e-News January 29, 2010

  1. The Week Just Past
  2. The State of International Trade
  3. Bad idea of the Week: Companies to Disclose Climate Change Risks
  4. New Navy R&D Facilities at the Army’s Picatinny Arsenal
  5. Meeting With Your Mayors
  6. Rodney’s Town Hall Meeting

The Week Just Past

 “The President delivered his first State of the Union address this week and, as usual, it was a well-delivered speech.  However, the substance clearly did not match the style.

“I am pleased that the President says he is finally focusing on getting Americans back to work.  We need a truly bipartisan effort on creating PRIVATE sector jobs, not just adding to state and federal public payrolls.

“I support his call for a ‘spending freeze.’  However, in the wake of the trillion-dollar ‘stimulus’ package and a $410 billion Omnibus Appropriations bill, his recommendation is long overdue but virtually meaningless. 

“This proposal will only save $250 billion over 10 years, but stands in stark contrast to the last budget year in which a reckless spending spree by the Obama Administration and the Congressional majority spiked the budget deficit by 308 percent!  In one year, the deficit went from an unacceptable $458 billion to an unsustainable $1.4 trillion!

“They have borrowed so much money against our future needs that we have a dangerous national debt approaching $14 trillion!”

“One of the most alarming aspects of the speech was the President’s insistence that Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Harry Reid continue their work to enact a government takeover of health care. 

“The President’s ‘closed door’ strategy has angered and worried the vast majority of Americans and, yet, the President seems intent on jamming his 2,000 page monstrosity through Congress. 

“This the wrong course for America.  Democrats and Republicans should be working on enactment of simple and discrete reform bills to include ‘portability’ of coverage, prohibiting insurance companies from not covering people with pre-existing conditions, allowing the interstate sale of health insurance, and reducing junk medical lawsuits.  Our goal must be to reduce costs and improve access to health care for all Americans without mandating that every person, small business and family have Washington-based bureaucrats and politicians making decisions about our health care and damaging the doctor-patient relationship.

“I wish the President had declared that we need to ‘take our time, get it right,’ and debate and discuss priorities in public and not behind closed doors at the White House.  America did not hear that on Wednesday night.”

Recommended Reading: Floyd Norris in Saturday’s New York Times, “Debt Burden Now Rests More on U.S. Shoulders”:

The State of International Trade

Northern New Jersey is well-positioned to create new private sector jobs related to international trade.  The Port of New York/New Jersey is the largest port complex on the East Coast of North America and is located at the hub of the most concentrated and affluent consumer market in the world, with immediate access to the most extensive interstate highway and rail networks in the region. 

Without a doubt, the Port is a major economic driver in this region, generating nearly 300,000 jobs and over $70 billion of commerce. 

While the facts may tell another story, President Obama seemed enthusiastic about expanding global commerce when he stated in his State of the Union address:

“We have to seek new markets aggressively, just as our competitors are. If America sits on the sidelines while other nations sign trade deals, we will lose the chance to create jobs on our shores. But realizing those benefits also means enforcing those agreements so our trading partners play by the rules. And that's why we'll continue to shape a Doha trade agreement that opens global markets, and why we will strengthen our trade relations in Asia and with key partners like South Korea and Panama and Colombia.”

Fact: Free Trade Agreements with South Korea, Panama and Colombia were negotiated, signed and sent to Congress over 1,100 days ago.   House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has refused to bring them to the House floor for a simple up-or-down vote and the President has not made it a priority to complete this important process.

In the meantime, America ‘sits on the sidelines while other nations sign trade deals.’  We are losing ‘the chance to create jobs on our shores.’ 

