In recent years, the committee has built a strong record of success. Together, we reformed K-12 education, repaired a broken workforce development system, improved vital services for older Americans and working families with young children, provided a long-term solution on student loan interest rates, helped protect the most vulnerable victims of the opioid epidemic, and much more.
We also worked diligently to hold the federal government accountable for how it spends taxpayer dollars and for the rules and regulations it imposes on the American people. In fact, during the last eight years, many of us have raised repeated concerns with misguided regulatory schemes that affect practically every aspect of American life.
We have confronted new rules that limit opportunities for lower-skilled workers to climb the economic ladder, restrict access to affordable retirement advice, micromanage the decisions of state and local education leaders, and empower union leaders at the expense of workers and employers.
The consequences of this extreme and partisan regulatory agenda is an economy stuck in neutral, where job growth is sluggish, wages are largely flat, college costs continue to rise, and health care costs continue to soar. The American people deserve better, and they demanded better last November.
Working with the new administration, we will roll back the regulatory onslaught that has been crushing families and small businesses. We will do everything we can to undo the damage that has been done. We will also work to advance positive legislative solutions as we tackle some of our nation’s toughest challenges.
For example, we will take steps to strengthen career and technical education. CTE has helped countless students gain the knowledge and skills they need to compete in the workforce. We came close last year to enacting reforms that would provide states more flexibility, reduce administrative burdens, improve accountability, and better ensure students are prepared for in-demand jobs. It is my hope we will finish this important work in the coming months.
We also intend to take early action to help vulnerable youth get on the pathway to success by improving the juvenile justice system. Furthermore, we will continue our efforts to make higher education more accessible and affordable, deliver a patient-centered health care system that provides better access to affordable coverage, and help more Americans retire with financial security and peace of mind.
These and other important priorities will expand opportunities for students to learn and for Americans to climb the economic ladder. Indeed, expanding opportunity for all Americans will be at the center of everything we do in the weeks and months ahead. A new Congress and new administration mark a new beginning for this great country. We face an historic opportunity. It’s time to roll up our sleeves and to seize this opportunity.
Before yielding to the Ranking Member for his opening remarks, I would like to introduce to the committee our new Republican members:
• Representative Jason Lewis of Minnesota;
• Representative Francis Rooney of Florida;
• Representative Paul Mitchell of Michigan;
• Representative Tom Garrett of Virginia;
• Representative Lloyd Smucker of Pennsylvania; and finally,
• Representative Drew Ferguson of Georgia.
Again, welcome to our new colleagues. We are delighted to have you with us and look forward to working with you in the 115th Congress.
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Doing Nothing on Obamacare Is Not an Option
By Reps. Tim Walberg, Mike Bishop, Paul Mitchell, and Dave Trott
In 2010, Nancy Pelosi famously said of Obamacare, “We have to pass the bill so you can find out what is in it.” Seven years later, we now know what’s in it: rising costs, fewer options and, for many, more uncertainty than ever before.
With a GOP majority in both chambers of Congress and a Republican president-elect, America stands at a crossroad. We can fix the problem, or we can maintain the status quo as the system collapses.
We have seen how the Affordable Care Act has driven up the cost of health care plans across the nation.
In 2014 alone, 8 million Americans paid the individual mandate tax penalty rather than purchase insurance. President Barack Obama’s promise that premiums would decline by $2,500 per family was woefully and willfully incorrect, as average premiums have risen. The average family’s employer-sponsored health care plan now costs more than $18,000 a year.
In Michigan, premiums for individuals are expected to climb nearly 17% in 2017. Last year, we saw deductibles rise an average of $492 across all plans on the exchange. And doing nothing will only make it worse. American families literally cannot afford for us to stand idly by.
In fact, eight in 10 Americans now favor changing Obamacare significantly or replacing it altogether.
In direct correlation to the rising health care costs, patient choice and access to care has declined — a blatant contradiction of Obama’s promise that “if you like your health care plan, you can keep it.” That’s because the very design of Obamacare has achieved the opposite result.
