Category Archives: Afghanistan

Rush Holt; The Debt Ceiling Downer

For the moment we have put the debt crisis behind us. That is small comfort as the economy at large, the job situation, the housing market, and the financial markets continue to suffer. The Tea Party in Congress and its enablers should never have been allowed to threaten America’s good name in order to advance their view of a diminished government and trickle-down economics. They should never have been allowed to force a closed-door, hurried revision of our entire economy. And they certainly should never have been able to get away with a deal that increases inequities in our society and our economy. You, like most Americans, may have watched in dismay—or even in disgust—as Washington fumbled the self-imposed crisis.

Putting aside the distasteful process and the worrisome prospect that government by hostage-taking will continue, this week I had to face the immediate questions: Was the resulting deal going to help the economy? Would it create jobs? Would it reduce the crippling inequities in our economy and society? Would it bring down the deficit, as was the ostensible goal? On all counts my answer was “No,” and I voted against the resolution on the House floor.

I am pleased that we as a country are paying our debts, but I lament the damage done to the institutions of government and the good name of the United States as the most reliable, most creditworthy entity in the entire financial world. I lament especially the damage done to our view of ourselves. The negotiations were based on Tea Party premises: that our deficit is the principal concern facing us, that America is a pitiful debtor nation, that we must lower our sights, that we must end the quest to free our people from want and inequalities, that we cannot afford any longer to be the nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all are created equal. Are we no longer the America of the 1940’s that paid for millions of GI’s to go to college and buy homes, while rebuilding ourselves and Europe, when we were faced with a national debt much greater than today?

The deal this week may have the beneficial effect of showing that in the long run the United States intends to bring expenditures more in line with revenues. In the short term, though, the deal is a downer. It not only avoids dealing with today’s principal needs—job creation and economic growth—it actually will cost jobs and preclude any economic stimulation. At a time when clearly the economy is shaky, it is a mistake to declare, as the deal effectively does, that the federal government will have no direct hand in getting the economy moving. To meet next year’s target of spending reductions will require cuts equivalent to the budgets of all the following government operations combined: the EPA, the National Park Service, the Small Business Administration, FEMA emergency and firefighter grants, and the Women-Infants-and-Children food grants. In subsequent years, the cuts would be even ten times larger. Why should we rally to the cry, “No, We Can’t?” Have we forgotten that barely a decade ago we paid down the deficit with strong economic growth, job creation, and budgetary discipline without resorting to gimmicks, triggers, or Balanced Budget Amendments?

I would have liked to vote on a plan that protected the major functions granted to Congress under the Constitution rather than turning them over to an undemocratic, isolated committee of twelve. I would have liked to vote on a plan that would have accelerated withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan, saving lives and dollars, and that would have produced savings in our healthcare costs and dealt with the looming loss of 30 percent of doctors’ reimbursement under Medicare. Instead, the plan that was presented was negotiated on the turf of the Tea Party, which seems to think that it is anti-capitalist to ask those individuals and companies doing well in this economy to bear some of the load, even though the one or two percent of people with the highest income have seen their income grow by about 25 percent while everyone else has seen an effective decline and America’s largest corporations have reaped immense profits by using loopholes and offshore tax havens to avoid paying taxes.

Nevertheless, I am making it my job to beat back the pessimistic view in Washington that gave rise to this deal. We must not let this deal be the chart of our country’s future course. It is based on false premises that fail to recognize the inherent fairness that is characteristic of our people, the ingenuity and entrepreneurial energy that have sparked our economy for generations, and the unshakable American meliorism that says we can and must make life better for each succeeding generation. I think that now, more than ever, we must have a realistic view of our situation so that we can strongly defend equality and build a community that reinforces the opportunities for each individual.

Sincerely,

RUSH HOLT
Member of Congress

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Filed under Afghanistan, Congress, Congressman Rush Holt, debt ceiling, economy, EPA, Iraq, Medicare, National Park Service, Tea Party

>President Obama’s Weekly Address 6/25/11: Strengthening America by Investing at Home

>WASHINGTON – Speaking to the American people from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, President Obama discussed the vital role advanced manufacturing will have in strengthening our economy and creating good, middle-class jobs. The President believes that realizing our nation’s potential requires more than simply cutting spending; we have to foster development at home, so that the United States will continue to grow and attract the world’s best talent, ideas and job-creating technologies. This week, the President announced the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership, which will link the federal government with our nation’s finest minds to insure that our best ideas quickly become our best technologies. By providing American innovators with the resources they need to make their ideas a reality, our nation’s strong legacy of manufacturing, development and middle-class opportunity will continue to grow.

