Home >> Section >> Jack's Blog

Jack's Blog

Posted by Elizabeth K. on December 10, 2012

Speaker of the House John Boehner lit the 48th annual Capitol Christmas Tree on the West Front Lawn of the Capitol Tuesday night. The 73-foot tall Englemann spruce made the three week, 5,300 mile journey from White River National Forest in Colorado. Ryan Shuster, an Eagle Scout from Colorado Springs helped Speaker Boehner flip the switch.

Decorated with nearly 10,000 low-energy LED lights and 5,000 ornaments handmade by Coloradans, this year’s Capitol Christmas Tree theme is “Celebrating Our Great Outdoors.”

Each year, the Christmas tree, dubbed “The People’s Tree” by Tip O’Neill in 1985, is “an emblem of peace for the nation and the world.” The U.S. Air Force Band entertained the audience with “O Christmas Tree” and other Christmas classics.

As Speaker Boehner said, “Christmas is not some distant historical event. It is a spirit always bringing us closer to each other and closer to the peace of which the angels sang.”

From all of us at Congressman Kingston’s office, we wish you a happy and safe holiday season filled with family and friends.
Posted by on December 07, 2012

In the negotiations over the fiscal cliff, we have heard a lot from President Obama about raising taxes. We know that the President wants to increase taxes but despite all the talk about a “balanced approach” we have yet to see him propose any real spending cuts.

After three weeks of negotiations President Obama’s opening offer contained $1.6 trillion in tax increases – two times the level on which the President campaigned.  According to media reports, the offer completely ignored the general framework on which talks had centered.

The President’s political allies would have you believe his proposal contains some $400 billion in “spending cuts.”  Unfortunately his plan also contains at the very least $287 billion in new spending.  Moreover, the so-called cuts count previously-enacted savings, “savings” from winding down the war in Afghanistan, and counts as savings interest the country would not be paying because it did not borrow additional money.

That is as good as crediting Georgia $5 billion in budget savings this year because we were not hit by a hurricane.  It is the kind of thinking that got us into this mess and the gimmickry that lets Washington ignore our country’s problems rather than tackling them head on.

We have a spending problem, not a revenue problem.  Historically, revenues are 18 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).  Spending, however, is currently 23 percent of GDP and President Obama’s budget doubles down on this unsustainable path.

Since 1975, federal spending has grown nearly 10 times faster than inflation.  Clearly, both parties have their fingerprints on the national debt but even if President Obama got every tax hike he’s asking for, deficits would average $715 billion during his second term.  Even if the President took 100% of the income of those making $1 million or more, his budget would run a $370 billion deficit this year.

I support the President’s right to advance his views.  His insistence, however, on raising rates is misguided.  The very people says he is targeting – the super wealthy – are the ones that can afford to hire accountants and lawyers to reduce their effective tax rates by taking advantage of loopholes.

As it stands, the President’s definition of wealthy includes as many as 1.7 million individuals whose small business income is reported through their individual income tax filings.  Increasing taxes on these individuals would have the effect of killing jobs.

While I have concerns about Speaker Boehner’s proposal to avert the fiscal cliff, I believe he put forward a thoughtful and serious offer.  Now it is time for the President to do the same. 

Any such offer would most certainly include substantive spending cuts.  That means spending less, not exploiting budget tricks to satisfy phony accounting.
President Obama campaigned on a “balanced approach.”  It is time for him to deliver just that.

Posted by Chris on October 05, 2012
1. 4.1 Million Fewer Jobs than Projected: In January 2009 the Obama Administration forecast there would be 137.6 million jobs in December 2010.  Instead there were 130.3 million jobs in December 2010.  Even 21 months later in September 2012, there are just 133.5 million jobs – 4.1 million fewer than the Administration’s forecast for late 2010.

2. Slower Jobs Recovery than during the Great Depression: This is the only “recovery” since World War II when jobs lost in the recession had not been recovered by this point.  In fact, the recent pace of job creation during the “Obama recovery” has been slower than during the Great Depression.

3. Less Full Time Work: Since January 2009 the number of full-time employees has fallen by over 600,000 while part-time employment has grown by almost 1.4 million.  This means part-time workers account for all of the net employment growth in the Obama years – the opposite of what Democrats predicted when they said their stimulus plan was “likely to move many workers from part-time to full-time work.”

4. Manufacturing Jobs Down: Since January 2009 over 600,000 manufacturing jobs have been eliminated, the opposite of the Administration’s projected increase of 408,000 manufacturing jobs due to their trillion-dollar stimulus.