Many insurance providers have either raised rates on all customers or are dropping out of the exchanges altogether, forcing many Americans to change their plans. Other insurers have been forced to narrow their networks because of mounting regulations that limit the number of doctors and hospitals covered by a given plan. So now, not only are our choices limited, but fewer options exist altogether.
Because of Obamacare’s size, scope and failed design, replacing it will need to be a several-step process with a stable transition period. Through this process there will be tireless efforts to mislead and instill fear, but the system is broken and we must address it.
We will not return to the pre-Obamacare status quo, but we will increase choice and decrease costs. Patients and doctors will be in charge of their health care, not the federal government. There is a better way to address health care in our nation, and it’s going to take ideas and support from both parties to fix it. Every representative has constituents who have been adversely affected by this law; doing nothing is not an option.
This is about making health care work for everyone.
U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg, a Republican from Tipton, represents Michigan’s 7th District. U.S. Rep. Mike Bishop, a Republican from Rochester, represents Michigan’s 8th District. U.S. Rep. Paul Mitchell, a Republican from Dryden, represents Michigan’s 10th District. U.S. Rep. Dave Trott, a Republican from Birmingham, represents Michigan’s 11th District.
Read the op-ed online here.
Report: 300,000 Small Business Jobs Lost Due to Obamacare
By Elizabeth Harrington
Obamacare has cost roughly 300,000 small business jobs due to higher health care costs, according to a new report.
The American Action Forum, a center-right policy institute, released findings Wednesday that rising premiums and regulations under the Affordable Care Act have had “dire” consequences for the labor market.
The report found the law has cost $19 billion in lost wages per year and forced 10,000 small businesses establishments to close their doors. The study covered employers with 20 to 99 employees.
“Research from the American Action Forum (AAF) finds regulations from the Affordable Care Act (ACA) are driving up health care premiums and are costing small business employees at least $19 billion in lost wages annually,” the report said. “These figures varied by state, but in 2015 the ACA cost year-round workers $2,095, $2,134, and $2,260 in Ohio, New York, and North Dakota, respectively.”
“Premium increases, a prospect regulators predicted when issuing the first ACA regulations, also significantly diminished the number of business establishments and jobs nationwide,” the report said. “Across the country, small businesses (20-99 workers) lost 295,030 jobs, 10,130 business establishments, and $4.7 billion in total wage earnings. Florida lost 17,950 jobs; Ohio lost 19,000; Pennsylvania lost 15,680; and Texas lost 28,010 jobs due to higher sensitivity to rising health care premiums and the ACA.”
Ben Gitis and Sam Batkins, the authors of the report, used data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics for their findings.
The report used different data sets for small businesses with less than 50 employees, which were exempt from the law’s employer mandate. However, this group also suffered job losses and lower wages after Obamacare went into effect. The paper compared data from up to six years before the law was passed to show a clearer picture of Obamacare’s impact on small business.
Before Obamacare became law, workers still saw an increase in their average weekly pay when health insurance premiums went up.
“After the ACA became law, however, a one percent increase in total premiums was associated with a 0.012 percent decrease in average weekly pay,” the report said.
The numbers add up to roughly $3.9 billion in lost wages for small businesses with between 20 and 49 workers, which account for 20 million workers in the United States. The average worker for those businesses has lost $1,202 in annual pay.
Aside from wage losses and job cuts, Obamacare has cost the economy $51 billion and added 172 million hours of paperwork through regulations, the American Action Forum said.
“To put that in perspective, it would take more than 86,200 employees working full-time (2,000 hours annually) to complete a year of new ACA paperwork, roughly the population of Miami Beach, Fla.,” the report said.
The incoming Donald Trump administration has vowed to repeal and replace Obamacare, and congressional Republicans have already begun the process to repeal the health care law through the budget reconciliation process.
