After visiting with countless families and individuals across Missouri’s 3rd Congressional District, I have found that hard-working individuals, those living on a fixed income, and small businesses understand their pocketbooks are lighter and their economic future is not as bright. This is an issue that starts and ends with the policies and rhetoric of this administration, enabled by the Federal Reserve.
Entrepreneurs and inventors grow economies but only when government stays out of the way and central banks practice restrained, responsible monetary policy. Unfortunately, the administration’s failed economic policies, including high taxes, crushing regulations and reckless spending, have harmed the economy in ways that the Fed has been unable to counter despite its best attempts. The path to lasting growth is not through the Fed, but rather through tax and regulatory reform.
The economy appears less and less responsive to additional monetary stimulus that for the last five years has been championed by the Federal Reserve. The result: an economic recovery that is the slowest in modern times. By pushing interest rates down, the Federal Reserve’s exceptionally accommodative monetary policy hurts those Americans who want to save their money.
For several years now, the Federal Reserve has blurred the lines between fiscal and monetary policy and the Fed's pumping plan has resulted in roughly $4 trillion in purchases of Treasury bonds and mortgage backed securities and created a stock market that is, according to many economists, a bubble ready to burst. This one example highlights the need for the Fed to adopt a rules‐based monetary policy rather than the politically expedient method currently being employed.
As a former bank examiner and community banker, I recognize these macro decisions being made by the Federal Reserve and its allies in Washington are being acutely felt by retirees, those living on a fixed income, and farmers, ranchers and small businesses across the country.
As a member of the House Financial Services Committee, I can tell you that House Republicans are keenly aware of the need for real reform at the Federal Reserve. That is why there is growing support for the Federal Reserve Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014 which would require the Fed to be more accountable to Congress and you. More specifically, this reform package requires the Fed to conduct cost-benefit analyses on its rules, publicly disclose its positions in international negotiations, and release information on the salaries of Federal Reserve staff which, unlike pay at other federal agencies and in Congress, have never been made public.
After the July 16 hearing in the House Financial Services Committee, it is clear that Chair Yellen talks a big game and is interested in at least entertaining rules-based policy reform, but only time will tell if she can or will make good on her rhetoric to improve not only communication between the Federal Reserve and policymakers but also address the many issues impacting the millions of Americans living on fixed incomes. If she follows through, then there is a chance this administration will embrace bills like the Federal Accountability and Transparency Act and allow it to become law.
We cannot afford to wait and neither can Americans at the mercy of the Federal Reserve.Read More
When I drive around the 3rd District, there is nothing that moves me more than seeing our nation’s flag waving from a business, a home, or a school. The American flag represents so much, but freedom always comes to mind first. With that in mind, we must always remember the freedoms we are so fortunate to have come from the brave men and women who selflessly serve our country.
For much of the summer, the House and the Senate discussed long-term funding solutions to combat the horrific issues surrounding the Department of Veterans Affairs. And during a time when it is next to impossible for a bicameral, bipartisan agreement – politics were put aside for our nation’s veterans and a solution was agreed upon.
Last week, I was pleased to hear the president signed into law the bill that Congress passed, which marked an important step by beginning to repair and improve our VA system.
This law makes several reforms, including provisions which would allow veterans to receive care at non-Department of Veterans Affairs facilities and a requirement that the VA provide a Veterans Choice Card for eligible veterans to receive care provided by non-VA providers. Eligible veterans are those who are enrolled in the VA health system as of August 1, 2014, newly discharged veterans who are unable to secure an appointment at a VA facility within 30 days, or veterans who live more than 40 miles from a VA medical facility.
Additionally, this law authorizes the VA to fire or demote Senior Executive Service employees for negligence and poor performance and reduces funding for bonuses available to VA employees by $40 million each year through Fiscal Year 2024.
