Responding To Rep. Hurt's Email

Published 4:26 pm Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Editor, The Herald:

The recent e-mail message from Representative Hurt cries out for commentary. I quote parts of Mr. Hurt's message and give my responses as follows:

“A new study suggests that federal regulations … are costing each American household 14,768 dollars. It should be no surprise that laws like Dodd-Frank and the President's healthcare law are contributing significantly to this bureaucratic morass.”

Email newsletter signup

The “new study” came from the Competitive Enterprise Institute which is funded by the Koch brothers and Exxon/Mobil among others. The cost of the regulations is built into many of the products we buy such as prescription drugs, grocery items, appliances and other items. Some of the regulations concern the safety of our workplaces, homes, automobiles, public transportation and other items. The Dodd-Frank law was supposed to reign in some of the financially risky maneuvers of the Wall Street high rollers. We asked for most of these regulations and have come to expect the safety and security they provide.

“In fact, here next to me sits a 20,000 page, 7-foot-3-inch, 300 pound stack of actual health care regulations that will be imposed on the American people.”-“This month, noting the negative affects the President's healthcare law is having in Virginia's 5th District, I once again supported a full repeal of the President's healthcare law. Not only is this law increasing premiums on our families, but it is also harming our small businesses and turning full-time work into part-time work for workers across the 5th District.”

If the regulations “will be imposed on the American people”, how can the healthcare law be “increasing premiums” and harm small businesses since it is not in effect? Health insurance premiums generally did increase in 2013 as they have in most previous years as the cost of health care has increased. Some studies of Obamacare predict that health insurance costs for many Americans will go down. If business decisions are made to reduce the number of employees or reduce maximum hours for each employee in order to avoid the mandates of Obamacare, those are profit-oriented decisions made by business owners who care more about the bottom line than they care about their employees. We, as consumers, will need to take those decisions into account when we make our purchases.

“Additionally, in May we took action to tackle more red tape by voting, once again, to pave the way for the Keystone Pipeline's approval. The Northern Route Approval Act is critical to reliable North American energy, lowering fuel prices on our families and small businesses, and creating American jobs.”

The members of the House knew in advance that the Senate would not pass this bill so this is another time-wasting action like the 37th repeal of Obamacare. The Keystone Pipeline will allow Canadian tar sand to be refined into diesel fuel which will be sold in Europe where prices are higher; will have little effect on fuel prices except in other countries; and will provide a minimal number of American jobs. This act is a direct attack on the normal approval process of commerce that crosses our national borders. The act would approve the pipeline construction by legislative fiat. I assume that Congressman Hurt is aware of the Exxon/Mobile tar-sand pipeline leak near Mayflower, Arkansas, which has affected the health of many citizens. We can assume that the Keystone Pipeline will have similar leaks unless, of course, significant regulations are put into place.

“And this month we have voted on legislation to hold federal agencies accountable for the cost of the rules and regulations they place on the American people. With bipartisan support, we passed the SEC Regulatory Accountability Act. This commonsense legislation ensures that, like other federal agencies, the SEC must conduct a cost benefit analysis of its rules required by Dodd-Frank and all other rules it implements.”

First, we are told that more regulations are bad and cost everyone too much money. Then we are told that a new regulation of the SEC is a good thing. This action is just an attempt to water down the Dodd-Frank regulation of the “0.1 percenters” who do their risky investment banking business on Wall Street with backing from the FDIC.

“Finally, this month we have seen just how threatening a growing federal government can be. The IRS scandal whereby the IRS singled out political opponents for tax scrutiny demonstrates not only a troubling abuse of power by this administration, but also an affront to our constitutionally protected Right of Free Speech. Equally as troubling has been the Justice Department's seizure of journalists' phone records. And, like Virginians across the 5th District, I remain gravely concerned about the Administration's failure to prevent and to be forthcoming about the terrorist attack in Benghazi that left three Americans and a U.S. Ambassador dead.”

Rather than concern themselves with the IRS and Benghazi non-scandals, members of Congress would better serve the American people by concentrating on the serious problems of the country. For example, the IRS non-scandal was created when the rules concerning the status of non-profit organizations were modified. Congress should remove the wording that allows quasi-PAC organizations to shield their donors. Better yet would be a consolidated action by all members of Congress to overhaul the election laws to limit campaign contributions and the length of campaigns. This would mean that our elected representatives would be able to spend most of their time on legislative action rather than soliciting funds for the next campaign.

“Our government, founded on the principle that those who govern do so only with the consent of the governed, necessarily must operate in a transparent manner and be accountable to the American people. Understanding our constitutional duty, the House of Representatives is focused on holding the Administration and its agencies accountable for its actions.”

There is a way we can hold the House of Representatives accountable for its non-actions: be informed and vote for someone who represents you and not the principle underwriters of the candidate's campaign or the special interests who push for specific legislation.

Robert J. Huskey

Cumberland County