“There are many reasons policymakers have called for significant amendments to the ACA,” the American Action Forum said. “Higher premiums are typically cited as a top concern. However, these higher premiums have broader consequences for the labor market. As AAF’s research has shown, ACA regulations have contributed to at least $19 billion in lost wages, 10,000 fewer establishments, and nearly 300,000 lost jobs.
To read the article online, click here.
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Today, we take the next step in the process of providing the American people a better way on health care.
We’ve all heard from constituents and families struggling to get by as they suffer the consequences of the fatally-flawed health care law.
In my home state of North Carolina, the average Obamacare premium has increased by a staggering 40 percent.
Terry from Advance, North Carolina, is a 70-year old retiree. But now he’s working part-time just to help pay his wife’s health care premiums, which jumped from $300 a month to more than $887 a month.
On top of higher premiums, deductibles have skyrocketed too. Patricia from Kernersville now has a whopping $6,550 deductible, and her premiums increased by 80 percent this year. Like so many Americans, Patricia is paying more for less coverage.
And despite being promised, “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it,” millions of Americans have been kicked off their plans.
Scott from Hickory has had his health insurance canceled three times now—disrupting his continuity of care.
We’ve also heard from countless small business owners who can no longer afford coverage for their employees because of limited resources and soaring costs.
Facing similar challenges, school leaders and college administrators have spoken out about how Obamacare is exacerbating tight budgets — hurting teachers, faculty members, and ultimately, the students they serve.
The current situation is not sustainable. So, Republicans are here on a rescue mission by providing the American people relief. It’s time to repeal President Obama’s government takeover of health care. It’s time to advance patient-centered reforms that lower costs, provide more choices, and put working families — not government bureaucrats — in control of their health care.
I urge my colleagues to support this budget resolution, because it will move us one step closer to the patient-centered health care the American people desperately want and need need.Read More
Time for New Leadership and a New Direction at the Labor Department
By Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), incoming-chair of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce
In the new year, a new secretary will take the helm of the Department of Labor. Working families and small business owners face tough challenges, and they desperately need a labor secretary who will put their interests — not special interests — first. Andy Puzder is just the man for the job.
Puzder has real-world experience creating jobs, and he knows that American workers and business owners both need to thrive. He will provide a sharp break from the failed policies of the last eight years.
Time and again, the Department of Labor under President Obama has pushed extreme and partisan rules that will do a lot of harm and little good. Under the guise of helping working families, the heavy-handed regulations of Secretary Perez will actually hurt working families.
Take the department's fundamentally flawed overtime rule. The central planners at the department claim the rule will provide workers a pay raise, when in reality it will raise costs on small businesses, destroy jobs, decrease real income for families, and make it harder for low-wage workers to climb the ladder of opportunity.
The Obama administration likes to talk about "fairness," but it is not fair to impose a rule that creates this much havoc across the country. There is also nothing fair about a regulatory scheme that restricts access to affordable retirement advice for low- and middle-income families, or rules that stack the deck in favor of union bosses at the expense of working Americans.
It's because of misguided policies like these that we have experienced the slowest economic recovery since the Great Depression. That's why wages have been largely stagnant and why there are fewer manufacturing jobs today than when President Obama took office.
For years, bureaucrats who have never owned a business have micromanaged the business decisions of employers, and the consequences speak for themselves. Fortunately, Puzder will bring the change workers and employers desperately need.
Under his strong leadership, CKE Restaurants has thrived and grown to more than 3,700 restaurants worldwide. CKE restaurants and franchises in the United States employ more than 75,000 men and women. Puzder will bring a fresh perspective and practical experience to help solve America's economic challenges.
He will make sure that creating jobs for hardworking Americans comes first. He will work to eliminate unnecessary government regulations that suppress growth and wages, and he will help restore balance to federal labor policies. He will also take a responsible approach to federal overtime policies to ensure they do not harm hard-working Americans trying to advance in the workforce.
With Puzder leading the Department of Labor, Americans who feel left behind will have a strong ally who will fight for them. Through hard work and determination, Puzder has achieved the American Dream, and he wants all Americans to be able to turn their dreams into reality too.
