town hall

Recess Accountability: Townhalls

Conservative accountability goes beyond casting a vote. Building a society in which freedom, opportunity, prosperity, and the civil society flourish requires a sustained effort.  That is why we have compiled a non-exhaustive list of upcoming townhalls, all of which provide excellent opportunities to discuss important issues with members of Congress.

Make sure to visit the Heritage Action Dashboard and check with the local district offices prior to attending your local meeting.

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Congress Rushing to Create New Veterans’ Overload

As a veteran myself, I consider care for our nation’s heroes a top priority. The Department of Veterans’ Affairs has been in disarray for too long, leading to unconscionable standards of care, wait times, and mass inefficiency.

To try to fix this system, the House and Senate VA committees have released a conference report full of new provisions. The most troubling of these is a new program that will permit veterans facing a certain wait time to seek care outside of the VA program, at a private facility. Congress has proposed $10 billion to kick start this program, which will not be offset by any savings, but spent under an “emergency” designation.

I think we can all agree, in this state of our nation’s fiscal climate, this seems unwise, especially given previous assurances any new spending would be paid for.  What’s more, the dysfunction and red tape-laden bureaucracy that the media has reported on these last six months will remain intact, and in addition, Congress will call upon taxpayers to layer a new entitlement on top that looks like it could grow unchecked into the distant future.

A quick note on that $10 billion authorization.  It is held under an artificial cap that does nothing to actually limit the size, scope or real cost of this new program. Once the money dries up, Congress will face immense pressure to allocate more “emergency” funds to refill it, piling onto the deficit without any reforms to the underlying VA system.

The Congressional Budget Office has predicted that this entitlement provision sideshow will encourage other eligible vets, currently enrolled in other systems, to transition to VA coverage, expanding the pool of participants. This means that once again the system will have to bear the burden of overloads, putting the vets most in need of care at a disadvantage.

A functional, cost-effective VA health care system is crucial not just for the vets of this generation, but to tomorrow’s servicemen and women, as well. Any solution that is not sustainable in the long term leaves future veterans in the lurch. Rather than spend blindly to achieve a quick result, Congress must legislate from the premise that all generations of heroes are deserving of our gratitude, and will benefit from effective and responsible governing.

The reality of this massive expansion bill is far from patriotic or compassionate. The VA system is woefully inefficient and routinely challenged by backlogs, disorganization and a misallocation of resources. Rather than attempt to reform its weaknesses and target the federal aid, Congress is seeking to add to the heap of clutter with a costly new program that will expand the population dependent upon it and run up an unimaginable tab.

As former Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen has declared repeatedly, “the single biggest threat to our national security” is the national debt. Those who take up the great cause of defending the liberty and security of our homeland deserve the best from their leaders; this bill is a poor substitute, indeed.

 

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What They’re Saying: Export-Import Bank Supporters Undermine Obama’s Bank

The debate over the future of the Export-Import Bank can be difficult to follow, in part because proponents of the Bank are often in conflict with one another. Here are the latest examples:

Does Export-Import Bank provide cheap loans?

Tony Fratto, Hamilton Place Strategies: All of you that have been writing that Ex-Im makes cheap loans — they actually make expensive loans. (AEI Debate, July 24, 2014)

Former Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH): By allowing American companies, mostly very large ones, to finance the products they want to sell to a foreign company or government at a reduced rate, the Ex-Im Bank in fact represents an American commercial threat to foreign companies.  (The Hill, July 28, 2014)

Does the Export-Import Bank create job?

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Email Your Representative to Oppose the Rare Earth Mineral Bill (H.R. 1022)

Today, the House is scheduled to vote on the Securing Energy Critical Elements and American Jobs Act of 2013 (H.R. 1022), which is on the suspension calendar. Introduced by Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA), the bill — which did not go through the committee process — would “create a number of taxpayer-supported government programs to extract and recycle domestic rare earth minerals” to “address price volatility for rare earths.” While Congress may be justified in gathering information through basic research on energy-critical elements, subsidizing mining, production, or refinement of rare earth elements is not justifiable and would have adverse effects on markets in the future.

The approach in H.R. 1022 is misguided.  The Heritage Foundation explains rather than creating a new government program and subsidizing “technologies the private sector won’t invest in without a handout, the government should open access to the 13 states where rare earths lie and establish an efficient regulatory pathway that provides companies the certainty needed to extract REEs.”

Rather than create an expensive new government program, Congress should deregulate the market for rare earth elements and energy-critical elements.

Use POPVOX to easily and directly email your Representative and ask him or her to oppose the Rare Earth Mineral bill:

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Small Biz Owner on Ex-Im Bank: “For Smaller Companies, It’s Useless”

A recurring theme among Export-Import Bank supporters is that, at its heart, it’s all about small business.

One Tallahassee small business owner was completely candid about his negative experience with the Export-Import Bank, the Tallahassee Democrat reports.  Ron Conroy of Verdicorp is more than happy to see the bank’s authorization expire on Sept. 30.

Tallahassee-based Verdicorp, which makes heating and air conditioning systems, used the program once — to insure sales to a foreign buyer in case the purchaser defaulted. That didn’t happen.

Verdicorp owner Ron Conroy says he has no plans to use the bank again because he said bank officials are more interested in helping larger companies.

“If you send them aircraft, they’re very good. (But) anything less than $10 million, they don’t want to (deal with) you. They say they do but they don’t,” he said. “For the country, it’s worth having. But for smaller companies, it’s useless.”

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