Defense appropriations bill passes House
Jim voted in favor of and helped the House pass H.R. 2219, the 2012 Department of Defense Appropriations Act.
The legislation includes a 1.6 percent pay increase for men and women serving in the military and $119 billion in emergency spending to stay on offense against terrorists around the globe.
Non-military federal employees are subject to a two-year pay freeze through 2012. The 1.6 percent pay increase for military members takes effect on October 1 and comes after service members received a 1.9 percent for the current fiscal year.
"This bill provides funding to pay our troops and provide our military with the equipment and resources needed to successfully carry out their missions and defend our country," Jim said. "In addition, the legislation identifies common-sense savings of approximately $8 billion compared to the budget proposal presented by President Obama."
The bill passed by a 336-87 margin and now goes to the Senate for consideration.
Strong show of support for conservation easement incentive
Farmers and other property owners in the 6th District have used conservation easements to protect more than 83,000 acres.
On June 29, Jim visited the Limerick Township farm of Don Hawthorne to discuss legislation he introduced that would make the conservation easement tax credit incentive permanent. The legislation, H.R. 1964, has received overwhelming bipartisan support from 259 House members.
Jim picks blueberries on Don Hawthorne's
Limerick Township farm.
"Making the conservation easement tax credit permanent would protect
more than farmland and open space," Jim said.
"It would preserve property owners' freedom to make choices about their land and decide what's best for an asset that, in many instances, has been passed down from generation to generation."
In 2009, Hawthorne, who grows Christmas trees, blueberries and fruit, donated the development rights — also known as a “conservation easement” — for the 28-acre farm to Montgomery County Lands Trust by using the tax incentive first adopted in 2006.
Hawthorne thanked Gerlach for supporting the legislation “on behalf of my Christmas tree customers, my blueberry customers, my tomato customers and my cider customers.”
Read more about Jim's visit to Don Hawthorne's farm and watch a video of remarks at the event in this Montgomery Newspapers article.
Report: Debt dampens job growth
Uncertainty about taxes. Concerns about increasingly burdensome regulations enforced by overzealous regulators. And soaring debt.
All are contributing to the lack of job growth as evidenced by the national unemployment rate inching up to 9.2 percent in June.
Last week, the House Budget Committee released a report detailing how wasteful Washington spending contributes to soaring debt and sluggish job creation.
Stanford University economists George Schultz and John Taylor, along with Nobel laureate Gary Becker of the University of Chicago, wrote recently: “Credible actions that reduce the rapid growth of federal spending and debt will raise economic growth and lower the unemployment rate. Higher private investment, not more government purchases, is the surest way to increase prosperity."
Read the full Budget Committee report here.
Medicare Trustees offer frank assessments
The House Ways & Means Committee recently held a hearing on whether Medicare will be around when future retirees need it.
The hearing focused on several key facts outlined in the 2011 Medicare Trustees report:
- The trustees currently predict the Medicare Hospital Insurance (HI) trust fund will go bankrupt in 2024, five years earlier than they estimated in last year’s report.
- Medicare’s unfunded liabilities total $24.6 trillion under the current law baseline.
- If Congress does what the trustees expect and reverses cuts called for by the Democrats’ health care law and prevents cuts to Medicare physician payment rates, Medicare spending will grow from 3.6 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2010 to roughly 10.7 percent of GDP in 2085.
- The long-range financial imbalance of the HI trust fund could be addressed by immediately increasing the payroll tax by 24 percent or, by an immediate 17 percent cut in expenditures (by reducing benefits or cutting provider payments).
In addition, two of the Medicare Trustees testified about the need for legislative action to strengthen and preserve Medicare so that it can serve current recipients and future retirees.
Charles Blahous, Ph.D., Public Trustee for Social Security and Medicare: "The Medicare program faces real and substantial financial challenges. It will best serve the interest of the public if these financial changes are made at the earliest possible time."
Robert D. Reischauer, Ph.D., Public Trustee for Social Security and Medicare: "Further legislative changes have to be considered by the Congress. The sooner those are enacted the less disruption there will be for taxpayers, beneficiaries and for providers."