Saturday, February 28, 2009

Senator Seabaugh Hosts Page Day at Capitol

State Sen. Mitch Seabaugh (R-Sharpsburg) hosted his annual Page Day at the Capitol on Thursday, Feb. 12. Students sixth grade and above from local schools in his district served as pages in the Senate Chamber, delivering messages to the senators on the floor.

Sen. Seabaugh has said of the experience, “I encourage students, particularly those interested in civics and government, to take advantage of this excellent opportunity to experience the legislative process first-hand. This is a chance for students to experience American politics and watch the state legislature work.”

Each page received a certificate and a $10 honorarium for their work in the Senate. The following students participated:

Abby Aaron, Nick Anderson, Carey Barronton, Alyssa Brown, Allie Crain, Billy Eidson, Casey Eidson, Kaley Eidson, Abby Hand, Ivey Hand, Elizabeth Kaminski, Ashton May, Brooke Miranda, Drew Morris, Alexis Reisling, Ally Thomas, Carson Vaughn, Michala Waczkowski, Maggie Wise and Ron Wroble.

Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) Delivers Weekly Republican Address

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- U.S. Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) delivers the weekly Republican address.

"This week, President Obama shared with all Americans his priorities and concerns about the serious economic challenges we as America are facing. I appreciated his optimism and agree with him that our country has the ability to overcome this significant economic challenge.

"The strongest tool we as Americans have is our ability to rally together and to find solutions with unity of purpose. There is no limit to our ability and potential when we as a nation and as a people work together.

"Many times, disagreements between the two political parties in Washington get all the headlines. What's not reported is the fact that Republicans and Democrats agree on where we want to go, but we disagree on how we're going to get there.

"These uncertain times present us with a defining moment. The actions and decisions we make and the actions we take in our nation's capital and in the state capitals across this country will have a profound impact on the way of life for years to come.

"Families facing tough decisions at home know this because they are confronting the same challenges. Washington needs to understand this reality as well. It's difficult to fully appreciate, but every time Congress and the President spends a dollar, it's actually a dollar PLUS interest that our children and our grandchildren will have to pay back.

"We must remind ourselves of this fact every single day. Unfortunately, Washington is in a state of denial. Our spending habits haven't gotten better, they've only gotten worse.

"It seems that every morning you pick up the newspaper, you're reading about another multi-billion dollar government spending plan being proposed or even worse, passed. The numbers are so large, and the deficits so staggering, it's difficult for the average person to imagine how much money we're talking about. We become numb to what the dollar figures really mean, or the obligation that accompanies them. Let me take a moment to try to explain what is happening in Washington right now, and what it will mean for all of us down the road.

"This week, the president submitted to Congress the single largest increase in federal spending in the history of the United States, while driving the deficit to levels that were once thought impossible. If we just look at what our debt spending will cost us in interest payments alone, we are talking about 4 trillion dollars over the next 10 years, more than a billion dollars of interest payments every day. Think of that 4 trillion as a finance charge on your credit card bill -- you have to pay, but you get nothing for it in return. This finance charge obligates more than $52,000 for every family in America over the same 10-year period.

"These payments don't even make a dent in the balance we owe. In fact, the balance on our credit card continues to grow as we continue to spend. Like a family that finds itself choking under the weight of credit card balances and finance charges, the federal government is quickly obligating the American people to a similar fate.

"This is why we must keep our eye on the big picture. For two centuries, the American Dream has depended on the simple belief that men and women work hard so their children would have a better future. Looking at the spending priorities of Democrats in Washington in the proposed budget and over the past month, it's hard to escape the reality that for the first time we could see the American Dream vanish. Now, instead of working hard so our children can have a better life tomorrow, we are asking our children to work hard so that we don't have to make tough choices today.

"It's long past time to show restraint and to make the tough choices that will help put our fiscal house in order. Generations of Americans past have often been called on to make great sacrifices for their country. Many have made the ultimate sacrifice. Is it not time for government to make sacrifices for future generations? It's time for those elected to lead. Will we rise to the challenge, and make the tough choices necessary? Or will we simply hand the obligation to our children and wish them good luck?"

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Chambliss, Isakson Applaud Passage of Legislation Recognizing Enslaved African Americans’ Contributions to Construction of Nation’s Capitol

U.S. senators Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., and Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., co-sponsored a resolution recognizing enslaved African Americans’ contributions to the construction of the nation’s Capitol. The measure passed the Senate unanimously late yesterday evening.

The resolution authorizes a plaque to be placed near the original east front wall of the Capitol to acknowledge the role and contributions enslaved African-American laborers played in the evolution of the building, and, by extension, our democracy.

“It is one of the great, sad ironies of American history that the very foundation of this building in which we have debated essential questions of liberty – and even decided who was free and who was not – was laid by those in shackles,” said Chambliss. “We can never pay these laborers their due, but we can, even belatedly, recognize their significant contributions.”

