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e-News October 2, 2009

  1. The Week Just Past
  2. The Health Care "Holding Pattern"
  3. Presidential Agonizing over Afghanistan
  4. Our Energy Future
  5. A Boost for our Port
  6. New Passenger Rail Service Closer
  7. Bad Idea of the Week: No Verification for Immigrant benefits!
  8. Town Hall Meeting Tomorrow

The Week Just Past

“Last month was another bad month for workers in America’s private sector, as the national unemployment rate climbed to another new high – 9.8%, the worst since 1983.  And U.S. private employers cut a larger-than-expected 263,000 jobs in September.

"The report shows there is great uncertainty surrounding job creation and the loss of 263,000 private sector jobs in a month remains a very poor performance.

“We may have added some government jobs, but it  is clear that the trillion dollar so-called ‘stimulus’ bill passed in February is failing to produce sustainable private sector jobs, especially for small businesses. Despite that, Vice-President Biden told the Wall Street Journal last week that ‘In my wildest dreams, I never thought it would work so well.’

“The reality is that American people want to go back to work.  They want some assurances that they will be able to keep their jobs and make up some of their lost savings and investments.  But the ‘stimulus’ bill that was supposed to be about jobs turned into nothing but more spending.  The ‘stimulus’ was going to lower unemployment and what happened? 2.4 million people have lost their jobs since President Obama signed it.

“It is long past time that Democrats and Republicans get to work on policies that will help ensure we get the economy moving again. Because at the end of the day, until Americans get back to work, our country will not be on the road to recovery.”

The Health Care "Holding Pattern"

The Senate Finance Committee dealt Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s “government option” for health insurance a serious blow this week, defeating two "government option" amendments that represented a government takeover of health care in America. 

Overall, the Committee’s discussions started last week and concluded before dawn today, setting the stage for a possible debate in the full Senate next week. 
 
The House still appears to be in a "holding pattern" until the Senate figures out a firmer timeline. In the meantime, Speaker Pelosi is trying to collect enough votes to pass her legislation in the House.  She apparently is having a difficult task as the House bill fails to:

  • ensure that the government does not interfere with the doctor/patient relationship;
  • ensure that the government does not deny care and treatment on the basis of age;
  • ensure that the government does not ‘break the bank’ at a time when America simply cannot afford it.

Rodney supports health reform that assures:

  • if you lose or change your job, you and your family should continue to have access to affordable health coverage;
  • if you have a pre-existing condition, you should not be denied access to coverage;
  • any medical lawsuit abuse reform is real and meaningful;
  • doctors have incentives to treat indigent and low-income patients by allowing the physicians to deduct the costs of treatment they provided as a deduction on their federal taxes; 
  • medical education gets increased support and resources to prepare more young men and women to become doctors, nurses and health providers to ensure that patients have access to trained professionals;

At this point, there is no firm date for the House health reform debate to begin.  Speaker Pelosi says she will unveil a new health care bill, “when it’s ready.”  Of course, this is another way of saying that H.R. 3200 will be rewritten and we will have little time, if any, to review its contents!

Presidential Agonizing over Afghanistan

At this point, there also is no firm date for the President to announce his decision on the future of the U.S. and NATO military mission in Afghanistan. 

Eight years ago, Al Qaeda terrorists – who trained and lived inside Afghanistan – launched a deadly attack on the American homeland.  In October of 2001, America retaliated and routed the Taliban.  
 
“We must prevent Afghanistan from slipping back into the hands of the Taliban and deny Al Qaeda a safe haven to plan future attacks against America and our allies,” said Rodney.  “That’s a goal that President Obama has reiterated many times. That’s why I was so shocked to learn that President Obama’s hand-picked commander in Afghanistan has been told to "cool his heels.’”

Not counting the 25-minute meeting they had aboard Air Force One in Denmark today, the New York Times reported that “General McChrystal has not spoken with Mr. Obama since submitting his grim assessment of the war a month ago and has spoken with him only once in the one hundred days since he took command of all American and NATO forces in Afghanistan.”

Many on Capitol Hill have said that General McChrystal should testify before Congress – and the American people – and personally deliver his assessment on how to implement an effective counterinsurgency strategy. But the President and Congressional leaders are blocking General McChrystal from speaking directly to Congress and to the American people!  So instead, General McChrystal this week made his case to the British press and British defense leaders in speeches in London!
 
As a candidate for president, President Obama said “the central front in the war on terror is not in Iraq, and it never was – the central front is in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where the terrorists who hit us on 9/11 are still plotting attacks seven years later.”  And yet, President Obama’s latest remarks suggest that he may abandon the ‘good war’ and the counterinsurgency strategy that he endorsed just six months ago.
 
“While America, our allies and our adversaries wait, one thing is certain: we owe it to the men and women of our Armed Forces to get this right and provide them with the resources they need to succeed in their mission,” Rodney said.  “The men and women of the Army, Marines, Navy and Air Force – all volunteers – need to know America stands behind them!” 
 
Recommended Reading: McChrystal Rejects Lower Afghan Aims  from Thursday’s New York Times:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/02/world/asia/02general.html?pagewanted=print

Recommended Reading II: Charles Krauthammer in today’s WashingtonPost: Obama’s French Lesson:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/10/01/AR2009100104208_pf.html

Our Energy Future

Ranking Republican Rodney Frelinghuysen managed debate on the final Fiscal Year 2010 Energy and Water Appropriations bill on the House Floor yesterday.  Here is an excerpt from his opening statement:

“Mr. Chairman, in general this conference agreement is reasonable and balanced.  I do want to highlight one area with which I have significant concerns:  the future of nuclear power in this country, and what happens when easy politics wins over good science. 

