Idaho’s two U.S. representatives are united in their opposition to two spending bills that passed the House Friday. Reps. Walt Minnick, D-1st District, and Mike Simpson, R-2nd District, voted against the bills, which among other spending, would extend unemployment benefits through December and delay planned cuts in Medicare reimbursements to doctors.
House Resolution 4213 , the American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act of 2010, is known as the “Extenders” bill, because it extends a number of targeted tax breaks and subsidies for special interests through 2010. The bill also extends unemployment benefits until Dec. 31 of this year. The Heritage Foundation estimates the cost of extending those benefits at $47 billion. The bill passed on a 215-204 vote.
The bill initially contained a provision that would put off a planned 21.2 percent reduction in Medicare reimbursements to doctors until 2012. According to Minnick’s staff, that provision carried a price tag of $22 billion. It was separated from the original bill and passed separately by a vote of 245-171.
All told, the legislation passed by the House Friday adds $58 billion to the federal deficit, said Rep. Tom Price, R-Georgia, of the Republican Study Committee. He contends the increasing federal tax burden will lead to continued job losses and a further shrinking of the economy. “With the national debt at $13 trillion, Americans can no longer afford a government that spends without care. History shows we have reached a point in which the sheer magnitude of debt causes economic growth to decline.”
Both Minnick and Simpson released statements, saying Congress cannot afford to continue spending and raising taxes. “This country can’t afford to keep adding to the deficit, passing along that debt to our children and grandchildren,” said Minnick. "It is time that we hold government accountable for what they do with taxpayer money. And that means making tough choices – the same kind of choices that Idahoans are faced with every day.”
Simpson agreed that tough choices have to be made. “Congress cannot continue to spend money, even for worthy causes, without making any attempt to pay for them. Unfortunately, I could not support this latest unemployment insurance extension because the cost to the taxpayer was too great.” Of the so-called “doc fix” bill, Simpson said the current Sustained Growth Rate (SGR) system of reimbursing doctors for services they provide under Medicare doesn’t accurately reflect the program’s true cost, and that a long-term solution is needed rather than short-term annual “band-aids.”