Massive Defense Cuts Would Hurt Our Military Personnel and Their Families
Congressman Kline speaks at a ribbon-cutting ceremony Jan. 4 at Trinity School at River Ridge in Eagan. Trinity School moved from Bloomington to Eagan.
Recently, House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-MA) proposed to cut defense funding by 25 percent and increase taxes on families and small businesses. With the increased demands being placed on our armed forces, Congressman Frank's proposal represents the height of recklessness.
A bipartisan consensus has emerged on the House Armed Services Committee about the need to increase the amount of U.S. military personnel to ease the strain on our military families and help prevent the overuse of our National Guard and Reserve components. It would be nearly impossible to ease this burden on our military personnel and their families if defense spending suffers a massive 25 percent cut.
We must continue to support our brave sons and daughters in uniform and ensure we keep our promises to our veterans of today and tomorrow. Slashing defense spending in such dramatic fashion would be reckless and irresponsible.
Efforts Must Be Made to Prevent Abuse of Your Tax Dollars
This month, the U.S. government has taken steps to help stabilize financial markets, restore confidence, and provide security for American jobs, home mortgages, and retirement accounts. It is critical for these actions to be accompanied by efforts to prevent abuse of your tax dollars by enforcing corporate accountability standards, increasing investigation of any possible Wall Street executives that benefited from illegal activity, and fully disclosing the failed Wall Street practices that led to this crisis.
The recent revelation of the luxury retreat held by the American Investment Group (AIG) just days after receiving an $85 billion loan from the federal government underscores the systemic problems in the financial industry. I joined colleagues in expressing my outrage at this unacceptable abuse of your tax dollars in a letter to Treasury Secretary Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke demanding they require AIG to repay any taxpayer funds that were misused for the $440,000 retreat.
I also sent a letter to Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) Director Robert Mueller calling on him to increase FBI investigations into financial crimes. Recent reports indicate the FBI has only 26 ongoing major corporate fraud investigations into possible criminal activity at companies such as Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Lehman Brothers, and AIG. A substantial increase in the investigation and prosecution of white collar crime in financial markets will help prevent illegal activities from continuing and increase confidence in our financial systems and rule of law.
More transparency in the financial dealings and decision making by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is also necessary to give Congress and the public a full understanding of what led to this crisis and how similar trouble can be prevented in the future. To that end, I called on James Lockhart, the director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency - the federal agency charged with oversight of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac - to make public all Fannie and Freddie documents.
Saluting and Striving For Excellence in Education
The "Blue Ribbon" program was created by the U.S. Department of Education to honor schools that are academically superior or demonstrate dramatic gains in student achievement. Last week, I was honored to visit Trinity School at River Ridge in Eagan to help them commemorate the second time the school has earned this prestigious award. The award places Trinity School in an elite group -one of only six schools in the state of Minnesota to be recognized.
As a member of the House Committee on Education and Labor, I face the challenge of continually examining ways to improve the education available to our nation's children. The success of Trinity School in inspiring students to excellence provides an outstanding example to me and my colleagues as we consider education policies. To view a photo from my visit at Trinity School at River Ridge, please click here.
Resolving a Vital Safety Issue in Farmington and Other FAA Facilities
Last year, a constituent contacted me to share his concern with the Federal Aviation Administration's refusal to provide automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) in FAA facilities. Defibrillators are required on all airplanes, yet the FAA forbade the life-saving devices in its facilities because purchasing, fielding, and maintaining the AEDs, as well as training personnel, was too costly and burdensome.
On Tuesday, I visited the Minneapolis Air Route Traffic Control Center in Farmington. Recognizing the need for a defibrillator, FAA employees in Farmington purchased their own AED and placed it in the union office. Though adjacent to the FAA building, the time necessary to retrieve the AED during a medical emergency could literally be the difference between life and death for an FAA employee in cardiac arrest.
For almost a year, I have been working with the FAA to urge them to reconsider their refusal to incorporate AEDs into the emergency kits of FAA facilities. I am pleased that the FAA is moving forward with a plan to install defibrillators in FAA facilities with 50 or more employees. I will continue to closely monitor FAA's implementation of the new policy and urge the full adoption of the plan to install defibrillators in facilities with 10 or more employees.