The non-partisan Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) estimates the illegal immigration population of Tennessee at 120,000. Clearly something must be done. But the Senate immigration reform bill, drafted behind closed doors by the “Gang of Eight,” and championed by President Obama only compounds the problem. In its current state, it provides amnesty for the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants.
Before we add to the mess of immigration laws, we need to stop turning a blind eye when current laws are violated right in front of us.
In fact, our own local law enforcement officials have been explicitly denied the ability to enforce standing laws. When Sherriff Jimmy Jones of Knox County attempted to do the job he was elected to do by requesting his officers be provided with the training necessary to enforce federal immigration laws when applicable, he was denied. The Obama Administration has been doing the same to other law enforcement officials across the country.
The Senate Immigration actually increases our illegal immigration problem by sending a signal that anyone who comes to our country illegally will eventually be allowed to stay. This acts as a disincentives legal immigration, which is the exact opposite of what the government should be aiming for. Further, while we should welcome with open arms those who come to this country respecting its laws and traditions, encouraging illegal immigration makes it harder for all citizens to compete in the labor market, driving down wages, and growing the tax burden.
The illegal immigrant population in Tennessee comes at a huge cost to taxpayers. The average Tennessee household pays $212 a year supporting the illegal population, according to data from FAIR. Had this money remained in the pockets taxpayers, it would have covered the equivalent of almost two average Tennessee household’s monthly electric bills. These potential savings are nothing to scoff at when many are still struggling and living paycheck to paycheck.
Granting illegal immigrants a path to citizenship will exacerbate these costs. Some argue to the contrary, suggesting that the addition of millions to the tax base would offset any benefits they incur, but this is not true when the typical incomes of illegal immigrants are accounted for. According to the Center for Immigration Studies, 94% of this population lives at or near the poverty level. This means that they would be net receivers of entitlements and, since they would also be eligible for more government benefits, the cost to taxpayers would likely surpass the current $212 a year.
Rather than a one size fits all approach to immigration – like we saw with healthcare – Congress and the president should pursue individual, targeted measures that receive broad bipartisan support. For example, Tennessee’s strong agricultural industry relies on a legal, viable guest worker program. Unfortunately, our nation’s current guest worker program is outdated and in need of substantial restructuring. We can and must establish an effective and workable temporary visa program.
President Obama has called for reform under the guise of making the system ‘fair,’ but what is fair about a bill that allows current laws to be ignored and takes more hard-earned taxpayer money?
We need a sensible approach to immigration, one that prioritizes keeping our borders safe and allows for enforcement of current laws.
Since its inception, I have been resolute in my staunch opposition to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), commonly referred to as ObamaCare. As a physician, I knew it would hinder access to medical care, as well as reduce the overall quality of care.
Unfortunately, many of the negative consequences I was worried about have already been imposed on Tennessee patients and health care providers. Even those in the mainstream media who openly support the president’s law have had to report on its numerous and undeniable shortcomings.
But the problems created by the Affordable Care Act will have implications far beyond the realm of medicine. The economic effects the law will have on both families and businesses are just as troubling.
As has been widely reported, many families in Tennessee – and throughout our country – have already started paying higher premiums as a result of the ACA. This trend will only continue as the provisions of the law are fully implemented. The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) found that the average family of four will see their health care spending increase by $7,450 under the president’s law. This is money that could use for things like investing in children’s education, making home repairs or just paying the bills. With median income in Tennessee hovering at $38,475, families simply cannot afford this drastic increase.
Businesses will also have to cut back due to ObamaCare’s mandate that all businesses with 50 or more full-time employees must provide health insurance or pay a steep penalty. This is especially onerous as the ACA lowered the amount of hours considered part-time from forty to thirty hours, meaning previous part-time workers are now considered full-time. As a result, businesses have refused to hire more than 50 employees or they have slashed hours because they simply cannot afford the costs of offering insurance to all full-time workers. Not only does this affect our economic productivity, it hurts low-income workers.
And this is only the beginning. Research conducted by McKinsey & Company estimates that half of businesses will change how they provide health insurance. This means that more and more Americans will be unable to keep their coverage or will be forced to buy more expensive options on the health insurance exchanges. Even labor unions, who were among the strongest supporters of the Affordable Care Act, have stated the law hurts workers by increasing costs.
Time and time again we have seen the promises made by President Obama when selling this law to the American people come up short. He told us health care costs would go down by $2,500 for a family of four; in reality they have increased by more than twice that amount. He told us that if we liked our doctor and our plan, we could keep it. But with companies dropping coverage, many are being dumped onto the health care exchanges. He told us jobs would be created by this law, but the ACA has already decreased jobs by nearly seven figures according to the Congressional Budget Office.
The combined economic consequences of the ACA threaten to decimate any sort of economic recovery we have seen over the past couple years. Further, the costs imposed by the law on Tennessee families could not come at a worse time. The ACA is unsustainable, eventually it will collapse. The only question is whether we allow our economy to be dragged down with it.
Without a doubt, one of the top concerns I hear from folks across our district is regarding President Obama’s blatant disregard for our nation’s laws and Constitution.
