The Week Just Past
"Another 36,000 Americans lost their jobs in February, and yet the President and Congressional leaders continued to focus only on health care and virtually ignored private sector job creation this week. Once again, the efforts of President Obama, Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid to ram their government takeover of health care through Congress dominated Washington.
"From listening to my constituents and large and small businesses, I know that this health care "reform' effort is one of the issues, along with higher taxes and more regulation, that is discouraging new hiring. The prospect of higher business costs is actually lengthening the economic slump.
"On health care, the President offered to include a few Republican ideas into his version of the bill that could be voted on in the next few weeks. However, if the President simply adds a couple of Republican solutions to a two thousand-page, trillion dollar health care package that the American people already don't support, it isn't bipartisanship -- it's an exercise in political theater, just like last week's "summit'.
"Like many Americans, I am deeply disappointed with the debate. The President has now endorsed the use of "reconciliation' to circumvent the Senate's ability to engage in a filibuster.
"We should scrap the President's trillion dollar proposal and support individual bills that allow individuals to buy health care across state lines, cover people with pre-existing conditions, allow "portability' of coverage, improve access to Health Savings Accounts, and enact "junk lawsuit' reform."
Recommended Reading: Peggy Noonan's excellent and amusing piece in the weekend Wall Street Journal, on the health care summit, "More Boor Than Cure, The Summit Persuaded Nobody. It Probably Wasn't Meant To":
A "Jobs Bill" Without Jobs
Over Rodney's opposition, the House yesterday approved a $15 billion so-called "jobs bill." The problem is that the central provision of H.R. 2847 is a payroll tax exemption and retention credit which will probably only have limited impact on private sector job creation. The bill's effect as an incentive for businesses to hire workers is uncertain and unlikely.
Small businesses are the engine of job creation in America. Instead of spending borrowed dollars on a dubious tax incentive, Congress and the Administration should end the uncertainty of impending tax increases and new regulations and focus on policies that will foster long-term growth and lending to help small businesses prosper.
A Trade Policy without Trade Agreements
The Obama Administration released its 2010 trade agenda this week, but gave no indication that it will press Speaker Pelosi to pass three free trade agreements (FTA) that have already been approved through years of negotiations.
"Agreements with South Korea, Panama and Colombia have languished for years, costing hundreds of thousands of American jobs at a time when the unemployment rate hovers in the area of ten percent," Rodney said. "In the meantime, as I said on the House Floor last week, our competitors are taking advantage of our inaction and eating our economic lunch." Click below to watch Rodney's floor speech:
The President discussed these three free trade agreements in his February State of the Union Address to the nation and in his February 24 speech to the Business Roundtable in Washington. "So far, we heard a lot of talk, but we have not seen much action from the President," Rodney said. "New Jersey businesses, large and small, are well-positioned to take advantage of all three of these agreements. Someone needs to convince Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid to give Congress a simple "up or down vote.' These agreements translate into private sector JOBS for New Jersey!"
Recommended Reading II: Alec MacGillis in Wednesday's Washington Post, "Obama Administration plans to close International Labor Comparisons office," Why is the Obama Administration closing an office that collects vital global trade statistics and assists our policymakers and businesses?:
General Anne Dunwoody Visits Picatinny
Responding to an invitation extended by Rodney, the Army's first female four-star general visited Picatinny Arsenal this week. General Anne Dunwoody, commanding general of the Army Materiel Command, toured several Picatinny laboratories and facilities, including the Protoype Integration Facility where new products and manufacturing processes are designed.
"It is important that senior Army and Defense Department leaders come to Picatinny to see the outstanding work being done on behalf of our deployed warfighters on a daily basis by the talented workforce here," Rodney said. "I am convinced that visitors here left very impressed."
In addition, General Dunwoody met with Army program development and management teams based here whose programs include remote weapons stations, small-caliber ammunition, counter-improvised explosive device systems and mortar fire control systems. Many of these items are currently seeing service in the hands of our servicemen and women in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Rodney was also pleased to welcome back to Picatinny Lieutenant General Bill Phillips who formerly served as base commander. After spending a year deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, Phillips will now serve in the Pentagon.
Read Across New Jersey
In keeping with his personal tradition, Rodney participated in the annual "Read Across America Day" on Tuesday. He visited the Immaculate Conception School in Somerville and the Mendham Township Elementary School in Brookside and read "House Mouse, Senate Mouse," answered the students' questions about how our laws are made and the importance of a well-educated public.
"Read Across America Day" is considered the biggest one-day literacy celebration in the United States, if not the world. It was launched in 1997 on the birthday of beloved children's author, Dr. Suess. Theodor Geisel would have been 106 years old this week.
Good Idea of the Week: "If a school continues to fail its students year after year after year, if it doesn't show signs of improvement, then there's got to be a sense of accountability."
President Barack Obama, March 1, 2010
Really Free Credit Reports
Beginning April 1, you can go online and view your federally mandated free annual credit reports. The Credit CARD Act of 2009, which eliminated several unfair credit card practices, requires the Federal Trade Commission to issue new rules to prevent deceptive marketing of the free reports. They are available through AnnualCreditReport.com, the site authorized by the government.