Friday Faxline: Issue 515
Independence Day: A cause for national celebration
Big cities and small towns across the nation celebrated the 231st anniversary of America's founding this week. In Washington, an estimated 300,000 gathered to watch the city's festivities, which included a parade along Constitution Avenue, the "Capitol Fourth" concert on the steps of the U.S. Capitol Building, and an evening fireworks display on the National Mall. I always cherish the Fourth of July, because it is as much a celebration of America itself as it is a celebration of the particular day we declared our freedom. At its core, America is an idea - an idea that men and women can live in freedom, and come together to govern themselves through representative democracy. And for 231 years now, this grand idea has provided the foundation for one of the most free and prosperous nations in history. It truly is something worth celebrating and giving thanks for each year.
Bush-Putin meeting produces mixed results
President Bush hosted Russian President Vladimir Putin at his family's home in Kennebunkport, Maine earlier this week. The two leaders met to discuss a number of issues, including U.S. plans for building a missile defense shield in Europe. While both leaders expressed appreciation for the chance to have a frank discussion of the issues, no final agreement was reached over the missile shield. Bush and Putin both made it a point, however, to express appreciation for one another as part of an effort to dispel talk of an increasingly chilly relationship between their two countries. I was glad to see positive engagement between the two leaders, but I believe America must be careful not to turn a blind eye to the emerging pattern of human rights abuses in Russia. We should look for ways to work with the Russians on things like missile defense, but we must also hold them accountable for their backtracking on freedom and individual rights.
Battles loom on the budget horizon
Congress was not in session this week, which means most Members of Congress were back in their home states and districts to be with constituents and participate in local Independence Day festivities. They will all return to Capitol Hill next week, where the effort to pass the 12 annual appropriations bills will dominate much of the agenda for the coming month. So far, the spending process appears to be headed for a showdown between Democrats in Congress and President Bush. Despite Presidential veto threats for spending bills that exceed the budget or weaken current pro-life provisions, House Democrats have already passed several budget-busting spending bills that also weaken existing pro-life policies. Because Democrats don't have enough votes to override a veto, they will eventually have to work to find a compromise with the President. But until then, you can expect to see the White House and Congress do battle over spending.
Job growth continues
Today, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released new job numbers: 132,000 jobs created in June. Since August 2003, more than 8.2 million jobs have been created, with more than 2 million jobs created over the twelve months ending in June. Our economy has now added jobs for 46 straight months, and the unemployment rate remains low at 4.5 percent. Allowing Americans to keep more of their hard-earned money plays an important role in these job gains and the larger economic growth that we've experienced for nearly four straight years now. Unfortunately, Congressional Democrats have proposed the largest tax increase in American history as part of their budget. I have cosponsored H.R. 2734, the Tax Increase Prevention Act, to prevent this tax increase from happening. Continued job growth is something we all want to see, but passing historic tax hikes is not the way to achieve it.
Quote of the Week
"The 4th of July was celebrated with joy and festivity and at night there was a grand exhibition of fireworks and the city was beautifully illuminated. Thus may that glorious and memorable day be celebrated through America by the sons of freedom, from age to age till time shall be no more."
- Excerpt from a Philadelphia newspaper account of the city's 1777 Fourth of July celebration.