“Slavery is one of our nation’s greatest tragedies and regrets, and I’m very pleased Congress will officially recognize the significant role that enslaved African Americans played in constructing our U.S. Capitol,” Isakson said. “History is our greatest teacher, and I believe it’s essential for future generations to know the important role these individuals played in building our democracy.”
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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Boehner Statement on President Obama’s Address to a Joint Session of Congress

House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH) released the following statement on President Obama’s address to a Joint Session of Congress last evening:

“All Americans should be proud to witness the history that will be made in the Capitol this evening. President Obama will make a compelling case that our nation can overcome the immense challenges before us, particularly when it comes to strengthening our economy and creating new jobs on behalf of middle-class families. Republicans want to be partners with the President in finding responsible solutions to the challenges facing our nation, but thus far congressional leaders in the President’s own party have stood in the way. That’s why Republicans take seriously our responsibility to offer better solutions to address the concerns of the American people.

“Middle-class families and small businesses across our nation are making sacrifices and tough budget decisions. It’s time for Washington to do the same. We cannot afford to pile mountains more in debt on our children and grandchildren in order to pay for a spending spree that we simply cannot afford. It is time for both parties in Washington to back up our promises of fiscal responsibility with real action.

“That means instituting a spending freeze so we can get our budget in order – beginning by replacing the half-trillion dollar spending bill Democratic leaders have scheduled for a House vote tomorrow with a clean bill, free of pork-barrel spending. That means not raising taxes in the midst of a recession – a sure recipe for a weaker economy and fewer jobs. That means supporting our men and women in uniform by providing them all the tools they need to defeat our enemies. That means safely developing our nation’s vast energy resources to lower energy costs and create more jobs. And that means ensuring access to affordable, high-quality health care for every American.”

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RNC Chairman's Response to President Obama's Address

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Michael Steele released the following statement last night:

"Watching President Obama address our nation -- and feeling the pride that is in every American's heart -- it's worth pausing to celebrate our nation's achievements. Yet even as we mark this historic event, we recognize the deep problems that continue to face our nation. Republicans are eager to work with President Obama on the challenges he discussed, especially restoring fiscal responsibility and growing our economy.

"After last year's State of the Union, then-candidate Barack Obama asked the nation to imagine a time when a President's agenda would draw standing ovations from both sides of the aisle. That sort of bipartisanship is an admirable goal -- and one that unfortunately continues to elude Washington. The Democratic leadership in Congress must be willing to work with Republicans to stop out-of-control spending, promote the creation of jobs, and to keep our troops properly funded.

"Now would be a good time for this young Administration to ask the Democrat leaders in Congress to actually consider working in a bipartisan way to solve the real problems Americans are facing.

"I am more confident than ever that the American people will stand up for the principles our nation was founded on and will hold their representatives accountable to overcome the challenges that this nation faces."

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Governor Bobby Jindal's Republican Address: 'Americans Can Do Anything'

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Republican National Committee (RNC) released the full Republican address entitled "Americans Can Do Anything," that Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal delivered immediately following President Barack Obama's address to a joint session of Congress:

"Good evening. I'm Bobby Jindal, Governor of Louisiana.

Tonight, we witnessed a great moment in the history of our Republic. In the very chamber where Congress once voted to abolish slavery, our first African-American President stepped forward to address the state of our union. With his speech tonight, the President completed a redemptive journey that took our nation from Independence the lunch counter... and now, finally, the Oval Office.

Regardless of party, all Americans are moved by the President's personal story - the son of an American mother and a Kenyan father, who grew up to become leader of the free world. Like the President's father, my parents came to this country from a distant land. When they arrived in Baton Rouge, my mother was already 4 1/2 months pregnant. I was what folks in the insurance industry now call a 'pre-existing condition.' To find work, my dad picked up the yellow pages and started calling local businesses. Even after landing a job, he could still not afford to pay for my delivery - so he worked out an installment plan with the doctor. Fortunately for me, he never missed a payment.

As I grew up, my mom and dad taught me the values that attracted them to this country - and they instilled in me an immigrant's wonder at the greatness of America. As a child, I remember going to the grocery store with my dad. Growing up in India, he had seen extreme poverty. And as we walked through the aisles, looking at the endless variety on the shelves, he would tell me: 'Bobby, Americans can do anything.' I still believe that to this day. Americans can do anything. When we pull together, there is no challenge we cannot overcome.

As the President made clear this evening, we are now in a time of challenge. Many of you listening tonight have lost jobs. Others have seen your college and retirement savings dwindle. Many of you are worried about losing your health care and your homes. And you are looking to your elected leaders in Washington for solutions.

Republicans are ready to work with the new President to provide those solutions. Here in my state of Louisiana, we don't care what party you belong to if you have good ideas to make life better for our people. We need more of that attitude from both Democrats and Republicans in our nation's capital. All of us want our economy to recover and our nation to prosper. So where we agree, Republicans must be the President's strongest partners. And where we disagree, Republicans have a responsibility to be candid and offer better ideas for a path forward.

