“The federal government is going to have more revenue next year than this year. And it’s going to spend more money than it did this year. Look, for the next generation, if we can’t get this under control and do away with some of the wasteful stupid Washington spending, the next generation is doomed. And so is our economy.”- Greg Walden
Cathy was first elected to Congress in 2004 and is now in her fifth term representing Eastern Washington’s 5th Congressional District.
Cathy McMorris Rodgers is proof that what we were taught as children is true today. In America, with a positive attitude, hard work, and dedication, we can rise from humble beginnings to important positions of leadership. Cathy was born to a farming family with deep roots in Eastern Washington. The early members of the McMorris family settled as pioneers in Walla Walla in 1853. Growing up, Cathy worked on the family orchard side by side with her parents and younger brother.
Cathy was the first in her family to attend from college. She worked her way through Pensacola Christian College in Florida and later earned her Executive MBA from the University of Washington. She served five terms as a citizen legislator in Olympia, eventually being elected minority leader. When the legislature was not in session Cathy worked in her parents’ small business, Peachcrest Fruit Basket, near Kettle Falls, Washington.
Cathy’s responsibilities have changed significantly over the years, but she has remained true to her roots. She believes in the promise of America. In Congress, Cathy promotes policies to give wider opportunities to families and small businesses. She works to keep taxes and spending down, strongly supports our troops and veterans, and works to improve access to quality, affordable health care.
In November 2012, Cathy was chosen by her colleagues to be Conference Chair, on of the top four House leaders. As chair, she has pioneered use of social media and outreach to constituent groups. Cathy also serves on the House Energy & Commerce Committee.
McMorris Rodgers is a Republican who finds opportunities to work across party lines. Cathy served as Co-Chair of the bipartisan Congressional Women’s Caucus and was co-founder of the bipartisan Military Families Caucus.
She is married to Brian Rodgers, a retired 26-year active-duty Navy Commander. They have one son and one daughter.
Monetary concerns, including the idea of a balanced-budget amendment, dominate U.S. Rep. Walden’s Medford town hall Tuesday
By Paul Fattig
January 30, 2013 2:00 AM
U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., faced a largely friendly audience during a town hall session at the Medford library Tuesday, but the loudest applause he received came when he mentioned the possibility of withholding congressional paychecks.
“We have extended the debt ceiling until May,” he said. “With the condition that the Congress, each house, pass a budget. If we don’t, the house that doesn’t pass a budget, no pay.”
At that point, the roughly 200 in attendance erupted in applause, reflecting the frustration felt by local constituents.
The national debt and its potential consequences were among the issues Walden of Hood River, discussed during the session. It was scheduled for an hour but ran for nearly 90 minutes. Everything from assault weapons to taxes were discussed.
Walden, 55, who has represented the 2nd Congressional District for 14 years, is the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, making him the fifth-most powerful person in the House. As the committee chairman, he will work closely with House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and other party leaders to set the agenda in the House, where the GOP is the majority.
“I don’t have to tell you we are facing some really difficult choices in the nation’s capitol and in our country,” he told the crowd.
The problems facing the nation are shared by all, whether conservative or liberal, Democrat, Republican or independent, he noted.
“When you look at the deficit and what it has done, regardless of who you attribute its creation to, it is there and it is getting worse,” he continued.
When he was a small business owner, Walden said, he could decide how to avoid or reduce debt.
“Unlike being a small business owner, I don’t get to just decide,” he said. “You try to influence others. You try to bring people together.”
Walden noted that he has supported a balanced-budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution since he was elected to Congress 14 years ago.
“If we had a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution, as we do in many states, including Oregon, I think it would be an appropriate governor, an appropriate slowing down, an appropriate recognition that we’ve got to make these decisions,” he said.
Noting that he believes spending is the problem, he said that passing a budget is crucial.
“But the Senate hasn’t passed a budget in three-and-a-half years,” he said. “The House has passed one in each of the last two years. You can like it or dislike it — believe me, we had strongly held opinions on both sides — but at least we had a document.”
He observed the nation is facing deadlines that will force it to act. The resolution that is funding the federal government in the interim ends on March 27. And each house of Congress is expected to pass a budget on April 15.
“In the next couple of months, there is going to be an enormous debate in Washington as well as across the country about what direction the country should go and how we should tackle the budget,” he said.
When he opened the session up for questions, one woman asked him why Congress didn’t simply take away the pay. She expressed concern that members would simply get a loan for what they can expect to be paid.
Walden indicated he was all for that, but the 27th Amendment to the Constitution prevents such a move, he said.
