“The American people should know why the IRS spent millions of taxpayer dollars to hire the same company responsible for the botched Healthcare.gov rollout. From an agency clamoring for more funding, this isn’t a confidence-inspiring use of resources.”The full text of the letter follows below and can be viewed here.
Thank you for your assistance in this matter. If you have any questions, please contact Oversight Subcommittee staff at 202-225-5522.
Peter J. Roskam
Subcommittee on Oversight
"President Obama showed a glimmer of bipartisanship last night with his support for growing the economy and promoting job creation through trade agreements and Trade Promotion Authority (TPA). Trade agreements are proven job creators, and the best way to ensure an open, transparent negotiating process where congressional requirements are met is by passing TPA legislation. Republicans in Congress have worked hard to make the case, but the President must take on the special interests in his own party and build support among his members. I hope he will follow through and make it a priority in the coming weeks."
“The President said he wants to work with Congress, and I want to take him up on that offer. But to make real progress, we have to focus on finding common ground—not issues that only divide us.
“I was glad to hear the President ask Congress to pass trade-promotion authority. We simply can’t get the best trade agreements for the American people without it. Now the President needs to follow through. He needs to convince his party to vote for TPA—and soon.
“At the same time, I found the President’s tax proposals to be misguided. A $320 billion tax hike is the last thing we need. What we really need is to make our tax code simpler, flatter, and fairer, so we can create more jobs.
“The American people deserve real solutions. House Republicans are going to do all we can to build a healthy economy for working families. There’s a lot we can accomplish in the next two years, and we’re ready to work with the President to find common ground.”
House Committee on Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) today announced that the Committee on Ways and Means will hold a hearing on the U.S. trade policy agenda with U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman. The hearing will take place Tuesday, January 27, 2015, at 2:00 PM in HVC 210.
Oral testimony at this hearing will be from the invited witness only. However, any individual or organization may submit a written statement for consideration by the Committee and for inclusion in the printed record of the hearing.
Details for Submission of Written Comments:
Please Note: Any person(s) and/or organization(s) wishing to submit written comments for the hearing record must follow the appropriate link on the hearing page of the Committee website and complete the informational forms. From the Committee homepage, http://waysandmeans.house.gov, select “Hearings.” Select the hearing for which you would like to make a submission, and click on the link entitled, “Click here to provide a submission for the record.” Once you have followed the online instructions, submit all requested information. ATTACH your submission as a Word document, in compliance with the formatting requirements listed below, by the close of business on Tuesday, February 10, 2015. For questions, or if you encounter technical problems, please call (202) 225-3625 or (202) 225-2610.
The Committee relies on electronic submissions for printing the official hearing record. As always, submissions will be included in the record according to the discretion of the Committee. The Committee will not alter the content of your submission, but we reserve the right to format it according to our guidelines. Any submission provided to the Committee by a witness, any materials submitted for the printed record, and any written comments in response to a request for written comments must conform to the guidelines listed below. Any submission not in compliance with these guidelines will not be printed, but will be maintained in the Committee files for review and use by the Committee.
1. All submissions and supplementary materials must be submitted in a single document via email, provided in Word format and must not exceed a total of 10 pages. Witnesses and submitters are advised that the Committee relies on electronic submissions for printing the official hearing record.
2. All submissions must include a list of all clients, persons and/or organizations on whose behalf the witness appears. The name, company, address, telephone, and fax numbers of each witness must be included in the body of the email. Please exclude any personal identifiable information in the attached submission.
3. Failure to follow the formatting requirements may result in the exclusion of a submission. All submissions for the record are final.
The Committee seeks to make its facilities accessible to persons with disabilities. If you are in need of special accommodations, please call 202-225-1721 or 202-226-3411 TTD/TTY in advance of the event (four business days notice is requested). Questions with regard to special accommodation needs in general (including availability of Committee materials in alternative formats) may be directed to the Committee as noted above.
Note: All Committee advisories and news releases are available at http://www.waysandmeans.house.gov/.
Congress last year unanimously closed a loophole that allowed surviving Nazi war criminals to claim Social Security benefits, but that’s where the entitlement reform consensus ends. Now the political left is melting down over a modest budget change that could require Congress to be honest about the Social Security disability program’s fiscal problems and employment distortions.
Republicans are “inventing a Social Security crisis that will threaten benefits for millions and put our most vulnerable at risk,” wrote Senator Elizabeth Warren, in one of her subtler commentaries. AARP and other left-leaning groups are also war-whooping that a procedural rule the House adopted last week will mean about a 19% cut in disability-insurance benefits.