Today in Washington, some are promising that government will rescue us from the economic storms raging all around us.

Those of us who lived through Hurricane Katrina, we have our doubts.

Let me tell you a story.

During Katrina, I visited Sheriff Harry Lee, a Democrat and a good friend of mine. When I walked into his makeshift office I'd never seen him so angry. He was yelling into the phone: 'Well, I'm the Sheriff and if you don't like it you can come and arrest me!' I asked him: 'Sheriff, what's got you so mad?' He told me that he had put out a call for volunteers to come with their boats to rescue people who were trapped on their rooftops by the floodwaters. The boats were all lined up ready to go - when some bureaucrat showed up and told them they couldn't go out on the water unless they had proof of insurance and registration. I told him, 'Sheriff, that's ridiculous.' And before I knew it, he was yelling into the phone: 'Congressman Jindal is here, and he says you can come and arrest him too!' Harry just told the boaters to ignore the bureaucrats and start rescuing people.

There is a lesson in this experience: The strength of America is not found in our government. It is found in the compassionate hearts and enterprising spirit of our citizens. We are grateful for the support we have received from across the nation for the ongoing recovery efforts. This spirit got Louisiana through the hurricanes - and this spirit will get our nation through the storms we face today.

To solve our current problems, Washington must lead. But the way to lead is not to raise taxes and put more money and power in hands of Washington politicians. The way to lead is by empowering you - the American people. Because we believe that Americans can do anything.

That is why Republicans put forward plans to create jobs by lowering income tax rates for working families...cutting taxes for small businesses ...strengthening incentives for businesses to invest in new equipment and hire new workers...and stabilizing home values by creating a new tax credit for home-buyers. These plans would cost less and create more jobs.

But Democratic leaders in Congress rejected this approach. Instead of trusting us to make wise decisions with our own money, they passed the largest government spending bill in history - with a price tag of more than $1 trillion with interest. While some of the projects in the bill make sense, their legislation is larded with wasteful spending. It includes $300 million to buy new cars for the government, $8 billion for high-speed rail projects, such as a 'magnetic levitation' line from Las Vegas to Disneyland, and $140 million for something called 'volcano monitoring.' Instead of monitoring volcanoes, what Congress should be monitoring is the eruption of spending in Washington, DC.

Democratic leaders say their legislation will grow the economy. What it will do is grow the government, increase our taxes down the line, and saddle future generations with debt. Who among us would ask our children for a loan, so we could spend money we do not have, on things we do not need? That is precisely what the Democrats in Congress just did. It's irresponsible. And it's no way to strengthen our economy, create jobs, or build a prosperous future for our children.

In Louisiana, we took a different approach. Since I became governor, we cut more than 250 earmarks from our state budget. And to create jobs for our citizens, we cut taxes six times - including the largest income tax cut in the history of our state. We passed those tax cuts with bipartisan majorities. Republicans and Democrats put aside their differences, and worked together to make sure our people could keep more of what they earn. If it can be done in Baton Rouge, surely it can be done in Washington, DC.

To strengthen our economy, we need urgent action to keep energy prices down. All of us remember what it felt like to pay $4 at the pump - and unless we act now, those prices will return. To stop that from happening, we need to increase conservation...increase energy efficiency...increase the use of alternative and renewable fuels...increase our use of nuclear power - and increase drilling for oil and gas here at home. We believe that Americans can do anything - and if we unleash the innovative spirit of our citizens, we can achieve energy independence.

To strengthen our economy, we also need to address the crisis in health care. Republicans believe in a simple principle: No American should have to worry about losing their health coverage - period. We stand for universal access to affordable health care coverage. We oppose universal government-run health care. Health care decisions should be made by doctors and patients - not by government bureaucrats. We believe Americans can do anything - and if we put aside partisan politics and work together, we can make our system of private medicine affordable and accessible for every one of our citizens.

To strengthen our economy, we also need to make sure every child in America gets the best possible education. After Katrina, we reinvented the New Orleans school system - opening dozens of new charter schools, and creating a new scholarship program that is giving parents the chance to send their children to private or parochial schools of their choice. We believe that, with the proper education, the children of America can do anything. And it should not take a devastating storm to bring this kind of innovation to education in our country.

To strengthen our economy, we must promote confidence in America by ensuring ours is the most ethical and transparent system in the world. In my home state, there used to be saying: At any given time, half of Louisiana is under water - and the other half is under indictment. No one says that anymore. Last year, we passed some of the strongest ethics laws in the nation - and today, Louisiana has turned her back on the corruption of the past. We need to bring transparency to Washington, DC- so we can rid our Capitol of corruption...and ensure we never see the passage of another trillion dollar spending bill that Congress has not even read and the American people haven't even seen.

As we take these steps, we must remember for all our troubles at home, dangerous enemies still seek our destruction. Now is no time to dismantle the defenses that have protected this country for hundreds of years, or make deep cuts in funding for our troops. America's fighting men and women can do anything. And if we give them the resources they need, they will stay on the offensive...defeat our enemies...and protect us from harm.

