Driving the Week: Budget, IPAB, ExIm and JOBS

Who said nothing gets done in an election year? Maybe as we get closer to November less will happen, but for now Congress is plugging along (for better or worse) through their agenda. This week:

  • House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) will unveil his FY2013 budget – a conservative alternative to President Obama’s bloated budget and an existing alternative to Senate Democrats’ non-existent budget fantasy;
  • The House of Representatives will vote to repeal the IPAB, the panel of unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats charged with controlling costs in Medicare;
  • The Senate (and maybe the House as well) will vote on extending and expanding the Export-Import (ExIm) bank which provides corporate welfare at the expense of domestic companies and,
  • The Senate will vote on the House-Passed JOBS Act, which was endorsed by both House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) and President Obama.

The FY2012 Ryan budget was a bold declaration of what needs to be done in order to get our country back on track. It showed the American people that conservatives were serious about getting our finances back in order. Unfortunately, President Obama and his colleagues haven’t accepted the fact that our country needs serious reforms in order to get our debt and dependence on government under control, and resorted to demagoguery and outright lies in order to claim that Rep. Ryan’s budget ended Medicare.

This year’s budget is reported to include the bipartisan Medicare plan introduced by Rep. Ryan and Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR). It lends a bit of “bipartisanship” to the budget in an effort to take away the Democrat’s talking point. Conservatives are working to see that the rest of the budget is sufficiently bold and visionary. Last year’s budget took 26 years to balance the budget, but this year conservatives are hoping that we can get to a balanced budget in the next decade (Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky has introduced a budget that balances the budget in five years). Conservatives in Congress continue to stand strong and will support a budget that deals with the problems we face as a nation in a realistic way, instead of yet another “kick the can down the road” solution.

The House will also be voting on the repeal of the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), which is tasked with controlling Medicare costs and will most likely result in the rationing of care. Their only real power comes from cutting Medicare payments to providers – a common trick in Washington – but one that will result in less doctor’s taking Medicare patients because it will cost them far too much to provide care and treatment.

While IPAB is a terrible provision, repealing it gives supporters of Obamacare the argument that, without IPAB, the law is more palatable, thus blunting calls for full repeal. It also gives vulnerable Democrats who voted for Obamacare the chance to claim to constituents that they’re voting to fix it, without actually voting for full repeal. Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) and Congressman Steve King (R-IA) penned an op-ed for The Washington Times detailing the dangers of repealing parts of Obamacare, when the entire law needs to go. Especially now that the CBO shows that the true cost of the law is double what President Obama and Democrats said it would be.

Last week, we released our key votes for both the House and Senate versions of the extension and expansion of the Export-Import Bank. The ExIm Bank provides taxpayer-subsidized loans to U.S. exporters claiming the subsidies will boost exports. According to the Wall Street Journal, ExIm’s contribution to increasing exports is “negligible.” The subsidy actually distorts the market by allowing companies to sell their product cheaper overseas than here in America, meaning American companies get hurt.

The best example of this is the U.S. airline industry. Thanks to the bank’s subsidies, airline manufacturers can sell their planes overseas cheaper than domestically, and it has resulted in 4,700-7,500 jobs lost here in America. With the President constantly talking about fairness and companies not being allowed to make profits overseas, you would think he would be against the ExIm Bank.

The expansion of the ExIm Bank is being offered as an amendment to the House-passed JOBS Act. Instead of simply passing the bill that has the support of 390 Representatives – including 158 Democrats – and President Obama, Senate Democrats decided, hey, why not attach a contentious piece of legislation and then try to claim that Republicans don’t support their own jobs bill. It’s classic Washington.

The ExIm expansion will be offered as an amendment to the JOBS Act, which will open the door for more small businesses to access capital and expand. The bill may not make much of a dent in the unemployment number, but it is a necessary step towards getting our country moving again.

Five days, four big votes. We’ll be watching every step of the way and let you know which Members of Congress are fighting for conservative principles and who continue to give in to big-government.

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