Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Boehner Hosts First Telephone Townhall

Nearly 600 Constituents Participated; 20,000 Messages Left
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman John Boehner (R-West Chester) last night hosted his first Telephone Townhall with nearly 600 constituents from Ohio ’s 8th District.

“My chief responsibility in Congress is representing my neighbors in Ohio ’s 8th District, and the best way for me to be effective in doing that is to talk directly with them about the issues they care about most,” Boehner said. “Advances in technology allow me to be here in Washington waiting to vote while speaking with a large number of constituents to gauge their priorities. We had a frank conversation about the important issues that impact the residents of the 8th District, and I appreciate the honest feedback they provided to me.”

Those participating in last night’s call were given the opportunity to question Boehner on any issues they wished to discuss. Questions ranged from concerns about expanding the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, limiting earmarks and winning the Global War on Terror to questions about the Medicare Drug Prescription Benefit, simplifying the U.S. tax code and manufacturing jobs being outsourced overseas. At the end of the call, participants could choose to record a question and/or comment; Boehner will be responding to those 8th District residents who left recordings.

A total of 40,136 households in the 8th District were called last night with an invitation to participate in the call. A message from Boehner directing constituents to either the West Chester or Troy district offices or Boehner’s website was left at 20,265 households. The call lasted 50 minutes, and the average length of time constituents spent on the call was 10 minutes.

“I’m very pleased with our first Telephone Townhall, and I look forward to the next one,” Boehner said.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Boehner Column: "Capitol Flag Controversy Reaffirms We Are One Nation Under God"

The American people have grown weary of endless attempts by politicians and bureaucrats to bar the word God and other references to faith from our public institutions.

The latest evidence that Americans have had enough came this month, when it was revealed that employees of the Office of the Architect of the Capitol (AoC) have been removing references to God from the official certificates that accompany United States flags that are flown over the Capitol and sent by Members of Congress to their constituents. The revelation sparked a massive public outcry.

Since 1937 when the flag program began, people have been able to request to have an American flag flown over the Capitol in honor of loved ones, special events, honored colleagues, fallen soldiers, community achievements and other special people or occasions. The flag is typically paired with a certificate to commemorate the occasion or person for whom the flag was flown. Often, the messages mention God or reference faith in some way. This proud and time-honored tradition has stood for generations.

Like millions of other Americans, I was troubled to learn that the new management in the U.S. House of Representatives had quietly decided to change the practice. I am grateful for the actions of Dayton-area Rep. Michael Turner (R-OH) who spoke out after learning that the word “God” was omitted from a certificate requested by a young Eagle Scout in his district seeking to honor his grandfather.

Shortly after learning of this situation from Rep. Turner, the senior Republican on the House Administration Committee, which oversees day-to-day functions of the U.S. House, voiced similar concerns to the Architect’s office. I followed suit by sending a letter to the Speaker of the House, who oversees the Architect’s office, asking her to immediately restore the traditional flag procedures that allow for religious expression on the certificates.

I wrote, "As Speaker, you have the authority to instruct the Acting Architect to disregard the written policy and restore the longstanding practices that have been the tradition of the House for generations… As Speaker, you have the authority – and the opportunity – to do the right thing… This policy does not reflect the will of the American people.”

The morning after I sent my letter, I was pleased to hear from the Speaker that she had decided to instruct the Architect’s office to reinstate those time-honored traditions allowing for religious expression on the flag certificates.

To remove any questions regarding flag procedures, Rep. Turner has announced that he will offer legislation to permanently allow references to God and expressions of faith on flag certificates. I support the legislation and believe it is an appropriate way to solidify the Speaker's decision.

It's unfortunate that this controversy had to take place, and indeed, the battle to restore the traditional practice in full may not be over yet. I have made clear that I will accept nothing less than the full restoration of this tradition. Nonetheless, the massive public outcry over the policy banning the word God from flag certificates has provided reassuring evidence that most Americans still believe passionately that we are One Nation Under God -- and the procedures of the United States Congress should continue to reflect it.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Boehner Column: "Higher Taxes, Zero Accountability Won’t Cure Washington’s Spending Addiction"

President Ronald Reagan famously said, “We don’t have a trillion-dollar debt because we haven’t taxed enough; we have a trillion-dollar debt because we spend too much.”

Regrettably, Washington’s spending habits have only gotten worse since President Reagan uttered those words and while the Republican-led Congress lowered taxes for working families, married couples (and married couples with children) and small businesses, the new majority in the U.S. House is doing its best to erase our economic success by raising taxes.