In all these areas, Republicans want to work with President Obama. We appreciate his message of hope - but sometimes it seems we look for hope in different places. Democratic leaders in Washingto nplace their hope in the federal government. We place our hope in you - the American people. In the end, it comes down to an honest and fundamental disagreement about the proper role of government. We oppose the National Democrats' view that says the way to strengthen our country is to increase dependence on government. We believe the way to strengthen our country is to restrain spending in Washington, and empower individuals and small businesses to grow our economy and create jobs.

In recent years, these distinctions in philosophy became less clear - because our party got away from its principles. You elected Republicans to champion limited government, fiscal discipline, and personal responsibility. Instead, Republicans went along with earmarks and big government spending in Washington. Republicans lost your trust - and rightly so.

Tonight, on behalf of our leaders in Congress and my fellow Republican governors, I say: Our party is determined to regain your trust. We will do so by standing up for the principles that we share...the principles you elected us to fight for...the principles that built this into the greatest, most prosperous country on earth.

A few weeks ago, the President warned that our nation is facing a crisis that he said 'we may not be able to reverse.' Our troubles are real, to be sure. But don't let anyone tell you that we cannot recover - or that America's best days are behind her. This is the nation that cast off the scourge of slavery...overcame the Great Depression...prevailed in two World Wars...won the struggle for civil rights...defeated the Soviet menace...and responded with determined courage to the attacks of September 11, 2001. The American spirit has triumphed over almost every form of adversity known to man - and the American spirit will triumph again.

We can have confidence in our future - because, amid today's challenges, we also count many blessings: We have the most innovative citizens...the most abundant resources...the most resilient economy...the most powerful military...and the freest political system in the history of the world. My fellow citizens, never forget: We are Americans. And like my dad said years ago, Americans can do anything.

Thank you for listening. God bless you. And God bless America."

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Isakson Outlines Keys to Getting Economy Back on Track

U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., today outlined four principles he believes are imperative to helping improve the U.S. economy during a speech on the Senate floor.

“Our people are in difficult times. We have difficult economic circumstances and it's imperative that we move forward together, members of the House and Senate with the executive branch, to find the solutions to the challenges before us,” Isakson said. “I believe it is time to address the fundamentals of our economy and the fundamental problems that we face.”

First, Isakson believes jump-starting the demand for housing is essential to boosting the economy. Isakson announced he will continue to push a housing tax credit for all purchasers of any home without income restrictions. Isakson’s $15,000 tax credit for all purchasers of any home was removed during conference negotiations between the House and Senate on the final version of the economic stimulus bill, despite its unanimous approval by the Senate. Instead, House and Senate negotiators made only small modifications to the first-time homebuyer tax credit that was enacted in 2008 as part of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008.

Second, Isakson called for all homeowners to be eligible for the re-financing opportunities outlined by President Obama to help homeowners in trouble. Isakson does not believe responsible homeowners should be penalized or denied access to the proposed re-finance opportunities.

Third, Isakson called for the SEC to reinstate the Uptick Rule in order to stabilize the markets and protect the American consumer from traders forcing down the price of a stock. In his remarks, Isakson argued that the market deterioration was impacted by short sellers rushing to the market, shorting financial stocks and accelerating the decline of those values. Isakson called for the Uptick Rule to be reinstated to ensure that traders are not coming into the market to take advantage of these difficult economic times.

Finally, Isakson stated that Mark to Market rules (FAS 114) are disproportionately penalizing the very people we serve. Given the declines our nation has seen in the mortgage-backed securities and in real-estate, mark to market has caused tremendous problems for our nation’s banks.

“When the FDIC comes into your bank and says you are going to have to mark to market as real estate asset that might have been worth $20 million two years ago but is unfortunately worth $6 million today due to the economy, you are going to have to take a $14 million dollar loss in your bank asset ledger. Mark to market is making good loans look like problems therefore taking good banks and making them into troubled banks.” Isakson said. “This is devastating to our bankers as real estate is absorbed over time and not in one fell swoop. Mark to market should not be an arbitrary write-down to zero, it should be a recognition of the transition of values in a down market or in an up market. This issue hits at the heart of residential real estate construction lending thereby further crippling our economy from returning to a prosperous nation.”

Isakson said mark to market rules should be replaced with a mechanism of amortization or “smoothing” to absorb the assets over time. This will allow the absorption of those assets over time to be more reflective of reality and less reflective of the dire straits that our nation is currently in today.
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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Boehner Statement on Housing Plan Introduced by President Obama

House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH) yesterday issued the following statement on the housing plan outlined by President Obama in Phoenix, Arizona:

“The housing crisis is at the heart of our economic troubles, and House Republicans want to work with the President on a plan that keeps families in their homes without asking taxpayers to bail out irresponsible lenders, scam artists, and borrowers who knowingly made bad decisions. While we hope to work together, there are many unanswered questions that remain about the proposal that was announced today. Why should we reward Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac with $200 billion in taxpayer dollars without first reforming these housing entities that were at the heart of the economic meltdown? Will taxpayers be forced to subsidize the scandal-plagued activist group ACORN under this proposal? Should a responsible plan include a ‘cramdown’ provision that could increase the monthly mortgage payments for responsible borrowers?

