WASHINGTON, D.C. - Efforts to make change in Congress are being held in check by an atmosphere of fear in the Capitol Building.
That theme was sounded by several representatives addressing the 88 county presidents of the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation during a forum hosted by U;S. Rep. Bob Gibbs, R-Lakeview, Tuesday.
For instance, representatives said a tax reform proposal floated by U.S. Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, is merely a place to start discussions.
CAPITAL ATMOSPHERE — Republicans in the House who want to make changes are reluctant to make bold moves for fear of losing ground on current issues. That was the take expressed by several representatives who addressed the county presidents of the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation Tuesday in the Transportation Committee room in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill. Among those discussing the atmosphere was U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Washington, who said there’s little hope for change anytime soon in the Endangered Species Act. - Paul Giannamore
The bill proposes a simplifying of the tax code. For farmers, it would mean two tax rates: 10 percent for those at the current 10 and 15 percent rates, and the rest at a rate of 25 percent.
U.S. Rep. Pat Tiberi, R-Ohio, told the group that the proposal unveiled by Camp is just that: A Republican draft.
"We hope it incites debate among individuals and small business owners and corporate owners," he said. However, Tiberi, whose district covers counties in the central part of the state, cautioned that the matter is a case of dealing with what is possible in the current climate.
Echoing a theme that resounded throughout the House forum hosted by Gibbs, Tiberi swaid there is a certain amount of fear in making sweeping proposals because of what the Obama administration does after bills are passed.
For instance, he said, Obama wants to reverse gains made in reducing the death tax while Republicans would like to be rid of it altogether. Any proposal that is made could result in losing ground on the issue.
"The status quo is better than a compromise, so we leave it alone in fear that we would lose ground," he said. Absent leadership on tax reform, he said, advancing sweeping change could result in the Democrats making good on efforts to collect more revenue instead of reducing spending and simplifying the tax code.
The theme of letting the status quo stand was sounded by U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings,R-Washington, regarding the Endangered Species Act.
The act, which was passed in 1973, included 1,500 species.
"Only 2 percent have been recovered since 1973," Hastings said. A "megasettlement" with the Obama administration over the act dating to 2011 has resulted in a proposal to add 750 more species to the act. He said Ohioans should be familiar with the impact of the act.
Several development projects in Jefferson County, including the runway expansion that was completed several years ago at the Jefferson County Air Park, have been held up in the name of the Indiana Bat, which Hastings singled out as a problem throughout Ohio.
He cited several instances where protection was continued despite scientific findings.
Protection of the spotted owl all but destroyed the Northwest's timber industry on federal lands beginning in the 1990s. But, science found the owl's demise wasn't solely because of cutting old-growth timber. Rather, another owl was found to be a predator. The solution was to shoot the predator owl, he said.
Not even DNA science can get a plant de-listed, he said, citing the case of the bladder pod plant in his home county. Despite finding bladder pods in many other areas and DNA tests proving none of the plants are any different from one another, the federal government declared the plant is endangered only on federal land.
He said a House working committee has studied the Endangered Species Act, taken testimony and comments and come up with several recommendations.
"But, the national dialogue has not reached the point where it is ready for major reform" he said. He said there is no illusion that any reform would pass the Democrat-controlled Senate or be signed by President Barack Obama.