Noted With Interest:  Rep. Barney Frank (MA), who has been described as the “patron saint” of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, has changed his tune.  He now says the House Financial Services Committee, which he chairs, is going to recommend abolishing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and come up with “a whole new system of housing finance.” Chairman Frank provided no details about the plan but some observers say such a move could foreshadow even more government involvement in the housing market.
Recommended Reading II:  Steven Greenhouse in Saturday’s New York Times, “Most Union Members Now Work for the Government”:

Bad idea of the Week: Requiring Companies to Disclose Climate Change Risks

In a 3 to 2 vote this week, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) took the extraordinary step of requiring that companies report the impact of climate change on their business.  This would include both the impacts of climate change legislation and regulations, as well as the “the actual and potential material impacts of environmental matters on their business.”

At a time when businesses are working overtime just to survive, all levels of government should be looking for ways to improve the business climate.  Instead, this decision places onerous new requirements on companies that will divert precious resources.  And to what end?  Such reporting would be for the purposes of making predictions on the unforeseeable outcomes of both climate change itself and potential legislative responses.

Recommended Reading III: “SEC to require disclosure of climate change risks” by Zachary A Goldfarb in Thursday’s Washington Post:

New Navy R&D Facilities at the Army’s Picatinny Arsenal

This week Rodney hailed construction of two new Navy research and development facilities at the Army’s Picatinny Arsenal.  

At groundbreaking ceremonies Tuesday formally marking the beginning of construction of the Navy’s Guns and Weapons Technical Data Facility, Frelinghuysen noted Picatinny’s long-time success in supplying state of the art armaments to the United States military.  “To keep providing our soldiers, sailors and Marines with 21st century firepower, Picatinny needs 21st century laboratories and R&D facilities,” he said.  “When this new construction is completed, our joint Army and Navy experts here at Picatinny will get critical items and systems to our warfighters even more quickly and efficiently.”

Army and Navy officials also broke ground on the new Naval Guns and Weapons Turret Facility.  Both facilities are being built as part of the Department of Defense’s 2005 Base Realignment and Closure process.  Two other BRAC-related projects – the Navy’s Packaging, Handling, Transportation, and Shipping Center (PHT&S) and the Army’s new Fuze Engineering Complex – are also being built at Picatinny.  All four buildings are scheduled to be completed and occupied by Navy and Army scientists and engineers by the end of 2011.

“These ceremonies mark another step forward for the Army and the Navy as Picatinny moves closer to fulfilling the Pentagon’s vision as the “Joint Center of Excellence for guns and ammunition.”

Meeting With Your Mayors

Rodney held his regularly-scheduled Mayor’s Breakfast on Monday at the Empire Diner in Parsippany and discussed a range of issues with elected leaders from across the 11th Congressional District. 

Among others topics, the mayors asked questions about federal taxes, health care reform, U.S. government spending, and the Administration’s decision to close the Guantanamo Bay terrorist detention facility and transferring the trials of 9-11 terrorists to New York City federal court.

Rodney’s Town Hall Meeting

Health care and national security issues were the prime topics for the 150 people who attended Rodney’s town hall meeting last Saturday morning at Whippany Park High School.  Hanover Mayor John Sheridan introduced Rodney who told the gathering that America has received recent “wake-up calls.”

He called the Christmas Day attempted bombing of a Northwest Airlines flight over Detroit “a sharp reminder that terrorists are constantly working to harm our people and our nation.”

Referring to efforts of Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to jam through Congress a government takeover of health care, he said, “I am glad Massachusetts has slowed down the process.  We need to take a step back.”

The town hall meeting lasted well over two hours and covered topics as diverse as the national debt, to criminal trials for the 9-11 plotters in federal criminal court, to funding for cancer care, to employment opportunities for disabled New Jerseyans, to immigration issues.  

Rodney will continue his ongoing series of public town hall meetings in the weeks ahead.

Read the U.S. Constitution

Rodney visits about eighty schools a year.  In each classroom, he distributes pocket-sized versions of the U.S. Constitution for all students.

If you would like to receive your own pocket copy of the Constitution or, if you know a group that would, contact my Morristown Office @ 973-984-0711 or my Washington Office @ 202-225-5034.