Gerlach Explains Himself on Shutdown

A group of moderate regional congressmen explain why they're straddling a political line in the sand.

Rep. Patrick Meehan (L) and Rep. Jim Gerlach (R) at a joint appearance at Francisvale animal shelter last year in Radnor. (Patch file photo)
Rep. Patrick Meehan (L) and Rep. Jim Gerlach (R) at a joint appearance at Francisvale animal shelter last year in Radnor. (Patch file photo)
The following Op-Ed piece was sent to Patch Sunday morning by the press office of Congressman Patrick Meehan.  It is attributed to Meehan (R-PA7) Jim Gerlach (R-PA6), and several other regional Republican moderates in an effort to explain their stand against both the Federal Government partial shutdown and The Affordable Care Act, also known as 'Obamacare'  It was also published Sunday morning in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Fighting shutdown, Obamacare


Written by: Patrick Meehan, Charlie Dent, Lou Barletta, Jim Gerlach, Mike Fitzpatrick, Jon Runyan, and Frank LoBiondo


We're writing amid the first government shutdown in 17 years. This is an extraordinary time, and as a regional group of Republicans, we wanted to make clear what we're doing and why.

None of us wanted this shutdown. We worked tirelessly to stop it and to keep the government funded. And that continues today.

We have also worked to repeal, defund, delay, and dismantle Obamacare. And for good reason. It's led to lost coverage, fewer jobs, and higher insurance costs for families.

Despite the shutdown, Obamacare has come into effect. Already, the results have been plain and disastrous.

As many predicted, Obamacare's rollout has been a mess. Individuals and families across the country who logged on to try out the new services found themselves stymied by systems failures, error messages, and glitches. Employers are cutting hours, reducing workers to part-time status, or dropping coverage altogether. Unsurprisingly, no one is getting the $2,500 reduction in premiums we were promised the law would provide. And many are not able to keep their doctors, even if they liked them.

In the days since Obamacare started, the focus of our national debate has not been on these failures and the harm they're inflicting on hardworking taxpayers in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Instead, it's been on the failure of Washington Republicans and Democrats to keep the government lights on.

The fight to stop Obamacare cannot continue with the government shut down. That's why we support a short-term, clean funding bill to turn those lights back on. The Senate has passed a six-week bill. Even Sen. Rand Paul (R., Ky.) said he'd support a one-week resolution.

There are other options. We're working with moderate Democrats on a plan to reopen the government for six months and repeal the job-killing medical-device tax. Our districts have thousands of workers who depend on the medical-technology industry, and this tax won't lower health costs. It will raise them for seniors needing hearing aids, pacemakers, and wheelchairs, as well as anyone else needing a medical device. It will shed jobs. Sens. Bob Casey (D., Pa.) and Bob Menendez (D., N.J.) and Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D., Pa.) support repealing this tax, too.

We all ran for Congress to fix government, make it accountable to the taxpayers who fund it, and keep it open. If we can't repeal Obamacare at the moment, we can stop it in parts. And Democrats will help us. But only if the government is open.

That's what we're working to do.

