E-News 11/18/11

This Week: Common-Sense: We need a balanced budget amendment!

Rodney Returns from Afghanistan

Another Dubious Debt Milestone

By The Numbers: Real UnemploymentReaches 26 Million

Improving Jobs Prospects For Veterans

Say That Again, Mr. Reid?!?!?

ObamaCare Will Have a Day in (the Supreme) Court

Proof Positive: Tax Increases Are a Negative

Seeking a Disaster Declaration for October Snowstorm

Congratulations Picatinny Arsenal

Securing the “digital frontier”

This Week: Common-Sense: We need a balanced budget amendment!

 “The House of Representatives missed an historic opportunity this afternoon to begin making the federal government live within its means .  A majority of House members voted in favor of House Resolution 2, the Balanced Budget amendment to our Constitution.  However, we failed to reach the 2/3rds threshold necessary to send the amendment to the 50 states for ratification. 

“I voted for the Balanced Budget Amendment.  In fact, to show my strong support for this common-sense approach, I cosponsored House Resolution 2. 

“Why?  The math is simple – the federal government takes in approximately $2.2 trillion every year, but spends over $3.5 trillion.  To sustain the operations of the government, we borrow over 42-cents of every federal dollar we spend.  As a result, our national debt has now increased to 100% of the size of our economy today, up from just 42% in 1980.

“The implications for future generations of this dangerous spending spree are obvious.  We are hurtling down a path toward the most predictable financial disaster in the history of the planet!  Before we truly become just another fiscally failing western democracy, we must change course.

“Enough is enough!

“Yes, spending cuts are important and I have enthusiastically voted for trillions of dollars in spending cuts.  But spending cuts must be coupled with binding spending controls because what one Congress passes today, another Congress can always undo tomorrow.

“Spending pledges and statutory ‘caps’ can easily be ignored or overturned as the political winds change and new unexpected ‘crises’ come about, like we saw with the $1 trillion ‘stimulus’ act of 2009!

“The only effective way to control spending is through an amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  This constitutional mandate to pass a balanced budget every year would legally force, not simply “urge” or “encourage,” Congress to only spend what it takes in.

“Balancing budgets is not an untested idea -- 49 states currently abide by some form of a balanced budget requirement.

“New Jersey residents want our government to live within its means.  But they also continue to ask “where are the jobs?” They want Congress to make economic growth and private-sector job creation its top priority.  We took an important step in that process today. 

Abraham Lincoln warned us that, “We cannot escape history. We of this Congress and this Administration will be remembered in spite of ourselves.”

The question before us today: will this Congress be remembered as the Congress that did nothing as the nation slouched toward a completely preventable debt crisis and irreversible decline? “

                                                          Rodney Frelinghuysen

PS: “Last week I led an official Congressional delegation to Afghanistan to visit the troops and consult with our military and civilian leaders on the ground.  Please read my report here.”

Another Dubious Debt Milestone

On Wednesday afternoon, the U.S. national debt topped $15 trillion. 

With the federal government spending $1.3 trillion more than it takes in, the deficit for every man, woman and child in America has ballooned to nearly $48,000. 

Visit the U.S. debt Clock here

By The Numbers: Real UnemploymentReaches 26 Million

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of Americans who are either unemployed, underemployed, or not searching because they have been discouraged by the job market reached 26 million.

In October, nearly 14 million workers were unemployed with an additional 8.9 million working part time because they could not find full time work.

There were also 2.5 million workers who were available for work but had stopped actively searching because of the economic conditions.  All told, over 16 percent of the U.S. workforce is now unemployed or underemployed.

Improving Job Prospects For Veterans

There are nearly 900,000 unemployed veterans in the United States–a staggering figure. The latest Department of Labor unemployment report shows that in October 2011, the average unemployment rate among all veterans was 7.7% and 12.1% for veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

In addition, veterans between the ages of 35 and 64, the group with the highest financial obligations and the fewest available VA education and training options, continue to make up nearly two-thirds of all unemployed veterans.

Overall, nearly one in twelve of our nation’s heroes can’t find a job to support their family, don’t have an income that provides stability, and don’t have work that provides them with the confidence and pride that is so critical to their transition home.

In order to begin to correct this situation, Rodney voted for the “VOW to Hire Heroes Act,” a bipartisan, bicameral, comprehensive legislation that would lower the rate of unemployment among our nation’s veterans by:

·         Expanding Education & Training: The VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011 provides nearly 100,000 unemployed veterans of past eras and wars with up to 1-year of additional Montgomery GI Bill benefits to qualify for jobs in high-demand sectors, from trucking to technology.

·         Improving the Transition Assistance Program (TAP): The VOW to Hire Heroes Act will make TAP mandatory for most service members transitioning to civilian status, upgrade career counseling options and job hunting skills.

·         Facilitating Seamless Transition: This bill would allow service members to begin the federal employment process by acquiring veterans preference status prior to separation.  This would facilitate a more seamless transition to civil service jobs at VA, or the many other federal agencies that would benefit from hiring our veterans.