5. Ten Times More New Dropouts than New Employees: During the Obama Administration, the number of people not in the labor force has grown by 8.2 million while total employment has grown by less than 800,000.  This means that during the Obama years new workforce dropouts have outnumbered new employees by 10 to 1.

6. Far Higher Unemployment Rate than Projected:  September’s 7.8% unemployment rate remains far above the 5.5% rate the Administration predicted for this month in their January 2009 report on the projected effects of stimulus.  Democrats actually predicted unemployment would fall to 7.8% in September 2009 – a full three years ago.

7. Real Unemployment Is Almost 11%: If the unemployment rate included the “invisible unemployed” (discouraged workers who dropped out or never joined the workforce), the September 2012 unemployment rate would be 10.9%:

8. More Unemployed Now than When Economy Was in “Free-Fall”: In September 2012 there were 12.1 million officially unemployed workers.  That’s 39,000 more than when President Obama took office in January 2009 – when the Administration said “we were in economic free-fall.” 

9. Two Million More Long-term Unemployed: In September 2012 there were 4.8 million long-term unemployed (that is, for over six months) – over two million more than when President Obama took office in January 2009.

10. Economic Misery up 80%: The “Obama Misery Index” shows that unemployment and debt have risen by a combined 80% since the start of the Obama Administration.

Posted by Chris on September 17, 2012
In case you missed it, Jack appeared on WTOC to discuss the attacks against Americans abroad and the dangers posed to our military and national security by sequestration.  You can read more about both these subjects in this week's e-newsletter.

Posted by Chris on September 01, 2012

Labor Day is a wonderful holiday.  It provides us a chance to celebrate all that summer had to offer while looking forward to fall.  If we are lucky, it gives us a chance to spend time with our family and friends, cook out, and celebrate the start of football season (Go Dawgs!).

The real meaning of Labor Day, however, is taking a moment to celebrate the American worker.  Throughout our history, the American workforce has led the world in innovation and productivity.  We have dreamed up some of the greatest inventions and created the supply chain to spread them all over the world.

America gives everyone – regardless of your past – the opportunity to earn a livelihood, provide for your family, and, if you’re lucky, the chance to give a hand up to the next generation so they may seek an even better life.

Unfortunately, America’s economy is puttering right now and is failing the American worker.  A report this week from the Bureau of Economic Analysis found that economic growth slowed for two consecutive quarters, making this the weakest economic recovery since World War II.

Remember when the Obama Administration campaigned for his trillion dollar “stimulus”?  They promised unemployment would never rise above 8 percent and millions of jobs would be created by the end of 2010.

As of last month, there are still 4.4 million fewer jobs than the Administration forecast for December 2010 and unemployment has been above 8 percent for 42 straight months, marking the longest period of high unemployment since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

While some in Washington focused on a passing a misguided health care law, the rug was being ripped out from under American workers.  Today there are 1.5 million fewer full-time workers than when President Obama took office.  Millions of Americans only have work because they have been forced to shift from full-time to part-time employment, often lacking benefits or the ability to support a family.

The economy has become so bad that many are giving up looking for work all together.  Under President Obama, total employment has increased by a net of just 33,000 new employees.  In that same time, the number of people no longer in the labor force has grown by 7.8 million.  That means that during the Obama years, labor force drop outs outnumbered new employees 237 to 1.

Even worse, those who have been able to maintain their jobs see their paychecks falling behind inflation as prices rise while wages stay stagnant or decline.

I hope this Labor Day provides everyone with an opportunity to reflect on this state of the American economy and the American worker.  We face great challenges but America has never been one to back down before.  It is not too late to abandon the failed policies that have made a bad economic situation worse.

It’s not too late to put a halt to overly-burdensome and misguided government regulations.  We should be able to come together and agree that regulators should work with well-intentioned businesses rather than using the law to exploit inadvertent mistakes.

It’s not too late to create jobs and bring down the cost of gasoline by developing America’s energy resources.  An all-of-the-above energy platform would harness America’s energy potential both in conventional means and renewable resources.

It’s not too late to replace our misguided tax code with one that works for the American economy by making it fairer, flatter, and more conducive to growth. 

In each of these areas the House has acted: calling for a review of regulations and repeal those that yield little benefit while they inflict much economic damage; voting to end President Obama’s de facto energy moratorium and to expand safe development of our resources; and laying the ground work to fast track fundamental tax reform.

In each of these areas, we welcome the President and the Senate to join us.  We also welcome them to act on any of the more than thirty bipartisan jobs bills passed by the House which await Senate action.

