1) The Month Ahead: “Freeze” vs. “Cut”
2) Another Legal Setback for Obamacare
3) Now the “Good News” on the health care front!
4) Unrest in Egypt
5) The Rise of “Liberation Technology”
6) Rodney’s Listening Tour Continues
The Month Ahead: “Freeze” vs. “Cut”
“In the weeks after President Obama proposed a ‘freeze’ of domestic discretionary spending, a key component of the House of Representatives’ 2011 action plan to promote the creation of new private sector jobs and opportunities moves to center stage this month. The House will begin debate on a government funding bill that will seek to cut Washington’s non-security spending to the levels of 2008 or lower.
“In total, the House will be voting to cut this year’s budget by anywhere from $50 billion to $100 billion – before all the failed ‘stimulus’ spending and bailouts. That means that, in coming days, you will be hearing and reading about some dramatic, unprecedented program cuts. In fact, I expect there will be many protests!
“But we have no choice.
“Our national debt stands at a whopping $14 trillion and $1 trillion annual deficits loom as far as the eye can see. The gross U.S. debt is approaching a level equivalent to 90 percent of the country's economic output - the level at which growth has historically declined. Translated: federal borrowing is crowding out private borrowing and hampering economic growth.
“Therefore, cutting spending will in fact help create jobs in America. The fact is this: by continuing to spend money we don’t have, running up the huge budget deficits, we create more uncertainty in the private sector. Families and small businesses need that certainty in order to plan for the future.
“To help get our economy back to creating jobs, families and small businesses need certainty and predictability. They need to stop the spending binge in Washington.
“The President has it wrong when he proposes still more ‘stimulus’ spending. He also has it wrong, when he suggests that a simple ‘freeze’ of Washington spending will fix our budget mess and stimulate job creation. To paraphrase one of my colleagues, ‘when your car is speeding toward a cliff, you slam on the brakes, not reach for cruise control.’”
Recommended Reading: Mike Cosgrove, writing for Investor’s Business Daily on Wednesday that “Debt, Tax Burdens Holding Back Growth.”
Another Legal Setback for Obamacare
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid this week engineered the partisan defeat of a measure designed to repeal President Obama’s controversial new health care law. 51 Democrats in the Senate voted “no” on the repeal bill.
At the same time, however, Obamacare suffered another serious legal blow as another federal judge ruled the so-called “individual mandate” illegal. However, this judge went further than a previous legal ruling by determining that the entire health care overhaul is unconstitutional.
U.S. District Court Judge Roger Vinson ruled that the law’s requirement that nearly all Americans purchase health insurance coverage is not within Congress’s legal powers. Because the provision is instrumental to the rest of the law, he declared the entire law unconstitutional.
Judge Vinson’s decision came in a suit filed in Florida by 26 states and the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), the nation’s largest small business organization.
The issue is expected to eventually reach the U.S. Supreme Court.
The key legal question in the numerous lawsuits over the individual mandate has come down to whether the Constitution’s Commerce Clause gives Congress the power to regulate the decision to buy insurance.
The states and NFIB contended during oral arguments in December that the Congress has no constitutional right to force Americans buy insurance coverage. They said that while Congress is authorized to regulate activity, they can’t regulate inactivity — or not buying insurance.
“This court ruling buttresses what most American’s already believe: the federal government should not be in the business of forcing anyone to buy health insurance and punishing them if they refuse or decline,” Rodney said. “With its $500 billion in Medicare cuts and its $500 billion in tax increases, we knew Obamacare was unaffordable. Now we also know it’s unconstitutional.”
Judge Vinson’s Decision
Opponents of Obamacare should not take any immediate consolation from Judge Vinson well-reasoned ruling, because the Obama Administration is barreling ahead with implementation of the 3000 page law and letting public opinion "be damned"!
Read Judge Vinson’s 78-page decision here.
Now the “Good News” on the healthcare front!
The Senate this week approved a bipartisan amendment to repeal the damaging “1099 provision” of the Obamacare law which is already injuring our nation’s small businesses. This is the provision that forces small businesses to file onerous IRS paperwork for just about every financial transaction they make with customers and suppliers alike. The provision is so bad that even President Obama admitted in his State of the Union address that it is bad for small businesses, reducing their ability to grow and, thus, create jobs.
