1) The Week Ahead: “Crunch Time” to Cut Federal Spending!
2) An “Army of Lobbyists” Prepares To Battle Budget Cuts
3) Noted With Interest: “Stimulus” Just Got More Pricey
4) Rodney’s Listening Tour: Budget and Health Care
5) Feeling Unrest in the Middle East At Home
The Week Ahead: “Crunch Time” to Cut Federal Spending!
“As I write this, the federal government could be just one week away from a shutdown of ‘non-essential services.’
“It does not have to happen. Democrats and Republicans alike should be working overtime to keep the government open and operating.
“As you know, last week the House conducted over 90 hours of open debate and worked through over 500 amendments to pass a resolution that will do two things: 1) cut government spending by unprecedented amounts; and 2) keep the government open for business through next September.
“To finalize these two accomplishments, the Senate must pass the resolution and the President must sign it.
“However, instead of considering the House-passed bill, or even portions of it, to continue funding government operations with responsible spending cuts, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is ‘doubling down’ on Congress’ past excessive spending by introducing legislation to keep the status quo, extending government funding at the current levels.
“While he claims that his plan will cut spending, it actually locks in the current bloated spending levels.
“Between fiscal years 2008 and 2010, the Pelosi-Reid Congress increased non-defense discretionary spending by nearly 25 percent – and it was an 84 percent increase when you include the so-called ‘stimulus’ spending.
“This contributed to our nation’s first $1 trillion deficit in 2009, its second $1 trillion deficit in 2010, and another $1 trillion deficit in 2011.
“America cannot afford this ‘status quo.’ We cannot freeze into place past bad practices!
“So, if Senator Reid refuses to bring the House budget-cutting resolution to a vote next week, then the House will pass a short-term bill to keep the government running – one that also begins to cut spending immediately.
“Our goal must be to chop up the nation’s federal credit cards and reduce the size of government, not to shut it down. Next week will tell us if the U.S. Senate and President Obama agree.”
An “Army of Lobbyists” Prepares To Battle Budget Cuts
According to an ABC News report, Senate Democrats recently huddled behind closed doors with an “army of lobbyists” to orchestrate a massive campaign to fight House Republicans’ effort to cut spending – an effort economists agree is necessary to help create a better environment for job creation in America. Here is more from the ABC News report.
“As Congress prepares to make deep spending cuts, an army of lobbyists is gearing up to fight back. In an e-mail obtained by ABC News, a top staffer for the key Senate Appropriations subcommittee called for a meeting of lobbyists and interest groups that would be affected by expected cuts to the Labor and Health and Human Services budget. The Jan. 24 meeting was attended by approximately 400 people, sources told ABC, and served as a ‘call to arms’ for those determined to fight Republican budget cuts.”
Noted With Interest: “Stimulus” Just Got More Pricey
Congress’s chiefscorekeeper, the Congressional Budget Office, this week again raised the cost estimate of President Obama’s two-year-old economic “stimulus” program, calculating it will end up costing taxpayers $821 billion — or $34 billion more than originally stated.
And that’s not counting the interest that we’re paying on the money we had to borrow from the Chinese and other foreign interests to finance the package…
Recommended Reading: Richard Cohen’s Op-Ed piece in the Monday Washington Post draws the distinction between private and public sector unions and makes an argument for pension reform, “Government Pensions, an Economic Obesity.”
Rodney’s Listening Tour: Budget and Health Care
Rodney’s latest town hall meeting was held Tuesday evening at Ridgedale Middle School in Florham Park. He was welcomed by Mayor Scott Eveland and members of the borough council.
Approximately 80 people attended and discussed a wide range of issues with Rodney. The new health care law and issues related to the national debt and federal spending dominated the conversation.
“I always find these meetings to be productive,” Rodney said. “Local residents get to hear my views on the many pressing issues of the day, but far more important is that I get the opportunity to listen to their opinions, concerns and questions. The public has the right to be heard and these town hall meetings allow people to express their beliefs, judgment and attitude.”
Rodney will be continuing his listening tour in coming weeks in another section of the 11th Congressional District.
Recommended Reading II: Lloyd Krieger, writing in the Wednesday Wall Street Journal, “Obamacare is Already Damaging Health Care.”
Also, former Health and Human Services Secretary Michael O. Leavitt’s column about concentration of power in the health care industry, in the Washington Post, “Health Reform’s Central Flaw: Too Much Power In One Office.”
Feeling Unrest in the Middle East At Home
With each passing day, the Middle East is becoming more unstable. Rulers and regimes that have clung to power for decades are now being threatened and overthrown. Others (like the Yemenis and Syrians) are preemptively cracking down on their opponents or seeking to appease them (like the Jordanians and the Saudis).
While no one can say with certainty what the future will bring to the radically altered Middle Eastern landscape, it is becoming increasingly apparent that these events will affect us at home.
The wanton violence in Libya is dominating the headlines this week.
American diplomats and citizens are fleeing this North African nation and the country’s petroleum industry is beginning to shut down, causing a spike in worldwide oil prices that is being felt at gasoline pumps in New Jersey.
But there's also unrest in lesser-known places that are strategically important to the United States.
The island nation of Bahrain sits at the intersection of ongoing Iranian-Saudi competition. If the situation in Bahrain gets out of hand, the U.S. could lose a base for its 5th Fleet; Saudi Arabia's Shiite minority could be encouraged to ramp up their own protests; the Iranian-Saudi balance in the region would teeter heavily in Iran’s favor.
Above all, this year’s turmoil in the Middle East should remind everyone that Americamust face its energy challenges now and to do so, we must fully understand why energy prices are so volatile.
1. In 1974- our last “oil shock”- the United States imported less than 25 percent of its oil. Today, we import 70 percent at a cost of $700 billion a year.
2. The majority of our foreign oil (nearly 70 percent) comes from unfriendly or unstable nations.
3. The United States consumes almost one-quarter of the world’s 85 million barrels of oil per day.
4. Growing economies in China and India are using more oil to meet their energy needs.
In short, we must find other many other sources of energy besides petroleum. America is simply too dependent on oil, particularly foreign oil. This dependence is not only an economic or environmental issue, it is a national security risk. And, “diversity of supply” is key because it provides “security of supply.”
Recommended Reading IV: Wednesday editorial in the Washington Post, “Why was President Obama last to speak up on Libya?”