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Stocking Stuffers: Payoffs, Kickbacks, Sweetheart Deals Abound in Sen. Reid’s Gov’t Takeover of Health Care
Posted by Press Office on December 22, 2009

Americans are still combing through all the sweetheart deals Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) made in order to jam through his government takeover of health care on the night before Christmas.  To be fair, Washington Democrats are making it easier to sort out this calamity by rushing to take credit for all these payoffs, proving once again how out of touch they are with the everyday challenges Americans are facing.  Sen. Reid actually took the shameless self-promotion a step further by saying “it doesn’t speak well” of any senator who didn’t secure a piece of the action.


House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH) blasted Sen. Reid’s wheeling and dealing:


“Senate Democrats have sunk to plenty of new lows to jam through this government takeover of health care, but putting their votes on the auction block tops them all. Washington Democrats clearly cannot be trusted with hard-working taxpayers’ money. My message to the American people is now is not the time to give up.  Now is the time to speak out, more loudly and clearly than ever, against this monstrosity.”

Following are just some of the payoffs and kickbacks Sen. Reid is forcing taxpayers to foot the bill for so he can increase health care costs, raise taxes, cut seniors’ Medicare benefits, and put government bureaucrats in charge of medical decisions:

 

Sen. Mary Landrieu’s (D-LA) “Louisiana Purchase.”  CBS News reports: “It started with Mary Landrieu. When reports surfaced she had been swayed with a $100 million Medicaid deal just for Louisiana, she bragged it was actually $300 million. The deal was so notorious, Republicans gave it a name. ‘We have new words in our lexicon, the Louisiana Purchase,’ Sen. John McCain said.”

 

Sen. Ben Nelson’s (D-NE) $100 Million “Cornhusker Kickback.”  The Hill reports: “Nebraska will receive $100 million in assistance for its Medicaid program under provisions in the Senate's healthcare bill negotiated by Sen. Ben Nelson (D).”

 

Sens. Ben Nelson (D-NE) & Carl Levin’s (D-MI) Sweetheart Deal for Nebraska/Michigan Insurance Companies.  Politico reports: In addition to the Medicaid carve out, Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) negotiated an exemption from the insurance tax for non-profit insurers based in his state. The language was written in a way that only Mutual of Omaha Insurance Company, as well as Blue Cross Blue Shield nonprofit plans in Nebraska and Michigan, would qualify, according to a Democratic Senate aide.”

 

Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) Takes Credit for $100 Million Hospital Earmark.  The Associated Press reports: “A $100 million item for construction of a university hospital was inserted in the Senate health care bill at the request of Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., who faces a difficult re-election campaign, his office said Sunday night.”

 

Sen. Roland Burris (D-IL) Inserts Provision for ACORN Funding.  The Weekly Standard reports:  “Senator Roland Burris is claiming credit for a provision in Harry Reid's ‘manager's amendment,’ unveiled Saturday morning, that could funnel money to ACORN through the health care bill.”

 

Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) Secures $600 Million Medicaid Kickback. The Associated Press reports:   “Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., negotiated $600 million in additional Medicaid benefits for his state over 10 years. He said Vermont is due the additional benefits because the state already has acted to expand Medicaid eligibility to the levels now contemplated by the federal government. Vermont would be unfairly penalized if other states are now being helped with that expansion, he said.”

 

Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) Scores $10 Billion for Community Health Centers.  The Associated Press reports: “Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who was angered after a new government-run health plan was dropped from the legislation to win over moderates like Nelson and Landrieu, held out on backing the bill until Reid, D-Nev., agreed to a $10 billion increase in support for community health centers.”

 

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) Negotiates Special Deal for Florida Medicare Advantage Recipients.  The Associated Press reports: “Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., pushed a provision he said will let about 800,000 Florida seniors enrolled in private Medicare Advantage plans keep their extra benefits.  It also helps seniors in a handful of other states. Elsewhere, Medicare Advantage patients risk losing benefits because the private plans are a major target of planned cuts to Medicare.”

