e-News February 27, 2009

1. Move to Nationalization?
2. The President’s Address
3. Frelinghuysen Votes Against Omnibus Appropriations Act
4. Statement on the Budget Proposal
5. Supporting our Mission in Iraq
6. New Jersey Congressmen Send Letter to Governor Corzine
7. Visits American Legion
8. Spread the eNews
9. Contact Rep. Frelinghuysen

Move to Nationalization?
The Banks
The front-page headline of the Washington Post on Tuesday said it all: “U.S. Clears Path to Bank Takeovers: Obama’s Revised Plan for Industry Aid Could Result in Nationalization.”  Add to that frightening news from other Post stories stating that over 400 U.S banks have already been partially nationalized through the purchase of stock by the Secretary of the Treasury.

Health Care
The President continued this theme of “nationalization” in his State of the Union address to Congress and the nation on Tuesday night.  He endorsed the “nationalization” of American health care under the guise of “Comprehensive Health Care Reform.”  “While I personally support every effort to provide increased access to affordable health care, the President’s ‘reform’ will significantly raise taxes in the middle of an economic recession.  That is a prescription for more job loss and hardship.
”His proposal comes on the heels of the $800 billion (Billions! Not millions!) Congress approved as part of the economic stimulus package, designed to further increase government involvement in health care by putting bureaucrats - not doctors - in charge of medical choices for families and seniors.   Is there any doubt that Congress and the Administration have started down a path toward nationalized health care without the benefit of exhaustive hearings or extensive debate?”

The President’s Address
“President Obama laid out his agenda for the nation and his ideas to revive our economy.  I applaud his desire to address the many challenges facing our nation!  However, I have serious concerns about his plans to raise taxes on families and small businesses. (*Approximately 64 percent of individual income tax filers earning over $250,000 per year are small businessmen and women.)

“The President discussed the importance of restoring fiscal discipline to Washington.  I share that important goal, but fiscal discipline begins with reining in government spending and eliminating waste, not increasing taxes.  Adding new taxes on families and small businesses will only lead to job losses and a deeper recession.

“New Jersey families and businesses are genuinely worried about their financial futures.  Many of them are struggling just to survive.  Small businesses are working just to keep their doors open and pay employees.  Taking more of their hard earned money will only result in more layoffs and fewer job opportunities.  New Jersey already suffers from one of the nation’s highest tax burdens.  Our families and small businesses cannot afford higher taxes!

“Since President Obama was sworn in, Congress has passed an $800 billion stimulus package, a $350 billion extension of the Troubled Assets Relief Program for banks, and, a $410 billion Omnibus appropriations bill, which will finally complete Congress’ on the budget for the fiscal year that started last October!.

“When this Omnibus spending bill is signed, over $1.5 trillion of borrowed money will have been spent since Inauguration Day by Congress.  Throughout this process, the House leadership has opposed efforts to eliminate excess spending, increase accountability, or provide additional tax relief to families and businesses.

“The President is right - we must restore fiscal responsibility to Washington, but Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid must be willing to limit the growth in spending.  Tax increases in a recession will only delay our economic recovery.”

The Silence was Deafening
“The President completely neglected to mention, in his address to the nation, investment in a strong national defense, which is critical to fighting the War on Terror.  We must continue to make it a priority to provide our men and women in uniform with the tools and the support they need and deserve so that we can be protected!”

Frelinghuysen Votes Against Omnibus Appropriations Act
On Wednesday, Rep. Frelinghuysen opposed H.R. 1105, the $410 billion Omnibus appropriations bill.  H.R. 1105 completes nine unfinished spending bills from the fiscal year that began October 1, 2008 (the start of 2009 fiscal year).

“New Jersey families are cutting back to get through difficult economic times, and Congress must do the same.  This massive government spending bill comes on top of an $800 billion stimulus package and a month after a $350 billion taxpayer commitment to the Troubled Assets Relief Program for banks.  With each new borrowed dollar, and we are talking about billions, not millions, our nation goes further into debt on the backs of future generations.”

“The Omnibus bill was allowed one hour of debate with no opportunity for amendments.  Congress is considering these bills five months late, a complete forfeiture of its Constitutional responsibilities as a separate branch of government.  The nine bills included in the Omnibus were never brought to the House floor for consideration, and six never received a vote in committee!  Not since 1950 has this occurred.”

“Speaker Pelosi and House leadership have put together another spending bill with little input from most Members of Congress, even those in their own party,” said Frelinghuysen.  “The American people deserve an open and transparent process, especially when billions of their hard earned dollars are at stake.”

