Representative discusses Obamacare, sequestration, and out-of-control spending in Washington
23 April 2013, Cary, NC — US Representative Renee Ellmers (R) was the featured speaker at the April meeting of the Western Wake Republican Club on Monday. The Congresswoman, who was recently re-elected for her 2nd term in the US House of Representatives made a final stop to speak to party faithful before flying back to Washington later Monday night. She was preceded on the rostrum by Habitat for Humanity’s Wake County Development Director, Melanie Rankin.
Representative Ellmers touched on a small assortment of subjects including Obamacare, sequestration and budget cuts, Mental Healthcare, and a pet legislative project (HR 1416) designed to protect local cancer treatment centers from potential funding shortfalls brought about by sequestration.
Obamacare dominated Ms. Ellmers’ comments because of its failure to improve healthcare quality and its negative impact on federal spending. According to the Congresswoman, it was the threat of the “Affordable Care Act” that drew her into the race for a congressional seat in 2010. “I knew it wasn’t the way to go,” she said. Ellmers suggested that Obamacare was a classic example of “legislative overkill” in Washington DC and indicated that the legislation is, in some respects, collapsing under its own weight. “It’s too expensive, the funds aren’t there; federal mandates are not the way to go.”
Ms. Ellmers indicated that in North Carolina, Health Insurance costs are up 65% since the law was enacted. She also suggested that the legislation is pushing the country towards an unworkable national healthcare system as hospitals “buy up” individual doctors’ practices. The antidote the Congresswoman recommended is a combination of free market reforms and legislative corrections to return control of the industry to practitioners and patients and restore Medicaid and Medicare to long-term stability.
Regarding sequestration and out of control spending, Representative Ellmers said the sequester “is actually working.” It is only a cut of 2% of the federal budget — essentially, it merely slows the rate of growth in federal spending and is not a cut at all, the Congresswoman said.
Only the Republican-controlled Congress has offered a responsible budget plan that would balance the federal budget within ten years, Ellmers said. By contrast, she pointed out, the Senate and White House budgets never balance, suggesting Democrats don’t have a viable plan to curb Washington’s profligate spending and improve prospects for out-of-work and underemployed Americans.
Representative Ellmers also fielded a few questions from the audience comprised of members and guests of the Cary and Apex Republican Clubs as well as a contingent from the noted liberal group, MoveOn.org. To a question about the repeal of Obamacare, Ellmers responded that the bill was being effectively dismantled piecemeal as provisions fail to receive funding from Congress.
When challenged about her lower-than-average rating by conservative groups, Heritage Action and Club for Growth, the Representative retorted that these organizations are not objective and “cherry pick” the legislation and votes they use to score representatives’ conservatism based on their own agendas. She said more objective organizations like the National Journal & American Conservative Union factor all legislation into their scores and they rate the Congresswoman much higher on the conservative scale—in the 90+ percent range.
One attendee challenged the Congresswoman to be as open with the public as is Representative David Price (4th District) by holding open Town Hall meetings instead of speaking only to friendly partisan groups. Ms. Ellmers accepted the challenge initially, but expressed distrust for the town hall meeting format saying it invited confrontation rather than meaningful conversation about issues. Instead, she invited the audience to participate with her in electronic (online) town hall conversations where she communicates with thousands of constituents, or to visit her website (http://ellmers.house.gov) to learn more of her policy agenda and to engage in a dialog with her there.
Meeting attendees also heard from Melanie Rankin, Development Director for Habitat for Humanity in Wake County. Ms. Rankin debunked some myths about the organization, such as the idea that Habitat homes are “free,” explaining that homeowners provide a down payment plus 250 hours of personal labor on their properties and take on an affordable 20-year mortgage. But the homes are sold for cost (no profit) and are built with volunteer labor so the program makes home-ownership accessible to many who, otherwise, could not afford it.
The Western Wake and Apex Republican Clubs are working together to organize a work day for Habitat on May 18th. Those interested can find more information on the Western Wake Club’s website at www.westernwakegop.org.
The Western Wake Republican Club meets on the 4th Monday of every month at 6pm for a social/networking hour and at 7pm for the formal meeting. Meetings typically feature guest speakers of some prominence in the GOP organization including elected officials and other policy experts as well as representatives of other community organizations with which the club may be involved. Meetings are currently being held at Mahoney’s Pub at the corner of Cary Parkway and Tryon Road in Cary. The public is always welcome.