More than any holiday, honoring the American worker today starts with coming together to reignite the American economy and revive the American dream.

What do you think would be best to encourage economic growth?  Share your thoughts below.

Posted by Morgan R. & Marjie D. on July 30, 2012
The Smithsonian's National Postal Museum, in conjunction with American Philatelic Society, the U.S. Postal Service and Stamp Camp USA hosted a special Congressional stamp exhibit. The exhibit displayed philatelic items from the personal collections of three U.S. Senators and five U.S. Representatives. Although the whole exhibit was very interesting, the children's camp run by Stamp Camp USA is what captured our attention the most.

During the children's three day camp, they began their days with an educational lesson about the history of stamp collecting. Children engaged in games such as stamp scavenger hunters. During the hunt they searched through the many free stamps, provided by the exhibit, in hopes to find what they were scavenging for.

After lunch, the children created 3-D stamp art. To begin, they searched through the stamp tables and found about five stamps that shared a common theme. Once their themes had been decided, they began constructing their 3-D models. The models ranged from spaceship shuttles to a palm tree island and had stamps glued onto them that pertained to their theme. We were extremely impressed by the unique models that were selected to be judged for the grand prize of a special surprise.

It is amazing how tiny stamps can be the starting grounds to a whole educational lesson on a variety of topics, such as wildlife or the history of past U.S. presidents. It allows the kids to have colorful images of real-life stories. Stamp Camp USA encourages children to not only learn, but also engage in teamwork and develop leadership skills. I was very impressed by the Congressional stamp exhibit and hope it continues to enrich children’s and adult’s lives.

Morgan and Marjie are rising seniors at the University of Georgia who are currently interning in Jack's Washington, D.C. office.
Posted by Jack on July 29, 2012
 Red Tape vs Small Business
If the past few years are any indicator, Fridays are reserved for bad news from the federal government.  This Friday held true with a report from the Commerce Department that economic growth had slowed to an anemic 1.5 percent in the second quarter.

While it is hard to bring that 10,000 foot statistic to a more relatable level, consider this: Friday’s report confirms that this is the weakest “recovery” in the post-World War era.  Annualized, growth is less than half of the previous nine recoveries.  Clearly something is not working.

While the federal government cannot create the kind of jobs we need to get our economy back on its feet, it can create an environment that encourages the private sector to expand and create jobs.  The first step to creating such an environment is to quit being a stumbling block to expansion and job creation.

Since the beginning of the year, the federal government has imposed $56.6 billion in compliance costs and more than 114 million annual paperwork burden hours.  That is time and money that could have been invested in expanding businesses and hiring new workers.  If you thought that was bad, the Washington bureaucracy is on overdrive right now to create new regulations.

A report by the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform found that the Obama Administration issued 106 new rules in its first three years that collectively cost taxpayers more than $46 billion annually.  That is four times the number of “major” regulations and five times the cost of rules issued in the prior administration’s first three years.

The same report found that, over the past decade, the number of “economically significant” rules (those which could cost $100 million or more annually) has increased by 137 percent.

While the sheer number is alarming, the impact they have on business is chilling.

A recent Gallup poll found that nearly half of all small businesses are not hiring because they are worried about new government regulations.

Who could blame them?  This is the same government that literally likened spilt milk to an oil spill and expected dairy farmers to come up with an environmental mitigation plan on par with an oil company.

This week, the House worked to bring some common sense to the regulatory process by passing with bipartisan support the Red Tape Reduction and Small Business Job Creation Act (H.R. 4078).  This legislation combines several proposals to provide relief from red tape and bureaucratic overreach.

Among them, it would freeze “economically significant” regulations until unemployment reaches 6 percent and would prevent “lame duck” administrations from issuing such regulations literally on their way out the door.

Our plan would give impacted parties a voice before federal agencies agree to binding legal settlements which require them to issue new regulations, ending the practice of “sue and settle” by which regulators exploit the legal system to achieve their agenda.

It also includes several provisions similar to those put forth by President Obama’s Jobs Council.  These include making independent agencies like the National Labor Relations Board subject to the same regulatory review and transparency requirements as other agencies, streamlining the federal permitting process for construction projects, and requiring more thorough cost-benefit analyses from regulators.

While there is no silver bullet to reigniting the American economy, this proposal would go a long way toward encouraging economic growth by addressing what the National Federation of Independent Business identified as the single-most important problem for small business.

As President Reagan once said, “small business is the gateway to opportunity for those who want a piece of the American dream.”  Let’s make sure the federal government is not blocking their way.

