"As Congress returns to Washington on Tuesday to begin work on the budget for the fiscal year that starts in October, I was interested to see the head of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) describe the nation's fiscal path as "unsustainable.'
"Of course, CBO Director Doug Elmendorf's assessment is nothing new. Economic experts of all stripes are predicting dire consequences if the Administration and Congress don't scale back spending, increase taxes or both -- and soon.
"In my view, America's problem is not that we are taxed too little. The reality is that we spend too much! That's where we need to begin -- and soon!
"A recent report by Elmendorf's CBO pegged an increase in the public debt from $7.5 trillion at the end of 2009 to $20.3 trillion at the end of 2020 if President Barack Obama's fiscal 2011 budget were to be implemented as written. As a percentage of gross domestic product, the debt would rise from 53 percent to 90 percent! The last time the percentage was that high was right after World War II!
"The hard work of fiscal responsibility has to start next week. There's no time to waste."
Spotlight on Nuclear Weapons
President Obama just returned from Prague yesterday after signing a new nuclear weapons treaty with the Russian Republic. The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) will have to be ratified by the U.S. Senate before it takes effect. However, critics are wondering if the Obama Administration conceded too much in an effort to make progress toward the President's goal of a world without nuclear weapons.
Criticism of the new treaty has focused on a link between offensive nuclear weapons and our missile defense programs and the treaty's potential effect on America's ability to use its conventional weapons.
The President also unveiled his "Nuclear Posture Review" (NPR) this week, which also drew criticism. Notably, the NPR suggests that the U.S. will pursue a policy by which the threat of using nuclear weapons to deter a devastating chemical or biological attack against Americans would be taken off the table. Many experts wonder why the U.S. should take any deterrence option unilaterally off the table.
As Ranking Republican on the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, Rodney will be closely involved in decisions made about funding our nuclear weapons and nuclear power programs. He just returned from visiting the Department of Energy facilities at Lawrence Berkley and Lawrence Livermore Laboratories in California.
Recommended Reading I: "Evaluating the U.S.-Russia Nuclear Deal" by Keith B. Payne in Thursday's Wall Street Journal:
Recommended Reading II: Thursday's Wall Street Journal editorial, "Dreams of Disarmament":
For more information about the NPR, click here for the U.S. Department of Defense's Nuclear Posture Review Fact Sheet.
In an interview that aired this morning, President Barack Obama said that there is no guarantee sanctions will change Iran's behavior but he believes steady international pressure could alter Tehran's nuclear calculations over time.
"If the question is, do we have a guarantee as to the sanctions we are able to institute at this stage are automatically going to change Iranian behavior, of course we don't," Obama told ABC's "Good Morning America."
There are many observers that believe that President Obama may be preparing to "contain" a nuclear-armed Iran, rather than fulfilling his pledge to prevent Iran from securing nuclear weapons in the first place.
This interview does nothing to change this developing view.
Recommended Reading III: Friday's Wall Street Journal editorial, "World Tariff Wars":
Housing for Homeless Veterans
Rodney was the keynote speaker at ceremonies this afternoon marking the fifth anniversary of a groundbreaking program designed to reduce homlessness among veterans. The "Hope for Veterans" program at the Lyons Veterans Administration Medical Center in Somerset County provides temporary shelter, medical rehabilitation, occupational counseling and other transition benefits to 90 homeless veterans. The program is operated in a previously vacant building on the Lyons VA campus.
"Congress has established a goal of eliminating homelessness among veterans," Rodney said. "It's a bold promise. It's the right promise. But it won't be easy. Here at home in New Jersey, as many as 6,500 veterans may spend any given night on a friend or family member's couch or in a shelter. They're the lucky ones. Thousands more spend their nights on the street."
Rodney voiced strong support for a new project at VA Lyons -- Valley Brook Village, 90 units of new housing where qualified veterans, previously homeless, can establish a permanent home.
"It's a one-of-a-kind program in New Jersey which deserves national commendation and attention."
Rodney thanked all public and private supporters of both the "Hope for Veterans" program and the Valley Brook Village Development, especially Community Hope, a Parsippany-based non-profit organization that provides a range of mental health programs in our region.
Read the Courier-News story here:
11th Congressional District Academy Night
On Monday, May 3, Rodney will host his tenth annual Academy Night, which gives interested local students, parents, and guidance counselors the opportunity to meet with representatives from the U.S. Naval Academy, the U.S. Military Academy, the U.S. Air Force Academy, the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy.
Academy Night will begin at 7 p.m. at Montville High School's auditorium on May 3.
The meeting is open to all prospective students, their parents and school guidance counselors.