 

Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) Scores Extra Medicare Benefits for Montana Residents.  The Associated Press reports: “Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., chairman of the Finance Committee and a key architect of the legislation, put in a provision to help the 2,900 residents of Libby, Mont., many of whom have asbestos-related illnesses from a now-defunct mineral mine. Under Baucus' provision, which never mentions Libby by name, sickened residents could sign up for Medicare benefits.”

 

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) Wins More Medicare Funding for Iowa Hospitals.  The Wall Street Journal reports: “One change won by Sen. Tom Harkin (D., Iowa) would increase Medicare payments to medium-size hospitals, including eight in his state.  Mr. Harkin said such ‘tweener’ hospitals are short-changed by the current system.”

 

Sens. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) & Kent Conrad (D-ND) Win Higher Medicare Payments for Rural Hospitals .  The Washington Post reports: “The Senate health-care bill has been full of goodies handed out to buy/earn the vote of various senators. … Byron Dorgan and Kent Conrad’s higher Medicare payments to hospitals and doctors in the ‘frontier counties’ of Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming.”


Republicans are fighting back against this latest insult to American taxpayers by exposing these sweetheart deals and offering better solutions.  Republicans have proposed the only health care bill that would lower premiums by up to 10 percent, cut the deficit, and consistently reduce federal spending on health care.

 

 

 

 

 

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Americans Remain Opposed to Democrats’ Government Takeover of Health Care
Posted by Press Office on December 22, 2009

It appears Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) may have doled out enough payoffs, kickbacks and sweetheart deals to jam through his government takeover of health care later this week, but he hasn’t fooled the American people.  According to a survey released today, Americans continue to remain opposed to a government takeover of health care that will raise premiums, increase taxes and cut Medicare for seniors.  The Dayton Daily News reports:

“With the Senate preparing for a possible Christmas Eve vote on health care overhaul, voters across the country ‘mostly disapprove’ of the plan, 53-36 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University Poll released on Tuesday, Dec. 22.

The poll also found voters disapproving of President Barack Obama’s handling of the health care issue, 56-38 percent.

On a third health care issue, voters opposed, by a 72-23 percent margin, using any public money from the health care overhaul to pay for abortions.”

In a statement Saturday, Congressman John Boehner called on the American people to “fight harder” and continue to speak out against a government takeover of health care:

“The American people have rejected the Democrats’ government-run approach to health care loudly and clearly, and it’s time to scrap Senator Reid’s bill and start over.  The bill will fundamentally change something as personal and important as the relationship between a patient and a doctor, and yet Democrats are attempting to sneak the bill through before Christmas in the hopes the American people aren’t watching what they’re doing.  Why? Because Senator Reid knows the more the American people find out about this bill, the more they oppose it.”

It’s not too late to scrap the Democrats’ costly government takeover of health care and start over.  Republicans have better solutions that will actually lower health care premiums by up to 10 percent and increase access to quality health care for millions of Americans.  To learn more, click here.

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Washington Post: Ohio communities fighting for survival amid widespread joblessness
Posted by Press Office on December 17, 2009
In a front page story today, the Washington Post offers a sobering account of the devastating impact continued double-digit unemployment is having on many Ohio families:

“The recession here wasn’t a black hole at the end of a sustained boom, or downgrading from Target to Wal-Mart or cutting out $3 drinks at Starbucks.  It was a confrontation with survival.

“As other areas of the country start to revive, the recession’s full force is still on display here.  Winter has descended.  Unemployment benefits are running out.  New jobs have not appeared.”

Statistics suggest that the gut-wrenching stories in this report are no anomaly in Ohio.  Consider the following:

  • Ohio has endured 8 straight months of double-digit unemployment
  • Nearly 150,000 Ohioans have lost their jobs since the “stimulus” was enacted – a bill that the Obama and Strickland Administrations pledged would create jobs immediately.

