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2011 in ReviewPosted Wednesday, December 21, 2011, at 2:09 PM
As 2011 wraps up, it is important to reflect on what's transpired this year. I have been focusing my efforts on getting Tennesseans back to work, removing overbearing regulations, lowering taxes, reducing the federal budget and protecting Medicare.
I believe it has never been more important to change the current direction of our Country. We can make a difference. Only by fighting together for the principles that make this country great will we make a difference. I'm more committed than ever to getting Washington out of the way to bring back job opportunities. Below are some highlights from 2011.
The Keystone Pipeline -Voted to Accelerate Keystone XL Pipeline Decision
At a time when our Country is facing an unemployment rate of over nine percent, I just do not understand President Obama's decision to push back the timeline for the development of the Keystone XL pipeline. This action delays the creation of thousands of jobs and limits our ability to develop domestic energy resources. This decision goes against commonsense.
In my view, we must do all that we can to get this economy moving. Last week, I voted in favor of H.R.3630 which would accelerate President Obama's decision on the Keystone XL energy pipeline. All the pieces are in place- the President must not push off this critical job creating decision until after the election. We need jobs now.
The REINS Act - Voted to Hold Bureaucrat Regulators Accountable
Earlier this month, I voted in favor of H.R. 10, the REINS Act, which curbs federal spending by requiring congressional approval for any federal regulation with an economic impact of $100 million or more. For too long, unelected federal officials have imposed huge costs on the economy and American people through burdensome regulations. These officials are not elected and therefore not held accountable by American voters. The REINS Act is part of the answer to getting federal regulations under control and off the backs of hard working Americans.
According to the Small Business Administration, federal regulations cost our economy $1.75 trillion. These costs hurt small business owners the most. Employers fearing tougher, stronger regulations can't afford to hire more employees as costly regulations pile up.
Fuel Containment - Took Action to Rein-In the EPA
Recently, the EPA proposed regulations to subject many farmers and ranchers to the Oils Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure program. These regulations would require many farmers and ranchers to undertake costly infrastructure improvements.
I sent a letter on July 27th of this year to EPA Administrator, Lisa Jackson, urging the EPA to revise and delay the fuel storage regulations for farmers. I am pleased to let you know the EPA has proposed to change the date by which farmers must comply with fuel storage regulations and implement their fuel storage plans to May 10th, 2013.
I am also a cosponsor of HR 3158, the Farmers Undertake Environmental Land Stewardships Act, or the FUELS Act, which will increase the fuel storage capacity exemption to 10,000 gallons, an increase of 8,680 gallons from the current level of 1,320.
Transportation Hub at Cates Landing - Worked To Bring Job Creating Infrastructure
The Port project at Cates Landing in Lake County is a major job building priority of mine. West Tennessee needs jobs, and acquiring funding to open the Port will help. I worked with Port officials and the United States Department of Transportation authorities to ensure previously awarded grant funding that was authorized and appropriated in 2010, was obligated to the Port project without delay. I am confident that the new Port at Cates Landing will help attract more private industry to Northwest Tennessee, to create more jobs. As everyone knows, this is an investment in our future.
Budget - Voted to Stop Out-of-Control Washington Spending
As I complete my first year serving as a Member of Congress, I am committed to moving forward to cut wasteful spending and finding new ways to get our country back on the path to increasing economic prosperity, creating jobs and expanding opportunity to future generations. In the past few years, federal spending has increased 24 percent under the Obama Administration. Government debt now encompasses 53 percent of our GDP, squeezing our private investment. Not to mention, the federal government spends 40 cents of every dollar to service our nation's debt and interest payment.
I voted for H.J. Res 2, proposing a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution of the United State. H.R. 2560, the Cut, Cap and Balance Act of 2011, a plan which would cut over $100 billion in spending this year alone, reduce and cap future spending levels and called for a Balanced Budget Amendment.
Our nation's debt continues to be one of the greatest obstacles to our economic security. Recently, the national debt reached $15 trillion, meaning that our debt is now greater than our economic output (GDP) for the first time since World War II. I know that Washington cannot continue to spend money that we don't have. I have supported, and will continue to fight for legislation that cuts federal spending, caps future spending levels, and balances our budget.
Obamacare - Voted to Repeal and Protect Medicare
I voted for and cosponsored H.R. 2, Repealing the Job Killing Healthcare Law Act. I also voted in favor of H.R. 9 that instructs several House Committees to begin an open and transparent debate on providing accessible and affordable care to all Americans.
To pay for Obamacare, the law includes a $500 billion cut to the Medicare program. Obamacare also put in place 15 unelected bureaucrats empowered with the ability to cut Medicare and deny healthcare services in order to save money. I am opposed to any plan that would harm seniors' access to critical Medicare benefits.
Our focus should be enabling market solutions over government mandates that increase competition by allowing insurance companies to sell insurance across state lines. Ensuring a patient's ability to keep his or her doctor and health plan if he or she likes it and preserves the sanctity and privacy of the doctor-patient relationship is important to all Americans.
As you know, the United States Supreme Court will be hearing oral arguments on the constitutionality of the individual mandate and severability clauses. I signed on to two legal briefs that support repealing Obamacare.
It has been an honor to serve this year. If I can be of assistance to you, please contact my office any time. Have a safe and happy holiday season.
Stephen L. Fincher
Stephen Fincher is the U.S. Representative for Tennessee's 8th congressional district.