There is no shortage of challenges to tackle in the coming months, but we have an historic opportunity to advance bold, conservative reforms that will help begin a new era of prosperity for our country.
As the next chair of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, I look forward to working with Andy Puzder and our new president, Donald Trump. Together, we will turn back the failed policies of the last eight years, send a message to the world that America is open for business, and help more families achieve a lifetime of opportunity and success.
House Republicans are working to provide Americans a Better Way when it comes to health care, recently putting forward a plan to deliver every American meaningful, patient-centered reforms. The White House, on the other hand, continues to tout the president’s unworkable health care law despite its harmful consequences for working families and younger Americans—consequences that just keep mounting. The latest disappointing news is health care premiums will increase sharply next year, rising an average of 25 percent in federal health care exchanges, and many individuals will have just one insurance provider to choose from. Bad news no matter how you look at it, but in a new editorial, the Wall Street Journal explains that the “headline number understates the extent of the trouble.” As we’ve said repeatedly, it’s time for a Better Way.
Another ObamaCare Shock
By Editorial Board
President Obama took a health-care victory lap last week in Miami, celebrating “all the progress that we’ve made in controlling costs” and portraying the law’s critics as “false and politically motivated.” Does that apply to the actuaries at the Health and Human Services Department too? On Monday they reported that ObamaCare premiums will soar 25% on average next year, and this is “progress” all right, in the wrong direction.
That headline number understates the extent of the trouble. Liberals used to dismiss insurance premium shock by saying that the subsidies will offset any increase and, anyhow, beneficiaries can shop around for a cheaper plan. But the 25% figure refers to the rate spike for the second-cheapest “silver” plan on each exchange from state to state, which is a key benchmark in the subsidy formula. In other words, these are the mid-level insurance plans that are performing the best, not the average increase of all ObamaCare coverage.
HHS also disclosed the premium jumps for a 27-year-old buying the second-cheapest silver plan in individual states. Our condolences for such young people in Arizona, where their premiums will climb by 116%. Likewise for Oklahoma (69%), Tennessee (63%) and Minnesota (59%).
In a normal election year, the presidential candidates might debate solutions, but, well, you know. For the time being, perhaps Mr. Obama could show a little more intellectual humility when confronted with evidence of his own failures. But, well, you know.
To read the editorial online, click here.
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In fact, Congress considered similar reforms during debate of the legislation that focused on a separate provision, comparability. Instead, Congress specifically chose not to touch that provision and flat out rejected adopting a policy like the one the department is now trying to impose.
The department insists their “supplement, not supplant” proposal is not related to comparability, but even the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service has explained how this proposal is essentially an indirect way to amend the comparability provision. In short, this regulatory scheme is an attempt to accomplish something Congress specifically chose not to do. And anyone who was involved in passing the Every Student Succeeds Act knows that—whether they are willing to say so or not.
Still, even if the department were confused about the intent of the law, nothing excuses the fact that what it is proposing is simply unlawful. Again—as you can see in this language taken directly from the law—the Every Student Succeeds Act specifically prohibits the secretary from “prescribing the specific methodology a local education agency uses to allocate state and local funds to each school receiving assistance.” The department claims that is not what they’re doing, but with its limited list of options, it’s clear that is exactly what is happening. That’s why we have called on the department to throw this punitive policy out and to implement the law as it was written and intended.
For too long, our schools were forced to contend with a failed, top-down approach to education. That all changed with the Every Student Succeeds Act, but it seems the department hasn’t learned its lesson and is intent on undermining those important, bipartisan reforms. We will do everything in our power to ensure that doesn’t happen.
This hearing is part of our efforts to protect students, families, and taxpayers from this unprecedented and unlawful regulatory scheme—and just as importantly, to help every child receive an excellent education. The best chance we have to accomplish that critical goal is to ensure the Every Student Succeeds Act is implemented according to the letter and intent of the law.
I look forward to hearing from our witnesses today and how they see this proposal impacting their local communities and schools across the country.
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