1. The Week Just Past
2. Boosting Small Business Now?
3. Health Care Update
4. House Health Care bill would increase health spending!
5. Administration debates Afghan Strategy -- with itself!
6. Have We Taken Our Eye Off the Pacific?
7. Bad Idea of the Week: Increasing America's Debt
The Week Just Past
"Since my last eNews, the White House made official what we already knew: the federal budget deficit and our national debt have exploded! In fact, the federal government ran up a budget deficit of $1.4 trillion during the fiscal year that ended October1, more than triple the size of the previous record high. Breathtaking federal spending and borrowing since January has driven this deficit. This level of spending is unfathomable to New Jerseyans struggling to make ends meet or recover lost pension and investment funds.
"To make matters worse, this spending binge has not produced the jobs this Administration promised. The stimulus' has failed to keep the unemployment rate from approaching 10%. (When you add those people who have given up looking for a job or those who are working part-time and want full-time employment, the jobless rate reaches 16%!) Roughly 3 million private sector jobs have been lost since the so-called stimulus' bill became law in February.
"Now, even while operating on a budget that doubles the debt in five years and triples it in 10, Congressional Democrats are proposing a new round of spending -- and borrowing -- to make up for the stimulus' that isn't working. This is on top of a trillion dollar government takeover of health care, a cap-and-trade' national energy tax and other costly initiatives passed this year.
"By continuing to spend money we simply do not have, Congress is making matters worse for our economy. It is time to start working together -- Democrat and Republican - to ensure the American people have a government that lives within its means.
"What we need is an economic recovery plan that keeps the budget deficit under control without raising taxes. At the heart of the plan must be a common-sense spending freeze, exempting defense and veterans' benefits.
"There is no doubt that Congress should be focusing on long-term policies that create private sector jobs, like small business and family tax relief, and controlling federal spending to get our economy moving again!"
Boosting Small Business Now?
On Wednesday, President Obama finally announced a plan to help America's small business men and women. This initiative comes amidst mounting public criticism that the Administration's trillion dollar "stimulus" has failed to put Americans back to work in private sector jobs and the White House has not done enough to adequately address the challenges facing millions of small business job creators.
At the same time, the Administration and Speaker Nancy Pelosi are pressing ahead with a costly government takeover of health care that will squeeze the nation's entrepreneurs further and pile more debt on our children and grandchildren.
At the heart of the Majority's plan are a massive tax increase that will fall heavily on entrepreneurs who run small businesses and a harsh mandate that requires employers to provide health care or face a steep financial penalty. According to a model developed by Dr. Christina Romer, the chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisors, the Democrats health care plan will destroy as many as 5.5 million American jobs over the next 10 years.
Why, then, are they pushing a government takeover of health care that will inflict harm on small businesses and make job losses even worse?
There are a number of actions Congress should consider immediately to support small businessmen and women -- the job creators of our economy:
* Allow small businesses to take a tax deduction equal to 20 percent of their income;
* Let small businesses join together to purchase health insurance for their workers the way large businesses and labor unions do;
* Enact genuine lawsuit reform and policies that incentivize wellness to reduce health care costs for small businesses;
* Lower taxes for all taxpayers by reducing the current 15 percent rate to 10 percent and reducing the current 10 percent rate to 5 percent. This will provide an immediate increase in income to every taxpaying family in America and free up capital to help small businesses hire more workers;
* Expand Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) to provide additional flexibility to small businesses in providing health care to their employees;
Health Care Update
There's really not much to report this week, because House Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Reid have taken the Democrat-only "negotiations" over the shape and size of their chambers' health care proposals into secret session, behind closed doors. However, you can be assured that the "horse-trading" has begun. The New York Times reported this week that "Speaker Nancy has been exceedingly direct, lawmakers say, asking them explicitly what it will take to win their vote."
Speaker Pelosi admitted yesterday that the bill the House considered in three committees, H.R. 3200, is now "gone" and will be replaced by a totally new bill that the public is unlikely to see until hours before a House vote.
House Health Care bill would increase health spending!
In another blow to Speaker Pelosi's push for a massive government takeover of the nation's health care system, the Obama Administration's Chief Actuary for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), reported that the nation's health expenditures will actually significantly increase if H.R. 3200 ever became law. In a memo, CMS wrote that total national health expenditures under [H.R. 3200] would increase by an extra $750 billion over the next ten years.
This new data contradicts President Obama's oft-stated demand that health care reform would "slow the growth of health care costs for our families, our businesses, and our government." The Obama Administration's own health care experts now confirm that H.R. 3200 will "bend the curve" in the wrong direction!
Administration debates Afghan strategy -- with itself
Earlier this week, Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai agreed to participate in runoff elections to ensure that the outcome of the Presidential elections are perceived as fair.
