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Greg Walden: Regulations . . .

During my town halls in Umatilla, Baker, and Malheur counties last week, the avalanche of regulations facing small businesses was a common theme.

This administration has more than 3,000 regulations in the pipeline, 167 of which will have a major impact on the economy – on top of the 1,010 regulations already completed, including 45 with major impacts. A recent study by the Heritage Foundation found that an unprecedented 43 major regulations were imposed in fiscal year 2010 with a total economic cost of $26.5 billion, the highest total since at least 1981.

Even the mainstream media is picking up on it. Check out the recent cover of The Economist.

The EconomistThe story inside reports: “A study for the Small Business Administration, a government body, found that regulations in general add $10,585 in costs per employee. It’s a wonder the jobless rate isn’t even higher than it is.”

As I told the folks in Baker City, the Obama Administration has backed off of some of the most offending ideas…but you get the feeling that they’re doing so only until an odd-numbered year, if you catch my drift.

Among the worst regulations have already been signed into law in the President’s health care law.

When Republicans took control of the House from Nancy Pelosi last year, one of the first actions we took was to vote to repeal the health care bill.

Of course, with Harry Reid still in control of the Senate (1,000+ days and counting since they last passed a budget!), the full repeal was dead on arrival in the Senate.

So we’ve gone to work repealing it in bits and pieces. Last year we overturned the onerous 1099 provision, saving taxpayers $24.7 billion in tax increases.

And on Wednesday we took another step toward reversing one of the worst parts of the bill: the controversial Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB).

On top of cutting more than $500 billion from Medicare, the health care law implements IPAB, an arbitrarily appointed board of 15 unelected bureaucrats to cut spending on health care treatments, giving them the power to refuse health care and reduce Medicare recipients’ access to care.

According to an independent board of trustees, the Medicare trust fund will be bankrupt by 2024.

Does IPAB sound like a plan that’s going to strengthen or weaken Medicare?

And do you really want the same Washington bureaucrats who brought you the compassion of the IRS, the efficiency of the post office, and the competence of Katrina to deliver your healthcare for you and your family?

The House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee voted in a bipartisan fashion, 17-5, in favor of legislation that repeals IPAB. I’ll keep you posted as a vote by the full House nears.

A solution that puts Oregonians back to work in the woods

Reps. Peter DeFazio, Kurt Schrader, and I recently unveiled our long-term solution to end the gridlock and litigation that have prevented our federally forested communities from producing the needed revenues to fully support their rural schools and public services.

The bottom line is this: it’s time to get Oregonians back to work in the woods. Our plan would open up nearly 1.5 million acres of federal land in western and southern Oregon for timber production.

From 1980 to 2010, we went from 405 open mills to just 106 open mills – a 74 percent decrease in capacity available to do work in the woods. We went from 45,778 mill jobs to 15,706 in that time – a 66 percent drop.

When county payments began in 2000, it was thought of as a bridge payment so rural counties could transition away from a resource-based economy. But let’s get real. These are federal forest counties where the government controls more than half the land-nearly 80 percent in some counties-and the notion that they have the ability to recreate their economies in a decade’s time is absurd.

The status quo of relying on Congress to fund rural schools every few years doesn’t work and won’t work going forward. Our communities don’t even want the status quo. They don’t want the handout that’s made them dependent on the federal government. They want steady funding to for their schools, roads, and law enforcement-and they want to produce it by actually going to work in the forests that surround them.

The loss of county payments will be felt most in Western states like Oregon, where the federal government owns 60 percent of the forests, but produces just 12 percent of the timber harvest while allowing 19 percent of the forests die. For Oregon specifically, 33 of the state’s 36 counties are eligible for federal county payments.

Meanwhile, Doc Hastings, the chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, is advancing another piece of legislation that would promote greater production of U.S. Forest Service lands. It won approval in committee a couple of weeks ago.

I’ll be sure to keep you posted on these important jobs proposals as they progress through the legislative process.

Best regards,

GW Signature Blue

Greg Walden
Oregon’s 2nd District Representative
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