The Week Just Past: The Attack in Arizona
"The House of Representatives suspended legislative business this week in light of the vicious and cowardly attack on Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and 20 men, women and children in Tucson, Arizona last weekend.
"Saturday, January 8 was a grim day for America. It was the day our colleaguewas attacked while doing her job, listening to her constituents.
"It was Gabby herself who aptly said just last year that the term "Representative' is more of a job "description' than a job "title.'
"My colleagues all work to represent our neighbors and our states and our nation. And the Speaker is correct when he said Sunday that "an attack on one who serves is an attack on all who serve.'
"This weekend, Gabby's efforts to serve her constituents brought her and her staff and those same constituents into a line of fire of a coward who shot 21 defenseless, innocent citizens.
"Six people died, including one of our neighbors, Phyllis Schneck, a 79-year great-grandmother who lived during the summer months on Old Lake End Road in the Green Pond section of Rockaway Township.
"Mrs. Schneck, along with her late husband Ernie, lived for years in Towaco, and they were active members of the Oak Ridge Presbyterian Church. She was a member of the Montville Women's Club.
"By all accounts, hers was a life well-lived. But it was a life cut tragically short.
"In the days since the murder of Phyllis Schneck and five other innocent Arizonans, much has been said and written about the causes of such a senseless attack.
"I would suggest that few people know all the facts of the circumstances that led to this tragedy. Few of us -- certainly not the news media and political pundits - are qualified to provide psychological analysis in this case.
"We should let the justice system work swiftly.
"In the meantime, we in Congress must work together to ensure that the "People's House' remains open and Representatives continue to be accessible to the citizens of this great nation.
"I am confident that all of the victims of this weekend's attack would have wanted it that way."
Recommended Reading: Rodney's former colleague, Paul Kanjorski (PA), presented an important historical perspective in Tuesday's New York Times, "Why Politicians Need to Stay Out in the Open."
Recommended Reading II: David Brooks, writing in the Tuesday New York Times, "The Politicized Mind."
Back to Business: Obamacare Repeal Vote Next Week
After an appropriate pause, the House of Representatives' major agenda item will be a vote on legislation to repeal the Obama-Pelosi-Reid health care bill enacted last year. This will be the first step to ensuring that you remain in control of your own health care through a system that is patient-centered and provides health care choices, not government-imposed mandates.
Some well-intentioned Americans have asked, "Why repeal this law? Why not just improve it?"
As a member of Congress who has long supported health reforms designed to strengthen an already strong system, Rodney says "repeal is the only option."
Why? "Because Obamacare is already having serious negative short- and long-term effects on a health care system that currently provides coverage to 190 million Americans," he said. "And these changes have the potential to do permanent, irreparable harm to medical care in the United States."
In the 10 months since Obamacare became law, we have seen health care premiums rise as insurers struggle to pay for the costs of increased coverage mandated by the new law. In addition, local New Jersey hospitals have laid off hundreds of workers.
Enactment of the health care law comes in the context of a growing shortage of physicians in the United States. Under Obamacare, it will only get worse. Some industry analysts suggest a 40,000 shortfall in doctors over the next decade, for several reasons:
First, the existing supply of primary care physicians will not be able to keep up with the increased demand posed by millions of newly-covered patients. And yet, there is no real provision in the new law to support graduate medical education.
Second, and even more alarming, many physicians feel compelled to voluntarily leave the profession when the bill starts to affect their practices.
At the same time, the new law does nothing to solve, or even diminish, the wave of junk medical lawsuits that force doctors, medical professionals and hospitals to practice expensive defensive medicine.
I would add that, under Obamacare, the Department of Health and Human Services is rushing to set up dozens of review panels and regulatory committees which will or already are affecting every aspect of patient choice: medicines, medical devices, medical interventions, hospitals, nursing homes, home care, technology, etc.
There are other important reasons to repeal and not just replace this government takeover of health care.
Here is a simple fact: despite its backers' claims to the contrary, if Obamacare is fully implemented it will add more than $700 billion to the deficit in its first 10 years!
And what about jobs? Our first priority should be creating private sector employment opportunities, especially for small businessmen and women.
"The evidence is clear: by raising taxes, imposing new mandates, and increasing uncertainty for employers, investors and entrepreneurs, Obamacare is already destroying jobs in this country," Rodney said. "And it will continue to destroy jobs -- small business jobs - unless we do something about it and soon!"
"That financial burden will affect the quality of life, and health care, for every American family for generations to come."
Recommended Reading III: Editorial in today's Wall Street Journal, "The Congressional Accountability Act."