Blog Archives

Economy & Jobs

Posted on 12/16/13

America only works when Americans are working, and far too many Americans aren’t working under this president’s job-killing policies. During the 2008–2009 recession, the unemployment rate nearly doubled from its norm of about 5 percent to 9.8 percent. In the three years since, America’s unemployment rate has never dropped below 8 percent, making this the longest protracted period of high unemployment since the Great Depression. Kentucky’s unemployment rate is even higher than the national average.

 

The rate of “underemployment” or “real unemployment,” which takes into account the sharp decline in labor force participation and discouraged workers who have stopped looking for work, is near 15 percent. In total, over 22 million Americans are underemployed and one out of every two recent college graduates is either jobless or underemployed. As a result, new unemployment claims are rising and, according to the Congressional Budget Office, one in seven U.S. residents received food stamps last year, a 70% increase from 2007.

 

Equally troubling is that fact that for people who have jobs, incomes are falling. When President Obama took office, median household income was $54,797.63. As of the last quarter of 2011, median household income was $52,377.21.

 

Growth in America’s gross domestic product remains weak, is far below the usual increases coming out of a deep recession and is insufficient to reduce unemployment. Oil prices have surged, home values are plummeting and foreclosures are up. Without a major shift in government policy, the prospects for full economic recovery are dim.

 

One need only examine the harmful economic policies of this Administration to understand why this is so. Over the course of the past three years, politicians and bureaucrats in Washington have dampened business confidence and elevated uncertainty by promoting oppressive regulations and red tape, skyrocketing deficits, a government takeover of our health care system and job-killing tax increases. As a result, the United States is far less hospitable to growth-inducing, job-creating entrepreneurial activity than it was only a few short years ago.



Holding Washington Accountable

Posted on 12/12/13

Many Washington career politicians have lost touch with reality. It is clear that Washington is broken and many of our government leaders are completely disconnected with the people they supposedly represent. But Washington is intended to work for you and represent your interests, and this is why I am fighting to bring new standards of accountability to Washington, D.C and be as accessible to you as possible.

 LIVE BY THE LAWS YOU WRITE

One of the most egregious examples of Washington’s abuse of power – and clear misunderstanding of our Constitution – is the thought by some that Washington politicians are above the laws they write. When it became apparent that some political elites had exempted themselves from Obamacare, it was obvious that something must be done to reign in these out-of-touch politicians. That’s why I introduced H.R. 2010, the Live by the Laws You Write Act. This two page piece of legislation simply restores common sense to Washington by requiring political elites to abide by the same laws under which all citizens are bound. If my constituents are expected to abide by the law, politicians and well-connected political insiders should have the same expectation.

TERM LIMITS

I support term limits for Members of Congress. Term limits will help restore accountability to Washington and ensure that politicians focus on what they were elected to do and don’t lose touch with their constituents.

I introduced House Joint Resolution 26, which calls for amending the United States Constitution to place terms limits on members of the House and Senate. This amendment to the constitution would limit Senators to two terms in office and Representatives to four terms in office.



Agenda for Veterans

Posted on 10/29/13

I was raised to respect and honor our veterans. My father is a veteran of the Vietnam-era, and my grandfather a veteran of World War II’s Pacific Theater – the former Commanding General of the 100th Division, U.S. Army Reserves. When I visited the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial overlooking Omaha Beach in northern France in August 2001 I truly began to appreciate the significance of what our veterans have given to our nation and the world. The memorial covers over 170 acres and contains the graves of 9,387 of our military dead, most of whom lost their lives in the D-Day landings and ensuing operations.

REPRESENTING VETERANS IN CONGRESS

No greater responsibility exists than ensuring that those who sacrificed for our freedoms have adequate representation in Washington, D.C. That is one of the main reasons I created the Sixth District Veterans Coalition. This coalition has enabled me to maintain a productive working relationship with veterans throughout the Sixth District and has better equipped me to advocate on their behalf in our nation’s capital.

President Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid attempted to politicize veterans during the October 2013 government shutdown. I took action and voted in support of HJ. Res. 72: the Honoring Our Promise to America’s Veteran’s Act, which would have ensured that our nations veterans would continue to receive the most timely benefits and services regardless of political gridlock. It was unacceptable and disappointing for Washington politicians to politicize critical payments to America’s veterans.

CONTINUED ADVOCACY FOR VETERANS

I will never stop advocating for policies that benefit United States veterans. We have a duty to adequately care for each and every person who has sacrificed to protect the freedoms we all enjoy today. As long as I remain in Congress, I will uphold this duty and do everything within my power to support America’s veterans.

 



Fiscal Responsibility

Posted on 10/29/13

I ran for Congress to save the United States from bankruptcy. Day after day, the national debt continues climbing upward, mortgaging the next generation’s future deeper and deeper into debt.

The national debt currently stands in excess of $17 trillion and is dramatically increasing by the minute. As out-of-control spending rages on, the obligation for our children’s share of the national debt ever increases, currently standing well in excess of $50,000 for every man, woman and child in the United States.

WASHINGTON IS OUT-OF-TOUCH

The mindset among Washington liberals suggests a blatant disregard from the impending disaster that is sure to come from reckless, unbalanced spending. Our future and the future of generations to come is at stake, yet Washington politicians continue to spend at unprecedented levels, despite their knowledge that such spending cannot be sustained.

Obamacare is the latest of many examples demonstrating this misguided view. It is projected that President Obama’s signature legislative achievement will cost the taxpayers $1.8 trillion in unfunded entitlements during the next ten years. This law will also increase taxpayer spending for Medicaid, and fails to provide a funding mechanism to finance such an increase.

FIGHTING FOR CHANGE

 I am fighting everyday to hold Washington to a higher standard, including restoring fiscal responsibility and advocating spending reforms that will strengthen the United States’ economic position.

One mechanism to hold Washington accountable is requiring a balanced budget. I was a cosponsor of H.J. Res. 1 and H.J. Res. 2, Proposing a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. Each of these resolutions mandates not spending more than we take in – which is a simple, common sense principal that families throughout the Sixth District adhere to on a daily basis.

Entitlement reform is a moral obligation that every elected official in Washington, D.C. must address. If critical programs such as Social Security and Medicare are going to remain solvent, it is vital that Washington officials come together and enact reforms that will protect these programs for future generations.

Obamacare is another fiscal disaster. I have voted for the full repeal of this unworkable law, as well as for repeal or delay of various individual parts of this law.

I will continue doing everything within my power to rein in federal spending, restore fiscal responsibility and decrease our national debt because we have an obligation to future generations and Kentuckians deserve better.



Healthcare

Posted on 10/29/13

Healthcare must be made more available and more affordable. The most effective way for achieving availability and affordability is not through increased government involvement, but rather common sense reforms that allow the free market to work.

President Obama believes the government should be in charge of your healthcare, and we are now bearing witness to the results of his flawed ideology. Obamacare has caused 280,000 Kentuckians to lose the healthcare coverage they had and liked, despite the President’s repeated promise that “if you like your plan, you can keep it.”

I am disappointed that Obamacare has made policies more expensive and drastically increased deductibles – exactly the opposite result of what President Obama promised.

Small businesses throughout the Sixth District have been forced to lay off employees in order to remain open. Employees who once had full-time jobs with complete benefits are being cut to part-time positions with no benefits, simply because of the skyrocketing costs brought on by Obamacare.

COMMON SENSE REFORMS

I have been fighting for common sense health care reforms that will increase coverage and affordability. The only way to effectively represent the people of the Sixth District is to listen to their points of view, which is why I brought Congress to the Bluegrass and held a congressional field hearing focused on healthcare challenges in Kentucky. This allowed several Kentucky employers and employees the opportunity to inform Members of Congress about how Obamacare is negatively impacting them and share their thoughts on common sense reforms that can be implemented to reform America’s healthcare system.

While the disastrous rollout and implementation of Obamacare continues, so do my efforts to repeal and replace it with policies centered around affordability and accessibility. I have voted for full repeal of Obamacare and I will not stop my fight until Kentuckians are granted relief from Obamacare’s job killing, price increasing policies.