During a weekly press conference yesterday, Congressman John Boehner outlined better solutions to tackle the immediate challenges facing the American people:

“It’s been a long year for the American people.  We’ve seen American families and small businesses struggling all year in a very difficult economy and all that they’ve gotten from the Democrats here in Washington is more spending and more debt piled on the backs of our kids and grandkids.  The American people are asking ‘where are the jobs?’ but when you begin to look at the policies being outlined by this Administration, it’s not just  all the spending and the debt.  It’s this national energy tax which will kill jobs in America and ship them overseas.  It’s their government takeover of health care.

“Republicans have offered better solutions all year long.  Whether it was a budget that had a lot less spending and a lot less debt.  Whether it was our ‘all of the above’ energy bill, which will give us cleaner air, cheaper energy and more energy.  Our proposal on health care was a common sense way of bringing down costs and not increasing the cost of health care like the Democrats’ proposals.  Our better solutions are going to continue to be brought out day after day because the American people are looking for common sense solutions to deal with the problems that they face.  Republicans have been responsible in offering those policies all year and we will continue to do so in the new year.”

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Web Video: Emissions Mandates Will Devastate U.S. Economy, Kill American Jobs
Posted by Press Office on December 16, 2009

Congressman John Boehner released the following web video today calling on President Obama and House Speaker Pelosi to avoid committing the U.S. to a series of international emissions mandates at the Copenhagen Climate Conference that would devastate the U.S. economy and kill American jobs:

Boehner said:

“At a time when our national unemployment rate is 10 percent, job creation has to be our top priority.  Middle-class families and small businesses are struggling, and they shouldn’t be punished with costly energy policies that will increase electricity bills, raise gasoline prices, and ship more American jobs overseas to places like China and India.”

To read the letter that Congressman Boehner and other House GOP leaders sent to President Obama seeking assurances that he will not commit the United States to a mandatory emissions reduction scheme at Copenhagen, click here.

NOTE: Republicans’ “all of the above” strategy is the fastest route to a cleaner, more reliable energy future.  The GOP plan – the American Energy Act – will clean up the environment, lower energy costs, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and create millions of good-paying, new American jobs.

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Dodge City: House Dems Driven Out Of Town by Unpopular, Job-Killing Agenda
Posted by Press Office on December 16, 2009

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and House Democrats are getting out of Dodge today, and really, who can blame them?  Double-digit unemployment, red ink as far as the eye can see, and permanent bailouts are not what the American people were promised at the beginning of this year.  At a time when Washington Democrats’ job-killing agenda is more unpopular than ever, no relief is in sight:

Out of touch.  If there’s one thing the American people want out of health care, it’s lower costs, and Democrats’ job-killing government takeover will actually raise costs and pile more debt on our kids and grandkids. 

Out of ideas.  Americans are asking “where are the jobs” and all Democrats have to offer is more ineffective government “stimulus” spending paid for by borrowing from China and the Middle East

Out of money.  Democrats have raided the federal coffers so fast they need to raise the national debt limit in order to keep their unprecedented spending binge going. 

 

All year long, Republicans have offered better solutions to create jobs and to make Washington do more with less. 

Congressman John Boehner (R-West Chester) said Democrats’ rushed exit strategy is a recognition of how unpopular their job-killing policies have become:

”A year that began with so many promises and so much hype ends with Democrats’ job-killing agenda more unpopular than ever.  Instead of trying a new approach, Democrats are doubling down on government ‘stimulus’ spending that isn’t working and costly policies that will destroy even more jobs.  Worst of all, it’s our kids and grandkids who will have to repay the debt incurred by Democrats’ incompetence.  Out of touch, out of ideas, out of money: that’s what you’re getting from Washington Democrats right now.” 
 

