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Public Notices

April 24, 2014

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'Fiscal Cliff,' STEM Act Discussed By Rep. Roe

Originally published: 2012-12-01 01:26:08
Last modified: 2012-12-01 01:27:14



U.S. Rep Phil Roe, R-1st, of Johnson City, thinks the House of Representatives will vote next week in favor of the STEM Jobs Act during the lame-duck session of the House.

The act, which stand for science, technology, engineering and mathematics, was originally shot down in September.

The STEM Act is an immigration bill that does not add additional green cards, the congressman said.

"It allows us to replace those [immigrants] drawn by lottery with young people with master's degrees and up," Roe said.

Roe supports the bill, which he said will keep many foreign students who have been educated in the U.S. stateside after graduation rather than going elsewhere.

"We are educating these people and they are leaving," Roe said.

The bill also calls for green card holders who have been waiting a year to be allowed to bring their family into the United States.


Roe addressed the fiscal cliff during his conference call Thursday morning with the media, but said he had little to report.

"All of the negotiations are going on behind closed doors, which I am not a part of," Roe reported.

He said he would like to see the tax code revised but does not expect that to happen during the short session.

"It cannot be done in that amount of time," he said.

In regard to the fiscal cliff, Roe said the proposed tax increases will not raise the needed revenue.

"A lot of taxes in this bill will make lots of behavioral changes that you don't anticipate when the bill is being written," Roe said.

Roe said fears that business will be drawn out of country by better tax rates in other countries such as Canada, for example.

He cited Mitt Romney's suggestion of introducing a deduction cap. This would allow the taxpayer to choose which deductions to make but not allow any more than a certain amount.

Roe argued this would not change behavior, the way tax increases would, but still raise revenue.


Discussing healthcare, Roe said he would like to bring back discussion of the Medicare Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), an entity that was authorized by the Affordable Care Act, which is often called Obamacare, as a cost-containment provision to help rein in Medicare costs when total spending exceeds set targets.

Roe has been highly critical of IPAB.

Those controls could be implemented as early as 2015 -- unless overridden by large majorities in both houses of Congress -- but the Congressional Budget Office estimates that it would be at least several years before spending reached the level where the IPAB would be compelled to act.

Even though congressional budget officials said it might remain largely idle for the remainder of the next decade, it will save Medicare for future generations, supporters said.

Roe, however, has called the IPAB in the past a "rationing board," which would end up "denying people care."

"It is SGR on steroids," he said. The medical sustainable growth rate (SGR) currently exists to control spending on Medicare. Roe does not support either one.

He said the cost-saving measures do so at the expense of the medical provider.

"If you don't pay providers to see our people, they won't, and it will lead to rationed care," he added.

He would like to see the states have control of health care.

Roe said Tennessee has experience in health care reform. TennCare, Tennessee's Medicaid provider, began in 1994.

"We've walked through 20 years of health care reform," he said. "Tennessee is as well poised as anyone to figure out what to do if they can figure out what the rules are."

Unfortunately, state government has no idea what powers it will maintain with the new healthcare system, the congressman said.

Roe said he spoke with Gov. Bill Haslam a few weeks ago and Haslam reported that they have yet to hear from the federal government.

Roe said he hopes to have more to report in a week about the financial situation and healthcare.

For more information and stories, see The Greeneville Sun.

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