“Taxpayers and homeowners who are playing by the rules expect their leaders in Washington to work together on solutions to get our housing industry – and our entire economy – moving again. The President’s announcement of his plan is an important step in that process, and Republicans look forward to working with him and our Democratic colleagues in Congress on this issue in the weeks and months to come.”

NOTE: Boehner and Republican Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) sent a letter to President Obama earlier today seeking clarification on six common sense questions about his housing proposal. Specifically, Boehner and Cantor asked:

What will your plan do for the over 90% of homeowners who are playing and paying by the rules?

Does your plan compensate banks for bad mortgages they should have never made in the first place?

Will individuals who misrepresented their income or assets on their original mortgage application be eligible to get the taxpayer funded assistance under your plan?

Similarly, will you require mortgage servicers to verify income and other eligibility standards before modifying mortgages?

What will you do to prevent the same mortgages that receive assistance and are modified from going into default three, six, or eight months later?

How do you intend to move forward in the drafting of the legislation and who will author it?

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Boehner Statement on the President’s Decision to Send Additional Troops to Afghanistan

House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH) issued the following statement last night regarding the decision by President Obama to send additional troops to Afghanistan:

“I support the President’s decision to send additional troops to Afghanistan to help root out terrorism and stabilize the country on behalf of its people. Republicans agree that a strategic review of the current situation in Afghanistan is warranted, and we will work to ensure that our commanders on the ground have all the additional troops they have requested.

“Afghanistan represents a complex challenge, and it will take time to achieve real, sustained results there. Republicans are committed to supporting our men and women in uniform and giving them all the resources they need to succeed in their mission there.”

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Republican Statement on President Signing Stimulus Bill

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Michael Steele released the following statement today on President Barack Obama signing the stimulus bill:

"Americans looking for jobs and struggling to pay bills will be disappointed by the spending package written by Congressional Democrats and signed by President Obama today. The transparency and bipartisanship that President Obama promised the American people was sacrificed to pass a pork-laden bill without any public review or meaningful Republican support.

"In these difficult economic times, it is imperative that Republicans and Democrats work together to create new jobs and grow the economy. Instead, Congressional Democrats worked behind closed doors to write legislation that will fall short of creating the promised new jobs, but will guarantee a larger debt burden on our children and grandchildren.

"Republicans are unified in our disagreement with Congressional Democrat leaders and President Obama on this bill. It all comes down to this - the Democrat plan focuses on putting Americans on the public dole, while the Republican plan focuses on putting America back to work.

"The Republican Party stands ready to work together in a bipartisan manner with the Democrat leaders in Congress and the President. Hopefully they will learn from the mistakes in this bill and be interested in true bipartisan efforts in the future."

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Sunday, February 15, 2009

RNC: Statement on Democrats' Disappointing Leadership

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Michael Steele released the following statement today on the Democrats' leadership on the economy:

"Democrats have been in charge of Washington for just a few weeks but their record so far is disappointing to voters who hoped for change.

"It's disappointing that President Obama allowed a 1000-plus page bill to be written in secret and voted on hours later before members of Congress -- let alone the American people -- had time to review it. This is not the transparency President Obama promised when he said bills would be posted online for five days.

"It is disappointing that the bill includes funding that can be spent on unabashed pork barrel projects like Sen. Harry Reid's railroad, Speaker Nancy Pelosi's mouse, and the national parks that Representative David Obey's son lobbies for.

"It is disappointing that the Democrats consistently replaced pro-jobs provisions in the legislation to make room for spending by politicians and bureaucrats.

"It is disappointing that the Congress did not turn to small business owners and market solutions to create jobs but instead are empowering government and special interests to create debt."

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Boehner: White House Politicization of Census Will Taint Results, Open Door to Massive Waste of Taxpayer Funds

House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH) joined other House Republicans today at a press conference to urge President Barack Obama to reconsider an unprecedented plan by the White House to move control of the Census Bureau and the 2010 Census from the Commerce Department to political operatives on the White House staff. Boehner issued the following statement after the press conference:

“Yesterday, led by Ranking Member Issa, we wrote to President Obama urging him to reconsider a plan to hand over control of the 2010 Census to political operatives in the White House. This unprecedented move would undermine the goal of a fair and accurate Census count. And it would open the door to massive waste and abuse of taxpayer funds.

“The American people expect the Census to be fair, impartial, and free of politics. And they expect us to protect the hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars the government distributes each year based on Census data. If this process is controlled by political operatives at the White House, instead of experts and statisticians at the Census Bureau, Americans are right to lose confidence in it.

“This is a time when we should be working together to eliminate government waste and protect every single taxpayer dollar. Politicizing the Census makes this impossible. The American people deserve better.”