“All we could figure out how to do constitutionally was withhold the pay — you can do that,” he said.
“It had a really nice shame factor,” he added.
One patron chided Walden for voting to repeal the Glass-Steagall Act of 1939. The federal law prohibited banks from acting as dealers or underwriters in any securities other than general obligation municipal bonds.
“Then you voted to bail them out with the TARP bill in 2008,” the patron said. “What I’m asking you is: Are you working for Wall Street or are you working for the people?”
Insisting that slashing huge amounts of money from the budget would not work, he urged Walden to work to restore the 1939 act.
“You have to get rid of the elephant in the room, and that’s the toxic bank assets whose liability has been transferred to the American taxpayer,” he said.
But Walden countered that an independent analysis by factcheck.org disagreed with the assertion that the repeal of the 1939 act had a substantial impact on the economic meltdown.
He blamed the subsequent Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act for contributing to the current financial woes.
Another member of the audience felt the Federal Reserve is the problem.
“I’ve supported for a number of years auditing the Federal Reserve,” Walden responded.
The solution, insisted one woman, is for Congress to close its doors and the public purse for a month, creating a government shutdown.
“Washington is not afraid of we the people,” she said. “They need to be afraid of us.”
If such a shutdown were to occur, the spouses of the soldiers currently fighting in Afghanistan would not receive a check, Walden said.
“There are consequences to actions we need to understand,” he said, noting a similar action was taken in 1995. “That’s the nuclear option. It is not without ramifications.”
A sensible solution would be first to agree on a budget and work forward from there, he said.
Several people brought up the issue of the 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear arms and recent calls for tighter gun control laws after the Sandy Hook shootings.
One man, who noted he was a hunter, said he had little use for an assault rifle with a 100-round clip.
“As long as there is no clause to take away guns and no clause to impose penalties to those who have them,” he said.
However, two others spoke out against any ban on assault weapons, noting the 2nd Amendment does not refer to hunting.
Another person objected to the current push to legalize immigration for undocumented residents.
Still others expressed concern about Obamacare, Social Security and other issues.
“Understand the mechanics and the limitations of what we can and cannot get done,” Walden told the crowd. “When you’ve got three entities and two of them have a different view than the third, it is a little hard if you are the third to control the first two. You are outnumbered every day of the week.”
But he vowed to continue working on solutions he supported.
Reach reporter Paul Fattig at 541-776-4496 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Holly Dillemuth | Posted: Saturday, January 12, 2013 12:00 am
Tax reform, national debt and spending on Wednesday were high on the list of talking points during a Hermiston town hall-style meeting for U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, a Hood River Republican.
Walden spoke to more than 100 people, including city leaders, about taxes and spending and fielded questions on various issues for about an an hour and half at the Hermiston Conference Center.
He spoke specifically about recent changes made by Congress to the country’s tax code. “
The tax code we’ve all lived under for 12 years actually expired,” Walden said. “The proposal that passed Congress, which I did support … met a principal I believe in strongly, which is how do you get as much tax relief in the law without an expiration date as you can for as many middle class Americans as possible? And we did that.
“We avoided (what) probably would be the biggest tax increase on the middle class in our history,” Walden said. “Instead there’s a $3.9 trillion dollar reduction in taxes.”
Walden also addressed national spending and the country’s deficit of more than $16 Trillion going into 2013.
He told the audience, which included multiple students from Hermiston Christian School, that Congress will consider raising the debt ceiling as early as mid-February.
“We are headed on a path to bankrupt this country if we don’t change our spending behaviors,” Walden said. “Failing to increase the debt ceiling means the risk, some argue, of defaulting America’s credit.”
Walden said he will introduce legislation this week to prevent a current proposal from Congressman Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat, who is attempting through legislation to mint a coin as a solution to reducing the deficit.
“The notion that you can eliminate your debt ceiling problem by just minting a coin, if it was that simple, then let’s mint 17 of them and we have a balanced budget and a surplus,” Walden said. “We need to be serious about solving this problem.”
Residents also addressed other issues important to them, from Affordability Care Act to immigration reform.
Hispanic Advisory Committee Chairman Eddie De La Cruz asked Walden if he would support a new immigration reform law.
“There’s 11 million undocumented. working immigrants in this country,” De La Cruz said. “We need this, the country needs it.”
“There are differences in this room about what that would look like, “ Walden said.
He said America has always been a country that has embraced immigrants from various countries. “It is to a point where we need to figure out an update of America’s immigration laws,”
Walden said in an interview following his presentation. “It’s been since 1986 that a comprehensive immigration reform has occurred and there’s work to be done.”
