Government Shut Down

Got an interesting letter from my Congressman today. (I say ‘my Congressman’. I didn’t vote for him. I enjoy getting his emails though.)

He says isn’t interested in shutting down the government because of budget squabbles and he is fully seized of the fact that shutting down the government does nothing about the Affordable Care Act. So far, so reasonable.

But here’s the interesting part. Last weekend he sent out an email survey, to which I responded. This email contains the results. They speak pretty clearly. And yet, somehow he can’t hear what they’re saying. He says:

The constituents I have heard from don’t want the federal government shut down and they don’t want the glitch-filled, job-crushing health care law known as ObamaCare.

Then he quotes two sets of statistics. The first is from people who contacted his offices. The second from an email survey he sent out last weekend (to which I responded).

Of those who contacted our office:
1,134 — or 85.7 percent — expressed strong opposition to keeping the federal government shut down
188 — or 14.3 percent — expressed support for staying the course and keeping the federal government shut down if it means “defunding ObamaCare”

A measly 14.3% of people want to stay the course and keep federal government shut down ‘if it means defunding Obamacare’, which Gerlach has already stated it will not.

2,584 (52%) — Continue funding government operations, including funding for ObamaCare
1,917 (39%) — Shut down the government if the CR does not defund or delay ObamaCare
398 (8%) — Selected Other

I’m going to make a leap and assume that the 8% are in some kind of opposition to ObamaCare, which would mean that 47% of his constituents might feel strongly anti-Affordable Healthcare. However, that 8% was not willing to go so far as to say government should shut down over this fight. That means something like 60% of Pennsylvanians think Congress is a big tub of squawking crybabies who need a few remedial Kindergarten lessons on getting along together.

I am remarkably heartened by that.

But saddened that Congressman Gerlach still chose to open with

The constituents I have heard from … don’t want the glitch-filled, job-crushing health care law known as ObamaCare.

I’d like to see his statistic on that, since these stats don’t support it and that’s his opening salvo. (He may have those statistics somewhere.)

I’m glad he’s not afraid to criticize his party leaders. I’m not glad he…

…did not vote in favor of the law and have voted more than 40 times to repeal, de-fund, delay and replace it.

or that (buried near the bottom of the letter)

I have joined my colleagues in the House six times during the last two weeks to pass bills that keep the federal government open AND defund or delay ObamaCare.

But that’s just politics. I can cast my vote against him next time. (And I will).

It is interesting, however, to be kept informed and to hear that not everyone out there is a crazy wing nut.

On the other hand: FFS it’s the law of the land, let’s give it a chance and see how it shakes out, eh?

ENTIRE TEXT OF JIM GERLACH’S EMAIL

Capitol Update October 3, 2013
Putting government back to work for you while working to shut down ObamaCare
In the weeks leading up to the Oct. 1 deadline for passing a budget measure that would fund the federal government, I received lots of questions from people in the District about whether I would be willing to shut down the federal government to “de-fund ObamaCare.”

My answer has always been the same. Shutting down the government would not “de-fund ObamaCare.” Mandatory funding for implementing ObamaCare was authorized when the health care law was passed in 2010 by a Congress, which at the time was controlled by Democrats and President Obama. As this Washington Post article notes, the non-partisan Congressional Research Service found that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that Health and Human Services could rely on “sources of funding other than annual discretionary appropriations” to implement ObamaCare. You can read more about the CRS report from July 2013 here.

I did not vote in favor of the law and have voted more than 40 times to repeal, de-fund, delay and replace it. Very simply, I told everyone who asked that I was not in favor of a government shutdown solely for the purpose of grandstanding on ObamaCare.

As you all know, the federal government shut down just after midnight on Tuesday for the first time in 17 years. And ObamaCare is still being implemented in full force by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Meanwhile, taxpayers wondering when they’ll receive overdue tax refunds can’t get answers from the IRS and federal workers are sitting at home instead of answering phones and responding to mail from seniors with questions about Social Security and Medicare.

