Dr. Boozman's Check-up

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.

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. 

In Case You Missed It

Boozman Joins The City Wire Via Skype

Jun 19 2012

Senator Boozman joined KFSM’s Daren Bobb and The City Wire’s Michael Tilley in the latest edition of 5News presents The City Wire. Boozman joined the show via Skype from his Washington, D.C. office and discussed the issues under consideration in Washington. The first segment focused on the farm bill and the Senator’s concerns with the legislation. During the second segment discussion centered around efforts to save Fort Smith’s 188th Fighter Wing.

The President tried again to hit the reset button on economy yesterday. 

During what was framed as a major economic speech in Cleveland, President Obama again talked about the problem but failed to offer any new solutions.  Instead, he offered the same tired policies that have failed to spark economic growth and put Americans back to work.

This is the worst economic recovery in over 60 years.  And President Obama’s policies are exasperating it.  Instead of recognizing that and working with us to change course, the President continues to double-down on his failed policies. 

As I recently said on the floor of the Senate, Washington has to change course.  If we are going to turn a corner, we have to try a different approach.  My colleagues and I have a better path to a healthy economy that restores economic security and opportunity.  Our market-based reforms are exactly what this economy needs to allow businesses to hire and expand.

Clearly, by the tone of President Obama’s speech yesterday, he has no desire to work with Congress.  He is content playing out the final quarter with the same game plan that has put us so far behind. 

It is foolish to keep running the same play after it hasn’t worked the numerous times you previously ran it.  Here we are, three years after the end of the recession, and we are not close to a better economy now than we were then.  Unemployment numbers just in for Arkansas over the month of May show an increase to 7.3-percent.

A real jobs plan needs to be more than spending to bailout state governments.  Fifty separate band-aides do not repair a national economy in disarray.  A real jobs plan needs to focus on the private sector.  Contrary to what the President recently said, the private sector is not doing “fine.”  The private sector is struggling in large part because of to the President’s relentless efforts to pursue policies that do not encourage economic growth.

When the President pushed through his massive stimulus package in 2009, he claimed unemployment would be below six percent today.  With a national unemployment rate of 8.2 percent, we are not even close to six percent.  And the yet the President wants another round of stimulus spending?   

It’s time to find a new playbook.

Celebrating Flag Day

Jun 14 2012

The American flag is a prominent symbol that is recognized with high regards and reverence. We honor the significance of this patriotic emblem with a special day, Flag Day which we celebrate today. 

Prior to the war of 1812, the flag was primarily used as a symbol to identify ships and forts, no significance or honor was accorded to the flag. That changed on September 14, 1814, after the 25 hour bombardment of Fort McHenry in the Baltimore harbor. 

The importance attached to the flag changed thanks to the efforts of a Francis Scott Key, on a ship four miles away. After the smoke cleared, Key saw the American flag still waving above the fort. An inspiring image that moved him to write a poem that we’ve since adopted as our national anthem. The sight of the flag was a symbol of American’s endurance and triumph. 

The beholding of the “broad stripes and bright stars” as Key wrote fanned the flame of pride and patriotism in what the United States of America represents. Since this historic day, the American flag took on other meanings and significance to people all over the world. Over time, the American flag has represented America’s freedom but it also serves as an icon of world diplomacy. It is a symbol that demonstrates unity and represents hope not only to American citizens but to people all around the world. The American flag also proclaims an unwritten statement that, “no matter what befalls America, we can overcome.” 

Our flag serves as a living piece of history that tells a story to current and future generations. It stands for the qualities and ideals that the United States prides itself upon such as liberty, justice, freedom, equality, love of country, national pride and national purpose. The flag represents democracy at its best while serving as an expression of national identity. This is best represented in the colors on the flag and the meanings they hold. Red means hardiness and valor, white is for purity and innocence, and blue represents vigilance, perseverance and justice. 

The American flag has become a symbol that citizens and allies connect with and claim as their own. Representing the ideals and values of this country, our flag is a dignified symbol that is always with the American people during the time of war or peace, celebration or crisis, unity or protest. People have raised and will continually raise the American flag to express their passion, pride and patriotism for what it means to be an American. The flag has become a powerful tool that portrays America’s beliefs and values to the rest of the world.

There is a lot at stake for southern agriculture with the version of the Senate bill that is currently up for debate. Our efforts to make the saftey net more equitable for southern farmers is getting noticed.  Here are some of the stories in the past few days about our efforts to make this bill better.  

Associated Press

Wall Street Journal (Subscription required)

The Hill

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (Subscription required)

Arkansas News Bureau

KARK (NBC-Little Rock)

KUAR (NPR-Little Rock)

Say a series of leaks that could strengthen the President’s image in the War on Terror had taken place.  Say those same leaks exposed classified material that could compromise national security.  One would think those breaches should rise to the level of a serious investigation, right? Apparently not in the mind of our Attorney General.

Rather than naming an outside special counsel to investigate these leaks and hold whomever is responsible accountable, Attorney General Eric Holder turned the investigation over to two U.S. Attorneys within the Department of Justice.  So, essentially, he delegated the important task of investigating leaks of classified and highly sensitive information on U.S. military and intelligence plans, programs, and operations to his own employees.

At the same time, the Attorney General has spent the more than a year obstructing the House Oversight Committee’s investigation of the DOJ’s Fast and Furious gunrunning operation.  His lack of cooperation in that investigation has left him facing a contempt charge from the committee.

And you wonder why we question the sincerity of his department’s “investigation” into the leaks.

In an effort to get to the bottom of this very serious breach, my colleagues and I introduced a resolution demanding the Attorney General appoint an outside special counsel run the investigation.  This shouldn’t be necessary, but the reality is the DOJ under President Obama and AG Holder’s leadership has been far from forthcoming on these matters.

AG Holder needs to remember that neither he nor anyone with the administration is above the law.  I strongly suggest he quit stonewalling and start working on behalf of the American people instead of against them.