Press Releases

Today, the House passed the Estate Tax Repeal Act, H.R. 2143.  The following is a statement from Congressman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) on the circumstances surrounding his decision to vote against its passage, breaking with his previous support of the repeal.  

“Fiscal responsibility must be a guiding principle of our government.  My constituents have told me again and again that government must live within its means and balance the budget.  I agree and have consistently fought for more fiscal discipline.

“That is why I am voting against permanent repeal of the estate tax.  I have always supported estate tax cuts - I authored legislation to completely eliminate the estate tax for all family farms and businesses, and have consistently voted to cut and even eliminate it altogether in years past.

“However, this vote today is simply another step down the path of fiscal irresponsibility.  In the past year and a half, our economy has been in recession and was further damaged by the terrorist attacks surrounding September 11.   Instead of responding with tough choices and fiscal discipline, however, Congress and the Administration have responded by passing a $15 billion airline bailout bill, a $30 billion supplemental appropriations bill, a very wasteful and bloated farm bill, and a tax cut that will cost $2 trillion over the next ten years.  Even though I voted against these things, the truth is that they have all been signed into law by the President or will be very soon, and so their fiscal impact is now a reality and must be taken into account.

“There has been no serious effort by Congressional Leaders or the White House to design and implement a bipartisan balanced budget plan.  The result has been a staggering reversal from the once-large budget surplus projections to large budget deficit projections.  Budget deficits mean that we use Social Security and Medicare revenues for other programs, putting us in a terrible position to deal with the entitlement crises that are coming in a decade due to demographic changes and the escalating costs of health care.  We are falling further and further into debt, and interest payments on that debt will eat up an increasingly large share of taxpayer dollars - currently about 12 cents of each tax dollar.

“We’re moving in the wrong direction, and I cannot vote for legislation that will have such a large fiscal impact on our budget without a corresponding plan to return to fiscal discipline and get our budget balanced again within the next few years.  Let me be clear: if the permanent repeal of the estate tax were part of a long-term balanced budget strategy, I would support it.  Unfortunately, in this context, it is one more example of Congress and the Administration’s lack of fiscal responsibility, and I cannot support it at this time.”

Congressman Adam Smith (D-Wash.-09) today introduced legislation alongside Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) to rectify the nation’s Medicare reimbursement rate inequalities.  The legislation is co-sponsored by Washington Representatives Norm Dicks (D-06), Jim McDermott (D-07), Brian Baird (D-03), Jay Inslee (D-01), and Rick Larsen (D-02). 

The federal Medicare system, which covers health care for the nation’s senior citizens, works by reimbursing doctors, hospitals, home health care, nursing homes - and in the case of the Medicare + Choice system, HMO’s - for the services they provide to Medicare recipients.

Washington state has been hit especially hard by cuts to the Medicare program and many insurance companies are dropping out of the program because discrepancies in reimbursement rates from state to state, even from county to county, have left very few economic incentives for participation.  

Washington state’s rates are low because the state worked very hard to be efficient and eliminate waste and fraud from the Medicare program and as a result, was locked into one of the lowest Medicare provider reimbursement rates in the country. A managed care organization receives a base reimbursement rate of $465.97 for a Medicare patient in Pierce County but $809.90 for a Medicare patient in Dade County (Miami, Florida).

H.R. 4850, The MediFAIR Act will ensure that Washington’s seniors are treated on par with seniors around the country.  It will stop punishing our state’s health care system and our seniors and instead reward the efficiency and good results we’ve produced.

The bill will increase Washington’s reimbursement rates to the national average and direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services to require other states to become more efficient and cut waste in their health care systems.

“I strongly believe that we need a long-term solution to our Medicare problem.  We have to face the reality that we have a ‘perfect storm’ brewing: health care inflation is rising quickly, and, as the baby boomers retire, we’ll have an enormous influx of seniors into the program and health care costs are continuing to grow,” Smith said.  “We need fundamental reform that focuses on healthy outcomes, gives seniors health care options, provides coverage for prescription drugs, and ensures the program is viable for future generations.  The MediFAIR Act is a good first step, ensuring that all our seniors are treated fairly.”

Congressman Adam Smith (D-09, Tacoma) will spend May 30 outlining his agenda for economic growth and development in the South Sound region.  The following is the schedule of events for the day: 

Members of the media are invited and encouraged to attend these meetings.  For further information or to speak with Smith during the day, please contact Katharine Lister in the district on cell at (202) 225-6902.

8:30a.m. – 11:00a.m. Opening the South Sound Technology Conference, Congressman Adam Smith will discuss his strategy and priorities for bringing the benefits of technology and the New Economy to the South Sound. 

Where: Tacoma Convention Center 
1320 Broadway, Tacoma

12:00 noon - 1:30p.m. Congressman Adam Smith will tour Bates Technical College and hold a roundtable with students and teachers from digital media and computer programming classes.  He will focus on the importance of skills training and increased investment in education for the South Sound region.