Devon Resident October 06, 2013 at 06:26 PM
Obamacare is a law, passed through the Supreme Court. It is not your burden or your right, Jim Gerlach, to dismantle it with unrelated threats of general economic chaos. Let the rules and systems of the government, as well elections by the people and for the people, decide this issue.
Country1st October 07, 2013 at 07:29 AM
It's time to fight the lunacy of the GOPers like Gerlach and Meehan -- who are putting their political dogma ahead of the health of our citizens and our economy. They've already wasted tons of time and >$50million in our taxpayer $$ trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act -- which is law and is already helping Americans. It's enough.
C. L. Bittner October 07, 2013 at 08:37 AM
Now concluding my long planned Florida vacation where I did NOT get to see the Everglades Nat'l Park, the Everglades Panther Rescue, and Ding Darling Nat'l Wildlife Rescue because the Congress shut them down!! Time to vote all the local Republican Congressmen out of office in 2014.
Carol Riley October 07, 2013 at 08:46 AM
Obamacare is a law, and people are signing up for it in droves. Jim Gertach it is time for the Republican party to clean its own house out, Because of your and your party's false pride, the "its all about me attitude" the Republicans have, the power plays between members of your political party, you are willing to make Americans suffer from loss of pay, loss of medical care, loss of quality of life. Stop being the school yard bully, stop putting dogma ahead of the health of our country and our economy. Enough, stop degrading America in the eyes of the world. .
chewys_mom October 07, 2013 at 10:12 AM
If you want an end to the shutdown, then tell the Republican leadership to call for another vote - that is what is holding it up at this point. And please stop with the idea that you are the knights in shining armor trying to do good. Does the "Williamsburg Accord" ring any bells? Angry at Obama's re-election and your party's inability to stop the expiration of the tax cuts on the very wealthy, your party decided not to negotiate with the President or with Democrats - a shutdown of this type has been your plan all along.
Garnet Newton October 07, 2013 at 10:26 AM
So which is it Congressman. You start the article claiming Obamacare HAS been a disaster for months and months. Yet a paragraph later you state “Since Obamacare started last week”. You cant have it both ways. The program in earnest began on October 1 the same day you and your party of mean spirited miscreants decided to put a gun to the heads of millions of Americans because of a temper tantrum. You gave Americans a choice, prevent 30 million people from getting Healthcare or the ENTIRE Country gets it. How pleasant of you and your party. Any glitches with sign up were due to overwhelming demand of millions of Americans who have been shut out of the healthcare market due to onerous requirements (e.g. “pre existing conditions”) perpetuated by healthcare providers for decades. Your party, specifically the Republican Heritage Foundation, actually came up with “Obamacare”; a three pronged approach to provide healthcare to all while embracing the free market principles you Republicans espouse on daily basis. This exact approach was instituted by a Republican in a Northeast state not much different than Pennsylvania and has been a rousing success to date. Yet when a Democrat proposes enacting the exact same solution nationwide and follows THE AMERICAN DEMOCRATIC PROCESS to enact the law you and your party of Anti-American scoundrels cry, kick and scream TYRANNY. This continued intransigence will only lead you to lose your seat in District 6 and for that I cannot wait. You have crossed the line too far on this issue and you will pay dearly next year. Praise Jesus!
Chris Smith October 07, 2013 at 10:27 AM
I don't understand how you can call Gerlach, Meehan and the rest of the Republican contingent "moderate." Compared to what? The Republican party has moved so far to the right and has become so extreme that there is no place for moderate views in it. Gerlach and Meehan's support of the government shutdown and they and their party's relentless attacks on the Affordable Health Care Act, a law which was hotly and extensively debated, amended through compromise and finally passed by the House and Senate fair and square, is proof that they are not moderates. It's time we got our government working again by getting rid of those that don't work for us. Donate your time or money to unseating Gerlach and Meehan so we don't ever again have to watch them hold their breath (and our government hostage) until they get their way like spoiled schoolboys.
Tracey Deschaine October 07, 2013 at 12:23 PM
As a local small business owner, I welcome the opportunity for my employees to sign up for affordable health care which we can afford. Gerlach and his right wing buddies are not in touch with what is needed in this country for all of us to prosper.
Andrea Lynch October 07, 2013 at 03:07 PM
It's the LAW! Way back in '09 was when the negotiating about it's provisions was to happen. At that time, if you'll recall, the GOP refused to negotiate. Sound familiar? Since then over 40 attempts have been made to overturn the Affordable Care Act (all unsuccessful), the citizens of the USA voted to RE-Elect President Obama and the Supreme Court uphheld the Affordable Care Act as constitutional. And, again, it's the LAW!!!