“Our Colleague spoke eloquently about the perils of following the President’s plan to terminate our current nuclear waste management plan at Yucca Mountain.  My biggest regret with this conference agreement is that we were unable to overcome Senator Reid’s influence, and consequently, the plan is barely on life support.  The amount of funding in this bill for continuing the Yucca Mountain license application is now half of what was requested, further delaying progress on the establishment of a national nuclear waste disposal site.

“And what will the results be of this ill-considered decision? 

“Spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste is being stored on-site at 121 locations across 39 states. These are our states, and our constituents.  I am confident that this fuel is safe where it is today, but I know many of our constituents want it stored somewhere where the environment will not be affected, and where the material will be kept safely.  Senator Reid and President Obama’s decision will ensure the fuel stays where it is for at least 15 or 20 years, with each site bearing all costs and responsibilities for management and security of the waste material.

“Second, their plan will rob our country of potential jobs and tax revenue.  These jobs range from PhDs to pipefitters, from welders to plumbers.  Operating nuclear power plants can sustain 700 permanent jobs, while new plants generate as many as 2,400 construction jobs.  Currently, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has applications for at least 24 new plants.  That’s at least 58,000 jobs at stake.  I don’t understand how the President can push for economic revitalization and reduced carbon emissions while gutting the single technology which will help accomplish both of those goals.  Our constituents need these jobs and the clean power source they create.

“Third, killing Yucca Mountain would bring billions of liability against the federal government – anywhere from $11 to $22 billion.  This is money which the federal government owes industry because we have failed to live up to our responsibilities.  We have signed contracts with these companies to take the waste off their hands, and because of the political deal between the President and Senator Reid, we have failed, and consumers, as ratepayers, carry that burden. 

“These are not empty threats or dire predictions.  They’re facts.  Last week, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission voted that they would not be able to consider new license applications because of the Administration’s plans to terminate the Yucca Mountain project. 

“Those 54,000 jobs I mentioned earlier?  On hold.   

“The nuclear waste in our districts?  Still there, and not going anywhere.

“The billions of liability that our children will have to repay?  Well, what’s another few billion on top of our current deficit?”

“The final Energy and Water Appropriations bill passed the House by a vote of 308-114.

A Boost for our Port

The final Energy and Water Appropriations bill included a critical boost in funding for the Port of New York and New Jersey harbor deepening project.  Due solely to Rodney’s leadership, federal financial support for the project was raised in the bill to $90 million, up from $64 million proposed by the Obama Administration this Spring.  

“The Port is a major economic driver in our region, generating nearly 300,000 jobs and over $70 billion of commerce a year serving 37 million people,” Rodney said.  “I worked to add this funding back to the harbor deepening program to keep the program on track.  After all, if large ships cannot navigate the shallow port channels, they will take their cargo - and their tens of thousands of jobs - elsewhere in South Carolina, Florida and Texas.”

For years, the Army Corps of Engineers has been working to dredge the main shipping channel of the Port to a depth of 50 feet, allowing the largest ocean-going vessels to use the port’s facilities.

New Passenger Rail Service Closer

The restoration of passenger rail service along the previously abandoned rail line known as the Lackawanna Cutoff has taken another step forward.  After evaluating various environmental studies, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has issued a “finding of no significant impact” (FONSI) for the 81 mile segment of track stretching from Andover, New Jersey westward to Scranton, Pennsylvania.   This finding means the project can move forward.

“It is important to give commuters greater, more reliable mass transit options and the Lackawanna Cutoff has great potential to get cars off of Interstate Route 80 and eliminate other daily traffic jams in northern New Jersey,” Rodney said.  “The ultimate goal of the project is to provide commuters with an alternative source of transportation into New York City while reducing traffic congestion and air pollution along I-80 and other New Jersey highways.”

Rodney has previously secured Congress’ authorization for the project and over $24 million to begin construction.

Last September, the FTA issued a FONSI for the first 7 mile segment of the Lackawanna Cutoff from Port Morris, New Jersey to Andover. 

Bad Idea of the Week: No Verification for Immigrant benefits!

On a party line vote, Senate Finance Committee Democrats rejected a proposed a requirement that immigrants prove their identity with photo identification when signing up for federal healthcare programs.

Committee member Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said that current law and the healthcare bill under consideration are too lax and leave the door open to illegal immigrants defrauding the government using false or stolen identities to obtain benefits.

Town Hall Meeting Tomorrow

Rodney will be conducting another public town hall meeting tomorrow. The latest in his series of regularly scheduled meetings will be held: 

Saturday, October 3
9:00 AM to 11:00 AM
Mount Olive Middle School Auditorium
160 Wolfe Road, Budd Lake, NJ 07828

Rodney will provide an update of his work in Congress, including his efforts to oppose tax hikes and large federal spending increases, promote homeland security, support America’s military service members and their families as the senior Member of Congress from New Jersey on the House Appropriations Committee.

All concerned citizens in the 11th Congressional District are invited to attend. Constituent service staff will be available to address individual concerns. 

People requiring special accommodations should contact Rodney’s office (973-984-0711).