Business & Economy
Weekly Video Address: Deficit-Reduction Talks PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Grassley Press   
Tuesday, 05 July 2011 14:23

Advisory for Iowa Reporters and Editors

Friday, July 1, 2011

During his weekly video address, Senator Chuck Grassley discusses the status of the deficit-reduction talks and the importance of not leaving a legacy of debt to the next generation.

Click here for audio.

The text of the address is available below.

Grassley Weekly Video Address:

Deficit-Reduction Talks

The President is finally involved in the deficit-reduction talks, where $2.4 trillion in savings over 10 years is needed in order to offset about that level of an increase in the federal debt ceiling.  August 2 is the operational deadline, at this point.

The President’s posture is very combative, and the pressure that’s coming from the White House and Senate Democrats to raise taxes to increase revenues ignores two very important facts, separate from the harm it would do to the economy where job creation is still so weak.

First, Americans sent a clear message in the last election that they want government spending reined in.  They know it’s morally wrong to make the next generation pay the bills for the way we live today, and that the problem isn’t that people are taxed too little but that Washington spends too much.  In just the last two years, government spending increased by 22 percent.

Second, if history is a guide, then an increase in taxes is really a license for Congress to spend more money.  Professor Vedder of Ohio University has found that since World War II, for every dollar in tax increases, Washington has spent $1.17.

Serious spending reforms are needed for the sake of America’s fiscal well-being.

One of those reforms is a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.  The federal deficit is 15 times bigger today than it was in 1997, the last time there was a vote in Congress on a balanced budget amendment.  It’s time to bring it up again.  I’m a cosponsor of legislation and have formally asked Senate leaders to hold hearings on a balanced budget amendment.  Forty-six of 50 states have a balanced budget requirement, and there should be one at the federal level.

In the meantime, the debt-ceiling debate provides a major opportunity to help bring fiscal accountability and responsibility to Washington.  And it emphasizes the need for pro-growth policies out of Washington – including less debt, but also regulatory relief, more exports, lower and simpler taxes and greater certainty about taxes, lower health care costs and an increased domestic energy supply.

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White House dodges Small Business Lending Fund questions PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Grassley Press   
Friday, 01 July 2011 11:02

Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa last month asked a White House official to account for the contradiction between a White House blog post and statements from the Secretary of the Treasury and other officials about the relationship of the Small Business Lending Fund, or SBLF, to the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP.  Today, the Treasury Department responded.  The text of the Treasury Department’s response is here.  The details of Grassley’s original inquiry are available here.  Grassley made the following comment on today’s response.

“With this response, the White House apparently didn’t want to answer questions about the Small Business Lending Fund and is hiding behind the Treasury Department.  I wrote a letter to the White House deputy communications director asking questions regarding the statements she wrote about the Small Business Lending Fund.  Since she’s a public servant whose salary is paid by the American people, making statements on a taxpayer-funded website that presents official White House positions, I expect direct answers.   It’s misleading, at the very least, for the White House to have insisted that the Small Business Lending Fund and TARP have no relationship, even as the Treasury Department acknowledges that at least some banks will use the Small Business Lending Fund to repay their TARP loans.”

 
Time to bring up a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Grassley Press   
Thursday, 30 June 2011 12:16
Statement by U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley
Ranking Member of the Committee on the Judiciary
Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution
Tax Increases Not the Answer for Deficit Reduction

The federal budget deficit is 15 times bigger today than it was in 1997, the last time there was a vote in Congress over a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.  It’s time to bring it up again.

Voters sent a clear message in the last election that they want government spending reined in.  They know it’s morally wrong to make the next generation pay the bills for the way we live today, and that the problem isn’t that people are taxed too little but that Washington spends too much.  In fact, history tells us that an increase in taxes will only fuel more government spending.  Since World War II, Washington has spent $1.17 for every dollar in tax increases, so tax increases have proven to be a license for Congress to spend more money.

State-level requirements for balanced budgets work and serve an important purpose.  A balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution is the kind of serious spending reform needed for the sake of America’s fiscal well-being.

 
Harkin, Families USA to Release New Report Spotlighting Impact of Medicaid Proposed Cuts on Iowa’s Economy PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Harkin Press Office   
Monday, 27 June 2011 11:54

June 28 Teleconference, Report Release Will Detail How Cuts Could Cost Iowa Thousands of Jobs, More than a Billion Dollars in Lost Business Activity

Washington, D.C.—The Medicaid cuts in the House Republican budget, if implemented today, would have a devastating impact on the struggling economy of Iowa, putting thousands of jobs and more than a billion dollars in state business activity at risk.

On Tuesday, June 28, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Families USA, the national organization for health care consumers, will release a report titled “Jobs at Risk” that will detail how Medicaid cuts would damage Iowa’s economy.

As the report makes clear, there is also a human toll of such cuts, affecting the health and well-being of low-income and middle-class families, children, seniors, and people with disabilities. This report, however, will look specifically at the economic effect of Medicaid cuts, spotlighting the potential impact of a 5 percent, 15 percent and 33 percent Medicaid cut on Iowa’s economy.

Those percentages were chosen for the report, because the budget proposal adopted by the U.S. House of Representatives, sponsored by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), calls for cuts in federal funding to current state Medicaid programs of 5 percent in 2013, 15 percent in 2014, and 33 percent in 2021.

