Naomi Shields, MD (Wichita); Dr. William Clifford (Garden City) on behalf of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, and Bob and Dian Boaldin (who joined us on their 54th wedding anniversary!), Michael Shannon and Linda Ward, all on behalf of Elkhart Telephone Company; and Julie Clayton and several Trio/Upward Bound students at Emporia State University (that meeting took place at ESU). Additionally, staff and I met with:
- Community bankers in Kansas, including Paul Boeding, The Baileyville State Bank, Seneca; Marilyn Boeding, The Baileyville State Bank, Seneca; Dale Bradley, The Citizens State Bank, Miltonvale; Roger Brown, Citizens State Bank, Cheney; Calvin Coady, Banker’s Bank of Kansas, N.A., Wichita; Dan Coup, First National Bank, Hope; Michael Egan, Deluxe Corporation, Overland Park; Steven Handke, Union State Bank, Everest; Michael Johnson, Swedish-American State Bank, Courtland; Tanner Johnson, Swedish-American State Bank, Courtland; Gary Kay,
Nekoma State Bank, La Crosse; Jay Kennedy, First National Bank, Frankfort; Patrick Kerschen, The Freeport State Bank, Harper; Gregg Lewis, First Option Bank, Osawatomie; Tammera Marrs, Citizens State Bank, Miltonvale; Galen Pelton, Grant County Bank, Ulysses; Bruce Schriefer, Banker’s Bank of Kansas, N.A., Wichita; Brad Yaeger, Legacy Bank, Wichita; Shawn Mitchell, Community Bankers Association of Kansas, Topeka;
- Representatives of the Kansas Association of Insurance Agents (KAIA), including: Lee Hays, KAIA President, Capitol Agency, Shawnee Mission; Tim Tyner, KAIA
President Elect, Tyner Insurance Group, Inc., Council Grove; Greg Renn, State National Director, Renn & Company, Inc., Wellington; Bob Fee, KAIA Past-president, current IIABA Committee Member, Fee Insurance Group, Inc., Hutchinson; Rob Lessen, KAIA Board Member and Government Affairs Committee Chair, Fox Insurance Agency, Arma; Scott Strong, KAIA Board Member, Strong's Insurance, Inc., Nashville; Lyle Davidson, KAIA Board Member, The Davidson Agency, Delphos; Jo Erin Stuteville, KAIA Board Member, Elliott Insurance Group, Paola; Ryan Murry, Young Agent Committee Member, ICI, El Dorado; Tom Bryon, KAIA Government Affairs Committee Member, Colonial Life, Prairie Village; Kerri Spielman, KAIA Executive Vice President, Topeka; Bob Harris, KAIA Staff Member, Topeka
Member of Congress