News from Representative Rouzer

   

Dear Friends,

     Just the other week, I hosted a telephone townhall with more than 10,000 citizens of the 7th Congressional District on the call.  Below you will find a summary of the questions asked and concerns shared from folks across the district.  The questions and answers below are representative of the many who were not able to voice their question or concern that night, but submitted it to my office.  If you would like to sign up to be placed on our list for future telephone townhalls, please visit my website at rouzer.house.gov.

Bonnie from Wilmington expressed her frustration with the lack of support for the President, as well as her dissatisfaction with the Senate:

     President Donald Trump has done a great job creating a much more business friendly environment that will enable the economy to grow and create new jobs, strengthen our military and reassert American leadership on the global stage. 

     This year, the House of Representatives has passed more than 460 bills – including a bill to repeal and replace as much of Obamacare as possible under arcane budget rules of the U.S. Senate.  Of those, more than 100 bills have passed both the House and the Senate with 92 of them becoming law.

     It is important to point out that our federal government was designed by the Founding Fathers to protect the voice of the minority.  Ours is not a parliamentary system where a simple majority rules and power is concentrated.  Our Founding Fathers suffered under the English parliamentary system (majority rule), which is why our republic has three equal branches each designed to keep the other in check.  Even within the legislative branch, significant checks and balances are in place making it difficult to pass any bill.  

     The House operates very differently than the Senate creating a significant amount of friction.  This is all by design of our Founders.  It’s also why the President must sign a bill in order for it to become law.  Our system is designed to force consensus, and if that cannot be achieved, it is designed to force compromise.  If neither can be achieved, it is designed that nothing happen.  This is why a Republican majority in the House and a Republican majority in the Senate does not always get its way.      

     It is in the Senate where this is the most self-evident.  It only takes one senator to object to a bill in order to hold it up.  To get around this hurdle, 60 senators must vote to end debate on a bill, with only two exceptions that require only 51 votes instead: a budget reconciliation bill, dealing with revenues to the Treasury, and what’s called a Congressional Review Act, which deals specifically with the repeal of rules and regulations that have been implemented within a specified time frame.  

     Budget Reconciliation was used to try to move health care reform early in the year and a separate budget reconciliation bill is currently being used to move tax reform legislation.  The healthcare reform effort failed in the Senate by one vote, and as of the writing of this newsletter, tax reform is being negotiated in Conference Committee and a final bill is expected to be before both chambers for a final vote next week.  It is my hope that this tax package will be on the President’s desk to be signed into law before Christmas – the first sweeping change in tax law in more than 30 years.

Greg from Supply wanted to know how the deficit would be impacted by the tax reform package:

     It is my opinion that revenues to the Treasury will increase dramatically because of the pro-growth tax provisions included in the tax cut and reform package.  The more the dollar churns in the economy, the more jobs are created which means more people are paying taxes.  Those already in the job market will see better wage growth, which further adds to revenue to the Treasury. 

     The Congressional Budget Office scores all legislation assuming no growth to very little growth in the economy.  To put it another way, if Congress passed and the President signed into law a tax rate of 75% across the board for every working individual, the CBO would show the federal government bringing in a significant amount of revenue.  We all know that such a tax increase would sink the economy – not help it.  We also know that under such scenario the revenue to the Treasury would actually decline.  Yet, CBO would score it as a major windfall for the Treasury producing surpluses forever more.  The CBO is about as reliable as a GPS unit that gets you to your destination 20 percent of the time.  History proves that it is hardly ever accurate.

     In spite of CBOs consistent inaccuracies, Congress is bound by how it scores legislation – especially on a Budget Reconciliation Bill.  As such, Congress wrote the 2018 Budget Resolution in such a way that $1.5 trillion could be spent in order to enact meaningful tax cuts and reform.  That does not mean that it will actually result in a $1.5 trillion drop in revenue as a result of enactment of the tax cut and reform package; it just means that Congress can pass such a bill and still stay within the rules of Budget Reconciliation allowing for a 51 vote majority in the Senate rather than a 60 vote supermajority.  Another way to look at the $1.5 trillion figure and CBO projection: it is the worst-case forecast assuming no growth to very little growth in the economy.  The practical implication for legislative purposes is that any tax cut and reform package that scores at $1.5 trillion or less can be passed in the Senate with a simple majority of 51 votes.

