e-News May 5, 2009

1. Monitoring and Working to Contain Swine Flu
2. The Week Just Past
3. Opposes Expensive Pelosi Budget
4. GM = Government Motors?
5. Treasury should allow taxpayers to get TARP funds back
6. The Bad idea of the Week
7. Women’s Health Summit Success
8. Town Meetings!
9. Spread the eNews

Monitoring and Working to Contain Swine Flu

The United States government has declared swine flu to be a public health emergency.  Of course, it remains to be seen how severe swine flu will be in the U.S. but countries around the globe are monitoring the situation closely.

Having been very active in previous years in the effort to ensure that the United States was prepared for a pandemic, Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen takes this developing situation seriously.

For more information on the latest swine flu outbreak, visit his website:

There are several dozen confirmed and suspected deaths from swine flu in Mexico.  The first confirmed American death was this week and officials from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have warned that further deaths in the United States are possible.

The virus strain is new; there is no vaccine for it, and large-scale vaccine production will take several months.

U.S. officials have begun releasing supplies of antivirals and related drugs from the strategic stockpile to states in order to treat potential cases when they appear.

Given the current spread of the disease, public health officials have downplayed the potential effectiveness of travel or other border restrictions on limiting the scope of the swine flu outbreak.

The Administration reports that its declaration of a public health emergency a precautionary and logistical move intended to facilitate the rapid deployment of supplies to respond to suspected cases; officials have urged caution, but not panic, in response to the outbreak.

CDC and other officials have advised usual precautions to minimize the further spread of the disease: wash your hands, cover your mouth and hands when coughing or sneezing, discard used tissues, and stay home from work or school when feeling ill.

Health officials advise that despite the disease’s name, consumption of properly prepared pork products does not present a threat to human health.

People who plan to travel to travel to Mexico should check the Centers for Disease Control website for the latest information: Up-to-date information on Swine Flu in New Jersey– New Jersey’s Health Action Network Centers for Disease Control (CDC) CDC Interim Guidance on Antiviral Recommendations for Patients with Confirmed or Suspected Swine Influenza Virus Infection and Close Contacts– State Department travel recommendations the World Health Organization One-stop access to U.S. Government swine, avian and pandemic flu information– Pan American Health Organization

The Week just past

“The President marked his first 100 days in office this week with a prime time news conference.   Unfortunately, I wish he was able to deliver different ‘news’ to mark his early weeks in office. 

“I recognize that America has only one President. And every new President has the right and a responsibility to develop his own policies – domestic and foreign.  This President has taken the opportunity to steer U.S. policy in new directions.  Regrettably, I believe he’s taken the wrong path on some key issues. 

“Unfortunately, the President’s first 100 days can be summed up in four words: unprecedented spending, taxing, and borrowing.  While families and small businesses struggle during this economic crisis, the Administration and Democrats in Congress have spent more taxpayer dollars in 100 days than all previous presidents have spent combined, raised taxes on middle-class families in the middle of a recession, and piled an unprecedented amount of new debt on our children and grandchildren. 

“I have supported better solutions, including a stimulus plan that would create twice the jobs at half the cost of the Democrats’ legislation, a fiscally-responsible budget, and plans to revitalize the housing market and rebuild Americans’ savings.

“And, the world did not suddenly become safer on January 20. As the next 100 days begin, I look forward to working with the President to bring stability to Iraq, to fight the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan and defeat the terrorist network around the world.”

Recommended Reading: Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell’s thoughtful remarks on the Senate Floor on Wednesday:


Opposes Expensive Pelosi Budget

Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen this week voted “no” on the record $3.4 trillion budget blueprint produced by Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, with no input from Minority Members.  In fact, the final budget resolution passed by the House on Wednesday is not much different than the version President Obama sent to Congress earlier this month.  “It still spends too much, it still taxes too much, and it still borrows too much from our children and grandchildren,” said Frelinghuysen.  “And it paves the way for a national ‘cap and tax’ energy levy and a deliberate nationalization of America’s health care system by the federal government bureaucracy.  That’s the wrong direction for New Jersey’s families.”

There is one key difference between the Congressional budget and the plan the President sent to Capitol Hill earlier this year: Congress’ budget raises taxes on low- and middle-class Americans! 

The Associated Press reported this week: “…the plan would allow Obama’s signature $400 tax cut for most workers and $800 for couples to expire at the end of next year.  Even after squeezing the defense and war budgets to levels that are probably unrealistic, the plan would cause a deficit of $523 billion in five years.”

Specifically, the Congressional budget actually kills the “Making Work Pay” tax credit the President promised millions of low- and middle-class families during the campaign.  In other words, as families struggle during this recession, their annual tax bill will grow even larger thanks to this budget.

GM = Government Motors?

Next week will be a pivotal week for General Motors and the taxpayer. Once a symbol of America’s industrial power, GM has until next Friday to gain approval of a program that will stave off bankruptcy.

Under the latest proposal, GM would be half owned by the U.S. Treasury and the American taxpayers under a new sweeping plan that would also close the Pontiac division, lay off 21,000 workers and impose tough terms on the company's bondholders.

