e-News October 1, 2010

1) The Week Just Past: Politics Above People

2) Noted with Interest: Larry Summers Back to Harvard!

3) Treating Violent International Extremists Like Petty Criminals

4) Education: Reform is the Answer


The Week Just Past:  Politics Above People

“The decision by Speaker Nancy Pelosi to adjourn Congress this week before allowing a simple up-or-down vote to prevent a world record tax increase in January has been described as a ‘dereliction of duty’, an exercise in ‘timidity’ and ‘politics at its worst.’ 

“Whatever the description used by others, I call this week’s adjournment of Congress a disgrace!

“No one in America should see a tax increase at the end of this year.  Unemployment remains near 10 percent, the housing market is still depressed, and real economic growth remains very weak. This is the worst possible time to increase taxes. 

“Yet despite this bleak economic outlook, Speaker Pelosi has put politics above the American people.  Small business owners in northern New Jersey want to invest and hire new workers, but instead they’re bracing for costly new tax increases.  These tax hikes would hurt the 75 percent of small business owners that file taxes at individual rates – the same small business owners responsible for nearly two-thirds of private sector job creation.

“And if that’s not bad enough, Congress has not completed ANY of the 12 annual appropriation bills nor adopted a basic budget.  However, Congress and the Obama Administration have teamed to hire more and more government workers to manage just about every aspect of our American economy.

“I know the American people do not care much about Congressional process and procedure.  But they certainly care about results.  And on this count, they have reason to be angry. 

“The results they’ve seen – a trillion dollar ‘stimulus’ bill that failed, ballooning budget shortfalls and a staggering national debt, a weakened military and a government takeover of health care – have darkened America’s future.”

Noted with Interest: Larry Summer Back to Harvard!

One of President Obama's top economic advisers, Larry Summers, said Tuesday that the economy will eventually improve and that "people aren't going to live with their parents forever."


Recommended Reading I: An excellent read from former Delaware Governor Pete Dupont writing in the Wall Street Journal about the effort to cut spending in Congress, “Finally, Some Hope: Republicans show that they're serious about curbing runaway government.”

Treating Violent International Extremists Like Petty Criminals

Word came this week that the international intelligence community had cracked an al Qaeda plot to conduct a major, coordinated series of commando-style terror attacks in Britain, France, Germany and possibly the United States. 

At the very same time, Speaker Pelosi was bringing to the floor of the House a bill that stripped an important prohibition on bringing Guantanamo Bay detainees into the United States, despite the overwhelming, bipartisan vote earlier in the year to prohibit the transfers.  The bill also failed to bar giving Miranda warnings to foreign terrorist suspects in foreign countries in order to protect intelligence collection.

“This legislation is not only irresponsible, but it is potentially dangerous,” said Rodney, a member of the House Special Intelligence Oversight Panel (SIOP). “The American people have been very clear: they refuse to sacrifice the safety of this country by giving terrorists the same rights and privileges as American citizens on American soil,” he said.  

In the last two years, the Obama Administration has tried to respond to the ongoing threats by characterizing terrorists as criminals to be tried and detained through our domestic criminal system, rather than as illegal combatants of war to be deterred and defeated.  The result has been confusion and inertia, leaving complex policy decisions to the courts, which have ruled in an “ad hoc,” contradictory fashion.  Rodney continues to be concerned with the Administration’s fixation on preserving its preference to try terrorists in civilian criminal courts, regardless of the impediment to the timely collection of important intelligence.

And by the way, the bill also allows the Justice Department to prosecute intelligence professionals who were simply carrying out the orders from the President.

“We need to support our civilian and military intelligence professionals,” Rodney said, “not force them to hire lawyers while they work to carry out their important missions.”

Recommended Reading II: Michael O’Hanlon of the Brookings Institution, writing in Politico on Monday, “New reason for hope in Afghanistan.”

Education: Reform is the Answer

This week, NBC News' devoted a great deal of air time to their special series, “Education Nation,” which brought together concerned citizens to confront our country's educational crisis.  This is an important issue, as one-third of our students do not make it to their high school graduation.  Another third arrive at college unprepared.  

“Education Nation” has highlighted the importance of increasing the number of charter schools, holding teachers accountable for standards and reforming the relationship between unions, administrators and most importantly, students.

During one segment, President Obama responded to a parent’s question about sending his daughters to a private school instead of public schools in Washington.  He said “The D.C. public school systems are struggling.They have made some important strides over the last several years to move in the direction of reform.”     

The President is correct, DC schools are struggling which is why it is puzzling that he continues to support the dismantling of a major reform in Washington DC, the Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP), which provides disadvantaged children with school vouchers to attend private and parochial schools in DC.

Rodney was an early and enthusiastic supporter of the OSP, having sponsored the amendment that first established the program in 2004.   

“I have seen the program grow and succeed in providing children with an education they would otherwise not have been given,” he said.  “We can only hope that this parent reminded the President that we must continue to support school choice in the District by renewing the Opportunity Scholarship Program.  Parents across the country must have the right to remove their children from failing schools!”

Of course, the bedrock of America’s global competitiveness is a well-educated and highly-skilled workforce. For America to play a leading role and compete and win in the worldwide economy, we must aggressively improve the quality of education in America. 

Clearly, a strong education system is in New Jersey’s self-interest. Governor Chris Christie has developed plans, including support for charter schools, that are worth examining.

Recommended Reading III: The Wall Street Journal’s editorial on Tuesday, “ObamaCare's Hotel California,” regarding government price controls slapped on private insurance.

Recommended Reading IV: Janet Adamy writing in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal that “McDonald’s May Drop Health Plan,” as a result of the ObamaCare overhaul:

Final Read: Max Boot’s hilarious review of Bob Woodward’s book, “Obama’s Wars."