Dodge City: House Dems Driven Out of Town by Unpopular, Job-Killing Agenda

Majority Opposes Gov’t Takeover of Health Care.
Majority of Americans Still Not Backing Healthcare Bill…[A] new USA Today/Gallup poll finds public support for such efforts still below the majority level. Forty-six percent of Americans say they would advise their member of Congress to vote for healthcare legislation (or lean toward doing so), while 48% would advise a no vote (or lean in that direction).” (Gallup, 12/16/09

“In the poll conducted this month, 51 percent say they oppose the proposed changes to the system; 44 percent approve of them. Two-thirds say the health-care reforms would add to the federal deficit, with two-thirds of those people calling such an increase ‘not worth it.’” (The Washington Post, 12/16/09)

Majority Say Gov’t Takeover of Health Care Will Raise Costs, Increase Deficits. “…[A] new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds the public generally fearful that a revamped system would bring higher costs while worsening the quality of their care.  More than half of those polled, 53 percent, see higher costs for themselves if the proposed changes go into effect than if the current system remains intact.  About as many (55 percent) say the overall cost of the national health-care system would go up more sharply.  Two-thirds say the health-care reforms would add to the federal deficit, with two-thirds of those people calling such an increase ‘not worth it.’” (The Washington Post, 12/16/09)

Majority Disapproves of President Obama’s Handling of Health Care, Economy, and Deficits.  “Obama’s domestic battles have taken their toll, as his approval ratings on key issues have sunk to the lowest points of his presidency. On health care, 53 percent disapprove of his performance, a new high.  On the economy, 52 percent disapprove, also a new high mark in Post-ABC polling.  Same on the deficit, on which 56 percent now disapprove of his stewardship.” (The Washington Post, 12/16/09)

 

 

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On Fox: “This is the Time to Fight Harder” To Scrap Gov’t Takeover of Health Care
Posted by Press Office on December 16, 2009
In an appearance this morning on Fox News’ America’s Newsroom, Congressman John Boehner (R-West Chester) took Washington Democrats to task for continuing to pursue a government takeover of health care that raises costs, increases taxes, cuts Medicare benefits, and piles more debt on our kids and grandkids.  Boehner noted that even with Democrats’ costly government takeover of health care more unpopular than ever, “This not the time to give up. This is the time to fight harder to make sure this never happens.”  In addition, a day after the Obama Administration announced its intent to import Guantanamo Bay terrorists to a facility in Northern Illinois, Boehner questioned how this decision would make America any safer.  Following are video and excerpts from Boehner’s interview:

CLICK TO PLAY

Boehner on Dems' Gov't Takeover of Health Care: "A Risky Proposition"

“It’s pretty clear that the American people do not want any part of this health care bill.  The President said yesterday that we’re on the edge of a dangerous precipice.  Well, a precipice is the edge of a big cliff.  This is a very risky proposition: to take 1/6 of our economy, health care that affects every single American, and to have the government basically take control of it.  While it may not have public option, it may not have the Medicare buy-in, what it does have is over 100 commissions, mandates, bureaus that will require tens of thousands of new federal employees.  Because it’s a set up, all to get ready for the government takeover of our health-care system.

"This is the Time to Fight Harder" to Ensure American Families Are Heard on Health Care

“The American people are speaking loudly and clearly.  They do not want their Medicare cut.  The 27,000 Medicare Advantage recipients in my district don’t want their health care plan taken away from them.  The American people do not want to pay higher taxes, they don’t want to pay higher premiums for their health insurance. … And my message today to the American people is to stay engaged in this.   This is not the time to give up.  This is the time to fight harder to make sure this never happens.”

It's Dems' Job-Killing Policies That Have Americans "Scared to Death"

“It’s not just their national energy tax.  It’s all the spending and all the debt that is being piled up.  And the American people are scared to death of what their government is doing to them.  And they’re saying very clearly, ‘Washington, just stop.’”

On Gitmo North: How Will Importing Dangerious Terrorists Make America Any Safer

“The Administration has not made clear to the American people their plan to keep America safe.  They have not outlined an overall policy on how we take on these terrorist threats and protect our citizens both here and abroad.  And this move to take these detainees from Guantanamo, which is very safe prison – one of the best prisons in the world – and to move them to Illinois because they made some political commitment, is really going to make America less safe.”

 

 

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Dispatch Agrees with Boehner: Use Bailout Dollars to Reduce Deficit
Posted by Press Office on December 14, 2009

Calling the “stimulus” a “failure” in an editorial Sunday, the Columbus Dispatch sided with Congressman Boehner in rebuking Congress for its out-of-control spending and calling for $200 billion in unused bailout dollars to be used for deficit reduction:

“The U.S. deficit for 2009 is $1.4 trillion, nearly three times larger than the previous record deficit, with similar overspending expected annually throughout the next decade. The national debt just passed $12 trillion.

