1) The Week Just Past: The "Debt Ceiling"
2) Rodney to Morris Chamber: "We must sharply reduce spending!"
3) Noted With Interest: No Budget In Sight From the Senate
4) Trade Obstacles Mean Fewer Job Opportunities
5) More Port Funds = Good News for Jobs
6) Additional Companies, Unions and Others Want "Out" of Obamacare
7)Sanctions Against a Syrian Dictator
The Week Just Past: The "Debt Ceiling"
"On Monday, America bumped up against the "debt ceiling' -- the sum of money the Treasury Department is allowed to borrow to finance operations of the U.S. government. As a result, the Treasury started a complicated series of actions designed to prevent us from defaulting on any of our debt obligations.
"So, the stage is set: sometime this summer, Congress will be forced to vote on raising that debt limit. Of course, President Obama wants the debt cap to be raised now and without conditions. I, and many of my House colleagues, think the debt limit should only be boosted in conjunction with sharply reducing government spending and other safeguards that prevent us from getting into this dangerous financial predicament in the future.
"It is important to note that raising the debt limit does not authorize future borrowing and spending. Instead, it allows our nation to pay the obligations already incurred by the out-of-control spending of the President's Administration and prior Congresses led by then-Speaker Pelosi.
"Remember, domestic discretionary spending rose by over 80 percent in the last four years! How many New Jersey families have increased their household budget by 80 percent since 2006? None that I know of!!!
"Of course, there are those individuals who think we should let the government default, but that's a very dangerous gamble.
"Should the debt ceiling not be raised, the United States would no longer be able to make good on its past borrowing obligations, leading to serious long-lasting economic consequences across world markets and severe damage to our nation's reputation as the "world's safest' investment.
"For example, the government's future borrowing costs would sky-rocket, and when that happens, interest rates for families, consumers and job creators in our economy -- small businessmen and women - will soon follow.
"Our national debt stands at over $14 trillion. Every month, we borrow more and more money from the Chinese and Japanese.
"Enough is enough. It would be irresponsible to approve a debt limit increase without demanding that Washington tighten its belt -- like so many families have done - immediately and dramatically!"
Recommended Reading I: Economist John Taylor wrote on Wednesday, "Linking the Debt Limit Hike To Spending Cuts Is Good Economics."
Rodney to Morris Chamber: "We must sharply reduce spending!"
The nation's growing fiscal crisis was the primary topic of Rodney's remarks on Tuesday to the Morris County Chamber of Commerce. He told the assembled businessmen and women that "President Obama AND his party's leadership in the Senate should be following the House's lead and the voters' message from last November's election. That message was "enough is enough' - we must cut Washington spending now!"
Rodney, a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, said, House Appropriations Committee, also told the Chamber that he recognizes that the government's reach and impact is far too great in today economy: "Large and small businesses everywhere tell me we need to get the government off their backs," he said. "Too much taxing, regulation and the massive takeover of health care by Washington- based bureaucrats is undermining our nation's economic recovery and consumer confidence."
Read more about Rodney's remarks here.
Noted With Interest: No Budget In Sight From the Senate
Senate Democratic leaders said Thursday they weren't yet ready to move ahead with a 2012 budget proposal, amid continuing differences within the party over the "right balance" between spending cuts and tax increases.
This may be considered "inside baseball" by some, but the House adopted its budget on April 15. It has now been more than 750 days since the Senate adopted a budget resolution.
Recall the famous words of a former Budget Committee Chairman in Nancy Pelosi's House: "If you can't budget, you can't govern."
More Trade Obstacles, Fewer Job Opportunities
The White House this week indicated it would hold trade agreements with South Korea, Panama, and Colombia hostage until an agreement was reached on extending the Trade Adjustment Assistance Program. The expanded TAA benefits, which were put in place as part of the 2009 economic stimulus, lapsed earlier this year.
"The Obama Administration has found EVERY possible excuse to delay implementation of these trade deals despite widespread agreement that they would help boost economic growth and make America more competitive," Rodney said. "At a time when our economy could use all the help it can get, these agreements would expand U.S. exports and grow jobs and investments here in America. The only parties that benefit from this inaction are our foreign competitors and they are takingour market share every day!"