I think it’s time for government to get back to work for the taxpayers. I have let House leadership know that I am in favor of passing a budget measure that will re-open government and keeps spending flat for the next 6 months. There would be no caving in on spending. The budget I’m calling for builds on the hard-earned success House Republicans have had restoring fiscal discipline and ending out of control spending so we can rejuvenate job growth and prosperity.

The constituents I have heard from don’t want the federal government shut down and they don’t want the glitch-filled, job-crushing health care law known as ObamaCare. But at this moment, middle-class families, employers and communities of all sizes are coping with the devastating effects of both. It is time for Congress to vote on a budget bill that gets the government back to work providing all of the services already paid for by the hard-working taxpayers in my District and across the country.

Reopening the federal government absolutely does not mean shutting down efforts to repeal and replace a health care law that’s driving premiums higher for too many families, cutting hours for too many workers and giving the federal government unprecedented control over medical choices for too many patients.

I have joined my colleagues in the House six times during the last two weeks to pass bills that keep the federal government open AND defund or delay ObamaCare. Each attempt to eliminate funding for the law, repeal the $30 billion medical device tax driving jobs overseas or treat all Americans equally by giving them the same one-year reprieve from the law’s mandates that the President gave big businesses has been rejected by the President and Senate Democrat leaders. A bill to eliminate subsidies to help Members of Congress and their staff pay for health insurance was also sent to the Senate where it died. I supported that bill.

The President and Senate Democrat Leader Harry Reid seem perfectly content keeping the “Closed” sign on the Liberty Bell, Valley Forge National Park and Gettysburg National Battlefield. I am not, and I look forward to voting to put government back to work serving the taxpayers very soon.

Offices are open
All of my offices will remain open and staff will be available to help constituents throughout the federal government shutdown.

I take very seriously my responsibility to serve and assist all the people I have the privilege of representing in this District. My constituents will still have questions and concerns, and they deserve to have someone answer their phone calls and correspondence — even when Washington shuts down.

While staff in Washington and District Offices in Berks, Chester, Lebanon and Montgomery counties will be available to provide information and initiate inquiries with federal agencies, responses from federal agencies may be delayed and it may take longer for those agencies to process new applications due to anticipated furloughs of non-essential federal employees.

I also have tried to mitigate the effects a government shutdown will have on our nation’s military. I recently helped the House pass H.R. 3210, the Pay Our Military Act, which guarantees that the men and women serving our country in the military will be paid during this shutdown. The U.S. Senate passed the bill and the President has signed the measure into law.

The men and women who sacrifice everything serving our country are the most essential federal employees we have. The paychecks they have earned should not stop just because Congress and the President cannot agree on a budget.

Additional information about how federal agencies will be affected by this shutdown is available at http://www.usa.gov/shutdown.shtml.

Constituents speak out on shutdown
Feedback from constituents is important to helping me understand how issues before Congress affect the families, businesses and communities in this District and help me get your voice heard in Washington.

Since the shut down went into effect early Tuesday, we have received more than 1,300 messages in our offices — and more keep coming in every day.

Of those who contacted our office:
1,134 — or 85.7 percent — expressed strong opposition to keeping the federal government shut down
188 — or 14.3 percent — expressed support for staying the course and keeping the federal government shut down if it means “defunding ObamaCare”
In addition, our office conducted an e-mail survey the weekend prior to the shutdown. Anyone who is a constituent AND has provided an email address to my office receives these surveys. Please make sure to check your email spam filter for a “Message From Congressman Jim Gerlach” to ensure you aren’t missing opportunities to participate in these surveys.

The results from that weekend survey were:
2,584 (52%) — Continue funding government operations, including funding for ObamaCare
1,917 (39%) — Shut down the government if the CR does not defund or delay ObamaCare
398 (8%) — Selected Other
If you are a constituent and did not receive an email survey question and would like to, please contact my Washington, DC office at 202-225-4315 to provide me with your contact information and email address and we’ll make sure you receive the next one. E-mail surveys are just an additional way to interact with the people I represent.

Constituents can always send me their thoughts 24/7 through my website (www.gerlach.house.gov) or via phone/snail mail to any of my offices. I value greatly the opinions of all of my constituents and hope you’ll keep contacting me on these important issues.