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16 September 2010

Tim Jones: An Attempt to Reign in Washington, Common Sense in the Heartland

As summer heat and humidity loosened its grip on the Heartland over the past few weeks and cooling rains swept across the plains and through the Midwest, autumn colors and temperatures have begun to gently grace gentle evenings and cool, misty mornings.  The children flock to school every morning and we have all become immersed in our daily routines as summer family fun and vacations become a pleasant, yet distant memory…

"Above all, we must realize that no arsenal, or no weapon in the arsenals of the world, is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women."  –Ronald Reagan

Veto Session:  An Attempt to Reign in Washington

As you have probably heard in the media today, the Missouri Legislature attempted to overturn one of Governor Nixon's vetoes yesterday during our annual Veto Session.  The bill [HB1903] that the Governor vetoed would have set up a Joint Committee of the Legislature to control and keep track of the stimulus funds that President Obama and the US Congress forced upon the States last year.  If these taxpayer produced stimulus funds are going to come to our State, it only makes logical sense for the Legislature, the body that always retains the "power of  the purse" to have some say and control over how these funds are directed and spent, not the Governor's office.  And, back in Regular Session, in May, nearly EVERY member of the Missouri House of Representatives agreed.  Over 150 members of the House voted FOR this bill during Regular Session and only THREE Representatives (all Democrats) voted against the bill.  You would think that with such an overwhelming, bipartisan, massive majority the Governor's veto would be easily overridden and Missouri taxpayers would be given some protection regarding theses stimulus funds.  Unfortunately, politics and partisanship trumped good public policy yesterday and on a nearly complete partisan, party line vote, House Democrats "voted against the bill after they voted for it" and decided to protect the risky economic policies of their Governor.

In defense of their vote, House Democrats made several weak and hollow arguments yesterday, in sum and substance that "because the Governor decided the bill was unconstitutional, then it must be so, therefore, why vote for this bill?"  I am sorry but when did Governor Nixon become Judge Nixon?  Did the Governor take a straw poll of the Missouri Supreme Court and determine that a majority of our Supreme Court Justices would find the bill unconstitutional?  The answer to these questions is that the bill has NOT been determined to be unconstitutional, that is simply the Governor's and the House Democrats interpretation.  And that argument could be made for any piece of legislation that is ever passed by any legislative body anywhere in the country.  But it is the Courts that are given the unique and sole province of actually determining constitutionality.

No, the real reason that House Democrats voted against a bill yesterday that would have brought more transparency and accountability to how our stimulus funds are being spent is that they decided to place party and politics over good public policy and simply stand with their Governor on this issue.  It is unfortunate that after all we have seen and heard from the American people this election season that the Governor and House Democrats want to continue to carry water for the reckless spending and disastrous policies coming out of Washington.

To end on a positive note, I want to commend and take note of the one Democrat who joined all of the House Republicans in voting to overturn the Governor's veto on this good government bill.  My good friend and colleague, Rep. Jamilah Nasheed from the City of St. Louis, put partisanship and policy aside and voted once again for a bill that she voted for and believed in a few short months ago when the legislation passed the House the first time.  I want to congratulate and thank Rep. Nasheed publicly for her courage and the strength of her convictions.  If only the remainder of her caucus had been so intellectually honest and given the Missouri taxpayers the protection from Washington policies that they all deserve.

Common Sense in the Heartland

At right: Touring the Prairie State Energy Campus & Mine with a bipartisan group of legislators: Clean Coal = Jobs = Affordable Energy!

It is not uncommon for folks to periodically address me as "Congressman" (along with all sorts of other titles…some nice, some not so nice!).  This title is reserved for our representatives in Washington, D.C. and whenever someone calls me by any title, I typically invite them to "just call me Tim".  There are many other differences between the Representatives who serve in the Missouri House and the Congressmen who serve in Washington, D.C.  Recent public surveys indicate that Americans are very unhappy with what is going on in Congress.  At the same time, polls indicate that a majority of Missourians agree with the general direction of Missouri State government.  Why are attitudes so different?  This led me to the conclusion that there are two ways to run government.  There is the "Washington Way" as orchestrated over the past two years by President Obama, Speaker Pelosi and Senate Leader Reid.  There is also the "Missouri Way".  The "Missouri Way" is more responsive to our citizens, seeks private solutions for problems and recognizes that the only way out of our current economic problems is to keep taxes low and encourage private investment.

The distinction between these two approaches can be made in several ways and is perhaps most significantly seen by highlighting the differences between Washington's versus Missouri's approach to Taxing and Spending.

