Kansas Common Sense
Kansas Common Sense
By U.S. Senator Jerry Moran
August 2, 201
Welcome to “Kansas Common Sense.” Thank you for your continued interest in receiving my weekly newsletter. I held off sending this week’s update to Kansans until today because I wanted to make certain you had the most updated information available on the debt ceiling debate.
Debt Deal Not Good For Future of America
Congressional leaders and the White House convened over the weekend to see if they could come to an agreement prior to the August 2nd debt ceiling deadline. The new plan was released late on Sunday evening and passed the U.S. House of Representatives Monday night. The Senate is expected to consider the measure later today.
Kansans have the right to know the truth. The truth is this plan does not offer a solution to the underlying problem of our crisis today: our government’s out-of-control spending. Even if fully enacted, it only slows the growth of spending, and does that just barely. This plan will reduce spending by $21 billion next year. But given that we spend $4 billion more than we take in each day – those savings will disappear in less than a week.
In March, I informed President Obama that I would not vote to raise the debt ceiling in the absence of substantial reductions in spending and structural changes to the way we do business in Washington, D.C. This plan does neither. It also ignores the stark warnings from credit rating agencies, which stated a $4 trillion deficit reduction plan would be necessary to prevent a downgrade in the U.S. credit rating. Therefore, I cannot support it.
The federal government has doubled spending since 2000. Our deficits are now more than $1.4 trillion per year, and our debt has reached a stunning $14.5 trillion. These facts were a wake-up call to Kansans and Americans last November, who called on Washington with one voice to come up with a responsible solution. It’s truly unfortunate that after months of political wrangling in Washington and increased anxiety in living rooms around the country, we were unable to do so. Under the plan passed today, our national debt will continue to grow and will reach $22 trillion in ten years. Over the next three decades, our debt will become more than three times the size of our entire economy.
Unfortunately, business as usual continues in Washington today, and solving the problem was pushed off for yet another day. This plan might be considered a good ‘deal’ in Washington – but it is not good for the future of America. Click here to listen to more of my thoughts on this bill.
All Americans Deserve Waiver From Health Care Law’s Mandates
This week I sponsored S. 1395, the WAIVE Act, legislation that would give all Americans the opportunity to apply for a waiver from the health care reform law. As of July 15, 2011, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) had approved 1,471 one-year waivers giving some Americans temporary relief from the onerous mandates included in the law. These waivers cover 3.2 million Americans. HHS granted these waivers to unions, employers and insurers so they could avoid double-digit health insurance premium increases. On June 17, 2011 HHS announced plans to terminate its arbitrary waiver policy and stop taking waiver applications on September 22, 2011.
The WAIVE Act would simply allow every American to seek, and be granted, a waiver from the health care law if he or she can prove the law’s mandates will either increase premiums or decrease access to benefits. President Obama repeatedly promised that Americans’ health care costs would decrease by $2,500 per year under his law, but the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office confirms that premiums will actually increase by $2,100 per year for families buying insurance on their own. It is only fair to give all Americans, not just certain unions and corporations, the opportunity to avoid the costly mandates of this law.Comment on:
Increase Jobs by Increasing Exports
We are facing many challenges as a nation – but none is bigger than turning around our economy, growing jobs and helping people survive day to day. Across the country, thousands of Americans depend upon exports for jobs, including more than one-quarter of all manufacturing workers in Kansas. By increasing our exports, we will create jobs and opportunities without raising taxes or increasing the Federal budget.
Unfortunately, trade agreements with South Korea, Panama and Columbia have been stalled for four years. I have consistently asked President Obama to send the agreements to Capitol Hill for ratification without delay because they would be an immediate shot in the arm to our economy. It is estimated the South Korea Free Trade Agreement, for example, will create 70,000 new jobs. It would bring an increase in U.S. exports of $9.7 billion, and our gross domestic product (GDP) would increase by over $10 billion. This is sorely needed after Friday’s late revision of 2011 first quarter GDP down to 0.4 percent from 1.9 percent.
Yet the framework by which we can begin to increase our exports to these three countries is once again stalled. The White House announced last week that these trade agreements will not be presented to Congress before the August recess. In my view, that is a mistake. As we speak, other countries are assuming the role of exporting to those countries; assuming the role that the United States has historically played – and we are being left out of the market.