It is so important for members of Congress and for the president to meet with family members and veterans who have been affected by the VA scandal in order to prevent history from repeating itself. In order to ensure this problem won’t happen again, we must ensure that administration officials do not ignore the signs so we can ensure proper health treatment and care for all of our nation’s veterans. Last week, the president said “This will not and cannot be the end of our effort. Implementing this law will take time.” This is just another statement from the administration buying time and keeping with its own agenda. Our nation’s veterans deserve more than waiting around on an administration that has been much too slow to act on this important piece of legislation.
I will continue to hold Veterans Workshops throughout the 3rd District and my office has helped answer questions and solve cases for hundreds of veterans in the district. The workshops provide a forum for you to get information and ask questions.
In the meantime, if you have any questions about the impact of the law on you or in Missouri or if you have stories you would like to share, please give one of my offices a call or email me by going to www.luetkemeyer.house.gov. As a member of Congress, I have a duty to care for those who fought for our freedom and I will continue to fight for the needs of veterans.
Dealing with the current administration can feel sometimes, even as a member of Congress, like banging your head against a bureaucratic wall standing in the way of good government. So, you can imagine that I was very pleased when I recently learned that a recent effort by me to keep the government from inappropriately interfering in the private sector has moved a step in the right direction.
For the last few months, I have written letters, questioned government officials, and poured over hundreds of documents related to Operation Choke Point. Operation Choke Point refers to an organized attempt by the Obama Administration, namely the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), to bully and intimidate financial institutions from offering financial services to certain licensed, legally-operating industries the government doesn’t like in an attempt to choke off those industries from our country’s banking system. The administration is doing this, because it has no firm legal ground to shut down entire sectors of the economy with which it disagrees, so, instead, it is intimidating banks and credit unions into doing its dirty work. As you may have guessed, in this day and age it is really difficult for a business to function without access to financial products and services.
While this government operation was first aimed at non-depository lenders, other areas of the private sector economy became targets of the DOJ and FDIC, too. The government even had a secret list it circulated among its officials of businesses deserving what it terms “heightened scrutiny” for regulators including, but not restricted to: ammunition and firearms sales; fireworks sales; tobacco sales; coin dealers; debt collectors; and pharmaceutical sales.
Then, just a couple of weeks ago, the FDIC announced that the list of industries targeted for “heightened scrutiny” was being rescinded and would no longer be used. In other words, after extensive pressure from Congress, the bureaucracy backed off its attack on legitimate businesses with which this administration simply doesn’t like.
While this is a positive step forward, there is certainly more that needs to be done to ensure an administration never again tries to become the arbiter of whether entire legal, licensed sectors of our economy have the moral right to exist. That is why I remain committed to moving forward with my legislation to restore the balance between financial institutions and regulators and protect private industry from organized bureaucratic intimidation.
My End Operation Choke Point Act, H.R. 4986, creates a safe-harbor for financial institutions, including banks and credit unions, to promote nondiscriminatory access to financial products and services provided the merchant is licensed, registered as a money services business, or has obtained a reasoned legal opinion demonstrating the legality of the business. The safe-harbor does not require a financial institution to do business with any merchant and does not place the burden of determining the legality of business with the financial institution. It simply says the government can’t prevent a bank or credit union for serving a licensed, legally-operating business customer. The legislation also seeks to reign in the abusive misuse of Justice Department subpoena authority by changing the regulatory powers granted to DOJ under the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act of 1989.
I have received lots of support from folks across the 3rd Congressional District who were aware of the perils of Operation Choke Point and added their voices to the national outcry over this shameful initiative. Please know that I will remain vigilant that progress continues in a positive direction while I work to pass legislation that would end covert programs like Operation Choke Point.Read More
U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (MO-3) today encouraged the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) to fully halt organized government attempts to shut down entire portions of the private sector, known as Operation Choke Point, after the agency recently rescinded its lists naming specific industries deserving of “heightened scrutiny.”
In a letter to FDIC Chairman Martin Gruenberg, Luetkemeyer acknowledged the agency’s removal of lists naming certain industries deserving of increased scrutiny from financial institutions regulated by the FDIC. Those lists included industries such as firearms sales, ammunition sales, fireworks sales and tobacco sales. Luetkemeyer noted there is more to be done to ease the concerns of legitimate business owners previously targeted by Operation Choke Point.
