The Week Just Past: New Jersey Loses a "Tireless Advocate"
"The appropriations process -- the writing of bills that actually keep the federal government open for business each year, started in earnest this week. The House debated and passed two important pieces of legislation: the Military Construction/Veterans Affairs Department and Homeland Security proposals.
"The so-called "MilCon-VA' bill provides our men and women in uniform with the infrastructure needed to house, train, and equip military personnel and provides for the quality of life of our troops and their families. It also funds critically important veterans' benefits and programs to ensure that all veterans receive the benefits they earned through their service.
In this bill, we took aim at two persistent problems that continue to challenge the VA: 1) the unacceptable backlog in veterans benefits claims and 2) the lack of a unified electronic medical record for current troops and Veterans Administration.
The final vote on the legislation was 410-4, reflecting our longstanding tradition of bipartisan support of our military, our veterans, and their families.
"The Homeland Security appropriations package passed on Thursday -- the first such Homeland bill since Hurricane Sandy made landfall along the New Jersey coast. Given the National Weather Service's prediction of an active hurricane season, the bill contains additional funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency Disaster Relief Fund and $2.5 billion for first responder grants.
"But New Jersey is not only a "Sandy State,' it is also a "9-11 State.' The bill includes important funding for $1.7 billion in DHS State and Local Grant programs, which include the State Homeland Security Grant Program and the Urban Area Security Initiative, both of which have greatly benefited New Jersey over the past 12 years.
It is also important to note that this bill contains $10.6 billion for Customs and Border Protection (CPB), enough for 21,370 Border Patrol agents and nearly 22,800 CBP officers -- the largest totals in history.
"In short, this bill will support our vital homeland security program and will do it in a very difficult fiscal environment. The legislation provides our frontline defenders the resources and tools they need to keep our country safe.
"As the summer continues, the Appropriations Committee in the House and the Senate will continue their work. However, that work will go on withoutone of New Jersey's most tireless advocates -- Senator Frank Lautenberg.
"For many years, we worked together as New Jersey's Appropriations team -- looking out for our state's needs on Capitol Hill. I was proud to work with him on issues so important to the citizens of our state -- transportation, homeland security and open space. In fact, in his final months, we worked in a bipartisan way to ensure that New Jersey has the resources to recover from an historic storm. We owe much to this dedicated public servant.
By the Numbers: The IRS and Obamacare
18-- New taxes in Obamacare, including 12 that directly violate then-Senator Barack Obama's "firm pledge" to those making under $250,000 per year that he would not "raise any of your taxes;"
47-- New provisions Obamacare charges the IRS with implementing the new law, according to the Government Accountability Office;
$695-- Tax for not buying "government-approved" health insurance; the IRS will be charged with enforcing on all Americans;
1,954-- Full-time bureaucrats the IRS wants to devote to Obamacare implementation and enforcement in the upcoming fiscal year;
$439,584,000-- The IRS's request for new spending on Obamacare implementation in the upcoming fiscal year;
6,100,000,000-- Man-hours Americans already devote to tax compliance, according to the National Taxpayer Advocate, a burden that will rise significantly thanks to Obamacare;
$1,000,000,000,000-- New revenue to be raised by Obamacare in its first 10 years alone, according to the Congressional Budget Office, sums that will only rise in future decades.
Recommended Reading: Unelected bureaucrats have a larger practical impact on the lives of American citizens than at any time in our history. The Washington Post reports:
The vast majority of "laws" governing the U.S. are not passed by Congress, but are issued as regulations, crafted largely by thousands of faceless, unelected bureaucrats.
One study found that in 2007, Congress enacted 138 public laws, while federal agencies finalized 2,926 rules, including 61 major regulations.
Law professor Jonathan Turley contributed "The Rise of the Fourth Branch of Government" in the May 24, Washington Post. Worth a read!
Common Sense Prevails: No Knives on Planes
The Transportation Security Administration this week backed away from a proposal to allow passengers to carry small knives on commercial aircraft.
"It seemed obvious to most travelers and airline employees that the decision to allow knives on planes was very ill-advised," Rodney said. "The decision by TSA to drop this proposal appears to be a victory for common sense. I am glad the TSA now agrees with flight attendants, pilots, air marshals, TSA screeners, airlines, and the American public!"
TSA Administrator John Pistole had unveiled the proposal to loosen the rules for carry-on luggage last March. He suggested permitting folding knives with blades that are 2.36 inches (6 centimeters) or less in length and are less than 1/2 inch (1 centimeter) wide because he said intercepting them takes time that would be better used searching for explosives and other more serious threats.
Salute: Great Swamp Volunteers, UNICO, Bloomfield High School
We commend all those volunteers at the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge who are being recognized at a dinner on Saturday!
Best wishes to the scholar-athletes being honored at the 9th Livingston UNICO Domenic A. Crincoli Memorial 27th Annual Sports Award Breakfast on Sunday!
Congratulations to the students, faculty and staff of Bloomfield High School as they receive the 2013 National School Change Award at a ceremony on Monday!
Recommended Reading: Two lengthy, but excellent, articles on China are both worth a close read.
In "China's Economic Empire," Heriberto Araujo and Juan Cardenal write in the Sunday New York Times that the biggest threat from Beijing is the aggressive spread of state capitalism. Read it here.
Former U.S. Ambassador Jon Huntsman and Ian Bremmer wrote "How to Play Well in China" in the New York Times, which provides a great diagram on China's global reach. Read it here.