I've spent a lot of time during the district work period meeting with and listening to many of you concerned about out-of-control government spending and the impacts of Obamacare, which is quite appropriate given the tough decisions that Congress is going to have to make on these issues in the weeks ahead.
As many of you know, our nation is in the midst of a dire fiscal and economic state of affairs. The national debt stands at $16.8 trillion and is growing daily. In March of this year, the House passed a continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government operational through the end of Fiscal Year 2013. Passage of this measure was another effort by the House to ensure that government growth is curbed, economic uncertainty is reduced, and national security is protected.
That uncertainty is a reality for folks just like you. In a recent survey to part of the district, I saw first-hand the pain and uncertainty being felt by so many of you. There was a Jefferson City-area man who lamented where our country was headed by simply stating: "I fear for our country." In order to restore some confidence about our country's economic future, the government cannot keep working off of short-term budget resolutions and that is why this past March the House approved - and I supported - the Fiscal Year 2014 budget that included a full repeal of Obamacare.
I have staunchly opposed Obamacare in its entirety and have voted 40 times to repeal and defund the bill in its entirety or piece by piece. Obamacare has passed along billions of dollars in costs to taxpayers like you during one of the most serious economic downturns in American history and puts the government in charge of health care rather than doctors and patients. The Congressional Budget Office projected that government spending on health care will reach $1.8 trillion while premiums will continue to rise by thousands of dollars per family over the next decade. And organizations like the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) and their Missouri affiliate argue that the number one concern for small businesses is the rising cost of health care.
"Instead of relief from these rising costs, the federal law will increase costs for Missouri small businesses by adding on new benefit mandates and taxes on health insurance," Brad Jones, Missouri state director of NFIB, told me recently. "The law is also having consequences for employees such as reduced hours and less take home pay. Congress should continue to work to repeal the onerous law or work to provide relief for small businesses from the most egregious provisions such as the small business health insurance tax and employer mandate."
Cutting federal spending, balancing the budget, and repealing Obamacare have been priorities for me since coming into office, and they will continue to be priorities. While my House colleagues and I will continue to work to dismantle Obamacare, the president and his allies who currently control the Senate will block any effort to do so. As I prepare to return to Washington, I pledge to you that your concerns and comments will continue to influence me as Congress moves ahead in dealing with critical issues that will have lasting impacts for us and for future generations of Americans. I also encourage you to contact my office with your thoughts on this issue and any others. It is a critical time for our country and I encourage as many of you as possible to stay involved in the process.
U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-Mo., represents the state's 3rd District, which includes Jefferson City. His local office can be reached at 573-635-7232.