Last month, 110,000 jobs were created, and the Department of Labor revised its August jobs report to note the creation of 89,000 jobs. This marks 49 consecutive months of job creation in the U.S. , which is the longest uninterrupted period of job growth on record for our nation. Still, too many American families continue to struggle with the rising cost of living in the United States , especially as the price of energy, home mortgages, and consumer goods continue to increase and eat away at the family budget every month.

The anxieties American families face are deepened every time another tax increase is proposed – in part because we don’t have full accountability and transparency in how Congress spends your tax dollars. Studies show Americans believe about 40 cents of every tax dollar sent to Washington is wasted. They also show an overwhelming majority of Americans believe that lawmakers who request federal funding for projects in their districts (known as an “earmark”) should publicly put their name to that project and be willing to defend it. I believe that if a politician isn’t willing to put his or her name publicly behind a project, the American people shouldn’t have to pay for it.

But its business as usual in Congress where these earmarks are disclosed in some bills – not all – and even then, the disclosure is so murky you can’t pull up a comprehensive list of earmarks and the lawmakers requesting them. Recently, when a powerful Member of Congress was asked why this was so difficult, he responded that it was too bad people would have to work to connect the projects with their sponsors. This is exactly the kind of attitude we need to do-away with in Washington .

Another attitude we need to do-away with is, again in the words of former President Reagan, “If it moves, tax it.”

In the late 1990s, the Republican Congress enacted a ban on Internet taxes that has allowed the American people to capitalize on its growth. Since then, the Internet has driven economic growth and prosperity in ways we never could have imagined. But this tax moratorium will expire in just a few weeks and so far, there’s been no action by the majority in either the U.S. House or Senate to renew the ban or even eliminate e-taxes permanently. That’s sad proof of Mr. Reagan’s words.

Here is a list of just some of the tax increases that have been proposed since January in the U.S. House, as documented recently by the Las Vegas Review-Journal:

  • Reinstating the “marriage penalty” income tax that forced middle-class married couples filing jointly to pay more taxes than if they filed separately;

  • Cutting the per-child tax credit from $1,000 to $500;

  • Reinstating the Death Tax, which is scheduled to meet its own demise in 2009 but will resurrect two years later unless Congress makes this tax’s death permanent;

  • Raising federal cigarette taxes by 156 percent, to $1 per pack;

  • Raising cigar taxes from a 20.7 percent tax on wholesale prices with a 5-cent cap to a 53 percent rate with a $3 cap;

  • Increasing the federal gasoline tax anywhere from 5 cents to 50 cents per gallon;

  • Eliminating the interest deduction for home equity loans;

  • Creating a $50 per ton tax on carbon to be assessed on coal, petroleum products and natural gas to create a fund to combat global warming;

  • The most recent proposal is a war surtax that will be levied on every working American, purportedly to pay for the war. What this really is, though, is a backdoor proposal to cut off funding for our troops bravely serving in Iraq by forcing an unpopular tax increase onto hard-working American families. If this attempt to pull the plug on troop funding succeeds, there will be a stampede by free-spending lawmakers looking to grab those dollars for pork-barrel projects – and unless we enact full accountability and transparency for earmarks, you won’t know how your tax dollars are being spent.

    Right now, I am leading an effort to require public disclosure for all earmarks and to make sure we can openly debate any earmark on the House Floor. I don’t personally use earmarks because I don’t view the federal Treasury as an open checkbook for Washington lawmakers, and I will continue fighting to make sure that you know how we’re spending your hard-earned dollars.

    Family Drug Court Receives Grant

    It is a program designed to bring drug-addicted parents back together with their children after treatment. And it got a major boost in funding after having to scrape from wherever it could. Butler County's Family Drug Court received a 2.5 million dollar federal grant which will be split out ($500,000/year) over five years.

    The Enquirer has more...
    Since June 2006, existing staff from various agencies have carved out time to serve on a “treatment team” that coordinates drug treatment, counseling, parenting classes and weekly court visits – much more intensive work than on other cases. “The goal is to reunify the children with their parents who are sober and clean,” said Ron Craft, the court’s judge.

    About a dozen parents of 23 total children are enrolled. Because of the new funding, the program might be able to double the number of people served, Craft said.

    “This is major,” Butler County Commissioner Chuck Furmon said Thursday. “Two-and-a-half million dollars is really going to make this program go.”
    It is a good progam doing good things.