During the first 100 days of his presidency, President Obama signed the $787 billion stimulus bill into law, proposed an eye-popping $3.6 trillion federal budget for the 2010 fiscal year, and created additional multi-billion-dollar government programs supposedly to help grease the economic wheels.  It took the United States of America 233 years (1776-2009) to amass a national debt of $11 trillion.  Yet, President Barack Obama's record large 2010 budget deficit estimated at $1.85 trillion and his own spending plans will likely double the national debt over the next 10 years.  There seems to be no limit in the President's and Congress's appetites to spend our money and run up large deficits.  The most immediate affect of such a reckless policy is to force our national government to raise the rate of interest paid on government borrowings so as to attract lenders.  We all fear that the "Washington Way" of spending will lower the standard of living of our children, grandchildren and generations to come.

As a direct consequence of this spending, the President is now calling for a massive tax increase at the federal level by ending most of the Bush Tax Cuts.  The President is using tiresome class warfare arguments by proposing a big income tax increase for the "rich" who have over $200,000 per year income.  This tax will hit 50% of all small business income because 85% of small business owners are taxed on profits at individual tax rates.  We are all smart enough to know who creates new jobs in America, and it isn't people or businesses that do not make a profit.  Americans have also relearned the hard way over the last 18 months that the government doesn't create net new employment.  We need not raise taxes in the middle of the worst economic times since the "Great Depression".  Despite this obvious truth, big taxes and big spending are part of the "Washington Way" of doing things.

The "Missouri Way" is no new taxes.  Last year, Governor Nixon made a promise not to raise taxes.  Despite this promise, in late December, his tax commission voted to raise real estate taxes on some Missouri farmers by almost 29%.  This decision by the Missouri State Tax Commission would increase taxes on much of the farmland in our communities.  The commission's proposal would raise taxes on the most productive agricultural land, which generally consists of cropland, by 29% and decrease taxes on less productive land.  The changes would result in an overall 11% tax increase statewide on agricultural land with the impact being larger in the 118th Legislative District.  The General Assembly earlier this year passed a Joint Resolution that killed this jobs killing tax increase.

The "Missouri Way" is also a balanced budget.  With little help from the Chief Executive, the General Assembly pared $600 million from the original proposed budget.  We have made Missouri State government more accountable and efficient.  Budget challenges will continue when the General Assembly reconvenes next January.  These challenges will be met to reach a balanced budget without new taxes because this is the right way to run a government.

As Tragedy Strikes in the Gulf, We Must Step Up to Help

Let us not forget that millions of Americans continue to be affected by the oil spill in the Gulf. Even though many of us feel like there is nothing we can do to stop the damage, WE can help those in need.  While the federal government continues to bumble and stumble its way clumsily through this crisis, great leaders like Governor Jindal and Governor Barbour continue to rally the spirits of the citizens of their States and take specific actions to solve the challenges presented by this crisis.  We have seen the ineptitude of the federal government on full display and it has once again been confirmed that it is we, the people, who can best help our fellow Americans.  I encourage all of you to step up and do what you can to help those who need us the most.  Several websites are accepting donations to aid the people and wildlife of the affected region such as the following:If you are not able to give financially, please do continue to keep the families of the Gulf region in your daily prayers.

MO Source Link:  A GREAT resource for YOUR small businesses!

MOSourceLink connects a network of nonprofit resource organizations that provide business-building services for small businesses.  Their network of resource partners provides a wide-range of business-related services including marketing, financial planning, product development, education and much more.  To learn more, call the MOSourceLink hotline today at: 866.870.6500 or visit their website at:

Visiting the Capitol

If you ever find yourself in or around Jefferson City at any time during the year, please feel free to visit us!  Stop by Room 114A and, even during the interim session, Jody will be happy to meet and greet you!

Personal News & Notes

At right: Rep. Jones with family & friends, enjoying some summer fun on vacation.

Being "out of Session" has definitely not resulted in life slowing down much at all.  Working almost daily at the law firm, keeping up with constituent services and attending different events in and around the District have kept me more than occupied during the Interim Session.  I want to thank my wife, Suzanne, and all of my colleagues at my law firm of Doster Ullom for their constant and continuing patience and understanding and for continuing to support me in my calling as I work to serve my constituents and to continue to work towards my vision and goal of making Missouri a better place to live, work and raise a family.  My two daughters, Katie and Abby are a constant reminder of why I have chosen public service as part of my career and that there are future generations and a "greater good" that we are all striving for when we "set to the task" each year in Jefferson City.  Please do not hesitate to contact our office if we can ever be of any assistance and I hope you continue to have an excellent and safe summer.

Until our next update, I am, and remain, in your service.

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