A free-trade agreement just recently took effect between South Korea and the European Union. Colombia and Canada have an agreement that goes into effect on August 15. The more time we delay, the more likely it is that the markets are going to be taken by exporters from other countries. I recently took to the Senate floor to ask the Obama Administration to reconsider their position, and put these trade opportunities – and the ability to increase exports – back on the table so we can grow our economy and put more Americans to work. Click here to view my call for action.Comment on:
Give Kansas Educators Flexibility To Raise The Bar
On Wednesday, I attended a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on the 2012 budget proposal for the U.S. Department of Education. Testifying at the hearing was Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Unfortunately, it appears very unlikely that Congress will overhaul the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), the primary source of federal aid to K-12 education, this year. I opposed passage of NCLB in 2002 as a member of the House because I believe a “one-size-fits-all” federally-mandated approach to education fails to give states sufficient flexibility to tailor their education plans to the unique needs of their students.
Secretary Duncan stated recently that if NCLB reauthorization is not completed by this September, he will look to issue states conditional waivers from the law’s most troublesome requirements, provided that states agree to make certain changes to their education systems. At the hearing I asked the Secretary to specify what requirements he would waive for states like Kansas and what changes he would require of states in order to receive these waivers.
I also voiced concern over the fact that NCLB measures the performance of schools and teachers solely on a single standardized test, which discourages school innovation and encourages states to dumb down standardized tests and simply “teach to a test.” I asked the Secretary for his thoughts on growth models being developed for states to measure individual student achievement over a period of time, instead of with a single standardized test. I was pleased to hear Secretary Duncan say that he supports schools’ efforts to step outside the box and raise the bar on student achievement. The Secretary specifically commended McPherson Unified School District 418, which recently received a first-of-its-kind waiver from the Department to implement an innovative, locally-designed plan called “C3 - Citizenship, College and Career Readiness.” The program works to ensure students learn the skills needed to excel in college and the workplace. Click here to see a video clip of my discussion with Secretary Duncan.Comment on:
Visiting with Kansas Students in Washington, D.C.
This week, several Kansas students stopped by my office. I enjoy visiting with young Kansans when they are visiting Washington. High school students Jordan Pieschl of Brookville and Alexis Wingerson of Smith Center, representing FFA, stopped by on Tuesday to discuss agriculture policy. On Wednesday, I met with Parker Ost of Olathe and his family. Parker’s visit will help him fulfill a requirement for his Boy Scout First Class Rank. Parker is a Boy Scout in Troop 182. That day I also visited with Kansas high school students Brock Baxter of Smith Center, Noel Fisher of Lawrence, Julian Lamb of Topeka, Kellen Naster of Overland Park, and Luke Sunderland of Sabetha who are all participating in the Constitutional Academy organized by the Bill of Rights Institute. On Friday, Eli Schooley of Clay Center and Michelle Hill of Wichita took time away from their summer working at the National 4-H Center to say hello. Click here to view some photos from the visits.
Upcoming Listening Tour Stops
This month and next, I am continuing my statewide listening tour. Please find more information about my upcoming town hall meetings below. If you’re nearby, I encourage you to stop by and share your thoughts.
Monday, August 15, 2011
Cowley County, Arkansas City
Address: 125 North Summit
Time: 11:30 a.m.-12: 30 p.m.
Chautauqua County, Sedan
Location: Chautauqua County Farm Bureau
Address: 230 E. Main
Time: 1:45-2:45 p.m.
Montgomery County, Coffeyville
Location: Coffeyville Community College Technical Campus
Address: 600 Roosevelt
Time: 4:00-5:00 p.m.
Thursday, August 18, 2011
Rawlins County, Atwood
Location: Main Street
Time: 4:00-5:00 p.m.
Cheyenne County, St. Francis, hosted by Cheyenne County Farm Bureau
Location: St. Francis Community High School
Address: 100 College Street
Time: 7:30-8:30 p.m.
In the Office
This week we had several visitors in the Washington, D.C., office from across the state, including the Kansans listed below. Click here to view photos of some of the visits.
