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111th Congress
Vol. 1, Issue 6: September 23, 2010

Fellow Idahoans,

With the economy still struggling on top of record-setting debt and deficits, the nation’s voters prepare to head to the polls on November 2nd in what many experts say is a referendum on the Obama administration’s handling of the economy and other issues. In reviewing the calls, e-mails and letters I receive from Idahoans, it is very clear there is great frustration with the borrowing, spending and the potential for higher taxes by our federal government.

At the same time, work remains to be done in the final months of the 111th Congress. Congress has yet to consider the funding bills for the next fiscal year that begins in less than two weeks. Instead of making the tough decisions on which programs to fund, a Continuing Resolution will be used to fund the government at existing levels. The Defense Authorization Act waits, but a host of controversial issues have been tacked onto it threatening its passage. And legislation to stop the tax increases on January 1st needs to be enacted.

Next week, I will host a telephone town hall to discuss these issues.  I will also take your questions on issues you deem important.

I hope you will join me.Risch Report Signature

State Wolf Management Act Introduced

I, along with Senator Mike Crapo, introduced legislation  that will remove gray wolves from the Endangered Species Act in Idaho, Montana and portions of Washington, Oregon and Utah. This is in response to a federal judge’s ruling that these wolves must be relisted because Wyoming has not adopted a suitable wolf management plan.

Idaho has met or exceeded every recovery goal imposed on the state by the federal government. We have proven we can responsibly manage wolves within our borders and this legislation restores wolf management under the Idaho plan that was already approved. Our bill does not rewrite the Endangered Species Act, but rather, removes the technicality which the judge used to relist the wolves in the states that have fully complied with the requirements.

We will continue to press for this legislation and bring wolf management back under state control.

Health Care Changes Coming

This week, the White House is celebrating the six-month anniversary of the health care reform law. The occasion will be marked by the launch of a series of federal mandates on health insurance plans.

Beginning today, insurers will be required to provide additional benefits, including:

  • No co-payments for preventive services
  • Allowing children to remain on their parents’ insurance policy through age 26
  • No lifetime limits on insurance benefits
  • No pre-existing condition limitations for children under age 19

Like all things, these benefits do not come without a cost. And it is consumers who will foot the bill for these extra benefits, whether they want them or not.

During his campaign, you may remember candidate Obama promised to reduce family premiums up to $2,500 by the end of his first term as president. As millions of Americans will soon find out, however, you cannot promise lower premiums while raising benefits. Even the administration recognized this when it recently conceded these extra benefits will increase premiums 1-2 percent. In reality, those increases will be much higher. In fact, health insurance companies nationwide have already announced increases ranging from 1-9 percent, with some as high as 24 percent.

Just six months after it was signed, the health care law is doing the very things its supporters said it would not—driving up premiums, forcing many Americans to lower their coverage and placing additional financial pressures on businesses we depend on to create jobs.

Tax Increase Looms

Our nation is on the brink of the largest tax increase in its history. On January 1st, 2011, across- the-board tax increases for all wage earners will go into effect. There will also be increases in the “marriage penalty” and “death tax” as well as a decrease in the “child tax credit.” These changes are just a few months away and will have a devastating effect on our economy.

Expiring Tax Cuts_092310The Obama administration and democratic majority have spent almost two years ignoring these looming tax increases, choosing, instead, to spend almost $800 billion of borrowed money in an effort to stimulate the economy. Earlier this month, President Obama revealed yet another spending plan to use an additional $50 billion of borrowed money on infrastructure. Even with all this additional spending, the national unemployment rate remains just below 10 percent.

After spending billions of dollars and adding trillions more through the expansion of the federal government, the president and democratic majority leaders are trying to prevent many hardworking Americans from keeping their own money. They are pushing an alternative tax plan that increases taxes on half of all small business income. These are the same small businesses the government and economists are encouraging to hire the thousands now looking for work. As this accompanying chart shows, the president's plan would have the exact opposite effect on employment.

I have been working with members of Congress in both parties to make the tax cuts permanent or at least extend them. Along with Minority Leader McConnell, I co-sponsored legislation that would prevent tax increases on all income earners, dividends and capitals gains while continuing relief for families by preventing increases to the “marriage penalty” and decreases in the “child tax credit.”

I have long believed the best way to strengthen families, grow businesses and boost our economy is to let taxpayers keep more of their money, not threaten them with increased taxes. In a fragile economy that is all the more critical. After all, the American people know far better how to spend their money than the government ever will.

Telephone Town Hall Meeting Schedule

My next telephone town hall meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, September 29th, at 7 p.m. Mountain time, 6 p.m. Pacific time. If you would like to take part in the hour-long question-and-answer call, please fill out the Tele-Townhall sign-up form. Requests must be made at least 24 hours prior to the meeting.

Reining In Executive Rule-Making Authority

Over the past two years, the Obama administration has increasingly used executive rules to enact policies a majority of Americans oppose. The White House admitted as much earlier this year when they told the New York Times, “...executive actions will also play a key role in advancing [the administration’s] goals.” This practice bypasses the legislative powers designated to Congress by the Founders and disrupts our system of checks and balances.

Last year, the federal government issued 3,326 new rules and regulations. That is the equivalent of 12.8 rules per day. While some of these rules are relatively minor, many have significant effects that could reach into the lives of every American. One such example is the recent EPA rule establishing a reporting program for greenhouse gas emissions above 25,000 tons per year. This rule is expected to cost $115 million to implement and $72 million annually. American taxpayers and businesses will have to pay higher taxes in order to afford this bureaucratic overreach.

The new health care law is another example, with at least 40 instances where the Department of Health and Human Services is either required or permitted to use federal rulemaking.

I joined with 12 of my colleagues this week in introducing legislation that addresses this abuse. The Restoring Congressional Accountability for Burdensome Federal Regulation or REINS act requires Congress approve every new rule of substantial size before it can be enforced.

Stay tuned for updates as this important legislation makes its way through Congress.

Legislative Outlook for Remainder of 2010

Just a few months remain in the 111th Congress and much work remains to be done. Congress has yet to pass a single one of the 13 annual appropriations bills for the next fiscal year that starts October 1st. A short-term Continuing Resolution will be used to fund the government through December. In the meantime, I hope Congress will act responsibly and pass funding bills on necessary programs while working to identify others that can be cut. We should also permanently extend the current tax rates. Unfortunately, I believe these important issues will be pushed to next year as the Democratic majority relentlessly pursues their list of liberal issues.

Check my website often for updates on these and other issues as they are brought to the Senate floor. You can go to for updates and to send me an e-mail.