But it’s actually more like ‘No Pay (Right Away)’
By KTVZ.COM news sources
POSTED: 3:38 PM PST January 23, 2013 UPDATED: 3:38 PM PST January 23, 2013
WASHINGTON -Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore.,, issued the following statement upon Wednesday’s House passage of the “No Budget, No Pay” plan:
“In our part of Oregon, families sit down around their kitchen tables and figure out how to balance their budgets. It’s time for Washington, D.C. to do the same,” he said. “If hard-working taxpayers don’t do their jobs, they don’t get paid. Congress needs to live by the same rules — no budget, no pay.“While the House has passed a budget each of the last two years, the Senate has failed to do so in nearly four,” Walden said. “The last time the Senate passed a budget — in 2009 — the iPad hadn’t even been invented yet!”Congress must write a responsible budget to get our fiscal house in order. Only then will we be able to create a good, strong American economy where people can get a job that pays the bills.”
The “No Budget, No Pay” plan withholds pay from members of the House and Senate if their chamber does not pass a budget by April 15. The measure also temporarily suspends the debt ceiling until May 18 to set up a broader debate about responsible spending.
Actually, there’s an out of sorts — it’s more “No Budget, No Pay (Right Away).”As The New York Times reported: “The debt ceiling legislation – mindful of constitutional hurdles imposed by the 27th Amendment on congressional pay – would simply impound lawmaker salaries until a budget is passed or the 113th Congress ends, whichever comes first.”And it would not require the House and the Senate to come to a compromise on the two spending and tax blueprints, which are likely to be very different. That will be the really difficult task,” the newspaper said.
Asked about that part of the legislation, Walden spokesman Andrew Malcolm told KTVZ.COM,
“The Senate needs to at least put a plan on the table — they haven’t passed a budget since April 2009.”"Remember, it only takes 50 votes to pass a budget resolution in the Senate, not 60,” Malcolm said. “I understand that the chair of the Senate Budget Committee announced today that they will write and pass a budget this year, so perhaps threatening to withhold their pay has finally spurred them to action.”
January 16, 2013
By Paul Fattig
The U.S. Department of Defense plans to drastically reduce the areas where it offers the TRICARE Prime military health care system, a move that could impact some 2,500 military retirees and family members in Southern Oregon.
Effective Oct. 1, the action would eliminate TRICARE Prime beneficiaries along the Interstate 5 corridor in Oregon, according to U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore. Moreover, it would eliminate service to a small number of military retirees within 100 miles of the interstate, including those in Klamath Falls, Bend and Hood River who choose to keep their primary care provider after moving, he said.
Those impacted would be taken out of TRICARE Prime, a health maintenance organization, and be placed in TRICARE Standard, a fee-for-service plan.
Many military retirees have told him they prefer their current plan and are concerned with the changes, said Walden.
TRICARE is the Department of Defense health care program, which provides coverage for medical services, medications and dental care for military families and military retirees and their survivors.
Nationwide, some 171,000 beneficiaries would be impacted by the move, which could cut costs by $56 million a year, according to the department. The move has been planned since 2007, it noted.
The change will not impact any active duty service members or their families. Nor will it affect those with TRICARE for Life, the program that covers military retirees older than 65.
However, the changes call for providing TRICARE Prime only to beneficiaries living within 40 miles of a military treatment facility, according to Walden. In Oregon, there are only two such treatment facilities, both U.S. Coast Guard medical clinics on the Oregon Coast, he said.
Concerned about the changes, Walden, along with fellow U.S. Reps. Suzanne Bonamici, D-Ore., and Mark Amodei, R-Nev., late last year sponsored legislation requiring the Pentagon to detail and address upcoming changes in TRICARE Prime in this year’s defense authorization law.
The TRICARE Protection Act also requires the Defense Department to assess the increased cost and overall impact of the changes on military retirees and their families. It requires the department within 90 days to inform Congress of its plan to provide the beneficiaries with a smooth transition.
“Now that most TRICARE Prime patients will be switched to a different insurance plan, TRICARE Standard, patients aren’t assured that their current primary care physician and health providers will be part of their network,” Walden said in a prepared statement.
“It’s up to the Pentagon to make sure that care is not interrupted for these patients,” he continued. “Military retirees who served our nation in uniform deserve the very best care our nation has to offer.”
Ashland resident Dave Dotterrer, 61, a retired Marine Corps colonel, has been in the TRICARE Prime system since he retired a dozen years ago after 27 years in uniform.
“I like TRICARE Prime,” he said. “It’s been a good program. There are some issues with it in terms of the numbers of doctors willing to take it, but we’ve always been able to find one.