NOTE: Yesterday, Boehner and other House Republican leaders sent a letter to President Obama saying that politicization of the Census will “undermine the goal of a fair and accurate Census count” and “open the door to massive waste and abuse in the expenditure of taxpayer funds.” An estimated $300 billion in federal funds are distributed annually on the basis of U.S. Census data, according to Census officials.

The letter was signed by Boehner and the entire House GOP elected leadership team, Oversight & Government Reform Committee Ranking Member Darrel Issa (R-CA), Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Lamar Smith (R-TX), House Administration Ranking Member Dan Lungren (R-CA), Information Policy, Census, and National Archives Subcommittee Ranking Member Patrick McHenry (R-NC), and Census Task Force Chairman Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA).

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Boehner Statement on Secretary Geithner’s Financial Plan

House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH) yesterday issued the following statement on the troubled assets program outlined by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner this morning:

“The Administration’s action must not open the door for even greater federal involvement in – and taxpayer support of – our financial system, and it is critical that we have a better grasp of the program’s true cost before moving forward. It is imperative that this plan becomes the first step toward an exit strategy that gets the federal government back out of the private sector. To date, federal officials have failed to detail any such exit strategy. However, Secretary Geithner is to be commended for finally including some of the taxpayer protections that House Republicans have fought for from the outset of the TARP program. Setting strict executive compensation limits for institutions accepting taxpayer dollars is an important step toward better disclosure and more accountability in a program that has failed to meet expectations.”

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Saturday, February 7, 2009

RNC Chairman Michael Steele Delivers Weekly Republican Address

"This is Michael Steele, Chairman of the Republican National Committee. Democrats have controlled both branches of government for less than a month. And you have to wonder if all that power has gone to their heads.

"For the last two weeks, they've been trying to force a massive spending bill through Congress under the guise of economic relief.

"All of us - Republicans and Democrats - agree the government must act to kick-start the American economy. American families are doing their best to balance their own budgets and pay their mortgages.

"The fastest way to help those families is by letting them keep more of the money they earn. Individual empowerment: that's how you stimulate the economy.

"But the Democrats have a different philosophy. Instead of leaving money in the family checkbook, they want to send it to Washington, run it through a slow and inefficient government, and hope that does some good.

"When families keep the money, they spend it, save it, or invest it. And the private sector economy benefits when families and businesses buy consumer goods or invest it for the future. But when Washington spends the money, some of it may flow into the economy, but all too often, much gets wasted.

"Democrats in Congress want a one-trillion dollar spending bill. You've heard about the pork-barrel programs they want to fund... 45 million dollars for ATV trails and removal of fish passage barriers is one that caught my eye. Exactly what is a fish passage barrier and why does it cost 45 million dollars to stimulate the economy with it?

"That's why Republicans in the House voted against uncontrolled spending. This is not a bragging point, but rather a statement that at least Republicans would stand with the American taxpayer.

"But voting 'no' is not enough... and Republicans have offered innovative ideas to help struggling families and small businesses. We've offered plans to spark job creation and investment through lower taxes, to stop the taxation of unemployment benefits, and to help Americans keep their jobs and their homes.

"The comprehensive Republican plan would lower taxes for all working American families. If you're married, the first 16,750 dollars you make this year will be taxed at ten percent. Why don't we cut that rate in half to give instant buying power to every working American family?

"Good ideas... lots of them... all left out of this plan by the Democrats in Congress.

"Republicans stand ready to work with reasonable Democrats to do what is right for America.

"But it will take more than bipartisan words from the President. It will require fair-minded action from Democrats in Congress.

"Thanks for listening."

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Friday, February 6, 2009

House GOP Leaders Call for Democrats to Post Massive Omnibus Spending Bill Online

In a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), House Republican leaders yesterday formally asked that the massive FY 2009 omnibus spending bill be posted online immediately. Posting the massive bill online would allow the American people to study the contents of the bill between now and the week after President’s Day, when the $500 billion legislation is scheduled to be brought to a vote, and would be consistent with President Obama’s call for greater transparency in government, Republican leaders noted.

“In the face of the highest deficit in our Nation’s history, the Majority has asked the American taxpayers to fund nearly $1.5 trillion in new government spending in just four short weeks. And yet now the Majority plans to spend hundreds of billions more without yet sharing the content of the bill with Republican Members or the public,” GOP leaders wrote. “In the midst of a severe recession, taxpayers have a right to see each provision of this legislation and evaluate the merit of each dollar of government spending their children and grandchildren are being required to fund.”

NOTE: The letter was signed by Reps. John Boehner (R-OH), Eric Cantor (R-VA), Mike Pence (R-IN), Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), John Carter (R-TX), Pete Sessions (R-TX), Roy Blunt (R-MO), David Dreier (R-CA), and Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).

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Thursday, February 5, 2009

Americans wisely turning against stimulus plan

By Lynn Westmoreland

It seems like every other day an old friend or business partner calls to let me know that they’re declaring bankruptcy or going out of business.