Jackson in Charlestown October 07, 2013 at 03:33 PM
Ha! I just love it - the latest GOP contribution to society is "fighting Obamacare". The Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. "Obamacare") is one of the very few (maybe only) laws passed by congress since the GOP induced congressional gridlock that I can point to as having tangible, positive results for my family and friends. Our local GOP contingent keeps repeating the right-wing, baseless propaganda, claiming that Obamacare has caused “lost coverage, fewer jobs, and higher insurance costs”, without providing any non-partisan, empirical evidence in support of these claims of gloom and doom. The GOP contingent has conveniently failed to point out that its beloved private (free enterprise) companies are the ones in control of hiring, insurance premiums, and insurance coverage. They also forgot to mention that their propaganda talking points are not based on fact but rather come directly from the fantasy script paid for by the Koch Brothers, American Enterprise Institute, Club for Growth, and other far-right political/special interest organizations. Today’s GOP has devolved into a party representing and promoting the worst character traits found in society. The GOP’s motto should be “we got ours and don’t care how you get yours”. It has become a party that villainizes and blames the poor and immigrants for all of our country's fiscal woes, while casting a blind eye to corporate misdeeds, special interest tax breaks, unneeded big-business subsidies, and regulatory handouts. Rep. Gerlach, along with Patrick Meehan, Charlie Dent, Lou Barletta, Mike Fitzpatrick, Jon Runyan, and Frank LoBiondo are complicit in this irresponsible behavior through their inaction and relative silence. The state of our political system at the national and state level has devolved to the point where it is now simply a case of “either being with us or against us”. It is no longer acceptable for our regional Congressional representatives to keep blindly drinking the far-right kool-aide, repeating talking points bought and paid for by special interests, and taking a passive hand-wringing view of their party’s direction and ineffective leaders. Our regional Congressional representatives need to stand-up for the middle and lower class, which is the majority demographic of voters that they represent. It’s time for our Congressional boys club to act like they still have the backbone and testicles they were born with. If you guys need some guidance, try asking Nancy Pelosi. She certainly knew how to use them.
Terri October 07, 2013 at 07:40 PM
I wonder how many of these Repubs actually know anything at all about the Law called Affordable Health Care Act? Go to healthCare.gov and check it out for yourself.' Read first, then decide.
Nick Sullivan October 11, 2013 at 06:30 PM
Utter nonsense and the usual blatant tea-flavored talking points. YOU LOST. What -- you didn't waste enough time and money on 42 House votes to repeal the terror of Romneycare ... Oh I mean, Obamacare? God forbid 40 million people should be able to access health insurance! Your gerrymandered districts will probably protect you and that is a major shame.
Nicole Tudor October 17, 2013 at 11:37 AM
Hahaha Terri that's a joke right? Nancy Pelosi said "we have to pass the bill to find out what's in it" Obama is destroying this country. He's taking away our rights. I recently got a letter stating "all Americans will be required to have health insurance in 2014 or face paying a tax penalty." ...really? Who is the government to tell me I need insurance? Let's not forget the second amendment the liberals want to take from us. Obama wants to disarm Americans and arm al Qaeda and Hezbollah rebels in Libya and Syria, who will later use these same weapons on us. These are Scary times we're living in.
Chris Smith October 17, 2013 at 11:51 AM
It's not the times that are scary Nicole. It's you, ignorance, racism, Rush Limbaugh, Fox "News", and the Tea Party that are scary.
Andrea Lynch October 17, 2013 at 12:02 PM
Nicole, The problem is that we already ARE paying for healthcare for those who don't feel they need insurance - until the inevitable occurs and they must go to an ER to be treated at top dollar rates. I feel that all people are entitled to see a doctor when they are ill and have their children vaccinated against some of those diseases that I had to endure as a child in the '50's. But then, I am just following the words of Jesus... ! Your fears about having your guns taken away from you I can't comment on. If background checks are a problem for you because of past bad acts on your part, that's your business and I feel sorry that you have made that bed for yourself.
Jackson in Charlestown October 17, 2013 at 12:10 PM
I agree with Chris S. - the problem lies not in the ACA law (or any other law). The problem lies with people like Nicole T. whose understanding of the nation and the world is based upon ignorance, racism, and an irrational (not fact or science-based) thought process reinforced by talk radio, Fox News, and extremist political factions. If Nicole T. took a moment to consume news from a broader selection of media outlets, or from any of the non-partisan guides to the ACA, she might realize that the ACA will actually benefit people just like her. Nicole - Try turning off Rush Limbaugh, Fox News, and view news from a more middle of the road source (e.g. NBC, ABC, CBS or CNN). If you are really motivated, read the New York Times or Reuters news (both available on-line).