“Now we will be forced into TRICARE Standard,” he added. “That’s going to be an issue. I’m concerned because of the reimbursement rate and whether our doctor will take it.”
He also noted that it leaves only one option for him and his family.
“Now it will be unicare — they are taking away the options,” he said.
The Defense Department had intended to implement the changes in April but announced last week that it would delay the move until Oct. 1 of this year. Last fall, the Oregon delegation had sent a letter to the department expressing concern about the planned changes.
In an information paper released Jan. 10, the Department of Defense said the move could save from $45 million to $56 million.
Military retirees impacted by the change may transfer their Prime enrollment to a more distant prime service area if one is available within 100 miles.
Anyone not enrolling in a more distant prime service area would automatically be covered by TRICARE Standard, it noted.
The department indicated it would be contacting beneficiaries months in advance of any changes.
|Greg Walden’s bill bans minting $1T coin
By: Bobby Cervantes
January 7, 2013 03:41 PM EST
|Lawmakers are still positioning themselves for a debt ceiling fight in a few months, but one Republican congressman wants to snuff out a particular idea immediately: the U.S. Treasury minting $1 trillion platinum coins to avert a debt ceiling showdown
Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) has introduced a bill to specifically ban President Barack Obama from minting the coins.“This scheme to mint trillion dollar platinum coins is absurd and dangerous, and would be laughable if the proponents weren’t so serious about it as a solution,” Walden said in astatement. “My bill will take the coin scheme off the table by disallowing the Treasury to mint platinum coins as a way to pay down the debt.”The idea, which has won the support of Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) and economist Paul Krugman, would allow Obama to mint the platinum coin if the nation moves close to defaulting during the debt ceiling debate with Republicans in the coming months.
By Andrew Clevenger / The Bulletin
Published: January 03. 2013 4:00AM PST
On Wednesday, as the implications of last minute votes in the Senate and House of Representatives to avoid sending the U.S. economy plunging over the so-called fiscal cliff sank in, members of Oregon’s congressional delegation began to look ahead to the next possible showdown.
“These next few months are not going to be for the faint-hearted,” said Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore.
Thanks to a convergence of three financial deadlines, congressional leaders may find themselves back at the negotiating table in a matter of weeks, dealing with the same issues they were unable to solve during the latest round of maneuvering.
First, the “fiscal cliff” deal postponed the automatic cuts to defense and discretionary spending known as sequestration for only two months, meaning they will go into effect March 1 without additional action by Congress.
Second, the government is on the verge of hitting the debt ceiling, the limit on how much money it is authorized to borrow. President Barack Obama has said he will not negotiate over raising the debt ceiling, which is necessary for the government to honor its existing debts, but it does give Republicans some bargaining leverage.
The last time the country hit the debt ceiling, party leaders were unable to strike a grand bargain on deficit reduction, and the resulting deal created sequestration’s mandatory cuts.
Third, the continuing resolution that funds government operations expires March 27. Without Congress authorizing additional funds, the federal government could face a possible shutdown.
Medicare and taxes
For Wyden, the short-term deal provides a small window for Congress to address two main issues: Medicare and tax reform. Because of shifting demographics — over the next decade-plus, 10,000 Americans a day will turn 65 — and rising health care costs, Medicare threatens to dwarf other potential deficit reduction efforts, he said.
“If you duck Medicare, you’re basically ducking budget reform,” Wyden said. “Absent reform, it will eventually engulf the federal budget.”
Members of both parties understand the numbers, so it’s less a question of substance than of finding the political will to make tough decisions, he said.
On taxes, there is common ground on simplifying the tax code by “cleaning out a lot of the ridiculous tax preferences and special interest loopholes” in order to broaden the tax base and keep rates low and progressive, he said.
“Tax reform is very hard because special interest groups pound our members hard to keep their preferences,” he said.
Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., said the new Congress needs to hit the ground running after it is sworn in.
“It’s going to be a very intense period trying to forge this path. If we’re going to avoid another (crisis followed by a short-term solution), we’re going to have to have a coherent plan,” he said.
On the surface, it’s clear the “fiscal cliff” deal will not have a major impact on the deficit, he said. The tax increase on individuals and households that earn more than $400,000 and $450,000, respectively, will generate $600 billion in revenues over 10 years. But $60 billion a year represents roughly 6 percent of the annual $1 trillion deficit, Merkley said.
The last time the government’s revenues and expenditures were in balance, they were both around 21 percent of the gross domestic product, he said. Now, revenues have shrunk to about 15 percent of the GDP, while spending has grown to about 23 percent, creating a growing deficit. Congress needs to create a framework to increase revenues and cut spending until those numbers gradually converge, he said.