As the new Ranking Member of the Energy and Water Subcommittee, Frelinghuysen was especially disappointed that the Omnibus bill slashed funding to Yucca Mountain – our future national depository for nuclear waste.

“Our national security demands that we develop a more balanced energy portfolio that reduces our dangerous addiction to imported oil.  Nuclear power makes up 20 percent of our nation’s energy and 48 percent of New Jersey’s.  Despite the funding cuts to Yucca Mountain, which leave the facility on ‘life support’, no other solution for nuclear disposal was proposed.”

Also tucked deep inside the Omnibus bill is a provision to eliminate the successful District of Columbia (DC) school choice program, which Frelinghuysen worked to create in 2003.  H.R. 1105 prohibits any new students from receiving vouchers and sunsets the program after the 2009-2010 school year.  This program gave Washington, DC schoolchildren and their parents new opportunities and access to better educations.  This policy change will once again trap children in underperforming and failing public schools.

“These are incredibly serious policy decisions, and they should be carefully considered by Congress and the American people.  This is no way to govern, and a huge spending bill should not be used to shove through these major policy changes.”

By itself, the Omnibus Appropriations bill contains an 8.7 percent increase in discretionary spending, which represents the single largest jump since 1978 (with the exception of a 10 percent increase in 2002 after the September 11 attacks).  When combined with the recently passed stimulus package, the funding increase for 2009 is over 80 percent.

In addition, the Omnibus Bill makes fundamental changes to:

  • Fairness Doctrine:  Removes a provision that prohibits funds from being used to implement the so-called “Fairness Doctrine,” which requires the federal government to regulate and censor radio and television content.
  • CubaTravel Restrictions:  Narrows existing travel restrictions to Cuba, including lifting the “family travel” limitation to immediate family members and the “once every three years” travel limit.  We should not be lifting sanctions on Cuba until they account for the whereabouts of Joanne Chesimard, the killer of a New Jersey State Trooper.
  • ACORN:  Provides $181 million for the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation for housing counseling.  ACORN has been a past recipient of such funding.
  • Deficit Impact:  With the passage of the $1 trillion “stimulus” bill, the federal deficit will rise well above the record $1.2 trillion (or 8.3% of our economy) that CBO predicted at the beginning of 2009.  H.R. 1105 would unnecessarily add billions in deficit spending to the national debt.

Statement on Budget Proposal
“I am anxious to work with the President on a responsible budget that helps our economy recover.  But the budget unveiled this week takes us in the wrong direction – more taxes, more spending and more debt. 
“With the highest tax burden in the nation, New Jersey residents and businesses already send too much of their hard-earned money to the government.  Like all Americans, they cannot afford the $1.4 trillion in new taxes contained in the President’s budget, especially during this economic crisis.

“With surging unemployment, budget deficits, and foreclosures, Congress must not increase taxes on families, retires, charities and small businesses - the engine of job creation. 

“Despite recent talk of fiscal responsibility, this budget sets spending at unprecedented levels.  New Jersey residents are watching their family spending during this difficult economic time, and Congress must do the same.

The President’s Budget:

  • Raises taxes by $1.4 trillion: After promising to reduce taxes on 95 percent of Americans, the Administration’s budget establishes a $646 billion energy tax hike that will impact anyone who uses electricity, drives a car, or relies on energy in any way;
  • Raises taxes on small businesses, the engines of job creation:  Targets small businesses – the engines of job creation in our country – for unwarranted tax increases by raising marginal income tax rates from 33% to 36% and from 35% to 39.6%.  Small businesses employ about half of all private-sector workers and have created nearly 80% of the new jobs in the U.S. in recent years.  According to IRS data from 2006, 60% of net small business income was earned by taxpayers with at least $200,000 of income.  Imposing higher taxes on hundreds of thousands of these “mom and pop” businesses is hardly the way to encourage job creation during these challenging economic times.
  • Raises taxes on investments instead of encouraging economic growth:  Discourages critical investments in our economy by raising the top tax rate on capital gains and dividends by one-third.  To help steady our economy and calm the capital markets, we should be encouraging the long-term investments that lead to job creation by preserving lower tax rates on investment capital.
  • Changes the mortgage interest tax deduction:Limits this important tax deduction for thousands of families that suports the basic foundation of homeownership.  Given our current housing crisis, this proposal comes at the worst possible time.
  • Limits Tax Incentives for Charitable Giving:  Restores and expands pre-2001 provisions that limit the value of deductions and exemptions.  This harms philanthropic organizations, like the Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity and soup kitchens, when their services are needed most, as it reduces the value of the charitable deduction for affected taxpayers.
  • Increases dependence on foreign oil:  Imposes punitive new taxes on domestic energy production, encouraging U.S. companies to move jobs overseas and increasing our overall dependence on foreign energy supplies.
  • Resurrects the “Death Tax”:  Allows the death tax to spring back to life in 2010 by preventing the estate tax repeal from taking effect as now scheduled.
  • Damages the popular Medicare Advantage program:Managed care companies would lose subsidies for offering Medicare Advantage plans, thus harming the program.  Nine million Americans could be forced out of the program and back into traditional Medicare. Eliminating Medicare Advantage would also be bad for non-seniors because it would block innovations that make medical care better, cheaper, and safer.
  • Record deficits:Record debt: Projects a budget deficit of $1.75 trillion (higher than the last five years of deficits combined); Ensures trillion dollar deficits until at least 2012. Doubles the national debt in 8 years;