“The best economic goal for the 536 people who guide the federal government is to rein in that debt.”

Last week, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner extended the federal financial bailout program – the Troubled Assets Relief Program – until next fall.  In response to growing pressure in the wake of the failure of the first “stimulus” to hold down the unemployment rate, President Obama and Congressional Democrats have indicated that they intend to divert $200 billion of these unused bailout funds to pay for another “stimulus” bill.

House Republicans believe these borrowed dollars should be used to pay down the deficit.  But on Friday, shortly after passing a massive $447 billion omnibus spending bill containing more than 5,200 earmarks and double-digit funding increases to Washington agencies, House Democrats voted down a Republican amendment to direct unused TARP funds to pay down the national debt.  Congressman Boehner released the following statement after the vote:

“Today, House Democrats voted to continue TARP and go right on spending taxpayer dollars with reckless abandon. After a year-long spending spree, out-of-touch Washington Democrats are looking for money in all the wrong places to fund more of the same ‘stimulus’ programs that aren’t working. Not only do Washington Democrats have no exit strategy for TARP, they want to keep the program alive so it can serve as a slush fund to bail out politicians.

"The American people are sick and tired of these open-ended bailouts and all this wasteful Washington spending. Taxpayer money paid back to the government should be used for debt reduction. Only Republicans are offering common-sense proposals to get government out of the bailout business and stop piling debt on our kids and grandkids.”

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GOP Leaders Urge President Obama to Take Swift Action on Trade Pacts to Help Create American Jobs
Posted by Press Office on December 13, 2009

Following up on a discussion at the White House Wednesday on the importance of trade to creating more American jobs, Congressman John Boehner and other House GOP leaders sent a letter Friday to President Obama urging swift action on pending trade agreements to open new overseas markets to American products, which will help farmers and create U.S. jobs.

 “We were encouraged during our meeting yesterday by your positive outlook on advancing and implementing pending trade promotion agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea,” the leaders wrote to President Obama.  “We agree with you that these trade agreements provide important new commercial opportunities that will benefit our economy and create jobs without adding to our nation’s staggering budget deficit, and we stand ready to work with you to implement each agreement on a bipartisan basis right now.”

Approving these trade agreements represents real job creation at a time when our nation is struggling with double-digit unemployment and a failed trillion dollar “stimulus.”  As the GOP leaders note in their letter, the International Trade Commission estimates that if approved, the trade agreements with Columbia, Panama and South Korea would boost U.S. exports by more than one percent.  President Obama has said that a trade increase of just one percent could create 250,000 jobs.

Ohio in particular stands to benefit from these policies.  Farmers and manufacturers in the 8th District and across the state rely upon sales to foreign markets.  As the Cincinnati Enquirer notes, about 11,400 Ohio companies sell their products internationally, and nearly 300,000 jobs in the state depend upon exports.

That our state actually benefits from free trade may come as a surprise to many, given the anti-free trade rhetoric in Ohio during the 2008 presidential election.  But as the Columbus Dispatch noted in an editorial earlier this year, steady export growth has been the lone bright spot in Ohio’s otherwise struggling economy:

“Ohio is the only state in the country whose exports have increased every year since 1998, and it's seventh in the country for exports overall. According to new numbers from the U.S. Department of Commerce International Trade Administration, Ohio's exports grew by nearly 7 percent in 2008 over the previous year, to $45.5 billion.”

As Congressman Boehner said in an op-ed in today’s Washington Post families and small businesses are faced with daunting economic challenges, but all they are getting from the Majority is more taxes, more spending, and more debt.  Opening new markets to farmers and manufacturers is just one example of the common-sense solutions Republicans are offering to break down the barriers to economic growth and help small businesses create jobs.

