Dr. Boozman's Check-up

Third District Congressman Steve Womack, Senator Mark Pryor and I are pleased to announce that Congressman Randy Forbes, chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness, is bringing his “Defending our Defenders” cross-country listening session tour to Fort Smith on August 21.

This listening session will highlight the importance of the 188th Fighter Wing to the Fort Smith region. Chairman Forbes’s stop in Fort Smith is part of his nationwide tour to seek citizen input about the danger defense budget cuts present to national security, our men and women in uniform, and local economies.

Chairman Forbes is a strong advocate for our servicemen and women and a key ally in our effort to maintain the mission of the 188th Fighter Wing.  He has heard our message of how the 188th excels in efficiency and cost effectiveness for A-10 units.  Now he will get to see that firsthand. We are grateful that Chairman Forbes has offered his time to hear the concerns of the region regarding the future of the 188th. We look forward to welcoming him to Arkansas.

 

Our manufacturing and energy sectors are not the only industries that are feeling crushed under the weight of regulations proposed by the Obama Administration.  You may be surprised to learn that our farmers are getting hit hard as well.

The Senate Republican Policy Committee has done an excellent job compiling the most egregious regulations aimed at our farmers

As far as President Obama is concerned, nothing on the farm is off limits for the government.  Everything from dust to animal feed to farm equipment has been in the Obama Administration’s regulatory sights.

At every turn, the Obama Administration has sought to expand the federal government’s reach into the family farm.  For instance, the President has pushed for unprecedented expansion of the Clean Water Act that would make it nearly impossible for farmers to make a living.  The proposal to delete just one word—'navigable'—from the original law would make nearly every puddle of water subject to federal regulation.   It is an unprecedented overreach that must not be forced upon our farming communities.

So intrusive are these proposed regulations, that up until a few months ago, the Obama Administration even wanted to oversee work performed by youths on their families’ farm.  The outcry from rural America led the Administration to ditch this onerous proposed rule.  There was no commonsense, science or reason behind this proposal and it was seemingly written by bureaucrats who lack a full understanding of farm operations.  This proposed rule was merely another attempt by the federal government to control every aspect of our lives.

Taken individually, each of these proposed regulations would seriously harm the ability of Arkansas’ family farmers to compete in a global market.   As a whole, they will have devastating effect on our state’s top industry, our agriculture sector.

Read Regulation Nation: How Big Government is Stalling the Recovery to see how President’s Obama’s overregulation is hurting our economy and how we are working to put a stop to it. 

We're Here to Help You

Announcing Two Mobile Office Events

Jul 23 2012

We have seven offices across the state to help make it easier for Arkansans to travel to get help they need. We understand how difficult it can be to come to the local office with the constraints of everyday life so we are making it easier and bringing our office on the road. Next week my staff is hosting two mobile office events to provide assistance and visit with representatives of my office. These are great opportunities to get questions involving the federal government answered or we can help cut through the red tape of the bureaucracy. No matter what the issue, we appreciate visiting with friendly Arkansans. Come and get help next Tuesday, July 31 in Morrilton and Ozark.

 

Morrilton Mobile Office
Tuesday, July 31, 2012
11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Morrilton Chamber of Commerce
120 North Division Street
Morrilton, Arkansas  


Ozark Mobile Office
Tuesday, July 31, 2012
11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Franklin County Senior Center
324 North 5th Street
Ozark, Arkansas

In Case You Missed It

Morning Drive Discussions

Jul 17 2012

We had great discussions this morning with KASU in Jonesboro and KBJT in Fordyce about the issues being debated in Congress. We talked about a variety of topics from the Farm Bill, health care, extending current tax rates, budgeting and the appropriations process. If you missed the interviews you can still listen to the conversations.

Our military and veterans liaison Steve Gray has traveled across the state recognizing the efforts of our veterans in their service to our country.

Last week Steve was in Van Buren where he presented medals to the family of WWII veteran Ermal Shipp.  Ermal was a true hero whose actions gave freedom to millions. For his service he earned the Bronze Star, Good Conduct Medal, American Campaign Medal,
Asian-Pacific Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, Philippines Liberation
Medal and Combat Infantry Medal. You can read more about this medal presentation from the Crawford County Press Argus Courier.

Steve also surprised WWII veteran Thomas Hotz with a medal presentation in Russellville.  Thomas talked to the Russellville Courier about his time in the military and his excitement for received the medals he earned serving our country. You can read the story here.

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke was on Capitol Hill today to warn lawmakers about the alarming signs that the “recovery has lost momentum in recent months, sapping consumer confidence and crimping job creation.”

