The Week Just Past
"The debate over the future of health care in America resumed this week. The chairman of the key Senate Finance Committee, Senator Max Baucus, released his long-awaited health care reform bill Wednesday and it immediately garnered little support inside or outside of Congress. Specifically, the bill attracted none of the Republican support he had sought.
The bill's price tag stands at $856 billion and is paid for by a half trillion dollar cut to Medicare, and massive new tax burdens on families and small businesses. In the final analysis what we have here is yet another thousand-page, trillion-dollar Senate bill where the devil is very much in the details!
"Now, I am not one who dwells on polls or public opinion surveys but I was interested to see one about a key facet of health reform. Ten days ago, the President told a prime time nationwide audience that his costly and controversial government takeover of health care would not add 'one dime to our deficits.'
"A recent ABC News-Washington Post poll shows the American people aren't buying it -- not even a little. In fact, nearly two-thirds say the Obama-Pelosi health care reform legislation will make the deficit worse.
"The fact that the President's pledge is not convincing to the American people is just another indication that he should scrap this misguided proposal and work on a common-sense, truly bipartisan health bill that our nation can afford.
"On health care reform, Congress should follow the Hippocratic Oath: First, do no harm.' 85-percent of Americans report they are happy with their health coverage. Should we dismantle our current health system in order to try to accommodate the 15-percent of Americans who lack coverage? The answer is no' and we should be working on ways to make the current system accessible and affordable to everyone."
Another Government Takeover: College Student Loans
For decades, the gateway to higher education and a brighter future has been the federal student loan program. The Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP), first established in 1965 under LBJ, is a partnership between the federal government and private sector banks and other lending institutions. It has been very successful, providing higher education funding for tens of millions of Americans. Since its creation, the FFELP program has disbursed through private lenders more than 200 million loans to college students totaling nearly $800 billion.
In 1993, a Democratic-controlled Congress passed, and President Clinton signed into law, legislation permanently establishing the Direct Loan program--a government-run system in the U.S. Department of Education.
When Democrats regained control of Congress in 2006, FFELP was overwhelmingly popular with schools and students. Department of Education data demonstrate that during the 2006-07 school year, more than four times as many schools participated in FFELP than the government-run program, and private lenders originated more than 80 percent of all student loan volume.
Despite the obvious popularity of FFELP, this week, the House approved legislation (H.R. 3221) that would largely eradicate the private market for student lending and establish a government-run monopoly at the Department of Education. This is another major step toward the conversion of all federal student loans into a government-run system.
"This is yet another massive expansion of the federal government, a giant public employee hiring exercise that will be very costly to taxpayers in the long run and very frustrating to students and their families immediately," Rodney who voted no' on the bill said, "This is another example of how the Congressional Majority is saving less, spending more, and rushing to enact a plan that will eliminate choice and competition for students while burdening taxpayers with billions in new spending."
Point to Ponder: The President and Speaker Pelosi have been campaigning for a public option' -- a federally run health care program -- to keep private health insurance companies honest' by providing competition.' Why, then, is competition' between federally-run student loan program and private lenders unacceptable????
From Monday's Wall Street Journal: "The Quietest Trillion. You are about to own $100 billion a year in student loans."
No Taxpayer Funds for ACORN
Rodney has cosponsored legislation which would prevent all federal funds from flowing to the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN).
In the last few days, the U.S. Census Bureau has cut its connections to ACORN and the Senate has voted to deny the group access to federal housing funds. Overall, more than $53 million in federal funds have been pumped into ACORN since 1994, and the group has probably received substantially more indirectly through states and localities that receive federal block grants. Under the Obama Administration, the group and its affiliates stand to receive $8.5 billion in stimulus funds!
At the same time, allegations of fraud have plagued ACORN for years. Just last week in Florida, authorities arrested 11 ACORN workers and charged them with submitting fake voter registration papers. Fraud investigations into ACORN's voter registration activities are reportedly underway in 24 states.