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Dems Vote to Allow Federal Funding for Corrupt ACORN
Posted by Press Office on December 09, 2009

 

Last night, defying the will of a bipartisan majority of the House and Senate, Democrats voted to allow the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) to receive federal taxpayer dollars.

In September, large Congressional majorities in both houses voted to sever all ties between the federal government and ACORN.  The Senate vote was 85-11; the House vote was 345-75.  You’d think that those votes, which USA Today described as prohibiting “any federal funding for the community organizing group,” would have settled the matter.  You’d be wrong. 

Months later, with the country’s focus on jobs, healthcare, and the Global War on Terror, Democrats are moving to restore funding to ACORN.  Last night, Rep. Tom Latham (R-IA) offered an amendment during deliberations on the Democrats’ massive year-end appropriations bill to clarify the prohibition on federal funds going to ACORN or its subsidiaries.  That amendment was shot down on a 5-9 party line vote as Republicans sided with taxpayers while Democrats stood with ACORN.

Rep. Latham’s amendment is necessary to prevent taxpayer money from going to ACORN because the Obama Administration’s Department of Justice has taken advantage of a legal loophole to allow ACORN to continue to receive federal funds - despite the passage of the House GOP’s Defund ACORN Act in the fall.

The American people and the Congress have spoken loud and clear: ACORN should be denied any taxpayer funds.  Period. 

ACORN has already received far too much money from the American people.  An analysis of federal data by the Office of the Republican Leader staff determined that ACORN has received more than $53 million in direct funding from the federal government since 1994, and has likely received substantially more indirectly through states and localities that receive federal block grants.

Enough is enough.  The American people are tired of seeing their tax dollars wasted on an organization accused of serious crimes - and that’s why House Republicans are stepping up efforts to defund ACORN once and for all.

 

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Columbus Dispatch: Ohio school district to spend more than $1.5 million in “stimulus” funds for three days of teacher workshops at high-end hotels and conference centers
Posted by Press Office on December 07, 2009

In the latest example of “stimulus” waste and misuse, the Columbus Dispatch reported Sunday that Columbus City Schools plan to spend nearly $145,000 in “stimulus” funding to rent out banquet halls at high-end hotels and conference centers and $1.4 million on guest speakers for teacher training sessions.  This follows news last week of more errors in Ohio’s “stimulus” tracking, and a national report tracing hundreds of millions of “stimulus” dollars to foreign countries, including China and Spain.  Governor Strickland (D), meanwhile still refuses to establish an independent, bipartisan panel to ensure that Ohio’s “stimulus” funds are spent effectively and transparently.

According to the Dispatch:

“The district will pay up to $8,000 to rent Villa Milano, a marble-clad banquet hall with enough ‘classic elegance’ that ‘you will think you have been transported to a romantic Italian Villa,’ according to the hall's Web site.

“Other sites include: the Hyatt Regency ($23,000); the Greater Columbus Convention Center and the Hyatt on Capitol Square ($25,000 each); the Quest Business and Conference Center at Polaris ($17,000); and the Aladdin Temple near Easton ($12,500).

“The district will pay the speakers more than $1.4 million in federal stimulus money, part of $64.2 million that Columbus schools have been awarded from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.”

As Ohio continues to struggle with double-digit unemployment, the continued waste and misuse surrounding the “stimulus” is creating a credibility gap that is plaguing the Strickland and Obama Administrations.  With nearly $145,000 in taxpayer money being spent to make sure that teachers have padded seats and plush surroundings for three days of workshops, it’s no wonder that one recent survey found fewer than one in 10 Americans believe the "stimulus” has helped create jobs.

There is a better way. In addition to calling for a bipartisan, independent panel to ensure that Ohio’s “stimulus” funds are spent effectively and transparently, House Republicans have offered fiscally responsible solutions that will actually create real jobs in America because they recognize that small business, not government, is the engine of job creation in America.  Last month, House Republican leaders sent a letter to the President urging him to consider common-sense solutions to help small businesses and put Americans back to work.  These proposals, some of which were presented to President Obama as early as his first week in office, were developed by House Republicans’ Economic Recovery and Health Care solutions groups.

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