We can all agree that the United States needs a federal stimulus plan to give our crippled economy a jolt. Our economy shrank 3.8 percent in the last quarter. Jobless claims have mushroomed to 626,000. Stock portfolios and retirement plans have lost 30 percent or more of their values.

But Americans have figured out that the $816 billion plan that passed the House with no Republican votes carries as much danger to the republic as it does hope. In fact, polls show support rapidly declining; today, just 37 percent of Americans favor the current stimulus legislation, down from 45 percent just two weeks ago. That’s startling, considering that Americans are increasingly nervous about huge job losses, business failures and home foreclosures.

Americans are turning against the bill because they know we can craft a much better bill that will simultaneously cost less and create more jobs.

But first, let’s discuss the price tag. The House-passed version totals $816 billion. Once you factor in the finance charges on borrowing that money, the total crests over $1 trillion.

It’s almost useless to discuss a trillion-dollar figure because it’s a number we can’t really comprehend. We’re more likely to get incensed by the government wasting $25,000 than $25,000,000,000 because one number we can understand and the other one is basically inconceivable. This is a problem.

One way to put this in perspective is comparisons. Liberals have complained for years over the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Well, Nancy Pelosi’s stimulus bill costs more than both those wars combined. Put another way, if you spent $1 million every day since the day that Jesus was born, you would have spent less than this one piece of legislation appropriates.

Even without this new spending, the federal deficit would top $1 trillion and our debt has soared to $11 trillion. This has real-world consequences. We risk further devaluing our currency and scaring off foreign investors who have seen Uncle Sam as a “safe” place to keep their money.

The Democrats’ stimulus plan focuses more on fulfilling liberals’ pent-up wish list over the eight years than it does with creating or saving jobs. In Georgia, we desperately need transportation infrastructure but spending on those job-creating projects is only 6 percent of the bill.

Instead, the bill spends hundreds of millions and often billions on items such as facelifts for national parks, buying new cars for the federal fleet and repairing federal buildings. Those may all be great but won’t stimulate the economy. Plus, we’re setting a dangerous precedent by spending billions to bail out states’ Medicare and Medicaid shortfalls; I fear this will become a permanent expectation.

Republicans are offering an alternative plan that reduces spending, allows families and businesses to keep more of their own money and actually creates MORE jobs than the Democratic plan. The Republican plan lowers tax rates for individuals, families and small businesses; it removes taxes from unemployment income and extends that insurance for a year.

The GOP plan would pan out better for Georgia, too. The House Ways and Means Committee estimates the Republican plan would create 186,000 jobs in our state while the Democrat plan would yield only 113,000.

In a survey sent to 3rd District constituents in my e-newsletter (sign up at, respondents preferred the taxpayer-friendly Republican version by a 9-1 margin. I know my district is more conservative than most, but the rest of the United States is moving toward our position of more timely, targeted and fiscally responsible stimulus.

Lynn Westmoreland (R-Grantville) represents Georgia’s 3rd Congressional District.
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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Boehner Taps Blunt to Chair House GOP Health Care Task Force

House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH) today announced that Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO) will chair a Health Care Task Force, which is charged by Leader Boehner with crafting Republican solutions to increase Americans’ access to quality, affordable health care and highlighting the consequences that a government-run health care system would have for American families. The Task Force will begin meeting this week.

“Health care costs are too high, access is too limited, and American families and small businesses are looking to their leaders in Washington for free-market solutions, not a government-dominated health care bureaucracy,” said Boehner. “House Republicans will not be content to be ‘the party of no.’ Instead, we will be the party of better solutions, and few issues demand more positive solutions than our nation’s health care crisis. Roy Blunt is uniquely qualified to chair this Task Force, which will help shape innovative House Republican health care solutions at a time when the American people need them most.”

Blunt said, “Republicans are committed to making health care more affordable, more accessible and offer more options to American families. Unfortunately, the only options we’ve seen so far from this Congress would push us to a one-size-fits-all government-run system. Through this working group, Republicans will develop real solutions to improve our health care system by putting patients before paperwork and frivolous lawsuits. I am honored that the Republican Leader has asked me to lead a group of talented members who I know will be active participants in this important debate.”

NOTE: Members of the House GOP Health Care Task Force are:

Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO), Chairman
Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX)
Rep. Judy Biggert (R-IL)
Rep. Charles Boustany (R-LA)
Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite (R-FL)
Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX)
Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI)
Rep. Nathan Deal (R-GA)
Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA)
Rep. Wally Herger (R-CA)
Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS)
Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon (R-CA)
Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA)
Rep. Tom Price (R-GA)
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI)
Rep. John Shadegg (R-AZ)

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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Steele Announces RNC Transition Team

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The newly elected chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC), Michael Steele, today announced his transition team to review all party operations and begin preparing for this year's elections.