The President earlier pledged to send to Congress the three trade deals this summer. The agreements with Colombia, South Korea and Panama have languished for almost 4 years, despite the President's stated goal of increasing export trade by 50 percent.
More Port Funds = Good News for Jobs
The Harbor Deepening Project at the Port of New York and New Jersey will see an increase in funding this summer when compared to the amount President Obama sought for the vital project. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which manages the program, announced this week that it will dedicate $73 million to the deepening project. The President's budget, released in February, only requested $57 million.
"Our Port is a major gateway to our region, handling over $80 billion in goods every year," said Rodney, the strongest supporter of the Port in New Jersey. "If the main shipping channels are not deep enough, these goods will go to other east coast ports, along with our jobs, so the Army Corps' decision to increase funding is welcome."
The Port of New York and New Jersey is the third largest port in the nation. For years, the Army Corps has been working to dredge the main shipping channel of the Port to a depth of 50 feet, allowing access by the world's largest ocean-going vessels. Increasing the depth of our harbor has opened doors for more goods to be moved in and out.
The latest data show 130,500 jobs in New Jersey depend on international trade. Of these, 50,500 are manufacturing jobs. Indeed, approximately one of every six manufacturing jobs in New Jersey is directly connected to global trade.
From his seat on the Appropriations Committee, Rodney has backed the harbor deepening project for many years.
More Companies, Unions and Others Want "Out" of Obamacare
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released an updated list of companies and other entities that have been exempted from the annual coverage-limit requirements imposed by the health care law known as Obamacare. It's a very long list - over 1,300!
Under the law, most insurers must offer at least $750,000 in coverage for policies written between September 2010 (when the rules first went into effect), and September 2011. The annual limits are supposed to rise to $1.25 million for policies that begin after September 2011.
As of the end of April, CMS officials report that they had granted more than 1,370 waivers from those requirements.
"One of my Congressional Colleagues called this staggering number of waivers a "devastating indictment of Obamacare' and I could not agree more," Rodney said. "This is no way to manage health care in America. True reform starts by repealing this partisan law and enacting patient-centered reforms that provide Americans with greater choice to control their own care and choose their own doctor."
Rodney also leveled criticism at the health care law's creation of the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), an unelected Washington-based committee that will recommend proposals to reduce Medicare costs. Those directives would become law unless Congress overrides them.
"The President's plan begins with trillions of dollars in higher taxes, and it relies on a plan to control costs in Medicare that would give a board of 15 unelected bureaucrats in Washington the power to deeply ration care," he said. "This would disrupt the lives of those currently in retirement, and lead to waiting lists for doctors' appointments for today's seniors."
Rodney is cosponsor of H.R. 452, legislation to scrap the IPAB immediately.
Recommended Reading II: Monday editorial in the Washington Times, "Democrats Demogogue Medicare."
Sanctions Against a Syrian Dictator
President Obama this week issued an Executive Order imposing sanctions on Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad and six other senior Syrian regime officials.
"This is a positive step by the Administration and is in keeping with calls in Congress to step up pressure against the Syrian leadership," Rodney said.
"Now we need to go further by fully implementing existing sanctions laws on the Syrian regime. The threat posed by the Syrian regime to its own people, the region and United States' interests is growing. Our goal has to be preventing Syria from becoming another Iran."
The executive order signed by President Obama accuses Assad and six top government officials of complicity in human rights abuses and essentially freezes all U.S. properties and funds owned or partly owned by them.
9-11 Remembrance at Cedar Crest
Rodney attended a ceremonial flag-raising yesterday at Cedar Crest Village in Pequannock Township. He presented a flag flown over the U.S. Capitol to the parents of Mark Rasweiler, who died on September 11, 2001.
Afterward, Rodney spoke to residents about recent events in Pakistan and the need for continuing vigilance. "Bin Laden may be gone, but the world is still a very dangerous place, given trends in global demographics and technology creatively used by violent international extremists."