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When the new Congress convenes, the GOP-led House is planning to move on several fronts.
1. They are going to try to repeal ObamaCare:
The new Republican-controlled House plans to schedule a vote to repeal the sweeping health care overhaul before President Barack Obama delivers his annual State of the Union address late this month, incoming House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) said Sunday.
“We have 242 Republicans,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.” He added, “There will be a significant number of Democrats, I think, that will join us. You will remember when that vote passed in the House last March, it only passed by seven votes.”
Upton, whose committee will play a key role in the GOP's effort to roll back the law, said that he believes the House may be near the two-thirds majority required to override a presidential veto.
Regardless of how the repeal vote turns out, the GOP will go after pieces of ObamaCare:
Upton specifically called out the requirement for businesses to complete 1099 tax forms, the individual mandate and the amendment on abortion introduced by Michigan Democratic Rep. Bart Stupak. "We will look at these individual pieces to see if we can't have the thing crumble," he said.
This should cause quite a stir. Democrats will fight back:
Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine, appearing on CNN, said “health care reform is going to go down in history as one of the great achievements of this president.”
And Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) said repeal is a lost cause for Republicans.
“We cut prescription drug bills for senior citizens by 50 percent,” she told CBS. “We've already made sure that young adults up until they're 26 can be on their parents' insurance. A constituent in my district came up to me a few weeks ago and thanked me for saving her $3,000 a year because she could put her two adult children back on her insurance," she said.
"That's what the Republicans are going to be proposing to repeal this week," Wasserman Schultz added. "It's not going to happen. If it's about jobs and the economy and reducing the deficit, wasting time and money and adding to the deficit by repealing health care reform or on the attempt is irresponsible.”
In order for the Republicans to successfully repeal ObamaCare, I believe they will have to come up with a REPLACEMENT for it, a better idea. If the GOP forgets all about that part of it, they might be doing themselves more harm than good. I'm all for repealing ObamaCare, as long as something better takes it's place. We can't just stick our heads in the sand and pretend spiraling health care costs are not a problem.
2. Rep. Darrell Issa plans to go after wasteful government spending by the Obama administration:
The Republican congressman who is taking over responsibility for congressional oversight called President Obama's administration "one of the most corrupt administrations" on Sunday and predicted that the investigations he is planning over the next two years could result in about $200 billion in savings for U.S. taxpayers.
Issa, who as chairman will have subpoena power, said he will seek to ferret out waste across the federal bureaucracy. While he used fiery rhetoric in describing the Obama administration in a series of television interviews Sunday, he said he will focus on wasteful spending, not the prosecution of White House officials.
Asked on "Fox News Sunday" about reports that the White House is staffing up on lawyers to prepare for his oversight hearings, Issa said: "They're going to need more accountants.
"It's more of an accounting function than legal function," Issa said. "It's more about the inspector generals than it is about lawyers in the White House. And the sooner the administration figures out that the enemy is the bureaucracy and the wasteful spending, not the other party, the better off we'll be."
Issa said he plans to lead bipartisan investigations on food and drug safety, as well as Medicare fraud.
"We can save $125 billion in simply not giving out money to Medicare recipients that don't exist for procedures that didn't happen," Issa said on CBS's "Face the Nation." "These are real dollars. Ten percent of the deficit goes out in wasted money - money that doesn't get one person health care in Medicare."
On the CNN show, Issa said: "When I look at waste, fraud and abuse in the bureaucracy and in the government, this is like steroids to pump up the muscles of waste."
Here is a list of investigations Issa has planned:
As the replacement for outgoing Democrat Henry Waxman, Issa is aiming to launch investigations on everything from WikiLeaks to Fannie Mae to corruption in Afghanistan in the first few months of what promises to be a high profile chairmanship of the top oversight committee in Congress.
According to an outline of the committee’s hearing topics obtained by POLITICO, the House Oversight and Government Reform is also planning to investigate how regulation impacts job creation, the role of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in the foreclosure crisis; recalls at the Food and Drug Administration and the failure of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission to agree on the causes of the market meltdown.
A look at the preliminary hearing schedule illustrates that Issa plans to stay away from hurling subpoenas at the White House.
In investigating the impact of regulation on job creation, the committee plans to ask why the economy hasn’t “created the private sector jobs the president has promised,” and he’s calling in business leaders to explain “about the government regulations that are doing the most harm to job creation efforts.”
“The committee will examine how overregulation has hurt job creation and whether the administration intends to try and abuse the regulatory process to implement regulations that Congress would reject,” according to an outline of committee hearing topics.
Issa also wants to study why the financial crisis commission couldn’t reach consensus last year. He’d like to call Phil Angelides and former Rep. Bill Thomas (R-Calif.), the chair and ranking member of the committee, to determine if there was any agreement on the panel in relation to the cause of the meltdown.
Thar's a new sheriff in town, and his name is Darrell Issa.
3. The Republicans might demand budget cuts in exchange for raising the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling:
Austan Goolsbee, chairman of the U.S. Council of Economic Advisers, said if Congress fails to raise the debt ceiling, the “impact on the economy would be catastrophic.”
“I don’t see why anybody’s playing chicken with the debt ceiling,” Goolsbee said today on ABC’s “This Week” program. “If we get to the point where we damage the full faith and credit of the United States, that would be the first default in history caused purely by insanity.”
The government is slated to hit the legal limit on borrowing, $14.3 trillion, early this year. Congress must agree to raise that ceiling or the U.S. could be forced to default on its obligations.
After candidates supported by anti-deficit Tea Party activists were elected on pledges to rein in government spending, some lawmakers have said they would demand budget cuts in exchange for voting to raise the debt ceiling.
The U.S. has a $1.3 trillion federal budget deficit. President Barack Obama’s debt-reduction panel failed last month to agree on its chairmen’s recommendations for ways to reduce the annual deficit to about $400 billion in 2015.
The plan would have increased taxes by $1 trillion by 2020 by scaling back or eliminating hundreds of deductions, exclusions or credits such as those allowing homeowners to write off interest on their mortgage payments. It would also have cut individual and corporate income tax rates.
Goolsbee said he anticipates Obama will find common ground with Republicans on legislation to benefit the economy, citing investment incentives and tax cuts for workers and small businesses, and warned against cutting back on spending needed for economic growth.
“The reason the deficit is big this year is because we’re coming out of the worst recession since 1929,” Goolsbee said. “That’s the reason. The longer-run fiscal challenge facing the country is important.”
Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, said failing to raise the debt ceiling “would be very bad for the position of the United States in the world at large.” Still, he wouldn’t vote to raise it “until a plan is in place” to deal with debt, Graham said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
If the GOP was paying attention to the last election, they definitely SHOULD demand some budget cuts in exchange for raising the debt ceiling. How else will the runaway freight train of government spending ever slow down ? The federal government has been kicking the fiscal responsibility can down the road for a long, long time now. It has to stop.