“I am pleased that you have taken the first step in ensuring that all of these heightened scrutiny lists generated by FDIC staff are removed from guidance, and request you ensure that similar lists are not used in future presentations by any FDIC personnel,” said Luetkemeyer. Luetkemeyer has led the national charge against Operation Choke Point since learning of the initiative and FDIC’s actions to loan examiners to the Department of Justice in a hostile attempt to take down non-depository lenders they believe have no moral right to exist. “Additionally, and most importantly, your examiners must begin to conduct bank examinations on a customer-by-customer basis rather than an industry-by-industry basis as has been done in the recent past.”
While pleased with the FDIC’s initial move, Luetkemeyer remains committed to monitoring the agency’s efforts with Operation Choke Point and will continue to seek action on his legislation to restore the balance between financial institutions and regulators and protect private industry from organized bureaucratic intimidation and regulation.
Specifically, Luetkemeyer’s bill creates a safe-harbor for financial institutions, including banks and credit unions, to promote nondiscriminatory access to financial products and services provided the merchant is licensed, registered as a money services business, or has obtained a reasoned legal opinion demonstrating the legality of the business. The safe-harbor does not require a financial institution to do business with any merchant and does not place the burden of determining the legality of business with the financial institution. The legislation also seeks to reign in the abusive misuse of Justice Department subpoena authority by changing the manner in which DOJ can seek a subpoena under the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act of 1989.
NOTE: A copy of Luetkemeyer’s letter is attached.Read More
U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (MO-3) today supported a bill to address the crisis at our border.
“We are a nation in crisis and I believe this legislation addresses the need to secure our border and helps to deter the unprecedented influx of illegal immigrants into our country. It also provides humanitarian aid to help the thousands of people, including young children, return safely home to be reunited with their families. We are a nation of laws and this bill in no way grants amnesty for those willing to violate our laws,” Luetkemeyer said. “This was a preventable tragedy created by an Administration focused more on immigration politics than the immigration problem. The time is now to put politics aside and do what is right for the safety of the American people and the well-being of the unfortunate souls lured here. It is my hope the Senate and the president will do the right thing by accepting this bill and put aside attempts to shirk their responsibility to protect the American people and uphold the Constitution.”
The $694 million bill passed by the House provides funding through Sept. 30, 2014. The House bill is significantly less than the $3.7 billion sought by the president and $2.7 billion sought by the Senate. The funds are fully offset by cuts to existing funds and will result in no new or additional spending.
Luetkemeyer also plans to support later today H.R. 5272, legislation that would freeze expansion of the president’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that would grant deportation relief and work permits to children brought in to the United States illegally by their parents that has contributed to the influx of unaccompanied children seeking to enter the country.Read More
U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (MO-3) issued the following statement after St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay announced the city would be willing to accept undocumented children in Missouri as a result of the immigration crisis at our border:
“As a father and grandfather, it is my belief that we must do all we can to ease the suffering of these children who have arrived at our borders based on this Administration’s failed immigration policies. Congress is capable of helping the thousands of people, including young children, return safely home. While we are a compassionate nation we also are a nation of laws. We must do what is right for the safety of the American people and the well-being of the unfortunate souls lured here.”
The men who put their lives on the line when they signed the Declaration of Independence were keenly aware of the perils and dangers to liberty posed by the notion of the divine right of kings. For thousands of years, it was believed in many of the kingdoms of Europe that a king was divine and above the law and very few ever questioned that notion.
But as the taxes mounted and liberties became more restricted, the freedom-loving men of the 13 British colonies in the Americas began to rebel against the King of England and, as they say, the rest is history. With the victory over the King, our founders looked to form a new kind of government the democratic experiment known as the United States was formed with the power to govern divided between three branches of government, all separate but equal.