Comprised of current RNC members, the transition team will help implement the sweeping changes Steele proposed during his campaign for chairman. Under Chairman Steele's leadership, the RNC will focus on recruiting a new cadre of top-notch candidates and operatives, build new volunteer networks, and forge new working relationships with state and local parties. The team will also immediately begin preparing for the gubernatorial and local elections later this year in Virginia and New Jersey, and the special Congressional election in New York State.

"We're going to bring this Party to every corner of the country and ask people to join us and work with us," Chairman Steele said. "By standing on our principles - we can expand and grow. My transition team will take a fresh look at everything with an eye toward preparing to win the campaigns of the future."

The Chairman's transition team will be led by Reince Priebus, Chairman of the Republican Party of Wisconsin, member of the RNC's Executive Committee, and one of the young leaders who will help expand the Grand Old Party.

"Michael is committed to our conservative cause, has strong leadership skills, and the ability to connect with and energize our grassroots supporters," Priebus said. "Our core fundamental principles remain strong and mirror those of the majority of Americans. We must improve our outreach efforts in order to grow as a Party. I look forward to continuing my partnership with him and the RNC."

Co-Chairmen Of The Steele Transition Team Include:

Saul Anuzis is the current Chairman of the Michigan Republican Party. Anuzis founded the telecommunications firm Quick Connect USA, is a leader in the use of technology in political campaigns, and an active blogger.

Henry Barbour is the current National Committeeman from Mississippi. Barbour has served as the campaign manager for Chip Pickering and Haley Barbour, the current Governor of Mississippi and former RNC Chairman.

Pat Brady is the current National Committeeman from Illinois. He is an attorney and originally from St. Charles, IL. Brady previously worked as a federal prosecutor in California and in the Cook County State's Attorney's office.

Jim Greer is the current Chairman of the Republican Party of Florida. Prior to his expanded work for the Republican Party in Florida, Greer was the Acting President & CEO of Regulatory Compliance Services, Inc. and J. Greer & Associates.

Holly Hughes is the current National Committeewoman from Michigan. Hughes is a small business owner and a former Montague Area Public School Board member.

Bo Palacios is the current National Committeeman from the Northern Mariana Islands. Palacios is currently a Legislative Assistant with the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands Resident Representative.

Shawn Steel is the current National Committeeman from California. From 2001-2003, Steel served the California Republican Party as Chairman. He is also the founding director of the California chapter of the Club for Growth.

Joyce Tehres is the current National Committeewoman from Maryland. From 1989-1998, Tehres served as Chair of the Maryland Republican Party.

Bob Tiernan is the current Chairman of the Republican Party of Oregon. Tiernan is a business consultant from Lake Oswego and a former state representative.

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House Republicans Press Treasury Secretary Geithner for TARP “Exit Strategy”

House Republican leaders today wrote to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, inquiring about the Obama Administration’s “exit strategy” from the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP). The letter comes as Geithner and other Administration officials are determining how to use the second $350 billion installment of TARP funds President Obama requested last month and whether to request additional taxpayer funds beyond the initial $700 billion authorized last year.

“Because the Administration has committed itself to assisting the auto industry, satisfying commitments made by the previous Administration, and devoting up to $100 billion to mitigate mortgage foreclosures, it has been reported that President Obama might need more than the $700 billion authorized by the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act (‘EESA’) to fund a ‘bad bank’ to absorb hard-to-value toxic assets,” wrote the leaders. “In light of these commitments – which come at a time when the Federal Reserve is flooding the financial system with trillions of dollars and the Congress is finalizing a fiscal stimulus that is expected to cost taxpayers more than $1.1 trillion – it is not surprising that the American people are asking where it all ends, and whether anyone in Washington is looking out for their wallets.”

Specifically, the leaders asked Secretary Geithner to provide answers to six questions before the Administration determines the next steps for the TARP program, including:

1. How does the Administration plan to maximize taxpayer value and guarantee the most effective distribution of the remaining $350 billion of TARP funds?

2. How is the Administration lending, assessing risk, selecting institutions for assistance, and determining expectations for repayment?

3. Will the Administration opt for a complex “bad bank” rescue plan? How can the “bad bank” efficiently price assets and minimize taxpayer risk? Will financial institutions be required to give substantial ownership stakes to the Federal government to participate in the program?

4. Is a “bad bank” plan an intermediate step that leads to nationalizing America’s banks?

5. Can you elaborate on your plans for the use of an insurance program for toxic assets? Specifically, will you seek to price insurance programs to ensure that taxpayer interests are protected? If so, how will you do so?

6. What is the exit strategy for the government’s sweeping involvement in the financial markets?

“Indeed, a bipartisan majority of the House – 171 Republicans and 99 Democrats – recently expressed the same concerns, voting to disapprove releasing the final $350 billion from the TARP,” the leaders concluded. “As we noted in our December 2, 2008 letter to then-Secretary Paulson and Chairman Bernanke, we realize that changing conditions require agility in developing responses. However, the seemingly ad hoc implementation of TARP has led many to wonder if uncertainty is being added to markets at precisely the time when they are desperately seeking a sense of direction.”

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