"It is outrageous that ACORN continues to receive any taxpayer dollars after repeated revelations of corruption and possibly criminal activity," Rodney said. "The Census Bureau was right to terminate its relationship with this group. The President should show leadership and order all other federal agencies to follow its example."
A Dangerous White House Reversal on Missile Defense
Just five months after he declared to the world that "Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile activity poses a real threat, not just to the United States, but to Iran's neighbors and our allies," President Obama yesterday abandoned a missile defense system based in eastern Europe.
In January, the White House began a review of President Bush's decision to place interceptor missiles in Poland and a radar system in the Czech Republic.
In April, the President delivered a high profile speech in Prague and proclaimed, "The Czech Republic and Poland have been courageous in agreeing to host a defense against these missiles As long as the threat from Iran persists," he continued, "we intend to go forward with a missile defense system that is cost-effective and proven."
Has the threat from Iran evaporated? Certainly not! As recently as yesterday, media sources quoted a report by the world's nuclear watchdog', the International Atomic Energy Agency, that "Tehran has the ability to make a nuclear bomb and is on the way to developing a missile system able to carry an atomic warhead."
As the security situation has deteriorated in Afghanistan, the debate about the future over America's role there has intensified. Many experts believe that security in Afghanistan is dependent on well trained and loyal Afghan Security Forces. Others feel the conflict is unwinnable' and the United States should withdraw. Of course, Afghanistan is the good war' and Iraq is the bad war.'
The current debate in Congress centers on sending additional U.S. forces to Afghanistan. Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, told a Senate Committee this week that "A properly resourced counter-insurgency probably means more forces," he said.
Not a very strong, clear statement.
"I am troubled that many of our senior military commanders appear reluctant to ask the White House for more boots on the ground' in Afghanistan," said Rep. Frelinghuysen, a senior member of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. "They are the experts on a battlefield halfway across the globe from Washington, D.C. Clearly, our commanders should never be reluctant to make the recommendations they feel are best for our national security. Our troops need further support and will remain vulnerable if not properly protected."
Recommended Reading: Max Boot in the Wall Street Journal on "How to Win in Afghanistan":
New Leadership for Picatinny
In ceremonies this morning at Picatinny Arsenal, Col. Jonathan Maddux assumed command and formally became the Army's Program Executive Officer for Ammunition. (The Program Executive Officer for Ammunition is responsible for the acquisition and management of all conventional ammunition.) Acting Assistant Secretary of the Army Dean Popps officiated at the ceremony which was also attended by Lieutenant General Ross Thompson.
"Col. Maddux brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the command suite at Picatinny. We are fortunate to have him," Rodney said. "I am confident that under his strong leadership, the men and women of Picatinny will continue to provide excellent support for our warfighters in Afghanistan, Iraq and around the globe."
Col. Maddux is a highly decorated veteran who has served in the Army for more than 30 years.
The commander of Picatinny has traditionally been a brigadier general. Col. Maddux was nominated for that rank last month and will likely attain that position this fall after his nomination is confirmed by the U.S. Senate.
Reminder: More Town Meetings
Rodney recently announced that he will continue his regularly scheduled public town meetings in September and October:
Saturday, September 26
9:00 AM to 11:00 AM
Montville Township High School Auditorium
100 Horseneck Road, Montville, NJ, 07045
Saturday, October 3
9:00 AM to 11:00 AM
Mount Olive Middle School Auditorium
160 Wolfe Road, Budd Lake, NJ 07828
Rodney will also provide an update of his work in Congress, including his efforts to oppose tax hikes and large federal spending increases, promote homeland security, support America's military service members and their families as the senior Member of Congress from New Jersey on the House Appropriations Committee.
All concerned citizens in the 11th Congressional District are invited to attend. Constituent service staff will be available to address individual concerns.
Seating may be limited. People requiring special accommodations should contact Rodney's office (973-984-0711) at least 48 hours prior to the scheduled town hall meeting.