"As Congress returned to Washington this week all eyes were on the President as he presented a prime time address on his top legislative priority: a revamp of the nation's health care system.
"President Obama has offered over two dozen speeches on health care since January. On Wednesday, he added another speech to his tally -- a beautifully delivered speech which was short on details. I listened carefully but did not hear anything new in the President's pitch as he seemed intent on rallying members of his own party to pass a big, expensive government health takeover bill that he can sign.
"Frankly, it was a missed opportunity. Rather than be combative and partisan, he should have offered a novel suggestion: scrap the Pelosi government takeover of health care, return to the drawing boards' and urge that the Congressional leadership begin bipartisan negotiations that will lead to legislation to make quality health care coverage affordable and accessible for every American.
"But the President did not take this route.
"Instead, he will continue his efforts to convince seniors that he is going to improve their health care by slashing hundreds of millions of dollars from Medicare.
"He will attempt to persuade American taxpayers that he is going to save them money by increasing the deficit and debt by $239 billion over the next ten years, even though he declared in his speech that this plan will not add a dime to the deficit.'
"He is going to keep telling patients that they can keep the health insurance they like, even as his policies give their employers strong incentives to drop their coverage.
"He will continue to assert that his plan' will cost no more than $900 billion over ten years, even though the non-partisan, independent Congressional Budget Office pegs the cost at $1.6 trillion.
"Let me be clear: I support reform. But I do not support the reform' embodied in the latest version of the H.R. 3200 and will continue to oppose a government takeover of the health care system that so many New Jersey families depend on."
Point to Ponder: Bipartisan Health Reform?
The President held a meeting with Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid on Tuesday afternoon at the White House to discuss the health reform debate in Congress. After the session, the Speaker and Senator Reid had difficulty explaining to the press why Republican leaders did not participate. The Speaker said: "He has other meetings that we are not invited to that Republicans are at "
That statement is not true. At least not recently. The fact is that the President has not invited House GOP leaders to the White House for meetings on health care reform since the end of April. GOP leaders sent a letter to the president in May stating that they would like to work with the administration to find "common ground" on health care reform. Rather than inviting Republicans to a meeting, the White House wrote back that they had healthcare reform under control.
Working for Transparency in Health Reform
Remember the Congressional "cap and trade" "debate" back in late June? The bill was brought before the House of Representatives for limited debate just a few hours after the Majority Leadership added a 300-page amendment that few Members had read and even fewer understood. This was how Speaker Pelosi succeeded in ramming through the House a sweeping bill with far reaching ramifications for our economy.
At some point in the next few weeks, the House is likely to debate a health care reform' bill. With 16 percent of America's economy hanging in the balance, the stakes are too high to allow the leadership to ram another bill through the House before Members, and more importantly, the American people, read the fine print and fully understand its consequences.
That is precisely why Rodney has cosponsored House Resolution 721 which expresses the Sense of the House that any major health care reform bill considered by the House should be available to the public for viewing for 30 calendar days prior to a final vote. This recommendation will ensure that everyone at least knows what is in the FINAL bill brought to the floor for a vote.
More Town Meetings
Rodney has 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
"I hold town meetings on regular basis when I am in New Jersey because there is no better way for a Member of Congress to know what is on the minds of his or her constituents than by reaching out to residents to listen to their concerns and address their questions in a face to face town hall meeting," said Frelinghuysen.
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.
Weakening our Defenses
Even as America prepared to mark the eighth anniversary of the 9-11 attacks, U.S. national security faced new threats.
CIA Under Seige - A headline in the Washington Times said it all last month: "Interrogators got results, could face charges."
Two stories on August 25 detailed how CIA interrogations produced a trove of data that actually prevented terror attacks here and abroad. Yet, the Attorney General is now pursuing criminal prosecutions of CIA personnel.
Missile Defense Surrender? - Overseas media reports this week are suggesting that the Obama Administration may be about to abandon its plans for "third site" missile defense installations in Poland and the Czech Republic. Abandoning the third site would represent a significant turnaround in American strategic thinking and significantly weaken America's ability to combat the growing threat posed by Iran's ballistic missile program.
Iran near nuclear breakout'? - At the same time, the U.S. envoy to the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported that Iran's nuclear program is approaching a "dangerous and destabilizing" point at which the Persian Gulf country could build a bomb. "Iran is now either very near or in possession already of sufficient low-enriched uranium to produce one nuclear weapon, if the decision were made to further enrich it to weapons grade," Ambassador Glyn Davies said in a statement prepared for the IAEA's board of governors. This "moves Iran closer to a dangerous and destabilizing possible breakout capacity," Davies added, in some of the strongest comments yet used by a U.S. official about the threat posed by Iran's nuclear program.
Bad Idea of the Week: Ignoring the Morgenthau Report
Robert Morganthau is the veteran District Attorney of New York County in Manhattan. In this important capacity, he has prosecuted thousands of criminals and investigated thousands of cases, many with significant international connections and implications.
He is now sounding the alarm about the growing threat posed by a relationship between Venezuela and Iran and their despotic leaders Hugo Chavez and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. These growing bonds involve missiles, nuclear ventures and terrorist training, "in our backyard."
Forbes.com yesterday published an article on Morganthau's warning: http://www.forbes.com/2009/09/09/mahmoud-ahmadinejad-hugo-chavez-opinions-columnists-claudia-rosett.html.
Morganthau's Op Ed in yesterday's Wall Street Journal is certainly worth a read. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203440104574400792835972018.html
The United States government ignores the self-proclaimed "axis of unity" between Iran and Venerzuela at our peril.
"Their bravery will never be forgotten"
Statement of Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen on Wednesday as the House considered House Resolution 722, marking the eighth anniversary of the 9-11 attacks on America. From the Congressional Record of September 9, 2009:
Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Frelinghuysen), an esteemed member of the Committee on Appropriations who also lost constituents that day.
Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. I thank the gentlewoman for yielding to me, and I rise in support of the resolution.
"Eight years have now passed since tragedy struck our Nation. In lower Manhattan, the fields of Pennsylvania, and across the river at the Pentagon more than 3,000 of our fellow Americans lost their lives.
"The events of that day remain indelibly etched in our collective memory.
"Of those lost, 700 of the victims came from New Jersey, many from my congressional district, and many more from New York, other States, and 80 nations. For those of us who had this tragedy hit so close to home, I know that each September 11 brings with it a great deal of sorrow. Later this week, all of us will have the honor of attending a number of 9/11 remembrances, especially in New Jersey, the home of so many good people who died, as well as to honor those who sought to save them, our first responders.
"My constituents remember that day every day. That day dawned like most days in New Jersey, bright and clear; crowded train stations in the morning taking people across the Hudson to lower Manhattan, parking lots packed with cars as they are most mornings. That evening, however, the scene was far different; trains weren't full, cars remained unclaimed in parking lots, and many families were left wondering what had happened to their loved ones. A single day that changed how each of us would think for the rest of their lives.
"At one of those small train stations in Chatham there is a tree at whose base is a plaque inscribed: ``We shall never forget our friends and neighbors who rode the rails with us that morning but did not return with us that night.'' That remarkable poignant quotation. We will never forget those victims.
"We will never forget the first responders who sought to save them at the Pentagon, in Pennsylvania, and in lower Manhattan.
"Their bravery will never be forgotten."