In testimony to the Senate Banking Committee, Chairman Bernanke urged policymakers to take action now to avoid the dramatic impact of sequestration cuts and tax hikes that, without action, will take place at the end of the year.  He also noted that job growth has been “frustratingly slow.”

Here’s the key section from the Washington Post’s story:

Meanwhile, the prospect of a government-induced recession is already taking a toll on the economy. 

The most effective way that the Congress could help to support the economy right now would be to work to address the nation’s fiscal challenges in a way that takes into account both the need for long-run sustainability and the fragility of the recovery,” Bernanke said. “Doing so earlier rather than later would help reduce uncertainty and boost household and business confidence.”

Instead of heeding that advice, Majority Leader Reid brought the DISCLOSE Act to the floor of the Senate for a cloture vote for the second time in 24-hours.  

How many jobs does the DISCLOSE Act create? Absolutely zero.

How does the DISCLOSE Act help us prevent tax hikes on every individual and small business in America? It doesn’t.

How much of $15.8 trillion dollar national debt does the DISCLOSE Act pay down? Not a penny.

The DISCLOSE Act failed again today and rightfully so.  It is poorly written legislation designed to strip free speech rights from those with whom the Senate Majority disagrees and favors its allies like the labor unions.  To highlight just how bad the bill is, consider that it is opposed by a broad spectrum of groups including the National Right to Life Committee, the Chamber of Commerce and the American Civil Liberties Union.  These groups are rarely ever on the same page at the same time.

Don’t get me wrong.  Disclosure is a good thing.  We should strive to break the influence of money in our politics.  But reform has to be accomplished in a manner that is fair and holds everyone accountable and ensures everyone plays by the same rules. Unfortunately, it is clear that the DISCLOSE Act does not meet those requirements and is being brought up for repeated votes solely for political reasons. 

Let’s say two attempts at political gamesmanship is enough.  The Majority needs to put this bill on the shelf where it belongs and turn the Senate’s attention to that “fiscal cliff” Chairman Bernanke was up here to warn us about today.  The consequences of continuing to ignore this looming crisis are too big for election year games.   

I’ve been hearing from a lot of Arkansans about the UN Small Arms Treaty.  I want to take a moment to answer a few of the questions I’ve received about it.

What is the UN Small Arms Treaty?
As called for in a resolution adopted by the U.N. General Assembly in 2009, a conference began this week in New York City to draft the "United Nations Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty” with the intended goal of regulating global trade in conventional weapons.  The UN recently released a summary of the desires of the 193 UN member states engaged in treaty negotiations that set the agenda for this conference and, as predicted, it’s a direct attack on our Second Amendment rights. 

Where do you stand on the treaty?
I am vehemently opposed to the U.S. signing any UN Treaty that would regulate small arms.  I believe this is a backdoor way to chip away at every law abiding citizen’s right to keep and bear arms.   I continue to be actively involved with some of my colleagues in gathering information and educating other Senators and the general public to prove that this treaty is unnecessary and unconstitutional.

Besides signing onto two letters circulated by Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS) to both President Obama and Secretary Clinton expressing overwhelming opposition to such a treaty, I am also a cosponsor of S.2205, the “Second Amendment Sovereignty Act of 2012,” which prohibits funding to negotiate a UN Arms Trade Treaty that restricts the Second Amendment rights of United States citizens.  I will continue to monitor this issue closely and I will oppose this treaty should it come to the floor of the U.S. Senate.

Would the U.S. ever be a signatory?
While the Obama Administration has expressed its support for such a treaty, it's important to note that in order for any treaty to take effect, it must be ratified by two-thirds of the U.S. Senate.  Last year, I joined 57 other senators in sending a letter to President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reminding them that the Senate has final say on treaties, and stated our unequivocal opposition to any treaty that would affect civilian ownership of firearms, challenge the authority of Congress to regulate firearms within the United States, or call for an international gun registry.  So again, even if the Obama Administration does sign the U.S. as a party to the treaty, it would have to be ratified by two-thirds of the U.S. Senate.  Right now, I do not believe the votes are there to ratify this treaty. 

This is not a new issue.  However, we remain prepared to staunchly defend our Second Amendment rights given that the current administration supports policies like the UN Small Arms Treaty.  

After months of extreme drought, Governor Mike Beebe yesterday requested a Secretarial Disaster Declaration to cover all 75 Arkansas counties.  If issued, this declaration would give Arkansas farmers and ranchers the option to apply for emergency loans through the Farm Service Agency.  These loans will allow producers to continue operations and to meet financial obligations. 

