Harper aide says Democratic policies hurtful to U.S. families

Published 6:00 am Thursday, November 19, 2009

Democratic policies being shoved through Congress will translateinto huge costs and extra taxes for Mississippi businesses andfamilies, an aide to Brookhaven’s congressman reportedWednesday.

Evan Gardner, a field representative for 3rd CongressionalDistrict Rep. Gregg Harper, R-Pearl, conveyed the congressman’sviews on health care legislation, cap and trade legislation andPresident Barack Obama’s deficit spending Wednesday morning to asmall crowd at the Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce.Both bills and the level of federal spending are costing families,and will cost them for years to come.

“They pass it, and we have to cover it. It’s a little scary,”Gardner said.

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Gardner said the $1.2 trillion Affordable Health Care forAmerica Act passed by the representatives in House Resolution 3962would create an unfunded Medicaid mandate of $200 million per yearover a 10-year period in Mississippi. The Blue Cross Blue ShieldAssociation also estimates Mississippians’ insurance premium costswould increase by $1,800 per year for individuals and $3,869 peryear for families.

As an alternative to the approximately 2,000-page health careplan supported by Democrats, Republicans are offering the CommonSense Health Care Reform and Affordability Act, a much simpler200-page bill.

Gardner said the Republican bill allows health insurance to beretained when changing jobs, allows businesses to join together topurchase health insurance and will allow anyone to purchase healthinsurance, regardless of pre-existing health conditions.

“I think we can all agree there needs to be some kind of reform,but (the Democrat plan) is not the way to do it,” he said.

H.R. 3962 passed the House on Nov. 7 by a vote of 220-215.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid unveiled his chamber’s planlater Wednesday. Any Senate-passed bill must be reconciled with theHouse plan before going to Obama for his signature.

Brookhaven’s Judy Amos, who attended Gardner’s presentation,expressed her concern over the Democrats’ health care plan, as wellher frustration with Republicans who she feels compromise too muchon the issue. She was spurred on when a video of Harper was shownin which he began his speech by agreeing some health care reform isneeded.

“We don’t want Democrat-light,” she said. “Why not just createtort reform and whatever needs to be done for competitionnationwide and get the government’s hands off health care. Whyaren’t the Republicans pushing that?”

Homer Richardson agreed.

“If we could just get the tort reform and have insurance acrossstate lines, it would clear up 85 percent of the problem,” hesaid.

Don Sicks said health care reform wouldn’t be needed if thecurrent system were administered properly.

“Part of the problem is Congress hasn’t funded the programs wehave now,” he said. “They stole the money out of Medicaid, Medicareand Social Security. They’re basically insolvent.”

In other legislative matters, Mississippians should still beconcerned about Democrats’ Cap and Trade legislation, which Gardnersaid has largely fallen off the public’s radar while health caredebates rage in the limelight. He said the plan, which would forcegreenhouse gas-emitting industries to purchase permits for everyton of carbon dioxide emitted, would place regulatory burdens onindustries, increase their costs while reducing theircompetitiveness and hurt the national economy.

Gardner said Cap and Trade is estimated to produce a 74-centincrease in gasoline prices while causing electricity costs toincrease by 90 percent and natural gas bills to increase by 55percent. Consumers will also pay more for every product thatrequires fossil fuels during manufacture and transportation, hesaid.

Cap and Trade is expected to increase the average Americanfamily’s energy bills by $1,500 annually, Gardner said.

“Combine that with the gas prices, and I’m broke,” he said.

Though Cap and Trade will increase prices on domesticproductions, it will not achieve its goal of reducing greenhousegas emissions, Gardner said.

“China and India don’t play by these rules,” he said. “If you’rea business owner, where do you got to get your product? It’s greatto buy American, but what are you going to do – buy something for$8, or buy it for $4?”

Conversely, Republicans’ energy policy heads in the otherdirection.

Harper is a strong supporter of relaxing oil drillingrestrictions in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska andthe Outer Continental Shelf and harvesting shale oil in theMountain West. Republicans also want to construct 100 new nuclearpower plants over the next 20 years.

The Cap and Trade bill passed the House by a vote of 219-212 andis awaiting action in the Senate.

Gardner also conveyed Harper’s disgust with the ObamaAdministration’s deficit spending. This year’s stimulus bill, whichwill end up costing around $1 trillion with debt services added,has failed to deliver the jobs it promised, he said. Nationalunemployment is currently 10.2 percent.

Gardner also said Obama’s budgeted increased spending for 2009is $4 trillion, or 28 percent of the GDP. It is the highest federalspending, percentage-wise, the nation has seen since World WarII.

“It’s like they have our nation on the edge of precipice, andthey’re trying to figure out which of these bills they’re throwingat us will thump it over the edge and shatter it,” Amos said.