Pearl from Pikeville asked how our tax reform package would impact those filing as singles:

     Under the tax cut and reforms being proposed, the standard deduction would roughly double so that everyone regardless of income level will benefit, but particularly those who are lower and middle income individuals and families.  For those filing their taxes as singles, the standard deduction would be increased to no less than $12,000 and no less than $24,000 for married couples, each adjusted for inflation moving forward.

Deborah from Four Oaks asked how our tax reform package would affect small farm families:

     North Carolina is blessed to be one of the most agriculturally diverse states in the country.  Unfortunately, North Carolina farm families have been facing many challenges during the past half-decade.  According to the USDA, farm income has fallen by 50% during the past 6 years.

     The tax cut and reform package helps farm families of all sizes by lowering personal income taxes; allowing for 100% expensing of farm equipment and other investments in each of the first five years; and would put in place a new, lower tax rate for pass-through income, such as S-corps, LLCs and partnerships.  (The details of the latter are still being worked out.  The whole purpose is to ensure that pass-through entities, which most family farms and small businesses are, pay a much lower rate than the very high marginal income tax rate that they do today.)   

     The 100% expensing provision would be a huge boost for farmers and small businesses.  This will dramatically drive up investments that will help spur jobs and increase economic activity.  As an example, if a farmer bought a new tractor, combine or any other piece of equipment, they would be able to deduct 100% of that cost from their taxes in each year of such purchase up through 2022.  

     Finally, the House version repeals the estate tax permanently.  The Senate version significantly increases the exemption.  Either one of those provisions is a major improvement over current law that would benefit farm families and small businesses significantly.  Death should not be a taxable event.  It is essentially government theft to take a farm or other business property from a family after the death of a loved one. 

Larry in Clinton asked how our tax plan would affect wages in the long term:

     The main focus of our tax reform package is growing the economy, wages and paychecks.  In order to do so, we must make America as attractive as possible for capital investment and growth.  Our country has one of the highest corporate tax rates in the industrialized world.  As a result, our current tax code has forced many American jobs overseas.  Under our tax plan, the corporate rate will be lowered to at least 21 percent down from 35 percent.  (Conference negotiations at the moment suggest that a 21 percent rate will be in the final package.)  

     A lower corporate tax rate will result in increased investment that will be plowed into further research and development as well as put toward increasing wages.  The more money that churns in the economy generating wealth, the more the economy expands resulting in more jobs and higher wages. 

Larry in Wilmington asked my position on the individual mandate:

     I am in full support of repealing the individual mandate to purchase health insurance currently required under the Affordable Care Act, often referred to as Obamacare.  Americans should not be forced to buy any product in the marketplace.  The House voted to pass the American Health Care Act in May of this year, which would have repealed the individual mandate.  The Senate was not able to garner the votes necessary to pass the American Health Care Act so that effort died.  The repeal of the individual mandate is included in the Senate’s tax reform proposal, and I expect that it will be in the final tax package.

Linda from Tabor City wanted to know how tax reform would impact Medicare recipients:

     You may have seen commercials on television warning you of Medicare cuts in the tax bill.  There will be no cuts to Medicare.  Those trying to scare seniors are pointing to an obscure rule known as “pay-go” that requires mandatory spending (also known as entitlement spending) to be cut by an amount equal to any tax cut.  This requirement has been waived 16 times and will be again.  

