On Jan. 3, the new 115th Congress convened. They have a full plate that begins with filling 1,300 federal employment positions that require Senate approval after Donald Trump’s inauguration.
The House is still defining its agenda, and that is what needs your attention today. This is true because, with an approval rating at 14% or less (depending on polling bias), Congress has only passed about 100 bills annually over the past few years compared with the historical average of 300.
I believe that there is too much that needs attention to allow our country to have a divided government to, on one hand, advocate European-style socialist governance characterized by increased intervention in citizen’s lives while, on the other hand, do what the populace wants by focusing on individual rights with less government influence on society. It is imperative that industry leaders and citizens both call elected representatives and express what is needed. I suggest that you cover the following items:
• Tax cuts. The new President has urged a $6.2 trillion cut over 10 years, or 2.6% of GDP. This is twice the House plan being formulated by Speaker Ryan. Trump’s suggestion would increase national debt by $7 trillion over the next 10 years. Under current laws, the Congressional Budget Office projects federal debt increase to be 4.9% of GDP, or $1.3 trillion. America can afford neither. What kind of tax cuts, you ask? First and foremost for readers is the reduction of the highest business tax rate in the world at 39%. Trump says 15%, but Ryan’s plan is 20%. That must be reconciled.
Hidden in the Affordable Care Act are unrelated taxes that are generally unknown to the public, and these must be removed from their false shield and made known during repeal. Be assured that significant cuts will be approved during the first session of Congress.
• Obamacare. Watch the posturing by politicians during the initial debates about modification or repeal of this frightfully bad law. If repeal is a Senate topic, expect filibuster in spite of being called a “reconciliation process.” Remember that outright repeal of Obamacare has been tried 60 times in the House and once in the Senate to no avail. This year ACA repeal is unlikely, but restructure will happen. There will be upheavals in health-insurance sectors as a result.
• Trade agreements. There is little chance of currently pending treaties (called agreements by this Administration to avoid required Senate approvals) like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to be approved in the new Congress. A result, business trade restraints will relax and improve.
• Debt ceiling and spending cuts. There is no choice other than to raise the national debt limit, which is approaching $20 trillion, and to do so by March 15. Irresponsible spending by Congress will not stop, but it is predicted that major reductions will be implemented. Some areas for cuts could include (with annual savings noted): Corporation for Public Broadcasting ($445 million), Legal Services Corporation ($420 million), Economic Development Administration ($293 million), Amtrak subsidies ($1.56 billion), eliminate ACA administrative costs ($900 million), repeal Davis-Bacon Act ($1.0 billion), Agency for International Development ($1.39 billion) and cut federal travel budget in half ($7.5 billion).
• Regulations. There will be numerous legislative moves to reduce regulations, among the most important being EPA impositions via the Clean Air Act. This will have significant impacts on current and future energy costs for the U.S. industrial base and the public at large.
Last on the list for implementing reform is the so-called Buffett Rule. Ask your elected representative to vote in favor of a law that states: “Anytime the federal deficit exceeds 3% of Gross Domestic Product, all sitting Members of Congress are ineligible for re-election.” Now there’s a good idea.