I share these concerns.
Whether it is through his use of unilateral executive actions, failure to enforce existing laws or instructing one of his agencies to assume quasi-legislative powers, the president has shown he has little respect for the written law or the will of the American people.
Time and time again I have spoken out against this gross usurpation of power. And time and time again my Democratic colleagues are quick to rush to the president’s defense.
After all, while my friends on the other side of the aisle may disagree with me on matters of policy, we are still members of the same branch of government. They should realize that the president’s bypassing of Congress will equally marginalize both Republicans and Democrats. I know I would be just as upset if a Republican president sought to act in this sort of authoritarian manner.
The political reality is such that I do not expect much of an outcry from congressional Democrats despite the president’s plan to seemingly relegate them to mere presidential cheerleaders. However their complicity must not prevent House Republicans from acting to protect our Constitution’s separation of powers.
That is why I was proud to cosponsor the STOP Resolution. The STOP Resolution, short for “Stop This Overreaching Presidency,” directs the House of Representatives to sue the president in D.C. federal court for violating his presidential duties as outlined in the United States Constitution. Once the lawsuit is filed, the court would then have the option to void any executive action that was outside the scope of his vested powers. Because this is a resolution – not a bill to become public law – and it solely governs actions taken by the House of Representatives it does not need to pass the Senate to go into effect.
I believe this is a credible plan. The Washington Times recently reported the Obama administration has lost two-thirds of the court cases where it has been a party. As long as Senate Majority Leader Reid continues to block our ability to implement more aggressive measures to hold the president accountable, the courts offer our best chance to protect the Constitution.
However, it is not just Democrats who must get on board in helping to stop unlawful actions taken by the president and his administration. Republican leadership in the House must get behind these efforts as well. Unfortunately, at times I believe the actions (or inaction) of some of my Republican colleagues have not matched the strong rhetoric they often use.
For example, last year I co-introduced introduce articles of impeachment against Attorney General Eric Holder for refusing to comply with a congressional subpoena and perjuring himself before the House Judiciary Committee. These are both impeachable offenses and make the attorney general ineligible to serve as our nation’s chief law enforcement officer.
Unfortunately, these articles of impeachment have not been brought to a vote despite the overwhelming evidence Attorney General Holder broke the law. I suspect that there are those in my party who have reservations about pursuing these articles for fear of media backlash and blocked them from receiving proper consideration.
But electoral politics should never trump doing what is right. When members of the president’s cabinet break the law, there can be no room for compromise. They must be held responsible regardless of perceived political consequences.
My hope is that the House leadership will quickly bring the STOP resolution to a vote in the United States House of Representatives. While it may not solve all of our problems, it is an important first step and will have an immediate effect.
We must do everything in our power to preserve the integrity of our constitutional separation of powers. Failing to do so will set a precedent that will have long-term repercussions and upset the very principles this country was founded. America is not a dictatorship. Generations of brave men and women have fought and died to maintain the freest nation in the world. Now it is our turn. If we do not stop this president’s encroachment of the people’s power, then who will?
In a recent interview with the Murfreesboro Post my opponent in this race stated, “As I’m traveling around 16 counties in the 4th District, people are tired of somebody just voting ‘no’ all the time.”
This is not the first time state Senator Jim Tracy has made this statement attacking my voting record.
But that begs the question, what exactly would a Congressman Jim Tracy support?
Perhaps he disagrees with my several ‘no’ votes against any attempt to raise our nation’s debt limit? Perhaps he would have voted for the Ryan-Murray budget deal that imposed unconscionable cuts on our military retirees? Or maybe the senator would have cast a ‘yes’ vote for all of the government funding bills that locked in wasteful Washington spending and funded ObamaCare?
It is no secret that I say ‘no’ quite a bit in Washington. But what can I support that President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Reid would also agree with? We hold totally different views for the future of this country.
And it is not just the White House and the Senate I have had to oppose. I have stood up against my own party when I felt they were abandoning the conservative principles we hold here in Tennessee’s Fourth District.
When I ran for Congress I promised I would be a conservative voice in Washington.I believe I have kept that promise. In fact, National Journal listed my voting record as the fourth most conservative in the House of Representatives and Congressional Quarterly ranked me as one of the top five Republican Members of Congress who consistently opposes President Obama’s agenda.
Now it is true that putting principle before politics does not come without a cost. I do not have many friends among the deep-pocketed K Street lobbyists. However I do sleep easy at night knowing my vote is not for sale.
I hope the media will ask my opponent which one of my votes he disagrees with or even what he would do differently in Congress. Voters deserve an answer.
I am proud of my voting record because despite what state Senator Tracy might claim, I know that is exactly what the people I work for want: saying no to the Washington status quo.
This article provides some great insights into how I approach my work in Congress. I am proud to be a member of the Republican Study Committee precisely for this reason: “Members consider themselves conservatives first and Republicans second. They did not come to Washington to play for the Republican team; they came to fight for conservative principles. If that means voting against party interests, so be it.”