Immediately, the Obama Administration launched into a public debate - with itself - on the timing of the conclusion of the White House's review of General Stan McChrystal's request for additional troops and resources for our efforts in Afghanistan. (By the way, that request is now nearly two months old!)
Yet, the White House, on several different fronts, indicated that it was "weeks" away from concluding its assessment of Gen. McChrystal's report. However, Defense Secretary Robert Gates told reporters that the Obama administration needs to decide on a strategy NOW, without waiting for the resolution of the disputed election.
Secretary Gates called the Afghan elections - and the larger issues of curbing corruption in its government - "an evolving process."
"The outcome of the elections and the problems with the elections have complicated the situation for us," he said. "But the reality is, it's not going to be complicated one day and simple the next. We're going to have to work with this going forward, and I believe the president will have to make his decisions in the context of that evolutionary process."
So much for clarity! So much for basing decisions on internal White House polls while our soldiers and Marines do not have the support they need now!
Whatever the conclusion of this debate and whatever the timing of that conclusion, Rodney said one thing is clear: "a strategy that remains in limbo is a disservice to the nearly 70,000 American soldiers, Marines, sailors and airmen -- all vounteers - currently serving in Afghanistan. Are the Taliban waiting for the results of a runoff election to attack our troops and Afghan civilians? Absolutely not! Two weeks ago the President told Members of Congress that his decision will be timely. Our expectation is that the President will make a decision to provide additional resources soon and stick with it."
Recommended Reading: Secretary Gates says "Strategy Should Come First," from the Associated Press on Tuesday:
Recommended reading II: Max Boot in Thursday's New York Times: "There's No Substitute for Troops on the Ground":
Have We Taken Our Eye Off the Pacific?
Security experts are wondering if the Obama Administration took its "eye off the ball" in the Pacific region, jeopardizing plans to reorganize and strengthen U.S. forces there.
Secretary Gates was in Tokyo this week, urging Japan's new government to follow through on an intricate program to realign U.S. troops in Japan and around the western Pacific.
The new Japanese government is balking on the previously agreed to plan to sharply reduce the number of U.S. troops on the Japanese island of Okinawa. The 2006 agreement -- ten years in the making - calls on the U.S. to move 8,000 Marines to Guam by 2014 and shift part of the U.S. helicopter facility at Futenma, Okinawa to a rural part of the island.
"I have visited our existing installations on Guam and know that the realignment of our military forces in that part of the world is extremely important given the rising threat posed by China and Russia and the continuing belligerence by North Korea," Rodney said. "I hope the Administration will not be distracted by developments at home and abroad and will convince the Japanese government to live up to its responsibilities."
Bad Idea of the Week: Increasing America's debt limit
The Senate will soon increase the national debt limit to an eye-popping $13 trillion. It will probably do so without taking any steps to reduce federal spending, the budget deficit or the national debt.
The Ugly Truth: Budget Deficits and National Debt
Increased Budget Deficits
$1.417 Trillion: The FY 2009 federal deficit, the highest amount ever and three times last year's record-setting deficit of $458 billion.
10%: The 2009 deficit as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the highest since 1945, the last year of World War II. Since 1946, the deficit as a percentage of GDP had never topped 6 percent.
$9.050 Trillion: The combined amount of deficits the White House predicts over the next ten years under the President's budget.
$739 Billion: The smallest annual deficit over the next ten years under the President's budget.
Increased National debt
$11.952 Trillion: The current national debt, including Treasury securities held by the government.
$38,840: The amount of the national debt owed by each man, woman, and child in the U.S.
$104,094: The share of the national debt owed by every household in the U.S.
$3.282 Trillion: The amount the national debt has increased since Democrats took control of Congress on January 4, 2007.
$1.325 Trillion: The amount the national debt has increased since President Obama was inaugurated just nine months ago, on January 20, 2009.
$199 Billion: The amount of money spent by the government to pay the interest on its debts in 2009.
$12.104 Trillion: The current limit on national debt, which was raised from $11.315 trillion for the "stimulus" bill and which Democrats now say must be raised yet again soon.
$24.498 Trillion: The total national debt in 2019 under the President's budget, according to White House estimates.
Bad Idea of the Week II: Enacting a debt limit increase by attaching it to the must pass' Defense Appropriations bill
"With our deployed troops in harm's way in both Afghanistan and Iraq, Congress should not play politics with the Defense Appropriations bill," Rodney said. "Politicization of any legislation dealing with vital funding for our troops sends the wrong message to our brave men and women in uniform and their families."
Sign of things to Come?: Headline one Page 1 of this morning's Washington Post:
"Government widens control over paychecks"