“Raising taxes is no strategy for economic recovery.  I stand ready to work with President, but this proposal takes our country toward a longer, deeper recession.”

Supporting our Mission in Iraq
Reacting to President Obama’s decision to withdraw most troops from Iraq by the end of August 2010:

“I want as many U.S. forces as possible to leave Iraq as soon as they can.   However, I strongly believe that the pace of our withdrawal should not be dictated by past campaign promises but should be determined by actual events on the ground in Iraq.  Our most experienced commanders in the field – Generals Petraeus and Odierno – must be allowed the lead as they see fit and any withdrawal plan must maintain an element of flexibility to react to changing circumstances.

“The gains in Iraq achieved by our dedicated young soldiers, Marines, sailors and airmen – all volunteer – are very dramatic.   However, we can never lose sight of the fact that this progress is fragile and a withdrawal for withdrawal’s sake could threaten to undo the courageous work of our military.”

New JerseyCongressmen Send Letter to Governor Corzine
On Friday, Rep. Frelinghuysen joined a number of New Jersey Congressmen in sending at a letter to New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine regarding funds from the recently passed stimulus bill.  Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, Rep. Leonard Lance, Rep. Frank LoBiondo, Rep. Chris Smith, and Rep. Scott Garrett signed on to the letter.

The letter is included below:

Dear Governor Corzine:
We are writing to request respectfully that you work with the New Jersey State Legislature to establish an independent, bipartisan oversight board to monitor and account for funding committed to New Jersey from the Economic Reinvestment and Recovery Act (P.L. 111-5).

As you know, the American Economic Reinvestment Act law allocates billions of dollars in federal stimulus funds for the State of New Jersey.   While there was great disagreement in Congress about the size and effectiveness of the $787 billion “economic stimulus” measure, there is no disagreement that transparency and accountability are critical tools for maintaining the public's confidence in this process of spending tax dollars wisely.

Creating an independent, bipartisan oversight board will provide significant transparency and accountability and give taxpayers the opportunity to review just how these funds are being spent by your Administration.  The Board should consist of former and current elected officials as well as New Jersey’s leading auditors, certified public accountants and taxpayer advocate groups.

Additionally, we also urge you to establish a public website to provide an accounting for each stimulus dollar spent in the state with an estimation of the number of jobs that will be created or retained.    New Jersey’s taxpayers must have the utmost confidence that their tax dollars are being spent wisely, without waste, fraud or abuse and free from politics.

We recognize that you have already named your Chief of Staff Ed McBride and the State’s Comptroller Matt Boxer to oversee New Jersey’s share of the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act money.  We urge you to go even further.

We believe establishing a New Jersey Stimulus Oversight Board and accompanying public website are important steps toward providing greater accountability, oversight and transparency of the stimulus spending in our state. 
Thank you very much in advance for your consideration to our request. We look forwarding to hearing from you soon as to your thoughts on this important fiscal matter.

Visits American Legion
On Sunday, Rep. Frelinghuysen American Legion Post 344 in Rockaway Township.  He was welcomed by Jim Cicatelli and recognized by an award for his assistance with their Post’s renovations.

“We must always remember the sacrifices of our nation’s servicemen and women of wars past,” said Frelinghuysen.  “They faced the worst that war can bring.  In the face of our enemies, they sacrificed and devoted themselves to defending America.”

Frelinghuysen is a Vietnam veteran and member of American Legion Post 59 in Morristown.

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