“Diverse” is one word to describe the 114th Congress— 17 percent are non-White and 20 percent are women. Another word to describe the majority of Congress is “Conservatives.” Conservatives control both Chambers after the 2014 mid-term elections and they have the responsibility to pass conservative legislation that will help hurting American families.
This month Wal-Mart eliminated health-insurance benefits to employees working less than 30 hours a week, and increased premiums for others. Want to know why? Rising healthcare costs better known as the Affordable Care Act. It makes sense—people start businesses to make money, not be burdened by regulations that impeded their ability to grow and be innovative.
Earlier this month 10 senators (Democrats and Republicans) filed a bill to repeal the medical device tax portion of the Affordable Care Act. 258 Congress members support this measure in the House of Representatives. The medical device tax is a 2.3-percent tax on gross sales for medical device manufacturers. In 2013, the medical device tax cost 33,000 American jobs. Once the legislation passes both chambers, which it will, we need President Obama to sign this bill into law. This piece of legislation gives the president the opportunity to correct another burden that has manifested from the ACA. The goal should be to increase hospitals and patients having access to quality medical devices—and this piece of legislation does that. As the discussion around the full implementation of the ACA continues, Congress and the President will be left with this question: “Will we be plagued with lost coverage, higher premiums and $1.4 trillion in debt or will we discuss and pass legislation that fixes the Affordable Care Act?
Under President Obama’s leadership, our national deficit topped $1 trillion for four consecutive years. Instead of finding ways to cut back spending we have increased spending. Resulting in almost $8 trillion dollars added to our deficit. To date, the United States has borrowed over $18 trillion worth of programs, projects, vacations, and incentives on credit.
Whew. That is 12 numbers after “18.”
The question that continues to plague my mind is: Why have those we entrusted with our hard earned money continued to throw it at a broken system? You cannot solve a problem by infusing billions for temporary relief. We know that. You cannot spend your way out of debt or bad investments. Government has to live within its means.
America’s corporate income tax is at 35 percent, the highest in the world. Tax reform is well overdue. Both Republicans and Democrats want reform— it is the specifics that result in disagreement. Last week, President Obama during his State of Union address will share his tax reform proposal. His proposal increases taxes by $320 billion over the next years. This will not pass a Conservative Congress. It just will not. And, President Obama knows that. But, this starts another discussion between Congress and the President on helping middle class families that are in need. The last major reform happened in 1986 under President Reagan. Every day citizens like you and I need a simpler tax code.
Criminal justice reform remains a focal point for millions of Americans. Earlier this month, Sens. Rand Paul and Cory Booker told a forum at Suvillian University that they will continue pushing for reform with a bi-partisan partnership. In 2014, Sens. Paul and Booker introduced the Record Expungement Designed to Enhance Employment Act (REDEEM Act). This piece of legislation ”amends the federal criminal code to provide a process for the sealing or expungement of records relating to nonviolent or juvenile crimes.” If this legislation passes, when an individual with a criminal record applies for a job, their record would be sealed and expunged and unable to be viewed during employment background checks. This would be a major win.
All in all, Congress must work to improve our healthcare system, reduce government intrusion in the private sector, decrease government spending, reform our tax code, and tackle inequalities in our criminal justice system. Families across America are hurting and need leaders to pick up their mantle and lead!
Chelsi Henry, Esq. is a Florida-based attorney and business consultant. You can contact her at www.chelsiphenry.com or tweet her at: @chelsiphenry.