If only. Social Security payroll taxes finance traditional income transfers for the elderly and disability payments, and an ever-larger share is going to the latter for what amounts to promoting middle-age retirement. What used to be last-resort insurance has come to apply to ailments like back pain or anxiety. More and more workers are leaving the labor force permanently and substituting disability for wages.
In 1990 about one of every 10 Social Security dollars flowed to disability. Now it’s nearly one of five. The disability rolls doubled between 1990 and 2008, and then they spiked 21% in the Obama era to 10.2 million Americans and their dependents. Only about one-third of this growth can be explained by the underlying health, size and demographic composition of the working-age population.
Payments have exploded 32% since 2008 to $140.1 billion. And every year since 2009 disability payments have exceeded the revenues dedicated to disability by a portion of the Social Security payroll tax. The nearby chart tracks the decline in the so-called trust fund that is scheduled to run dry in 2016.
Like the separate trust fund for seniors, this does not mean that some pool of money in the Treasury is running down. All current Social Security payments are financed by current payroll taxes. Trust funds are an accounting fiction that Congress invented to give the appearance that payroll taxes are being saved and invested.
The new Congress is focused on helping create jobs and giving Americans greater economic opportunity. And America’s trade agenda is critical to this effort.
Expanding export markets for American businesses means more productivity and more good American jobs.
Right now, the United States is negotiating several important trade agreements that will open markets to our goods and services. But before we can complete them, Congress must pass what is called Trade Promotion Authority—or TPA.
TPA gives the U.S. the strongest hand possible when negotiating with our trading partners, showing them that we are serious and that they must put their best offers on the table.
It also strengthens the role of Congress in setting trade policy.
Trade Promotion Authority empowers Congress to set America’s negotiating priorities. It directs the administration by giving it instructions for negotiating with other countries. Under TPA, Congress calls the shots.
Indeed, the first thing that TPA legislation does is establish the U.S.’s negotiating objectives: like protecting intellectual-property rights, breaking down non-tariff barriers, or establishing rules for agricultural trade. These negotiating objectives—more than 100 in total—ensure that the administration does not veer from the congressional priorities that will help put Americans in good jobs.
The second thing TPA does is keep Congress—and the public—fully informed during the negotiations process. TPA requires the administration to consult with members of Congress—any member has the right to a briefing at any time—and puts in place transparency measures so there are no surprises along the way.
Finally, TPA makes clear that it is Congress and only Congress that can approve trade agreements with other countries. It allows for an up-or-down vote on implementing legislation, giving a stronger hand to our negotiators. But at the same time, it provides an off ramp—an opportunity to strip TPA procedures and follow regular order—if the administration fails to meet the objectives or fails to consult with Congress as prescribed by TPA.
TPA is the essential first step for expanding American exports and helping create new jobs, and one House Republicans are ready to take now.
“Today’s arrests in Puerto Rico are yet further proof that the disability program is plagued by widespread fraud. While it is critical that those who committed fraud are held accountable, the bottom line is that success is not discovering massive fraud schemes— success is preventing fraud in the first place. That is the only way hardworking taxpayers’ dollars can be protected.
"As chairman, I’ve already asked Inspector General O’Carroll for a top-to-bottom review of the disability program. I’ve also asked Acting Commissioner Colvin for her plan to do better when it comes to preventing fraud. With the disability program going insolvent in 2016, it is more important than ever to stop fraud that is costing the program precious taxpayer dollars and undermining public confidence in the program.
"As chairman I will continue to work with my colleagues to keep the disability program strong for those who truly need it and the recently passed House Social Security rule is a step in the right direction.”
Among the new revelations brought to light today, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) of the Social Security Administration (SSA) revealed:
The overall fraud loss from this scheme is now estimated to be over $100 million. They expect this investigation will result in a projected lifetime savings to Social Security and taxpayers of more than $160 million.
This investigation dates back to November 2009, when the SSA forwarded an allegation to its OIG involving suspicious Disability Insurance benefit claims filed in Puerto Rico that involved nearly identical medical documentation.
In August 2013, 74 people, including four medical professionals and a non-attorney claimant representative, were indicted and arrested for their involvement in this disability fraud scheme.
As of today, 39 of these defendants have been sentenced, receiving probation terms of one to three years, and, in some cases, 30 days in prison. All those sentenced or issued pre-trial diversion agreements will make full restitution to the SSA. Court-ordered restitution for these defendants totals $1,169,034.
Today, the U.S. attorney’s office in Puerto Rico announced the indictments of an additional 40 people, including a psychiatrist, for their alleged involvement in this conspiracy. As of this morning, 39 of 40 defendants have been apprehended. These indictments and arrests are a result of continued work by the SSA OIG, the Federal Bureau of Investigations, and the Puerto Rico Police Department as part of the overall investigation.