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Filed under Afghanistan, budget deficit, Carnegie Melon University, economic growth, Education, Innovation, Job creation, Manufacturing, Middle Class, President Obama, weekly address

>Middletown residents describe death of bin Laden as ‘awesome’

>I would have liked to have seen this for myself this morning.

By The Associated Press

MIDDLETOWN — A home improvement contractor read Bible verses aloud this morning at the train station in Middletown, where 37 residents lost their lives in the 9/11 attacks.

The news that Osama bin Laden was killed by U.S. forces sparked elation in this community, which suffered the second-worst loss of life in New Jersey during the 2001 attacks by al-Qaida terrorists.

Several commuters used the word “awesome” to describe their reaction to the news of bin Laden’s death.

But their enthusiasm was tempered with sadness over the lives of Middletown residents lost in the attacks.

Contractor Mike Lonergan read biblical passages to commuters waiting for trains, proclaiming “the wages of sin is death.”

Nearly one-quarter of those killed in the 9/11 attacks were New Jersey residents.

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Filed under 9/11, Afghanistan, Al-Qaeda, Associated Press, bin-Laden killed, MIddletown train station, Osama bin Laden, Pakistan, Twin Towers

>Send a message to our troops

>I found this link while going through the online addition of the Asbury Park Press. The link is from USAToday and it allows individuals to video record a special holiday message to those serving in our military. The video below is an example of what the messages could look like, it is really all up to you. I hope many take advantage of this opportunity.

“This holiday season, many American families are separated by war — some for the second or third time as troops serve repeated tours in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Now USA TODAY is providing a way for those families to share video messages and for everyone to join the conversation. To send your own message to the troops, simply press record.”

http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f9?isVid=1

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Filed under Afghanistan, Asbury Park Press, Iran, Special Video Message, US troops, USA TODAY, Veterans.

>President Obama’s Weekly Address: Tax Cuts & Unemployment Insurance

>With President Obama visiting troops in Afghanistan, Vice President Biden says Congress must extend both the middle class tax cuts and unemployment insurance for the sake of those families and the broader economy.

http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/all/modules/swftools/shared/flash_media_player/player5x2.swf

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Filed under Afghanistan, Bush Tax Cuts, economy, middle-class tax cuts, President Obama, unemployment benefits, Vice-President Joe Biden, weekly address

>President Obama’s Weekly Adress 11/20/10: New START Treaty "Fundamental" to Security

>The President says ratifying the New START, a pivotal treaty with Russia on nuclear weapons, must happen this year. He explains that failure to ratify the treaty this year would not only mean losing our nuclear inspectors in Russia, but also undermine the international coalition pressuring Iran, put at risk the transit routes used to equip our troops in Afghanistan, and undo decades American leadership and bipartisanship on nuclear security.

http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/all/modules/swftools/shared/flash_media_player/player5x2.swf

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Filed under Afghanistan, Iran, President Obama, Russia, START Treaty, weekly address

President Obama Speaks to the Muslim World

The President’s speech “A New Beginning”, outlined his personal commitment to engagement with the Muslim world, based upon mutual interests and mutual respect. It discusses how the United States and Muslim communities around the world can bridge some of the differences that have divided them.

The President spoke for 55 minutes, so if you do not have time to watch the whole video, below it are excerpts taken from the speech courtesy of the White House facebook page.

“I have come here to seek a new beginning between the US & the Muslim world based upon mutual interest and mutual respect”…

“I consider it part of my responsibility as President of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear.”…

“Our problems must be dealt with through partnership; progress must be shared.”… 

“America has a dual responsibility: to help Iraq forge a better future – and to leave Iraq to Iraqis.”…

“America’s strong bonds with Israel are well known. This bond is unbreakable.”…

“America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own.”…

“America respects the right of all peaceful and law-abiding voices to be heard around the world, even if we disagree with them. And we will welcome all elected, peaceful governments – provided they govern with respect for all their people.”…

“Freedom of religion is central to the ability of peoples to live together.”…

“Our daughters can contribute just as much to society as our sons, and our common prosperity will be advanced by allowing all humanity – men and women – to reach their full potential”…

“I want to particularly say this to young people of every faith, in every country – you, more than anyone, have the ability to remake this world.”…

“We have the power to make the world we seek, but only if we have the courage to make a new beginning, keeping in mind what has been written.”…

“The people of the world can live together in peace. We know that is God’s vision. Now, that must be our work here on Earth.”…

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Filed under Afghanistan, Cairo Egypt, Facebook, Iraq, Islam, muslim world, President Obama, the White House