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E-Newsletter - 5/18/12


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The Week Just Passed: Beginning Tax Reform Now!

"Speaker John Boehner this week signaled this week that the House will begin the processthis year to approve comprehensive tax reform. That's good news for all Americans who want a fairer, simpler tax code that will stimulate U.S. economic growth and the creation of more private sector jobs.

"You may be hearing that January 1, 2013 threatens to bring "Taxmageddon' to America -- the expiration of current lower tax rates and a jump in the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT). All told, if allowed to occur, it would be the largest tax increase in American history!

"Therefore, our goal must be 1) block massive, job-killing tax increases; and, 2) enact -- not just pass -- comprehensive tax reform with lower overall rates while closing loopholes and special "carve-outs.' Doing so would send a clear, strong message to the markets, to employers and families that Washington is serious about reforming our tax code and put us on a path to sustained economic growth.

"For my way of thinking, this should be an open process which allows Congress to hear from a variety of voices, including families who have struggled too long to understand how to make sense of a complex tax code that is ten times the size of the Bible. And all kinds of businesses should be given the opportunity to illustrate how the increasing convolution of the basic U.S. tax code hurts their hiring and puts our companies at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to our overseas competitors.

"Setting up a process this year for a 2013 tax rewrite is an idea that we all should support -- even the White House and the Democratic-controlled Senate."

Rodney Frelinghuysen

Opening the Door to More Exports and Jobs

It's been nearly a decade in the making, but the Colombia Free Trade Agreement finally took effect this week.

"At long last, America can begin reaping the huge benefits that this trade agreement unlocks," Rodney said. "Experts say the agreement will increase U.S. exports by $1.1 billion and increase the size of the U.S. economy by $2.5 billion. This is good news for New Jersey workers, manufacturers, farmers, exporters and dock hands who need the work in this difficult economy."

Over 80 percent of U.S. exports of consumer and industrial products to Colombia will become duty free immediately, with remaining tariffs phased out over 10 years. With average tariffs on U.S. industrial exports ranging from 7.4 to 14.6 percent, this will substantially increase U.S. exports.

"Contrary to some popular myths, free trade agreements like this actually allow American exporters to enjoy the benefit of the same lower tariffs enjoyed by foreign companies exporting into the United States. This is a win for America's workers!"

Hats Off!

Hats off to BASF and Evonik. These two multi-national firms recently opened their North American headquarters in Florham Park and Parsippany, respectively!

These German Corporations are taking advantage of a friendlier New Jersey business climate created by Governor Christie and a local workforce that is well-educated, well-trained and focused on research and development into chemical-based products which make up 95% of the items we use every day.

Latest Report on New Health Care Law's Costs

Many Americans have many reasons to dislike the President's new health care law. This week brought another report about the program's tremendous and rising costs, which the Congressional Budget Office recently revealed to have risen by $51 billion since just last year.

With the April 15th tax deadline just past and individuals and businesses freshly reminded of the $2.3 trillion they paid in federal taxes in 2011, the new health care law will drop an additional $4 trillion in new taxes onto the economy between now and 2035.

The tax burden may be relatively light this year, at just $15 billion, but come 2035, that burden will be magnified more than 20-fold to $320 billion. Even if the economy in 2035 is not already crushed by the growing burden of old-age entitlements, Medicaid, and a bloated government sector consuming as much as a third of the entire economy, will it really be able to handle an additional $320 billion in new taxes -- the equivalent of $3,290 for a family of four?

Read the Joint Economic Committee report here.

Appropriations Committee Continues its Work

The House Committee on Appropriations passed four more spending bills for the fiscal year that begins next October 1 -- Defense, Homeland Security, Foreign Operations and Military Construction/Veteran Affairs.

During debate on the FY 2013 Military Construction/Veterans Affairs bill, Rodney called the Committee's attention to two pressing issues. He said:

"VA Disability claims have spiked 60 percent since 2005 and are expected to reach over 1.2 million in 2015. The VA has set a goal that no claim should take longer than 125 days to settle in 2015. While this number is still unacceptable to all of us here and my veterans in New Jersey, we do have to recognize that the workload in the VA benefits offices is becoming heavier and more complex. This Committee needs to continue to push the Department on this very important issue.

"Likewise, I appreciate the focus the Committee has put on the longstanding efforts of the VA and DoD to integrate their health records. We have been told for years that "progress is being made.' Well, enough is enough. I am pleased that under this bill 75 percent of funds available for the integrated health records program for VA and DoD will be withheld until the program office gets its act together."

Approval of these bills demonstratesthat the Committee can reduce spending, while fulfilling our obligations domestically and internationally. In each measure, the Committee found savings in many areas and brought funding to more responsible and common-sense levels to help meet the very real and dangerous economic and security challenges we face.

Picatinny Arsenal Modernization Advances

An important laboratory modernization project at Picatinny Arsenal cleared two major hurdles this week. Construction of a Ballistic Evaluation Center for large caliber weapons, propellants and projectiles was authorized in the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2013. The NDAA was passed by the House today.

The House Appropriations Committee, on which Rodney serves, approved $10.2 million for the project when it passed the Military Construction/VA appropriations bill on Wednesday. The full House is scheduled to debate the legislation next month.

"This is good news for the hard-working scientists, engineers and technicians at Picatinny Arsenal. They will soon have a safe, state-of-the-art facility in which to do their work," Rodney said. "But most importantly, this one-of-a-kind Center will provide clear benefits to our joint warfighters -- Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines."

The buildings currently operating in this area were designed in the 1950s and were not built to withstand the overpressure blast from modern high velocity weapons systems.

Picatinny Arsenal is the Department of Defense's "Center of Excellence for Guns and Ammunition."

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