Christine from Whiteville had damage as a result of Hurricane Matthew and asked where to get assistance:

     Hurricane Matthew was one of the worst hurricanes our state endured since Hurricane Floyd in 1999.  Unfortunately, a large portion of Southeastern North Carolina was impacted by the devastation as a result of Matthew – many of whom are still struggling to fully recover.  Approximately half a billion dollars has been appropriated for Hurricane Matthew relief.  If you or someone you know needs assistance as a result of Hurricane Matthew, please call my Four Oaks office at (919) 938-3040.

Donald from Supply asked about the Veterans Choice program – specifically seeking guidance on how to expedite his claim:

     Our veterans have risked it all to protect our country.  It is the job of Congress and the executive branch (the White House, Department of Defense & the Veterans Administration in particular) to ensure that our veterans have access to the best care possible.  That’s why I introduced a bill to revise the Veterans Choice Program and bring it into the 21st century by digitizing the claims submittal system to expedite the amount of time it takes for veterans to receive care and ensure more timely payment to outside providers.  This bill is currently being considered by the Committee on Veterans Affairs.

     If you or a veteran you know is having difficulties dealing with the VA, getting education, compensation or health benefits, obtaining copies of military records, or anything else related to the VA or Department of Defense, please contact my New Hanover County office at 910-395-0202.

Gary from Boiling Springs Lake wanted to get an update as to what is being done to improve our infrastructure system and why money has been taken from the NC Highway Trust Fund:

     Our ports, beaches, inlets, waterways, highways, and bridges are critical to facilitating commerce and recreational activity so important to our coastal communities and the state.  Fulfilling and strengthening our infrastructure needs are vital to Southeastern North Carolina.  As a member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, I am heavily involved in these efforts.

     Early in the new year, the President and his administration will be proposing a infrastructure package and working closely with those of us in Congress to pass legislation aimed at reducing the regulatory and permitting burden, developing new revenue streams to pay for projects nationwide and addressing the country’s infrastructure backlog. 

     The money transferred from the NC Highway Trust Fund to fund other general government needs is a state issue – not a federal one.  It is true that for years dating back to the 1990s, and perhaps even before, the state legislature would raid the NC Highway Trust Fund to fund other government services and projects.  Several years ago, that practice was discontinued and the legislature, to its credit, has been transferring General Fund dollars back to the Trust Fund to buttress that account and begin returning some of those dollars taken from it during previous years.   

Mary from Winnebow wanted to know my thoughts on combatting the opioid crises in Southeastern North Carolina:

     Opioid abuse has become a growing problem for Southeastern North Carolina and a significant challenge for our law enforcement officers, local health departments and communities.  Unfortunately, no community is immune to this epidemic.  Thankfully, we have many good people and organizations in our region who are doing great things to raise awareness about addiction and come together in an effort to bring about effective solutions to combat this crisis.  

     In the previous Congress, the House passed the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act which included 18 House bills to address the threat, ensure our current drug laws are strengthened and provide law enforcement with additional resources.  Fourteen of those bills made it into the final package and have become law.  Additionally, we passed the 21st Century Cures Act, which included $970 million for opioid prevention and treatment programs – funding to be distributed across the country over a two-year period.  That bill has became law.

     Just this year, we passed the INTERDICT Act to provide the U.S. Customs Border Patrol Agency with increased resources and screening devises to interdict Fentanyl and other dangerous drugs to prevent them from entering our borders and further spreading into our communities.  

     As the representative for the 7th Congressional District in our nation’s capital, I host regular meetings with local law enforcement, health care professionals, treatment experts, those in the faith-based community as well as others to gain a better understanding of what is working in our communities, where we have shortfalls, and work to bring the brightest minds together to better help address this epidemic.   

     While there is no silver bullet or easy answers to solving this crisis, I will continue working at the federal level to help our local leaders, law enforcement, and health care providers to better combat this crisis.



Sincerely,

To subscribe to receive future enewsletter updates, please click here
To unsubscribe, please click here.

Unsubscribe | Privacy Policy

[$$$Survey.2100160$$$]