SOME OF THE REFORMS I SUPPORT

We must allow interstate competition among health insurers in all fifty states. This will increase choice and drive down cost. We must enact medical liability reform in order to prevent defensive medicine, lower health care costs, and save as much as $54 billion over the next decade. We must expand Association Health Plans to allow small businesses and the self-insured to band together to purchase coverage on a more affordable basis. And we must promote consumerism through tax free Health Savings Accounts that will reconnect the health care consumer to the cost of health care services.



Energy

Posted on 10/29/13

I believe that the United States needs a real “all of the above” energy strategy – one that engages our domestic energy industries as partners in an all-out effort to create jobs, lower electricity and gas prices, and achieve American energy security.

STANDING UP FOR KENTUCKY ENERGY

We have a responsibility to take full advantage of the resources at our disposal to provide cost-efficient energy rates while also working to make the United States energy independent.

However, President Obama has waged a War on Coal since his first day in office. His Environmental Protection Agency has focused on destroying the coal industry, causing thousands of Kentuckians to lose their jobs.

I will continue to fight the EPA’s efforts to ban coal mining in Eastern Kentucky and throughout Appalachia, as well as the regulatory assault that threatens the use of coal-fired electricity throughout this country, which are killing jobs and driving up electric rates.

President Obama and the EPA’s ruinous policies are bad for the coalfields, bad for hardworking families, and bad for our economy.

When the EPA attempted to label coal ash as hazardous waste, I cosponsored H.R. 2218, The Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act of 2013, a measure that blocks the EPA from slamming the coal industry when this unfounded regulation which would put hundreds of thousands of jobs at risk and drive up electricity and construction costs.

And when the EPA proposed coal industry crippling New Source Performance Standards as part of President Obama’s supposed “Climate Action Plan,” I immediately took action and co-sponsored H.R. 3140, the Ensure Reliable and Affordable American Energy Act, legislation to block the implementation of these job-killing and costly rules.

Furthermore, I am fighting the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers efforts to deadlock the coal permitting process by cosponsoring H.R. 1828, the Coal Jobs Protection Act. This legislation would put a time limit on consideration of these permits.

Additionally, to defend our coal miners’ right to work to support their families, I cosponsored H.R. 2918, the Coal Healthcare and Pensions Protection Act, to ensure that promises of healthcare and retirement benefits made to our nation’s coal miners are kept.

I have repeatedly called on President Obama to stop his assault on the coal industry. And as long as I am in Congress, I will use my voice to protect this industry that is so critical to maintaining Kentucky jobs and preserving some of the lowest utility rates in the nation.



Reining in Regulation

Posted on 10/29/13

As I talk to folks across central and eastern Kentucky, I am constantly reminded of the negative impact government overreach has on economic innovation. That’s why since arriving in Congress, I have fought to create a more business friendly environment that encourages job creation and economic recovery.

However, President Obama and Washington liberals have inundated Kentucky’s job creators with unnecessary, burdensome regulations.

One of the first bills I cosponsored is the REINS Act. This piece of legislation requires congressional approval of any proposed regulation with an economic impact of $100 million or more. In addition, it requires a cost-benefit analysis, describing how a proposed regulation would affect jobs.

Washington liberals oppose the REINS Act because it would take away their ability to legislate through regulation by taking the power away from unaccountable, unelected Washington bureaucrats. I will continue fighting for this legislation because it will provide much needed accountability to Washington and it will protect many jobs in the process.

PROTECTING KENTUCKIANS FROM GOVERNMENT OVERREACH

The Valley View Ferry has served the citizens of central Kentucky since 1785. But in recent years federal overreach has caused this ferry service to reduce its hours of operation and face the possibility of closing for good, all because the federal government decided to meddle in local affairs about which they have no understanding.

I introduced legislation, H.R. 2570, The Valley View Ferry Preservation Act of 2013 to save the Valley View Ferry by removing unnecessary regulations from unaccountable federal regulators and returning this power to the state. Not only is this essential to preserve the existence of this ferry, but also important to many small businesses and to the more than 200 cars that are transported by the Valley View Ferry every day.