The Arkansas Congressional delegation today sent a letter to the Department of Agriculture (USDA) in support of Governor Beebe’s request for an agricultural disaster declaration for the state of Arkansas.  Click the file posted below to read our letter.  

A USDA disaster declaration will provide farmers the necessary option of applying for emergency loans through the Farm Service Agencies. KNWA (NBC-Fayetteville) has a good story documenting the struggles of local farmers and ranchers are facing as a result of this drought. These sentiments are being echoed across the state, which is why we are pushing for swift action from USDA.

The June jobs report looks familiar.  In what has become a pattern, the numbers can at best be called disappointing.  Another month of high unemployment, little growth, and a recovery stuck in neutral has become the new norm under President Obama’s leadership.

In a post on the White House blog, White House Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers Alan Krueger tried to make the case for keeping the course and continuing to follow the President’s approach.

It’s a rather puzzling defense of failed policy.  For instance, Mr. Krueger writes:

“It is critical that we continue the policies that build an economy that works for the middle class and makes us stronger and more secure as we dig our way out of the deep hole that was caused by the severe recession”

Perhaps the President’s policies aren’t “shovel-ready” for the job.  With only 80,000 jobs created, June marks the third straight month with growth of less than 100,000.  This is not an anomaly.  In the past 48 months,  only 10 experienced 200,000 or more jobs created.  These numbers don’t even take into the account those who dropped out of the workforce or who are underemployed.  Most economists peg real unemployment near 15 percent of the workforce.

The very next line of Mr. Krueger’s post ramps up the head scratching a notch:

“There are no quick fixes to the problems we face that were more than a decade in the making.”

That response may have been acceptable to most Americans early in the President’s term, but we are halfway through the final year of his first term and still hearing the same excuses.  This report marks 41 straight months under President Obama’s watch where unemployment has remained over eight percent.  The President’s policies haven’t led to an economic recovery.  In fact, despite promises that the “stimulus” would solve our economic woes, his policies have prolonged the recession.  Remember, this Administration predicted in 2009 that the “stimulus” would have the unemployment rate around 5.6 percent today.  And yet President Obama wants us to give his policies more time. 

Mr. Krueger goes on to write:

“Employment is growing but it is not growing fast enough given the jobs deficit caused by the deep recession.”

The Administration is right when they say the economy is not growing fast enough, however it is not the “deep recession” that is preventing faster economic growth.  It is the President’s own policies that are holding back our small businesses, and in turn, hindering job creation.  Contrary to what the President recently said, the private sector is not doing “fine.”  The private sector is struggling in large part because of the President’s relentless efforts to pursue policies that do not encourage economic growth.

The final paragraph, however, is where Mr. Krueger really takes a giant leap:

“Therefore, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report and it is informative to consider each report in the context of other data that are becoming available.”

I don’t think anyone is reading “too much into any one monthly report.”  I do fear that this Administration is not reading enough into 41 consecutive dismal reports.  

The President needs to stop running the same play.  It’s not working and he is starting to run out of defenses of this failed policy.  Instead, President Obama should work with us to foster an environment that kick starts our economy and puts Americans back to work

In last week’ s column, I noted how Attorney General Eric Holder has so far resisted calls to appoint an outside special counsel to investigate a series of recent leaks of classified material that has compromised our national security. 

Clearly there is reason to be concerned at the White House.  However, that has not changed the mind of the Attorney General who is content to let two Administration employees investigate the leaks. 

The Obama Administration’s nonchalant approach to these very serious security breaches continues to baffle me, especially in light of the fact that both President Obama and Vice-President Biden had called for similar independent investigations into leaks from the Bush Administration.  

Today, in an effort to keep the pressure on, thirty of my Senate colleagues and I sent the Attorney General a letter asking him to appoint an independent counsel to find who is responsible for the leaks and hold them accountable:

"We are not talking about a single, isolated instance of a leak; rather, we are looking at 'an avalanche of leaks' on national security matters.  On a matter of this seriousness, there is clear precedent to appoint an outside counsel when there is the potential for a conflict of interest, the specter of political influence, or other extraordinary circumstances.  As this is clearly the case here, we request that you appoint an outside special counsel immediately," our letter said.

No one is above the law.  Breaches of security of this magnitude have disastrous ramifications for our intelligence community and our troops on the front lines.  There is no way, other than an independent investigation, to ensure that we find out who is responsible, hold them accountable and prevent more leaks in the future.