“The government is effectively nationalizing GM,” said Frelinghuysen.  “This is a troubling abandonment of the free market system upon which this great nation has been built.

“The President has already removed GM’s CEO and ordered that its board be reconstituted.  What’s next?  Designing cars?  Limiting dealerships?  Frankly, the government is fundamentally unqualified to run an auto company.

“The President has proclaimed that he does not want to ‘be in the car business.’   If that’s the case, then he needs to explain to the American people clearly and quickly how he will get the taxpayers’ money back.  We need an ‘exit strategy’!”

Treasury should allow taxpayers to get TARP funds back

Rep. Frelinghuysen and other members of the House this week urged Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to allow banks to repay federal Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funds as soon as they can.

In a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal, Secretary Geithner indicated that banks deemed healthy by both the Treasury Department and government regulators may not be allowed to pay back U.S. government “TARP” funding even if they wanted to.

45 members of Congress signed a letter to the Secretary which said stated in part: “We …believe that banks that possess the ability to repay the funds should be allowed to do so as soon as possible.  If we ever hope to return our economy to the free market principles which made this country great, this is a vital and necessary first step.”

Several of the larger banks that have been recipients of these funds were reportedly forced to take the funds in the first place in an effort to restore confidence in the economy at a time of great uncertainty last fall. 

“The taxpayer has the right to expect that the government will be paid back as soon as possible,” said Frelinghuysen.

Bad Idea of the Week

The Chairman of the House Transportation Committee this week said he wants Congress to enact a new mileage-based tax on cars and trucks to pay for highway programs now rather than wait years to test the idea.

Rep. James Oberstar, (MN) said he believes the technology exists to implement a mileage tax.  The tax would entail equipping individual vehicles with GPS technology to determine how many miles a car has been driven and whether on interstate highways or secondary roads. The devices would also calculate the amount of tax owed.

“It appears that this proposal is another example of Washington acting first and thinking later - establishing a program without understanding its full implications,” said Frelinghuysen.  “This concept seems unfair to families who must depend on their car or truck and drive great distances to work or school.  It would also discourage the purchase of hybrid or high mileage vehicles. And, the privacy concerns are very real.  This idea should end up in the junk yard.”

Women’s Health Summit Success

Rep. Frelinghuysen was the featured speaker to over 350 people at highly successful Women’s Health Summit hosted by the Health Care Institute of New Jersey.  This year’s topic was heart disease and the summit heard from Dr. Patrice Desvigne-Nickens from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).  Dr. Desvigne-Nickens is a cardiologist in the Heart Failure and Arrhythmias Branch and is an expert on women’s heart disease.  She spoke about ongoing research and clinical trials at the NIH. 

“Heart disease is the number one killer of women in the United States, more then the next four leading causes of death combined, said Frelinghuysen.  “Even though more women than men die from cardiovascular disease every year, too many daughters, mothers, sisters and grandmothers are falling victim to this silent killer.”

In addition to Dr. Nickens’ key note speech, a panel of doctors from local hospitals spoke about prevention, detection and treatment.  The audience learned that exercising four times a week for over a half and hour can reduce the risk of heart disease.  In addition, simple changes in diet can lead to a much healthier heart.

Rep. Frelinghuysen is a cosponsor of H.R. 1032 the Heart Disease Education, Analysis Research, and Treatment (HEART) for Women Act.  This legislation uses a multi-pronged approach – arming medical providers with the safest and most effective cardiovascular treatments for women and giving more women access to the WISEWOMAN program that provides free heart disease and stroke prevention screening to those that are low-income and uninsured.

Town Meetings!

Rep. Frelinghuysen held town hall meetings Saturday in Somerville and Caldwell to listen to constituents’ concerns and discuss the key issues he is working on in Congress, while also giving all attendees an opportunity to address their individual concerns.  Key topics included the financial crisis, government intervention and ‘nationalization’ of our financial and health care systems.   

During a discussion of health care ‘reform,’ Frelinghuysen warned his constituents about a recent decision by Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Reid to sharply limit public debate on a massive, ‘universal’ health care legislative proposal.  “Next week, the Senate will be taking the first steps toward a ‘one-size-fits-all,’ government-run healthcare program.  The Senate majority only needs 51 senators to sharply limit debate and pass it.  Clearly, we need to expand accessible and affordable heath care, but I want my constituents to have choices. This procedure allows for precious little discussion and debate. And it’s not the right path for America.”

More than 100 local residents attended the meetings.

“Overall, town hall meetings serve as an important opportunity for me to discuss critical issues and talk about the latest action in Congress and what it means for the people of New Jersey,” Frelinghuysen said.  “Most importantly, however, it serves as a forum where I can listen to the specific concerns and address the individual needs of all those who attend.”   

Frelinghuysen was introduced in Somerville by Mayor Brian Gallagher and in Caldwell by Mayor Susan Garland. 

As a part of Rep. Frelinghuysen’s ongoing effort to respond to the concerns of his constituents, members of his staff were also on hand to help constituents with questions about passports, Social Security, and veterans affairs. 

Frelinghuysen’s ongoing series of town meetings continues next weekend when he will hold town meetings at the Roxbury Community Center (9 a.m.) and the Long Hill Township Municipal Building (1 p.m.).