Perhaps no federal government overreach has been more egregious than the Consumer Protection Bureau’s decision that Bath County, Kentucky is not a rural county. The result of this blatant disregard of reality has resulted in burdensome regulations being placed on community banks, making it more difficult for individuals and businesses to access capital. This has an extreme trickle-down effect, costing jobs and tax revenue.

Bath County is one of the most rural counties in the United States. But the federal governments failure to see reality has the potential to devastate the residents of Bath County. I am fighting the federal regulators on this and will continue to do so until this issue is resolved.

Obamacare is the most blatant example of federal overreach in modern history. The federal government is intervening in the most personal areas of life, healthcare. It is simply unacceptable to allow unelected bureaucrats to come between you and your doctor. And it is equally unacceptable for the federal government to require you to choose between purchasing health insurance or paying a fine for failing to do so. I have voted for the full repeal of this law and will continue doing everything within my power to push-back against this massive federal overreach and seek common sense healthcare reforms that allow you to remain in charge of your healthcare.



Tax Relief

Posted on 10/29/13

I believe that individuals are far more qualified than a Washington bureaucrat to determine how their money is spent. Many Washington politicians want unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats to spend more and more of your hard-earned money. But Kentuckians should not be forced to foot the bill for their out-of-control spending.

One of the most effective ways to jumpstart our economy is by reforming the tax code.

ANDY BARR’S PLAN FOR TAX REFORM

  1. Broaden the tax base by eliminating deductions, loopholes and tax favors for special interests and the politically connected.
  2. Eliminate the Alternative Minimum Tax
  3. Abolish the Death Tax.
  4. Expand tax-free savings accounts like 401(k) plans, IRAs, 529 college savings plans, and health savings accounts (HSAs).
  5. Reduce the number of tax brackets and lower marginal rates on those that remain to allow individuals, families, and small businesses to keep more of what they earn.
  6. Abandon the 21 new tax hikes, totaling more than $675 billions, which are in effect or scheduled to take effect as part of Obamacare.
  7. Replace or supplement the current tax exclusion for employer-sponsored health insurance with a system of family and individual tax credits to make health insurance more affordable and portable.
  8. Make the United States the most desirable location for new business investment through a bold series of business tax cuts, including the following:
    1. Reduce the corporate income tax rate to a level competitive   with other nations. Currently, the United States has the highest corporate tax rate in the world among developed nations.
    2. Eliminate the corporate tax on repatriated profits for American companies since those profits are used to make new capital investments, increase dividend payments to shareholders and hire new workers.
    3. Eliminate taxes on capital gains, dividends and interest for all taxpayers to reward personal savings, encourage capital formation and make entrepreneurs more competitive.
    4. Allow companies to expense new equipment in the tax year purchased to spur innovation and growth in American manufacturing.



The First Steps to Creating Jobs

Posted on 10/29/13

One of my most important responsibilities in Congress is to do everything possible to help put residents of the Sixth District back to work. This is the key to economic growth and prosperity.

I believe the most effective method for creating a better environment for job growth is to enact policies that enable businesses to grow. This is done by allowing job creators to keep more of what they earn and by removing unnecessary, costly government overreach that creates additional costs and burdens that stifle job creation.

ESTABLISHING A JOB-FRIENDLY ENVIRONMENT

As I travel throughout the district, job creators continually inform me of how legislation such as Dodd-Frank and Obamacare is crippling their ability to grow or even sustain their current workforce. Instead of being able to invest in their business and put Americans to work, many small business owners throughout the Sixth District have been forced to focus their attention and resources on complying with unnecessary government overreach that impacts every facet of their business.

I will always be a voice for policies that encourage job creation, just as I will always fight back against policies that stifle job creation. We must restore an environment that encourages new ideas and ingenuity among America’s job creators.

It is time that we focus on restoring our conservative economic values and be a help, not a hindrance, to job creator’s throughout this nation who want the government out of the way so that they can focus on putting Americans back to work.



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