Nicole Tudor October 17, 2013 at 12:18 PM
Chris you nailed it on ignorance. My biggest uneducated mistake was voting for obama. Andrea that's the EMTALA act. It's unfortunate people use ER's as their primary Dr, I however am not one of them. I don't agree with the fact that I am REQUIRED to purchase healthcare. The government is overstepping their bounds here. What's the next thing the government is going to dictate on me? And no need to feel sorry for me, I passed the background check.
Chris Smith October 17, 2013 at 12:42 PM
What really is your beef with government and why are you so against it? How about we stop paying taxes and you can pave your own roads, test your own foods to make sure they're safe, let anyone who wants a gun or a dirty bomb have one, get rid of school buses and public education (I'll bet you'd love that one), get rid of social security and Medicare, open up our borders to anyone who wants to live here, deregulate airlines, deregulate the medical profession and hospitals, remove vaccination requirements so deadly diseases can make a comeback, get rid of building codes and stop making us pay for a military and police protection. Hell, yes, the government can make you buy health insurance if its for the greater good! Now follow Jackson's advice and try to broaden your horizons. There should be treatment programs for the Fox "News" automatons like you.
Nicole Tudor October 17, 2013 at 12:43 PM
Hey jack can you think of any more left media outlets? 
Nicole Tudor October 17, 2013 at 01:00 PM
Chris I don't have beef with our government. There's just a line where they need to stop. Telling me I have to purchase healthcare or be fined is crossing that line. ...so the government knows what's best for me and apparently you do too! Amazing.
Country1st October 17, 2013 at 02:59 PM
Today's GOP has co-opted that they are the only believers in our Constitution -- while their latest stunt of shutting down the government to try to boot the ACAct only demonstrates that they don't care about our Constitution. They only use it. This latest GOP stunt -- which was no different than the same stunt that they pulled in 2011 -- it cost American taxpayers $24BILLION. Let them pay for it.
Nicole Tudor October 17, 2013 at 03:12 PM
Earnest, I never said, on this site, that I purchased health insurance. Whether I have it or not, it doesn't affect you.
Nicole Tudor October 17, 2013 at 03:18 PM
And my beef is....I don't want a big government telling me I have to purchase health insurance, as I've stated multiple times. Healthcare is a business. It's not our fundamental right to have it, it's a privilege 
Nicole Tudor October 17, 2013 at 08:49 PM
Your rates and premiums haven't been going up because of me, maybe people who abuse the EMTALA act but not me. It's a no brainier people need medical attention. I get that.. If you need health insurance, purchase it.. I'm a responsible adult, I don't need a big government telling me what I must purchase.
Jackson in Charlestown October 17, 2013 at 09:26 PM
Ms. Tudor: It's interesting to hear that broadcast network news, and Reuters are "left". Or is it possible that you have moved so far to the right that in your mind only Fox News and the Oxycontin addict speak the truth? You are right - you do not need a "big government" to tell you what to purchase. You are taking direction from a$$ clowns of the Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachman ilk. LoL!
Chris Smith October 17, 2013 at 09:27 PM
Really? Your parents must have had blast raising a little rebel like you. It's not about this mythical big government monster that's apparently hiding under your bed. It's about whether you really give a damn about your fellow human beings. In reality, your position is a selfish one hidden behind the "big government" smoke screen.
Nicole Tudor October 17, 2013 at 09:39 PM
I'm not selfish by any means. If someone wants health insurance they can buy it. I'm not denying anyone of health insurance but telling me I have to buy it or be fined is absurd. And enough with the assuming and judging already.. Wow..
Nicole Tudor October 17, 2013 at 09:41 PM
I moved so far right that I voted for Obama... Hahaha
Maura Gustafson October 18, 2013 at 09:07 AM
I moved to this community almost 30 years ago for the usual reason, good schools. I seems some aren't remembering that good schools require that we do our own homework and not rely on the media as our only source of facts. When some among us can't afford healthcare, all those who can pay more to cover them. Seems to make educated sense then that when more can afford it, we all benefit. Also, I recall from doing my own homework that the conservative leaning Supreme Court has acknowledged the benefits of the ACAct. The schools here used to teach about the Constitution and offered good homework skills education. I'm not aware that that has changed so get going on some primary research about the benefits of all having access to affordable healthcare. And what the process is when a law becomes a law. Keep our community well educated, and our home values up.


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