PASSING OF PAT FORDICE: Congressman Chip Pickering released this statement today, "Over the past few years, I enjoyed working with Pat Fordice as she promoted reforms to arthritis and cancer healthcare policies. She and I worked on my "Arthritis Prevention, Control and Cure Act" legislation and we often discussed methods to improve our nation's healthcare for seniors with arthritis. One of our top projects was working with CMS to create the Medicare Replacement Drug Demonstration program which provided 50,000 seniors (many in Mississippi) across the country with a low cost, home health alternative for rheumatoid arthritis, cancer and multiple sclerosis. She had a passion for improving affordable healthcare for seniors and Mississippians with disabilities. It was with a sad heart that I learned of her passing. Pat Fordice served as Mississippi's First Lady with grace and refinement. Her unwavering strength encouraged Mississippians to persevere during difficult circumstances. Regal yet approachable, she possessed a natural Southern elegance that transcended her term and endeared her to our hearts. Our thoughts and prayers go now with her family. With humor, she told us I'm not your mama.' That is true, to Mississippi she was more than that, and we will all mourn her passing."
SPECTRUM REALLOCATION: Changes will be coming soon to broadcast television and telecommunications. As broadcast television moves to digital format in early 2009, the current frequencies used will become empty and auctioned for other uses. Congressman Pickering serves on the Telecommunications & the Internet Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee which has been holding hearings on this matter. Pickering believes that first responders should be given priority in the soon to be open frequencies. Pickering and Congresswoman Jane Harmon recently wrote to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin to stress their position "to establish a nationwide, public-safety broadband network" because "our nation's first responder communications are fragmented and balkanized, and this auction provides the last opportunity to resolve this critical flaw in our nation's emergency response capabilities." Pickering and Harmon write "that a public-private partnership is the best means of achieving true, nationwide interoperability and preventing communications problems." Future e-memos will update you on this project and provide information on the digital transition in broadcast television.
NATIONAL ECONOMY UPDATE: This week the White House's Office of Management and Budget announced the midyear fiscal review has projected the budget deficit to be $40 billion less than expected, from $244 billion down to $205 billion. The current deficit, at 1.5 percent of the gross domestic product, is the lowest since 2002. Last week the Department of Labor announced 123,000 jobs were created in June with a national unemployment rate of 4.5 percent and 46 straight months of positive job creation.