“We know if we close that gap too quickly, we send the country into recession,” he said.
Economists have suggested that the $1.2 trillion of mandatory spending cuts would do just that, so sequestration should be replaced with a combination of revenue and cuts, Merkley said.
Because the “fiscal cliff” deal increased revenues by raising taxes on the wealthy, some members will say the next deal has to be all cuts, he predicted.
In a message to supporters Wednesday explaining his decision to vote in favor of the “fiscal cliff” deal, Rep. Greg Walden, R-Hood River, said he was frustrated that nothing was done to effectively cut spending.
“The plan that passed wasn’t perfect — in order to balance the budget, we need to do more to cut spending and grow our economy. But my principle has always been to secure tax relief for the most number of Americans as possible. And yesterday I voted to do that,” Walden wrote.
“Now that tax relief has been extended, it’s time for the president to work with Congress to get our nation’s fiscal house in order by addressing the underlying problem, which is spending. The national debt is currently $16 trillion and climbing, over $50,000 for every American. We must cut spending and grow our economy to avoid passing on an even bigger debt burden to our children and grandchildren.”
The “fiscal cliff” deal passed, with bipartisan support, 89-8 in the Senate and 257-167 in the House. Only 16 House Democrats voted against the measure, and three of those — Reps. Earl Blumenauer, Peter DeFazio and Kurt Schrader — are from Oregon.
DeFazio said he voted no because the deal hinders Congress’ ability to deal meaningfully with the deficit and burgeoning debt.
“The Senate plan pushes dumb, across-the-board spending cuts back just two months, creating yet another fiscal cliff crisis that coincides with the debt ceiling limit,” he said in a prepared statement. “This sets the stage for a massive attack on Social Security and Medicare under the guise of fiscal responsibility. Republicans are already proposing to increase the Medicare eligibility age to 67 and cut the cost of living adjustment for Social Security and veterans’ benefits.”
Schrader said that after the results of the November election, he hoped for a thoughtful discussion in Washington about how to intelligently enact a mixture of tax reform, entitlement reform and some discretionary cuts.
“The ‘fiscal cliff’ was designed accidentally and on purpose to make sure that we actually protected and grew this country going forward,” he said. “We did none of that with what we did yesterday.”
Liberal Democrats who insist that Medicare and Social Security can’t be touched are simply putting their heads in the sand and creating problems for future generations, he said.
“I strongly believe they are going insolvent. They need to be fixed,” he said. “The president is going to have to exert tremendous leadership and tell Democrats that we have to do entitlement reform. … I think Democrats need to get an education.”
Oregonian: Walden, Bonamici team to prevent ‘potentially devastating’ changes to military’s health care plan
By Charles Pope
December 5, 2012
“The recently announced changes to Tricare Prime are potentially devastating to retired service members who have sacrificed so much for our nation,” she said in a statement. “ … This bipartisan legislation will ease the impact of the changes on military retirees and send a message that we honor military retirees and their families.”
If approved, the responsibility for finding adequate replacement care would fall to the military instead of the stranded patient, said Walden’s spokesman Andrew Malcolm.
Separately, the bill would allow stranded retirees to enroll in Tricare Prime Remote, a program that allows selected – but far-flung service members – to take part in the program. Under the Walden/Bonamici proposal, that option would be available for two years to give the Pentagon time to devise more permanent answer.
The timing might be good. The Senate passed the Defense Authorization bill this week while the House passed its version in May. A conference committee to merge the two bill will be convened giving Walden and Bonamici an opportunity to fold their language into the larger compromise bill.
Because Oregon is barren landscape when it comes to defense installations that change would present an unreasonable hardship to veterans and their families who use Tricare Prime.
As first reported by The Army Times, the Pentagon wants to shrink Tricare Prime, the low-cost HMO-style plan across five Western states. The change means either longer drives or higher copays and additional hassle for thousands of Oregonian military retirees and their families.
An aide to Walden said the change would hit approximately 2,500 retirees out of 8,772 who are enrolled in Tricare Prime. Most effected, he said, would be retirees in southern Oregon and along the I-5 corridor.
While the 40-mile standard “might not have a significant impact in a smaller state, or one with more active-duty military installations, this will have a major impact on Oregon Tricare users,” said an Oct. 24 letter to Dr. Jonathon Woodson, assistant Secretary of Defense responsible for Tricare.
The letter was signed by Walden and Bonamici along with Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley and Reps. Peter DeFazio, Earl Blumenauer and Kurt Schrader.