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e-News July 23, 2010

The Week Just Past:  “Living Beyond Our Means”
Extended Unemployment Benefits Moves Forward
al Qaeda: Gitmo to the Battlefield?
Read The Bill First!
Use Your “Megaphone” to Speak Out

The Week Just Past:  “Living Beyond Our Means”

“Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner sat down for a PBS interview this week and made a rather astounding statement.  He declared that the economic crisis was caused in part by people ‘living beyond their means.’ 

“I am wondering if this member of the President’s own Cabinet has forgotten about the track record of the President’s own Administration! 

“Under the Obama Administration, deficit spending has soared, adding $4.9 billion a day to the national debt due to out of control spending!

“Now that’s what I consider ‘living beyond our means!’

“As you know, Speaker Pelosi and her Leadership team cancelled the 2011 budget, failing to propose and pass an annual budget resolution for the first time since 1974.  By doing so, Congress missed a great opportunity to cut spending and put our government on a badly-needed diet. 
 
“The federal deficit in June surpassed the $1 trillion mark for the second straight year, leading to more borrowing and more public debt. 

“I happen to agree with President Obama’s co-chair of his National Debt Commission.  Former Clinton White House Chief of Staff Erskine
Bowles said recently, ‘this debt is like a cancer.’

“I wonder if Treasury Secretary Geithner was listening.”

       Rodney Frelinghuysen

Extended Unemployment Benefits Move Forward

The House yesterday gave final legislative approval to a proposal to extend federal unemployment benefits for workers who have exhausted their normal six months of benefits.  The legislation also provides 100 percent federal funding to state unemployment programs to cover additional implementation costs.

Rodney voted “no” on the bill, for one reason: it could have been “paid for” but was not.  His statement speaks for itself:

“People need a helping hand.  Let’s extend unemployment for workers and their families in this terrible economy.  But let’s pay for it now and not ask our children and grandchildren to bear the $34 billion cost of this bill!

“In an annual federal discretionary budget of $1.2 trillion, you mean to tell me that we cannot find $34 billion to pay for this unemployment extension? 

“The argument that these extensions have not been paid for in the past is not valid in our current fiscal circumstances.  The budget deficit for the year hit $1 trillion in June.  The Administration is expanding the deficit by $4.9 billion EVERY DAY.  We now have a national public debt of over $14 trillion and we are on a path to quadruple our borrowing between now and 2020.

“The real solution here is job creation and employment opportunities in the private sector.  To accomplish this, the federal government must get out of the business community’s way and stop threatening tax increases and more stifling bureaucratic red tape and overregulation.  Consumer confidence will never be restored unless this happens!” 

Recommended Reading: John Hughes and Catherine Larkin, write in BusinessWeek that the Obama Administration may have added to unemployment by pushing U.S. car dealerships to close early: “U.S. Faulted for Pushing GM, Chrysler to Speed Dealer Closings.”

Read the report of the Special Inspector General for TARP here.

Recommended Reading III: Phred Dvorak in Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal, “Chinese Firms Snap Up Mining Assets.”

al Qaeda: Gitmo to the Battlefield?

The Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call reported this week that the Obama Administration and their allies in Congress are rallying around the transfer of terrorist detainees to other countries as a sign of progress in closing the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.  Unfortunately, that plan is built partially upon the dangerous practice of sending Guantanamo detainees to countries, such as Yemen, where they may easily rejoin the fight against the United States.

The White House’s Guantanamo Review Task Force has developed a report which “calls for transferring 126 detainees to their home countries or to a third country, prosecuting 36 in federal court or a military commission and holding 48 indefinitely under the laws of war.”

In fact, the Obama Administration recently transferred a detainee from Cuba to Yemen — despite an Administration ban on such transfers following last year’s Christmas Day terrorist attack.  Rodney has joined many of his colleagues in opposing transfers to Yemen because of concerns about the rising rate of former Guantanamo detainees who have returned to the battlefield. 

“A critical factor in considering the transfer of detainees abroad relates to the security condition in the receiving country,” Rodney said.  “Yemen remains unstable and unable to guarantee enforcement of appropriate security measures to ensure that detainees do not rejoin al Qaeda and return to the fight against us and our allies.”

Recommended Reading IV:  John Nagl, writing in Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal, “Hard is not Hopeless’ in Afghanistan.”

Recommended Reading V: Senator Susan Collins and Rep. Jane Harman in Thursday’s Wall Street Journal, “Al Qaeda Still Wants a Dirty Bomb”:

Read The Bill First!

On the day Gallup reported that the American people’s confidence in Congress has fallen to a record low of 11%, Rodney endorsed a renewed push to highlight and enact “read the bill” reforms demanded by the American people.
 
“One of the reasons Americans have such little confidence in Congress is because of the practice of rushing massive, expensive bills to a vote without giving lawmakers or the American people time to read them,” Rodney said.  “The concept of ‘read the bill’ should not be just an afterthought – it should be the first and only thought.”

Over the last 15 months, Speaker Pelosi has rushed massively consequential and expensive legislation through the House without giving the American people time to review the measures.  Here are just a few high-profile examples:

Trillion-Dollar “Stimulus.”  In one of the most infamous displays of brazen partisanship, Speaker Pelosi posted the text of their “stimulus” bill in the dark of night well past midnight only to turn around and force members to vote on it less than 12 hours after it was made public.

“Cap-and-Tax” National Energy Tax. The House Majority passed a national energy tax bill loaded with special-interest giveaways no one had discovered because a 300-page, never-before-seen amendment to their already massive 1,200-page bill was unveiled at 3am the day of the vote.

$500 Billion Omnibus Spending Bill.  In the final days of 2009, Speaker Pelosi rushed a 2,500-page, half-trillion dollar omnibus spending bill to the floor with less than 24 hours notice and just an hour of debate.

DISCLOSE Act. At the last minute, the Majority Leadership leaders produced a new 46-page “manager’s amendment” to their 84-page campaign “reform” bill that was full of special backroom deals and carve outs for special interest groups.

Use Your “Megaphone” to Speak Out: AmericaSpeakingOut.com

High unemployment. A government takeover of health care.  Runaway government spending.  Too much borrowing.  Too much debt. 

All across America, the people are speaking out, but unfortunately, Washington has not been listening.  When you look at all the taxes, all the spending, and all the debt, it's clear that Washington has not been doing what's best for America

Now, people in New Jersey and all across the country have a new tool – a virtual “megaphone” – to speak out, using the best technology available.  AmericaSpeakingOut.com provides a platform for Americans to submit their ideas and have each of them debated and discussed on their merits in an open forum.

This site was developed as part of an official effort to increase the dialogue between Americans and their Congress. Here, Americans are provided a new method by which to share their views, priorities and ideas for a national policy agenda.

“I am committed to our principles of limited, more accountable government; economic freedom; lower taxes; fiscal responsibility and providing for strong national security,” Rodney said.  “However, AmericaSpeakingOut is an open forum where all Americans are welcome to respectfully offer their opinions, regardless of party affiliation and regardless of whether they agree. It is my hope the active engagement of the American people will produce a robust debate that will aid in the construction of a new American agenda.”

You can access AmericaSpeakingOut.com here.

FYI: Energy Fact

New Jersey's electricity generation:
1. Nuclear - 55.1%
2. Coal - 8.6%
3. Oil - 0.5%
4. Gas - 33.8%
5. Hydro: - 0.3% 
6. Renewable and other - 2.3%
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), 2009

Recommended Reading VI: Quite an amusing perspective on the current Administration by Dana Milbank in the Washington Post, “The Clinton administration, brought to you by Barack Obama.”