A teleconference for Iowa media will be held on Tuesday, June 28, 2011, to discuss the new Families USA report.

WHAT:  
Teleconference and Release of Families USA Report “Jobs at Risk”

WHEN:  
Noon EDT, 11 a.m. CDT
Tuesday, June 28, 2011

HOW:   
Dial in toll-free: 877-780-3379
Confirmation code: 7301551

WHO:   
U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman, Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee
Ron Pollack, Executive Director, Families USA

 
Grassley commentary on disclosure of drug, medical device company payments PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Grassley Press   
Saturday, 25 June 2011 23:45

America’s prosperity hinges on our consumer-driven economy.  The economic recovery is slowed in part by tepid consumer confidence that adds to the reluctance by businesses to increase payroll, upgrade equipment and expand operations.  Decision-makers in the private sector are taking a wait-and-see approach due to uncertainty over the federal debt, tax, spending and regulatory policy.  The economic recovery could continue to languish if the federal government fails to rein in spending.

Even so, America’s strength and resilience still rests largely within the indefatigable optimism that drives innovators, entrepreneurs, workers and immigrants to scale the ladder of prosperity.

Americans cherish freedoms of speech, press and religion.  U.S. capitalism encourages people from all walks of life to create wealth and achieve the rewards offered by free enterprise.  Bargain hunters would agree the two essential elements of a good buy are the same for a robust economy:  consumer choice and competition in the marketplace.

In the U.S. Senate, I use my legislative and oversight authority to work to strengthen the rights of property owners, taxpayers, consumers, pensioners, patients, and investors.

Consumers armed with accurate, timely information are able to make better decisions and minimize buyer’s remorse.  Whether buying big-ticket items such as a car or home or looking for the best surgeon to perform a life-saving transplant, the most informed consumer is likelier to end up a satisfied customer at the end of the day.

I work to foster accountability and transparency in the public and private sectors.  This includes  efforts to advance reforms to the nation’s pension laws aimed at preventing bad actors from promising more than they could deliver (remember the Enron scandal); strengthen consumer-friendly comparison tools for family members searching for a quality nursing home; and, let the sun shine in on the financial relationships between medical device makers, pharmaceutical companies, medical professionals and non-profits.

The federal government’s system of checks and balances is meant to prevent overreach by the executive, legislative and judicial branches.  That’s why I am a strong supporter of sunshine and whistleblower protection laws.  Representing Iowans in Washington, I also have worked to keep close tabs on taxpayer dollars.  Taxpayers deserve to get the most bang for their buck when their hard-earned money is used to build roads, advance medical research, strengthen national security, pay for the military and fund recovery efforts caused by natural disasters.

Transparency also can improve America’s health care delivery system. Policymakers have long debated ways to improve quality and rein in the so-called spending curve of U.S. medicine.  On the Senate Finance Committee, I also channel efforts to improve effective medicine and patient safety by promoting better transparency between patients, health care providers, pharmaceutical companies and medical device manufacturers.

I have pressed the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to fully exercise its authority to achieve public disclosure between industry and the doctors who conduct $31.2 billion annually in federally sponsored medical research.  In response to what I exposed about the dramatic disparity between what a number of influential NIH-funded research physicians reported and what they received from pharmaceutical companies, the NIH drafted new guidelines for grant recipients to manage conflicts of interest.  A proposal has been waiting to be processed at the White House Office of Management and Budget since March.  The administration needs to move on this.  The NIH is in a pivotal position to help establish greater accountability in this area through disclosure.  Good stewardship of the tax dollars that back medical research requires it.

In addition, keeping consumers or medical providers in the dark about those with financial ties to medical device makers, as an example, does not help build trust or improve patient outcomes.

A patient having spinal surgery places trust in the doctor’s experience and expertise.  The surgeon relies on the current medical literature regarding safety, complications and adverse affects of a medical device or drug when making an informed decision about risks and benefits for the patient.  Troubling reports indicate that severe side effects may have been unreported or under-reported by clinical investigators with financial ties to a bone-growth product they had reviewed.

A patient who is considering surgery has a right to know if his or her physician has a financial relationship with the medical device the doctor is suggesting.  Likewise, a physician using the product deserves to know if the medical professionals who researched and prepared the literature on it have financial ties or consulting arrangements with that company. Public disclosure documenting such financial ties will promote accountability within the industry and allow the public to draw its own conclusions.   Legislation that I co-authored, the Physician Payment Sunshine Act, was enacted into law last year.  It will compel pharmaceutical, biotechnology, medical device and medical supply companies to disclose payments to physicians to the public, starting March 31, 2013, for all payments in calendar year 2012.   That will increase payment transparency.

Transparency and accountability throughout the public and private sectors are standards of good governance that I will continue to champion.  Transparency fosters goodwill in the marketplace and buoys consumer confidence.  Just as American consumers have a right to know where their meat and vegetables are grown, they also have a right to know if their doctor has financial ties to a pharmaceutical company or medical device manufacturer, and their doctors have a right to know about the financial ties of leaders in their profession.

For generations, American consumers have rewarded big thinkers and innovators to out-think and out-innovate the competition. Protecting the public’s right to know is as all-American as apple pie and fireworks on the Fourth of July.

Friday, June 24, 2011

 
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