Rodney is once again an original cosponsor of legislation to kill the harmful IRS 1099 provision.
Unrest in Egypt
The U.S. Department of State is recommending that U.S. citizens avoid travel to Egypt due to ongoing political and social unrest. Violent demonstrations have occurred in several areas of Cairo, Alexandria and other parts of the country, disrupting road travel between city centers and airports. Disruptions in communications, including internet service, are also occurring.
The latest information on the situation in Egypt can be found at http://travel.state.gov. This State Department site is updated frequently.
U.S. citizens in Egypt who require assistance, or those who are concerned that their U.S. citizen loved one in Egypt may require assistance, should contact the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Embassy in Cairo at: EgyptEmergencyUSC@state.gov, or at 1-202-501-4444. You will be asked to follow the directions on the Embassy website for all other consular inquiries.
For general background information on Egypt, please visit: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/eg.html
Recommended Reading II: Elliot Abrams, writing in the Sunday Washington Post, “Egypt protests show George W. Bush was right about freedom in the Arab world.” Worth a read.
The Rise of “Liberation Technology”
The end of the Egyptian, Tunisian, Yemini and Jordanian stories has yet to be written. We do not know if the widespread anti-government demonstrations across Egypt, the growing discontent in Jordan and Yemen or Tunisia’s so-called “Jasmine Revolution” will produce fundamental change or a return to some sort of modified status quo.
But one of the most interesting aspects of these protest movements is how they spread. Most observers note that the Tunisian protests to some degree inspired demonstrations in Egypt, and other Arab states such as Jordan, Yemen, Algeria, and Libya, to name a few. Of course, most experts on each individual country can offer well-reasoned explanations as to why their specific country won't be next.
However, consider what we're seeing in the Middle East. The speed with which large numbers of people have responded to events far away is remarkable.
In the 21st century, citizens are not relying on pamphlets, letters, coded messages or even video or audio cassette tapes to fuel their discontent. Today, a combination of modern mass media (the Internet, email, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, blogs, etc.) has clearly played a major role in driving events. It’s fairly clear that these “new” social media may have, to some extent, facilitated mass mobilization, thereby encouraging larger turnout at demonstrations.
What is not clear is how this “liberation technology” may continue to morph and make this sort of revolutionary “contagion” more likely elsewhere.
What is clear is that the Middle East faces serious challenges, even beyond the conflicts that dominate today’s headlines. For example, a growing majority of the people of this region is less than 30 years old. In fact, it is predicted that in just one country, Yemen, the population will double in just 30 years.
These young people have a hard time finding work. In many places, there are simply not enough jobs. Across the region, one in five young people is unemployed, and in some places, the percentage is far higher.
While some countries have made significant strides in governance, in many others people have grown tired of corrupt institutions and a stagnant political order. They are demanding reform to make their governments more effective, more responsive, and more open. And all this is taking place against a backdrop of depleting resources: water, oil, minerals and food.
These are important facts and trends for American policymakers to remember in the weeks, months and years ahead.
Recommended Reading III: This Sunday marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of President Ronald Reagan. Paul Kengor wrote a piece in the Monday Wall Street Journalthat offers important lessons for current leaders on how to deal with adversaries, “When Reagan Spoke Truth to Soviet Power.”
Rodney’s Listening Tour Continues
Rodney will continue his New Jersey listening tour this month as he holds a public town meeting in Florham Park on February 22. All area residents and interested citizens in the 11th Congressional District are invited to attend.
The details of the meeting:
Tuesday, February 22 – 7 pm
71 Ridgedale Avenue
Florham Park, NJ 07932
Rodney will provide an update on his work in Congress, including his efforts to oppose tax hikes and large federal spending increases, promote homeland security, and support America’s military service members and their families.
“I hold public town meetings regularly to allow me to hear the voices of local residents,” he said. “The topics are theirs to choose. The opinions are theirs to give.”
Seating may be limited. The facility is handicap-accessible. Constituent service staff will be available to address individual concerns. For more information or if you need assistance, please call Rodney’s local office at 973-984-0711.