KGF Association & KAR Association
Tom Tunnell of Topeka
Mary Jane Stankiewicz of Topeka
Ron Seeber of Topeka
Stan Stark of Haviland
Brent Emch of Overland Park
Randy Whisenhunt of Hillsboro
Janet Bear of Brewster
Dan Brubeck of Sabetha
Ryan Elgin of Beloit
Kelly Farrell of Liberty
Donny Huber of Garden City
Josh Morrill of Garnett
Brad Scheer of Garden Plains
Jeremy Seyfert of Overland Park
Bob Standage of Colby
Kansas State University
Jim Stack of Manhattan
National Turkey Federation & Cargill
Steve Willardsen of Wichita
Ronda Eisenhauer of Wichita
Kansas FFA Association
Jordan Pieschl of Brookville
Alexis Wingerson of Smith Center
Soil Science Society of America
Dr. Charles Rice of Manhattan
Western Plains Energy
Steve McNinch of Oakley
St. Joseph Institute for the Deaf
Jane Ann Gorsky of Lenexa
Sherrie Roberts of Lenexa
National Board for Professional Teaching Standards
Barb Williams of Lawrence
Roger Caswell of Emporia
Heather Caswell of Emporia
Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics
Randall O’Donnell of Leawood
Charles Roberts of Overland Park
Genny Nicholas of Kansas City
Dallas Polen of Overland Park
National Marrow Donor Program
Lisa Ellington-Harris of Lenexa
Kansas Head Start Association
Mary Baskett of Lawrence
Lori Alvarado of Lawrence
Wyandotte County Commissioner
Ann Brandau-Murguia of Kansas City
Food Resource Bank
Bonnie Baker of Hutchinson
International Association of Machinists
Jerry Regehr of Hutchinson
Twyla Anderson of Wichita
Donna Clark of Andover
Robert Feldt of Augusta
Perceptive Software Shawnee
Kevin Albrecht of Shawnee
Rob Johnson of Shawnee
Marlena Puckett of Shawnee
Larry Slobodzian of Shawnee
Cessna Aircraft Company
Stan Younger of Wichita
Phil Watkins of Wichita
National Youth Leadership Academy
Nate Hess of Shawnee
Song Loftus of Shawnee
Larry Diamond of Plymouth
JD Derderian of Arlington
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Erik Blechinger of Kansas City
Bill of Rights Institute's Constitutional Academy
Brock Baxter of Smith Center
Noel Fisher of Lawrence
Julian Lamb of Topeka
Kellen Naster of Overland Park
Luke Sunderland of Sabetha
Kathryn Taylor of Manhattan
Girls and Boys Nation Student Senators
Zachary Hendrickson of Hutchinson
J'Qui Audena of Lawrence
Kansas State 4-H
Eli Schooley of Clay Center
Michelle Hill of Wichita
Many Kansans stopped by this week for a tour of the United States Capitol including Brett and Tracey McKenna of Hoisington; Lucas and Rachel Shivers of Shawnee; Jerad and Theresa Brunskill and children, Anna and Arron of Mulberry; Paul and Claudia Gibson and children, Hannah, Joseph and Thomas of Prairie Village; Bruce and Brigitte Kidder and children, Jay and Lara of Lansing; Donna Holloway and children, Matthew and Meagan of Stilwell; Ingeborg Barringer of Lenexa; Paul and Shelley Rooks and children, Brittani, Chase, and Courtney of Fort Scott; Henry and Tami Speicher of Sharon; and Mike and Peggy Hester and daughter, Tiffany of Hays. Kansans visiting from Beloit include: Robert, Lisa and Matt Cordel; and Kevin Williams. Kansas visiting from Wichita include: Brent and Angela Storrer and children, Rebecca , Lance and Michael; and Brent Storrer. Kansans visiting from Topeka include: John and Sherry Root; Capt. Tyler Root GSE3, Reed Endsley; and Mark and Ann Hobart and children, Hailey and Connor. Kansans visiting from Lawrence include: Lawrence and Lori Stussie and children, Andrew, Cameron and Noah; and Gabriel and Lori Alvarado and daughter, Lydia. Kansans visiting from Olathe include: Kevin Ost and Connie Rhoades-Ost and children, Parker and Andrew; SSG Jimmy and Kim Jackson and son, Tanner; and Dr. Sujote and Lisa David and children, Hannah, Christine and Issac. Kansans visiting from Overland Park include: Ken and Jennifer Umbarger and son, Reece; and Jay and Sara Pestinger and children, Catherine and Phillip. David McIntire of Wichita also stopped by the office for a picture and to say hello.
It is an honor to serve you in Washington, D.C. Please let me know how I can be of assistance. To send me an email, click here. You can also click here to contact me through one of my Kansas offices or my Washington, D.C., office.
Very truly yours,
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