WASHINGTON — Today, Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) delivered the following opening statement at the first Committee proceedings of the 114th Congress, "Moving America Forward." The meeting is focused on the state of the U.S. economy and policies that can promote job creation and economic growth.
"Let me start by introducing our panel: Dr. Holtz-Eakin is president of the American Action Forum and former director of CBO. Professor Feldstein is former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Reagan. And Professor Johnson is a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. I want to thank you all for sharing your time with us, and we look forward to hearing your testimony.
"Now, we wanted to hold this hearing because—the way I see it—our mission this year is to move America forward. And this committee is going to be command central. We’re going to lead the charge on some of the biggest issues facing our economy: tax reform, trade agreements, health care. And our thinking was, let’s get a lay of the land. Before we can set things right with the economy, we’ve got to understand what’s going wrong with the economy.
"So how are we doing? Well, we just got some good news. Jobs are up. But this bit of news looks good only because the rest of the news has been so bad for so long. There’s no getting around the fact that this is the worst economic recovery since the Great Depression. If our economy had grown at the pace of the average post-war recovery, GDP would be about $5,700 more per-person.
"Paychecks haven’t budged. And more people have given up looking for work. In fact, there have never been more people out of the labor force than there are today: over 92 million people. As one person in a recent focus group told NBC News, 'If you want to make $9 an hour, you can go get a job, but if you want to make a wage that can support your family, good luck.'
"In other words, this latest jobs report is simply the nicest car in the junkyard.
"This administration’s policies have pushed people off the field. What we need to do is take people off the sidelines. Get them back into the economy—working, learning, building, creating—and we’ll expand opportunity for all Americans.
"And that’s the second reason for this hearing: We want to start laying out solutions. This committee has already done a lot of work on that front. And this year, we’re going to build on those gains. The fact is, we know what it will take to turn things around. We just need to put those ideas to work.
"For instance, it’s very clear our tax code is broken. We have the highest corporate tax rate in the industrialized world. We’re one of the few countries that taxes companies when they bring money back home. And the tax code is so complex that Americans spend over 6 billion hours a year just filing their returns.
"There’s no good reason for any of this. We need to make the tax code simpler, fairer, and flatter, so more people can invest and create jobs right here in America. We also have a good opportunity to expand markets for American exports. We’re negotiating several big trade agreements right now.
"And the first thing we have to do is pass Trade Promotion Authority. TPA would empower Congress to set our negotiating objectives and hold the administration accountable. TPA would also help us get the best deal from our trading partners.
"As we all know, 96 percent of the world’s consumers—they don't live here. They live in other countries. And U.S. manufacturers have a more than $50 billion surplus with trade-agreement countries. In contrast, the U.S. trade deficit in manufacturing goods with the rest of the world was more than $500 billion.
"And I believe Americans can compete with any country; we just need to give them a chance. Break down these barriers, and American trade—along with American jobs—will take off.
"We also need to repeal and replace Obamacare with patient-centered reforms. It may take a new president to fully repeal the law. This is something we've litigated a lot on this committee, and I know people feel differently. But this is how we feel. We can start to dismantle it piece by piece. We’ve already passed three bills to do just that. The point is, take power away from bureaucrats and give it back to patients. That’s how we can make health care more affordable.
"We have to get spending under control so our country will no longer live under the threat of a debt crisis.
"And, finally, we have to get people out of poverty. We have to restore upward mobility. The condition of your birth doesn't determine the outcome of your life. We have to help more people get from welfare to work. There’s a lot of untapped potential in our country, and this committee has a real opportunity to help working families get ahead.
"That’s what this committee is going to be about: moving America forward.
"So, I’ve laid out just a few ideas to get the conversation started. Some will agree, some may not. I look forward to hearing from our members and witnesses. Everybody will have different ideas. But I think we can all agree that building a healthy economy is our mission this year. That is our focus. That is our goal—because that is what the American people deserve."
WASHINGTON — Today, the House passed H.R. 33, the Protecting Volunteer Firefighters and Emergency Responders Act, introduced by Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA), which would ensure that emergency-service volunteers are not counted as full-time employees under Obamacare's employer mandate. Upon passage, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) issued the following statement.
"Thousands of communities rely on volunteer firefighters, and Obamacare's employer mandate could turn their lives upside down. This bill makes it clear these volunteer firefighters are exempt; it gives them the certainty they deserve. And it’s one more step by the House to protect as many people as possible from the burdens of Obamacare."
"We can't be satisfied until our country is meeting its full potential. That’s why, at the Ways and Means Committee, we’re going to do all we can to build a healthy economy and move America forward: fix our tax code, help create jobs, and make health care more affordable. The American people deserve nothing less."
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