·         Veterans Tax Credits:The VOW to Hire Heroes Act provides tax credits for hiring veterans and disabled veterans who are out of work.  

Say That Again, Mr. Reid?!?!?

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid this week proclaimed the notion that excessive federal regulations are jobs killers is a "myth."  He said people "have yet to produce a single shred of evidence that the regulations they hate so much do the broad economic harms they claim. That's because there is none."

Small business owners disagree.  A Gallup Poll of small-business owners last month identified "complying with government regulations" as the most important problem facing them.

View the Gallup Poll here.

ObamaCare Will Have a Day in (the Supreme) Court

The U.S. Supreme Court formally agreed this week to review President Obama’s 2010 health care overhaul law. Next March, around the second anniversary of the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act , the justices will hear arguments in the case and rule on whether the Constitution gives Congress the power to require nearly every American to obtain health insurance or pay a penalty.

The case, brought by 26 states, is based on ObamaCare's so-called individual mandate, which requires all Americans to purchase health insurance.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled it a "breathtaking expansion of federal power." Other appellate courts have upheld the provision's constitutionality.

In addition, the justices said they will consider:

Whether other parts of the law can go forward if the “individual mandate” is found unconstitutional. Lower courts have differed on the question.

Whether Congress is improperly coercing states to expand Medicaid, the subsidized health-care program for the poor and disabled.

“No matter what the Supreme Court decides next year, Congress should continue to work hard to repeal Obamacare law and replace it with patient-centered reforms thatreduces health care costs, improve choices, reform liability laws to put the needs of patients first, and ensure  there are enough doctors to care for American families,” Rodney said. “We can accomplish these goals by empowering patients and doctors, instead of turning more control over to the federal government, and I will continue to push for the right kind of reforms.”

Proof Positive: Tax Increases Are a Negative

 The New Jersey Treasury Department reported this weekd that thousands of wealthy residents flee our state each year because of income-tax increases, resulting in the loss of $150 million in annual tax revenues.

A study conducted by the state's chief economist indicated that 25,000 people have left the New Jersey since income taxes on high earners were increased in 2004 and 2009. Mr. Charles Steindel estimated the state's revenue losses at about $3 billion.

The state's highest tax rate was raised to 8.97% from 6.37% in 2004 for those making more than $500,000.  For 2009, the rate was boosted to 10.75% for “millionaires.”

Steindel’s researchers concluded that for every 1% increase to New Jersey's tax rate, about 4,200 residents left and $520 million in adjusted gross income was lost.

Rodney said the study confirmed what many people have long suspected. “We have heard for years about New Jerseyans picking up and moving to lower tax states to avoid higher taxes here,” he said.  “This report confirms what we’ve already suspected: raising taxes does not guarantee greater revenues.  Only economic growth guarantees higher revenues.” 

Read more about the New Jersey Treasury study here.

Seeking a Disaster Declaration for October Snowstorm

With Rodney’s strong endorsement, Governor Chris Christie this week asked the President to declare a Major Disaster Declaration for areas sustaining damage as a result of our unseasonable storm on October 29.  The freak weather system brought heavy snow, rain, high winds, river flooding, downed trees and power lines, and associated widespread power outages to Morris, Essex, Sussex, Somerset and Passaic counties.  

“The impact of this rare October snow won’t soon be forgotten. Road were closed.  Power outages persisted for days,” said Rodney.  “The fact of the matter is that this unexpected emergency response and debris removal strapped our county and local governments with heavy financial burdens.  They need help!”

The request follows joint preliminary damage assessments (PDAs) conducted by federal, state and local emergency management officials. Governor Christie requested Public Assistance Grant funding for government agencies and eligible private nonprofit organizations in Morris, Essex, Passaic, Somerset and Counties. 

The Governor sent his request to President Obama through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) 

Congratulations Picatinny Arsenal

It’s official: Picatinny Arsenal is now the United States Department of Defense’s official “Joint Center of Excellence for Guns and Ammunition.”

Ceremonies formally marking the installation’s new designation were held this morning at Picatinny.

The ceremony brings to a close six years of effort that began in September 2005 when the Defense Department’s Base Realignment and Closure Commission’s *BRAC) approved creation of an “integrated weapons and armaments specialty site for guns and ammunition at Picatinny.”   

The joint center at Picatinny is focused on streamlining the acquisition process to deliver quality-engineered guns and ammunition solutions when and where needed on time and at the right price.

Securing the “digital frontier”

Rodney has been participating in ongoing investigations of the House Intelligence Committee on the rising global cyber threats to U.S. government agencies and private sector companies. 

“The threat is very real and growing,” Rodney said after the hearing.  “Foreign governments, overseas businesses and internet-savvy criminals are stealing government secrets and a whole range of private U.S. intellectual property. The loss of American wealth and security is staggering.” 

Recommended Reading:

The Washington Post investigated the crisis and reported on Thursday.  Read “Cybersecurity: Protecting our Nation’s Assets” here.

Jay Rockefellar and Michael Chertoff, writing in the Friday Washington Post"A new line of defense in cybersecutiy" here.