These notions are the founding bedrock of our nation and many have died over the past two centuries for these very principles and yet now there is concern that things are not as they once were. We must never forget that Congress makes the law, the president executes it, and the judicial branch enforces the law. The separation of powers must be distinct and enforced as this is an issue that transcends this Congress and this president.
President Obama has made numerous changes to his health-care law without the consent of Congress. The president twice made unilateral changes to his health-care law without going through Congress, which effectively created his own law by waiving the mandate and the penalties for failing to comply with it.
With the president legislating without the legislative branch combined with the Democrat-controlled Senate willing to sit on its hands when it comes to the president’s edicts, House Republicans felt it was time for drastic action. What is at stake is future Congresses and future presidents.
This week, I supported a house resolution that gives the Speaker of the House the authority to initiate litigation for actions by the president or other executive branch officials alleged to be inconsistent with their Constitutional duties. The resolution represents the first of many steps needed to bring suit against President Obama. Now that is has been approved by the House, the resolution will be sent to a federal judge for a decision on whether or not the House has legal standing to pursue the case. If a judge rules that the House does, in fact, have the standing to pursue the lawsuit, it would move to a federal court.
Each day that we do nothing, the greater the likelihood the executive power will continue to grow unabated until our nation wakes up one day and realizes that it squandered its birthright of representative democracy and replaced it with a king or, worse yet, a dictatorship. The power of the people can never be silenced and that is why passing this resolution is a step to keeping your voices as the cornerstone of our democracy and our nation.Read More
Concerned about the growth of executive power, U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (MO-3) today voted for House Resolution 676 that provides the Speaker of the House with the authority to initiate litigation for actions by the president or other executive branch officials alleged to be inconsistent with their Constitutional duties.
"As Americans, we must never forget that Congress makes the laws and the president executes them, but unfortunately, that separation of powers created by our Founding Fathers has been slowly eroded as the executive branch continues to be more and more brazen in its own perceived authority,” Luetkemeyer said. “The separation of powers must be distinct and enforced because at the end of the day this is not about this Congress and this president. This is about all future Congresses and future presidents, as well.”
The resolution sponsored by Rep. Pete Sessions of Texas is now ready to be sent to a federal judge for a decision on whether or not the House has legal standing to pursue the case. If a judge rules that the House does, in fact, have the standing to pursue the lawsuit, it would move to a federal court.Read More
Concerned about the lack of government transparency regarding the implementation of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (MO-3) today voted in support of legislation he co-sponsored that is designed to reform the ESA to improve how the government implements and administers the law.
The legislation, the 21st Century Endangered Species Transparency Act, would implement a number of good-government reforms including requiring the publication of the data used to make ESA listing decisions on the internet; requiring that federal agencies work with and listen to states, tribes and local governments when formulating a listing decision; and requiring the tracking and publication of ESA-related litigation expenses, including taxpayer-funded attorneys’ fees. The legislation would also cap attorney fees for litigation filed under ESA at $125 an hour.
“Any person with common-sense can tell you that the government’s current approach to species management and preservation is not working and yet it has been 25 years since Congress reauthorized or made any significant improvements to the ESA so after hearing from a wide-range of folks from across the country, I fully supported this effort to reform the law and bring it up-to-date,” Luetkemeyer said. “While the ESA was created with the best intentions, it has failed to live up to its promise and this bill is a good first step towards making the changes necessary to help both the animals and the people the ESA was designed to serve.”
Luetkemeyer is a member of the Endangered Species Act Working Group which was formed to examine the law’s impact on species and people over the last 40 years and to find potential improvements going forward. The working group’s membership includes Members of Congress from each region of the United States and Luetkemeyer is the only member of the Missouri delegation in the group. After a series of hearings and a thorough review of the current law, members of the working group came together to help draft parts of the legislation passed today.Read More
I’m sure you recognize the many difficulties of being a parent and understand how expensive it is to care for our young ones. Unfortunately for parents, things have only gotten worse thanks to the misguided economic policies of this administration.