Where: Bates Technical College
11th & Yakima Streets, Tacoma

Congressman Adam Smith (D-09) will spend May 28 talking with constituents and healthcare experts about Washington state’s Medicare problems.  The following is the schedule of events for the day:  

Members of the media are invited and encouraged to attend these meetings.  For further information or to speak with Smith during the day, please contact Katharine Lister in the district on cell at (202) 225-6902.

10:00a.m. – 11:00a.m. Press Conference with Senator Murray, Representatives Norm Dicks (D-06), Jim McDermott (D-07) and Brian Baird (D-03) to talk about legislation to ensure that Washington’s seniors are treated on par with seniors around the country.   

Where: Group Health Hospital 
201 16th Ave East, Capitol Hill, Seattle 
6th floor of the main building

12:00 noon - 1:30p.m. Medicare Roundtable lunch hosted by Smith to talk about the next generation of Medicare reform – reimbursement rates, issues of access to quality care and feasibility of a Medicare prescription drug benefit are some of the issues to be discussed.  Participants in the roundtable include doctors, insurance providers, hospital administrators and senior advocates.  If you would like to attend the lunch, please contact Katharine Lister as soon as possible to ensure that there will be a lunch provided for you.

Where: Valley Medical Center 
400 South 43rd Street, Renton 
Board of Directors Conference Room

2:30p.m. – 3:15p.m. Smith meets with one hundred residents of Wesley Homes Retirement Community in Des Moines about Medicare and their needs and concerns with the program.  

Where: Wesley Homes Retirement Community
815 South 216th Street, Des Moines 
Gardens Building

Congressman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) today introduced a bipartisan resolution, with five other Members of Congress, to promote the voluntary labeling of Internet content to protect children on-line without infringing on the freedom of expression rights of content providers.  

In an effort to promote widespread adoption of such technology, Congressman Adam Smith is working with the Internet Content Rating Association (ICRA), as well as children’s safety and First Amendment advocates, to encourage Members of Congress to voluntarily label the content on their Congressional websites.  The House resolution introduced today specifically urges all Members of Congress to label their sites consistent with the ICRA system or other voluntary Internet content filtering organizations.  Each of the resolution’s sponsors has already labeled their sites using the ICRA system.

“As policymakers and parents, we’re concerned for the safety of children as they use the Internet and enjoy the benefits it has to offer.  With 73 percent of American teens actively using the Internet, we need to help protect children without hindering the growth of the Internet or infringing upon our citizens’ First Amendment rights to free speech,” said Smith. “ICRA labeling fills this need because it allows consumers to make decisions about what content they wish to have their children access.  This industry-driven labeling system provides an effective system for protecting children against inappropriate information.”

ICRA has created a free system that empowers parents and other concerned adults to protect children from material they believe to be harmful while protecting freedom of expression.  ICRA does not rate content; content providers rate their own site content using the ICRA system.  ICRA makes no value judgments about which sites are suitable for children; parents do that.  The result is a voluntary system that helps keep children away from content their own parents deem inappropriate.

The Internet's most visited sites – AOL, MSN and Yahoo! – VeriSign, IBM, Verizon, and others today announced a major new initiative to protect children online.  The companies have rallied around the Internet Content Ratings Association (ICRA) and its voluntary website content label that flags adult, violent, and other material that might be harmful to children.  The organization is working with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and others to promote Internet safety.  

“The high-tech community appreciates the support of Members of Congress,” said Mary Lou Kenny, executive director of ICRA North America.  “With leadership from policymakers such as Congressman Adam Smith and ICRA’s members, we can make the Internet safer for children without restricting the freedoms of content providers.”

To self-label, content providers simply fill out in an online questionnaire describing the content of their site in terms of what is and isn't present.  Context variables are included to distinguish content that may be presented in an educational, artistic or medical context.  ICRA then generates a content label in the form of a META Tag, which the web site author adds to the source code of his/her site.  

Internet users then download an ICRA filter, to be launched early next year, which reads the content label and filters according to the subjective preferences of the user.  After the filter is in place, parents can override the system by using a password.  It is both free to label and free to filter with ICRA.

"Labeling and filtering of Internet content that is truly voluntary is an approach that empowers parents and respects our nation’s fundamental commitment to free expression," Smith continued. "While the ICRA system is one of the many options available to help protect children on the Internet, it is appropriate for House use because it is readily available at no cost to content providers or users, created by a non-profit, independent organization and uses an internationally recognized syntax to describe website content.  I am proud to be among the first few Members of the House of Representatives to have an ICRA rated Web site, and I hope this resolution helps spread the word about this important tool."

For more information on the Internet Content Rating Association, please visit their website at www.icra.org