Posted by Chris on July 19, 2012

Dr. Joseph Barrow, Superintendent of Ware County Public Schools, poses with Congressman Jack Kingston (R-GA) after a meeting in Kingston's Washington, D.C. office.  During their meeting, Barrow and Kingston discussed federal education programs and the challenges in education today.

Posted by Chris on July 15, 2012

Last week, the House voted on a bipartisan basis to repeal President Obama’s misguided health care law.  I voted in favor of repealing the law for five reasons.

First, it increases the cost of care.  The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office found that the law will actually increase health insurance premiums for families by $2,100, in direct contrast to the President’s campaign trail promise that his plan would reduce premiums by $2,500.

Second, it would cause twenty million Americans to lose their employer-sponsored health insurance according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office.  The Obama Administration’s own Department of Health and Human Services estimates that 80 percent of small businesses and 64 percent of large businesses will discontinue offering health insurance to their employees.

Third, it interferes in the doctor-patient relationship.  The law creates 159 new boards, offices, and panels within the federal government to make health care decisions for individuals.

Fourth, it piles more debt on our children and grandchildren.  At a time when we already borrow 40 cents on every dollar the government spends, the law would add another $1.8 trillion over the next decade.  We do not have the money.

Fifth, it is a job killer.  The Congressional Budget Office estimates that nearly 800,000 jobs will be lost because of Obamacare.  As last week’s jobs report made clear, we cannot afford to further erode the employment situation.

While I remain committed to repealing this misguided law, we must work to reform the underlying problems in our health care system.  As opposed to the divisive politics and underhanded tactics used to enact it, we should come together and put our best ideas forward to replace the law.

To this end, I have cosponsored reforms that would:

Enact Medical Liability Reform
Sensible tort reforms would cut back on unnecessary tests and procedures that are only ordered to defend against frivolous lawsuits, saving patients time and irritation while saving all of us money.

Allow Interstate Competition for Health Insurance
Allowing Americans to buy the same plans available to residents of other states would increase competition and help reduce costs while providing more choice.

Expand Health Savings Accounts
Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) are popular savings accounts that provide cost effective health insurance to those who might otherwise go uninsured. Making them easier to use would increase access to quality care by making health care more affordable.

Increase Access for Patients with Pre-Existing Conditions
By incentivizing states to expand high-risk pools and other innovative programs, we can lower premiums and reduce the number of uninsured Americans.

Level the Playing Field for Purchasing Health Insurances
Giving equal tax treatment to individual and employer-sponsored health insurance would create a more transparent, consumer-driven market for health care and would help reduce the problem of “preexisting conditions.”

Permanently Prohibit Taxpayer Funding of Abortion
Taxpayer dollars should not be used to take innocent life through abortion and health care providers should be protected from performing procedures that violate their conscience.

Posted by Phillips W. on July 13, 2012

In a few short months, America’s television and radio waves will be overrun with publicity for the 2012 presidential election.  Every time Americans flip on the news or a sports broadcast, I can almost guarantee that we will see President Obama and Governor Romney going after each other in carefully crafted commercials. 

The Internet won’t be spared, either—Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, and even ESPN articles will be hit with a wave of campaign advertising.  For better or for worse, the rise of technology has transformed the way presidential campaigns are conducted. 

Today, I got a glimpse of what election years were like before the Information Age at the Library of Congress’s presidential campaign memorabilia display.  It was very different to see such an emphasis on print advertising—a medium that has become marginalized.  Romanticized photographs or portraits highlighted catchy slogans like “Tippecanoe and Tyler, Too” (William Henry Harrison) and “I Like Ike” (Dwight Eisenhower). 

Though flyers and posters are still around, some methods have fallen by the wayside completely.  Songbooks and sheet music used to by common on the campaign trail, and the LoC’s collection included colorful tunes like “Everything Will be Rosy with Roosevelt”, “We’ll do it with Dewey”, and my personal favorite, “Turn the Rascals Out”. 

As frustrating as they can be and as never-ending as they seem, modern campaign tools, like TV and the Internet, are more beneficial for both the candidate and the electorate.  A nominee can get out his message quickly, and voters can debate and fact-check almost as fast.  However, the LoC’s exhibition was a great opportunity to see how history’s leaders presented themselves.  It was also a reminder that today’s invaluable campaign instruments will someday be viewed by an intern as artifacts in a museum.

Phillips W. is a rising sophomore at Clemson University.  He is a summer intern in Jack’s DC office.