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04 March 2010

Gatschenberger: End of the Middle Class?, Budget Work, Rethinking Government

The End of the Middle Class?

Our country is in historic times. The national debt is at record highs and America is borrowing untold billions of dollars while bureaucrats talk of debt reduction. The biggest losers in this game are the folks in the middle class – US!

The middle class saw a rebound between 2001 and 2009, but that foundation is beginning to crumble. The recession our country is in could continue much longer than most folks believe, and it will be the federal government's meddling that will be the reason. The real answer lies in cutting taxes even more and eliminating regulations that continue to strangle any attempts at climbing out of this recession, not adding to the challenges citizens continue to face.

Business Insider has a fascinating list of entities to whom the United States owes money. In 15th place is Russia. We owe them $128 billion. Believe it or not, it is not a country to which we owe the most money. It is the Federal Reserve and intergovernmental holdings. The debt: $5 trillion and growing. China is actually third, in case you were wondering, behind investors and savings bonds. Translation: we owe more than $6 billion dollars to ourselves because the U.S. is printing money faster than they can count it.  Those of us that remember double digit inflation of the 70's… it is just around the corner… and we thought $4.00 for a gallon of gas was bad… just wait.

There is no way we can continue to mount this kind of debt. You do not spend your way into prosperity. Look at what we are doing in the Missouri General Assembly. We are facing a $1 billion shortfall. We had been counting on $300 million to come from the federal government, but that money was erased from a so-called jobs bill yet to pass the U.S. Senate. We have to balance our budget — it is required by our state's constitution. This is a lesson the federal government should learn and our state could teach the lesson.

Budget Work

The six House Appropriation committees reported their budget bills in long hearings to the full Budget Committee this week. Many difficult decisions had to be made due to the declining revenue environment and the fact that we must balance our budget each year. For the next several weeks, the Budget Committee will review, debate and amend all 13 budget bills before referring them to the House floor for passage.  Wise and prudent financial decisions by the General Assembly have put Missouri in a much better fiscal position than most other states. Missouri is one of only seven states to still have a AAA bond rating, which has saved Missouri hundreds of millions of dollars in interest payments and I, for one, will fight to keep it there!

Rethinking Government

In terms of our national debt and annual deficits, the United States is in uncharted waters.  Except for a few brief years during and shortly after World War II, never before have we seen such debt and deficit spending.  It is a cause for great concern and requires a fundamental re-evaluation of the role of government.

$2,000 per person was the approximate debt per capita, until about 1940.  That same number today is $40,000 per person and growing at an alarming rate each year.  That long term and continuous deficit spending must stop.

To dramatically reduce and eliminate deficit spending requires a serious look at the role of government in our lives.  Small spending cuts, raising taxes… and I am so against raising taxes… ($5,000 per person just to eliminate just one year of deficit spending), it doesn't come close to solving the problem.

We "The People" must ultimately decide.  Do we continue demanding the same or more services and entitlements from our Government until we spend ourselves into a bankrupt socialist country, or do we find some way to do more for ourselves individually and ask for less from our Government?

"We The People" must make hard choices for the long term… simply waiting for the next election is not an option.

Prompt Pay Legislation Passes the House

A piece of true healthcare cost reform legislation passed the Missouri House this week with overwhelming support.  HB 1498 requires health insurance providers to promptly pay claims put forth by doctors and hospitals for services on behalf of patients.  This is a common sense reform that will improve healthcare in Missouri and will reduce costs and inefficiency.

By delaying the return on health insurance claims, patients suffer.  The cost of these delays is passed onto the consumer and this ends up being an extreme inefficiency in our healthcare system.  Working Missourians must pay their bills and debts in a timely manner; I see no reason why health insurance companies should not also be held accountable.  Currently only two-thirds of claims are processed within sixty (60) days of the claim.  This excellent piece of compromise legislation will change that and make the entire system more efficient, reliable and cost conscious.

Our doctors and dentists should not be forced to wait on payment for months on end.  Healthcare providers do the work needed to keep Missourians healthy and they should be paid for it.  HB 1498 is a common-sense reform that will make sure that happens.  I applaud all of the health care providers and insurance companies who came together in a bi-partisan way to craft a piece of legislation that will improve the health care system for all of Missourians.

House Passes Bill Focusing on Job Creation

The House passed HB 1675 this week creating an act that will help Missouri bring manufacturing jobs to our state. This bill allows companies that create new manufacturing jobs in Missouri to keep half of the withholding tax they would normally pay for ten years if they invest at least $50,000 per full-time employee on factory improvements for a new product.  This bill is about creating new jobs by encouraging Missouri manufacturing companies to expand their operations in this state with new products and production lines. The competition for bringing new jobs to this state is a fierce one. We are not above competing with other states for jobs. We should do all we can to encourage businesses to expand in our state so we can get more Missourians working. The Manufacturing Jobs Act is another tool we can use to attract serious manufacturing jobs and allow us to foster business growth to allow us to compete on the global market.

Six Flags St. Louis in Eureka is Hiring

Six Flags St. Louis is hiring more than 3,000 employees to fill positions for the 2010 season which begins on April 2nd. Six Flags will be hosting job fairs to fill these positions on February 27; March 6, 13, 20 and April 3, 10 and 17.  For more information, please visit:


As always, please let me know your thoughts about these or other matters of concern by calling my office at: (573) 751-3572 or by emailing me at chuck{dot}gatschenberger{at}house{dot}mo{dot}gov


Hawkin Rifles and Murphy wagons, used by the western pioneers, were made in St. Louis.

St. Louis was once the largest shoe-manufacturing center in the world – home of Buster Brown Shoes

Planter's Punch, Martini, Bloody Mary and Tom Collins were all invented in St. Louis.

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