1) The Week Just Past: Remembering Those Who Served
2) President Obama Hunts for Jobs in India
3) back in the United States: Job-Producing Free Trade Agreements Gather Dust
4) Throwing the Doors of the House Wide Open
The Week Just Past: Remembering Those Who Served
"The nation marked Veterans Day yesterday -- the day we pause to remember those men and women who have made real sacrifices in service to our nation.
"From the days when George Washington's militia encamped in Morris County and was supplied by the Middle Forge near Lake Denmark to the current day Picatinny Arsenal which supplies high-tech munitions to our forces operating in Afghanistan, our region has a rich history of support for our military.
"The tradition continues. We owe a debt of gratitude to the Morris County Chamber of Commerce, the Somerset County Business Partnership and groups like Community Hope and Family Services of Morris County and other that work every day to find jobs for veterans returning from the war zone or retiring from the services. These organizations and many volunteers are all making a real difference in the lives of men and women who have worn our nation's uniform.
"Today, millions of Americans serve. We have a fighting force without equal. While no single tribute could suffice to fully honor their sacrifice, Veterans Day offers a chance for our nation to stand together in honoring the men and women who have fought for freedom under our flag.
"Veterans Day serves as a powerful reminder of how our nation's liberty and justice have been preserved by the dedication of our armed forces.
"But this week's ceremonies should also serve to underscore our nation's commitment to its veterans and their families.
"One of the rare bipartisan accomplishments of the current Congress was passage of the Veterans Benefit Act which will increase job training opportunities and other benefits for homeless veterans. That law will protect our troops from some unscrupulous business practices that previously took advantage of enlisted men and women who were given military transfer orders. And, it will ensure cost-of-living adjustments for disabled veterans, surviving spouses and children.
"The Veterans Benefit Act is an example of Congress stepping up to meet our responsibility to keep our promises to our veterans and to provide for our men and women in uniform.
"More than 150,000 members of the active military, Guard and Reserves -- all volunteers -- are currently deployed in places like Afghanistan and Iraq. Many have already served multiple deployments. They are fighting against violent extremists who want to bring their hatred of the United States onto our shores.
"For many veterans who have survived engagement with the enemy, their war is not over. Their silent battle against pain and injury speaks of the heavy burden that is borne by those who wear this nation's uniform and those who stand ready to sacrifice in defense of liberty.
"That is why we must remain committed to making sure that our Veterans have the benefits and the funding they need and justly deserve!
"Yesterday was officially our "Veterans Day.' But today and everyday, I hope you take time to thank a veteran for their service and sacrifice!"
President Obama Hunts for Jobs in India
President Obama is in the midst of a ten-day, four-nation overseas trip. He says his goal is to open foreign markets to American goods.
While in India, he announced that American and Indian companies signed or are about to sign 20 deals worth about $10 billion that will help create more than 50,000 jobs at home.
"The President's efforts to open new markets to American jobs are commendable," Rodney said. "It has been clear for a very long time that the fastest way to produce jobs at home is to produce exports for sales overseas. It makes even more sense to increase ties with India -- a growing economy and an important strategic partner."
Back in the United States: Job-Producing Free Trade Agreements Gather Dust
At the same time, three important pending free trade agreements -- with South Korea, Panama and Colombia -- have yet to be voted on and approved by Congress. In fact, the Colombia Free Trade Agreement has been languishing since it was submitted to Congress by President Bush over 1,452 days ago!
President Obama is visiting South Korea this week, and should urge Congress to act before the year ends on the South Korean agreement which will clearly benefit U.S. companies and workers.
For example, Ford Motor Company this week ran full-page ads in U.S. newspapers stating: "For every 52 cars Korea ships here, the U.S. can only export one there."
The United States imported $10.6 billion more in goods from South Korea last year than it exported to South Korea.
South Koreasigned a free-trade agreement with the European Union last month.
"Time is of the essence: if the President is serious about an American "jobs agenda,' he will push Speaker Pelosi and Senate Leader Reid to act," Rodney said.
Recommended Reading: The Washington Post's Sunday editorial, "Trading Up."
Recommended Reading II: Ravi Nessman, writing for the Associated Press in Tuesday's Washington Post: "With Obama's visit, India displays new power."
Throwing the Doors of the House Wide Open
In the wake of the historic November 2 election, the incoming House Majority is already working on steps "to reform Congress and make it more transparent, accountable, and cost-effective."
Efforts to open up the people's House began in earnest this week:
* The head of the House Republican transition effort, Rep. Greg Walden (OR), has invited Americans from all walks to submit ideas and share their stories at http://gopleader.gov/newmajority/, embracing the same spirit of citizen input that drove America Speaking Out;
* Rep. David Dreier (CA), the Republican leader on the Rules Committee, is pressing House officials to install cameras in the powerful Rules committee's hearing room, to allow the American people to see what occurs behind the doors that have been traditionally closed to the public;
* Building on the successful State Solutions Project, Leader John Boehner has sought out the input of reform-minded governors and legislators to ensure the best ideas from outside the "Beltway" are making their way to Washington.
The goal of all these efforts, and others, is to make the House more accessible and accountable to all Americans, while improving its cost-effectiveness.