|Congressman Griffith's Weekly E-Newsletter 8.18.14
Monday, August 18, 2014 â€“
â€śPlease delete this emailâ€¦â€ť
Obamacare continues to have numerous problems and scandals. As a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, it is our job to oversee the implementation of Obamacare and what led up to its disastrous launch and its failed promises.
Nearly 10 months after the Committee asked on October 10, 2013 for documents relating to the lawâ€™s implementation, an August 6, 2014 memo from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (or CMS, a key agency involved in implementing this law) confesses that some of this information â€śmay not be available.â€ť
Sounds familiar, doesnâ€™t it.
What has come to light is an email in which CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner instructs the top CMS spokeswoman to delete an email exchange that includes staff from CMS, the Department of Health and Human Services, and, yes, even the White House.
Sharyl Attkisson, an investigative reporter formerly with CBS News, wrote, â€śThe instruction appears significant for several reasons: First, the email to be deleted included an exchange between key White House officials and CMS officials. Second, the email was dated October 5, 2013, five days into the disastrous launch of HealthCare.gov. Third, federal law requires federal officials to retain copies of â€“not deleteâ€“ email exchanges. And fourth, the document to be deleted is covered under Congressional subpoena as well as longstanding Freedom of Information requests made by members of the media (including me).â€ť
As a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, I want answers. Why did Administrator Tavenner want this message deleted? Were there others that were deleted by request? Was she instructed by the White House to start deleting sensitive emails? Some of these questions were posed to Administrator Tavenner last week by the Chairman of the full Committee and the Chairman of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee.
First the Internal Revenue Service claims to have lost certain emails, and now we learn CMS has asked that messages be deleted. What else is this Administration â€“ which promised to be the â€śmost transparent Administration in historyâ€ť â€“ trying to keep from the American people?
My colleagues and I are working to find out what else this Administration is trying to hide from the American people.
Electrical Workers Union vs. the EPA
Regular readers of this column are well-aware of my belief that Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulators often wage a war on common sense, American manufacturers, jobs, and more through their unreasonable regulations. I have even introduced a bill (H.R. 3641, the EPA Maximum Achievable Contraction of Technocrats Act) that would require the EPA Administrator to reduce the agencyâ€™s workforce by 15 percent within three years.
But I am not the only person that takes issue with burdensome EPA proposals.
Just last week, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers President Edwin Hill wrote in a Wall Street Journal piece called â€śElectrical Workers vs. the EPAâ€ť that the EPAâ€™s new â€śanticarbon rulesâ€ť would â€śâ€¦result in the loss of some 52,000 permanent direct jobs in utilities, mining and rail and at least another 100,000 jobs in related industries. High-skill, middle-class jobs would be lost, falling heavily in rural communities that have few comparable employment opportunities.â€ť
This union supported President Obama both in 2008 and 2012, so this criticism is not from typical Obama detractors.
Hill wrote, â€śThe EPA's plan, according to its own estimates, will require closing coal-fired power plants over the next five years that generate between 41 and 49 gigawatts (49,000 megawatts) of electricity.â€ť Hill also noted that this is on top of the 60 gigawatts of power that we are expecting to lose over the next few years as a â€śâ€¦result of older coal plantsâ€™ being forced to shut down because they cannot comply with the EPAâ€™s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards enacted in 2012.â€ť
He noted, â€śNinety percent of the plants slated to close due to the [EPAâ€™s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards] rule were needed to provide power during the polar vortex and other periods of severe weather last winter.â€ť
â€śIs the EPA willing to gamble that we won't have another harsh winter in the next five years?â€ť Hill asked.
I share this concern, and agree with other important issues Hill raised in this piece. We must work together to protect jobs and maintain a diverse, reliable, and affordable energy portfolio.
The above two stories are major news! But little has been said about these by national news outlets. Is it because the scandals and unreasonable regulations coming out of this Administration are so numerous the media cannot report them all?
As always, if you have concerns or comments or wish to inquire about legislative issues, feel free to contact my offices. You can call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671. To reach my office via email, please visit my website at www.morgangriffith.house.gov.