Under the president’s economic plan, the cost of living continues to rise while take-home pay is stagnant and far too many Americans are either out of work or working part time. From 2004 to 2012, annual costs for clothing, food, child care, and education for a child rose by hundreds, if not thousands of dollars. Meanwhile, the child tax credit remains at $1,000.
When you look at how our economy is languishing and its impact on hard-working families, you can then calculate the true damage being done to folks who are doing their best to raise a family. The Department of Agriculture in its annual report on child expenditures came up with the following astounding statistics which are based on the average annual cost of raising a child from newborn to two years of age.
The yearly cost to clothe a child for a year in 2004 was $350 while in 2012 that cost jumped to $660, an 89 percent increase. In 2004, the yearly cost to feed a child was $980 but in 2012 those costs increased to $1,190 for a 21 percent increase. But there is more - in 2004, the average per year cost of childcare was $1,020 and in 2012 those costs increased by 107 percent to $2,120.
When you look at those numbers and then consider the child tax credit still stands at 2004 levels, you realize that parents are really getting squeezed. That is why I supported passage of the Child Tax Credit Improvement Act which will update the child tax credit and index it to inflation to make sure families can keep more of their hard-earned money to raise the next generation.
It is my hope that this bipartisan bill, which is critical to America’s parents, will receive similar support in the Senate. The Senate continues to not act on the more than 321 House bills we’ve passed in the last year and a half that are designed to improve our economy and help our citizens. However, I am hopeful the Senate will at least act on this bill.
As a father and grandfather, I remember all too well the sacrifices that parents have to make each day to try and make ends meet while providing for their children. Each day I hear from another Missouri family trying to find ways to overcome an economic deck that has been stacked against them by the government.
Every dollar that a mother or father has in his or her pocketbook is another opportunity to provide for his or her family and I believe that by supporting an increase in the federal child tax credit we can ensure that more of our very young children will have a chance to succeed in a very tough economic world.
CONTACT US: As always, for those of you with Internet access, I encourage you to visit my official website. For those without access to the Internet, I encourage you to call my offices in Jefferson City (573-635-7232) Washington, Mo. (636-239-2276), or Wentzville (636-327-7055) with your questions and concerns. If you want even greater access to what I am working on, please visit my YouTube site, Facebook page, and keep up-to-date with Twitter.Read More
2440 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
As the Congressman from the 3rd Congressional District of Missouri, Blaine is committed to representing the interests of the hard-working people by being a strong voice for them in Washington, D.C.
Blaine, 61, represents the 13 counties that make up the 3rd Congressional District of Missouri. Blaine, a native of St. Elizabeth, Mo., has lived in the district with his family for four generations and he operates a 160-acre farm there.
Along with his strong agriculture background, he was also a small businessman, having been in the banking and insurance business. Blaine has also served as a bank regulator for the state of Missouri earlier in his career. He was elected in November, 2008, succeeding fellow Republican Kenny Hulshof.
From 1999 to 2005, Blaine was a Missouri State Representative and served as Chairman of the Financial Services Committee and was elected by his colleagues to serve as the House Republican Caucus Chairman. After leaving office, Blaine was appointed by Gov. Matt Blunt to serve as the Director of the Missouri Division of Tourism.
Building on his experience as a bank examiner, small businessman and community banker, Blaine serves as vice chairman of the House Small Business Committee where he also serves on the House Small Business Subcommittees on Health and Technology and Agriculture, Energy and Trade. Blaine also serves on the House Financial Services Committee where he also serves on the panel’s Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Committee and is vice chairman of the Housing and Insurance Subcommittee.
Blaine is a member of the Knights of Columbus, Eldon Chamber of Commerce, Missouri Farm Bureau, National Rifle Association and a lifelong member of St. Lawrence Catholic Church. Blaine is a graduate of Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Mo., where he earned a degree with distinction in political science and a minor in business administration.
Blaine and his wife, Jackie, have three children, Trevor, Brandy and Nikki, and four grandchildren.
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