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Health care law is still bad policy

At the end of June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is constitutional. Senator Enzi was disappointed in the ruling and noted that though the court’s decision ruled the law constitutional, it does not mean that the law is good policy or the right way to address America’s health care problems.

“Congress should work together to make common-sense, step-by-step reforms that truly lower the cost of health care,” said Enzi. Reform is necessary, but the new law has only divided the American people.

Personal health care decisions are no longer in the hands of the individual or family. They are in the hands of Washington bureaucrats and the hundreds of new boards and agencies that will be needed to oversee this injection of government into everyone’s lives.

Senator Enzi, however, was pleased to see that proposed Medicaid expansions are optional for the states, as many cannot afford them.

To read more of Senator Enzi’s thoughts on how health care in America can be improved, click here.

Hands off the trust funds!

The House and Senate recently passed a single bill that will provide flood insurance, discount student loan interest rates, and authorize multiple transportation programs. Unfortunately, it was paid for by raiding the Abandoned Mine Lands (AML) Trust Fund and pensions. Both Senator Enzi and Senator Barrasso opposed the legislation.

Wyoming stands to lose roughly $700 million from the Abandoned Mine Land (AML) Trust Fund over the next 10 years. Most AML funds come from taxes paid on coal mined in Wyoming, and though Wyoming will suffer the biggest loss, many other states stand to cumulatively lose hundreds of millions of dollars over the next 10 years as well.

Enzi along with Senator Barrasso said the flood insurance, student loan, and transportation bill undoes a carefully construed compromise between Eastern and Western states, mine workers, and coal companies. Both are committed to getting back the AML Trust Fund money that should have never been on the table in the first place.

“This is about more than defaulting on an obligation to Wyoming for a second time. It’s about gross financial mismanagement,” said Enzi.

According to Enzi, this bill is another poor fiscal decision that steals money owed to a trust fund to pay for new spending in an unrelated area.

Utility MACT rule a blow to coal industry

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently drafted a rule that will cause problems for power plants that operate by coal. The Utility Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) rule requires coal-fired power plants to update their machinery to reduce air emissions in an unrealistic timeframe where the costs of reducing emissions vastly outweigh the benefits. This will force many of these coal-fired power plants to shut down, and cause consumer energy prices to spike.

According to the National Economic Research Associates, the rule will cause between 180,000 and 215,000 job losses by 2015. Further, it found that the rule will increase electricity rates by 6.5 percent on average and by as much as 19.1 percent in some areas of the country.

The EPA estimates the rule will create between $500,000 and $6 million in benefits related to mercury reductions at a cost of nearly $10 billion annually for implementation.

“The cost-benefit ratio of the Utility MACT rule, assuming the EPA’s best case scenario, is 1,600-1,” said Enzi. “The Administration’s greenhouse gas standard would make it impossible to build a new coal-fired power plant in the United States.”

Senator Enzi supported congressional resolution S.J. Res. 37 that would prevent the EPA from striking this fatal blow. The resolution, however, failed in the Senate late last month.

Patent office opening near Wyoming

Wyoming inventors will have a critical tool close to home as the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will be opening a satellite office in Colorado.

Senator Enzi sent a letter with Senator Bennet, D-Colo., to David Kappos, Director of the USPTO strongly supporting the office’s placement. Selection of the Denver area office was recently announced by the USPTO and will open by Summer 2013.

“With quick access to patent office resources Wyoming’s entrepreneurial population can grow and strengthen,” said Enzi. Currently the closest office to Wyoming is in Detroit, Michigan.

Lifesaving legislation signed into law

President Obama signed a bill recently that Senator Enzi called “life-saving.” Enzi, the top Republican on the Senate committee that oversees healthcare, partnered with Democrat Tom Harkin of Iowa to write the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act.

This bill will ensure that the FDA can approve drugs and medical devices in a timely manner, save biomedical industry jobs, protect patient access to new therapies, and preserve America’s global leadership in biomedical innovation.

Click here to view a short video about how Enzi tackled getting the bill passed.

Farm bill passed

Wyoming farmers and ranchers should rest easier knowing their interests were represented in the 2012 farm bill. Senator Enzi worked to guarantee the sugar program, which protects beet and sugarcane growers by managing prices and import numbers, remained in the bill.

The Senate passed the 2012 farm bill last month, which will save $23 million over 10 years and consolidate 23 programs into 13.

“Passage of this bill was made possible by allowing the Senate Agriculture Committee to work on it so that both sides could offer amendments,” said Enzi, praising the effectiveness of the proper committee process.

Russia’s trade standards

Senator Enzi joined 33 of his colleagues in signing a letter to President Obama asking him to pressure Russia to comply with World Trade Organization meat and poultry standards.

Russia’s current non-compliance has caused U.S. exports of meat and poultry to fall steadily over the last few years. Unjustifiable barriers have been placed, and U.S. farmers and ranchers are suffering.

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Both are a great way to see more of what is going on in Congress.

Wyoming state offices

Senator Enzi's five state offices in Cheyenne, Gillette, Casper, Cody, and Jackson offer office hours where Wyoming residents have the opportunity to meet with Senator Enzi’s state representatives in his absence. Click here to find out more.