Dr. Boozman's Check-up

Today is Social Security’s 77th birthday.  Since 1935, the program has helped millions of Americans during their golden years.  However, as this Associated Press story shows, without reform, the program is unsustainable.

Social Security has been paying out more in benefits than it collects in taxes the past two years and with the large number of baby boomers retiring, that trend will only get worse.  The program’s trustees say that the surpluses will disappear in the next twenty years.  As the AP notes, “unless Congress acts, Social Security would only collect enough tax revenue each year to pay about 75 percent of benefits, triggering an automatic reduction.”

Our number one priority must be to ensure no benefits are cut to current and future enrollees.   However, the current system is unsustainable and in need of reform to make sure that future generations also receive benefits. 

While I believe it is extremely important that we evaluate the system to ensure its viability for the next generation, I am committed to maintaining a system that will continue to provide benefits to those who are currently receiving them,  and will also provide benefits to our children and grandchildren.  I will not support any change in Social Security for current recipients and near-retirees.  We can all agree that it is unfair to change this system that our aging Americans have come to depend upon.

In addition, Congress has taken steps that will eventually lead to a stronger, more reliable Medicare program.  These modernizations include a prescription drug benefit, increased reimbursement for doctors who treat our seniors and financial support to programs currently providing health care benefits to retirees.  Though this is just a first step, Congress has more work to do to ensure that Medicare is around for generations to come.  Unfortunately, we have also seen new laws, like the President's health care law, that make drastic cuts to Medicare. I opposed those laws when they came before me in the U.S. House of Representatives and I remain opposed to any legislation that cuts funding for such an important program.

Both the House of Representatives and the Senate continue to work together to address the coming insolvency of the Social Security and Medicare programs, as well as the need to expand the systems to encompass the growing number of seniors who will be collecting benefits in the next several years.  I understand the urgency of this situation and remain committed to working with my colleagues to find a solution.  Nothing will be done, however, unless there is an agreement between the President, Congress and, most importantly, the people of Arkansas.

Extreme drought conditions across the state and the country have a big impact on Arkansas agriculture production. Take a look at this recent U.S. Drought Monitor map. Almost half of Arkansas is suffering from exceptional drought conditions, the worst of four categories.

As we kicked off our annual agriculture tour we visited with ranchers in Conway. We heard stories much like agriculture producers are experiencing all over our country; they are struggling with serious problems due to the lack of rain. “Livestock producers are facing unprecedented troubles with water problems, not having feed” I told the Log Cabin Democrat. As Fox16 reported on our visit to the Livestock Auction, the drought is making it difficult ranchers to maintain their herd.

We have taken steps to reduce the challenges Arkansas agriculture producers are facing. The Arkansas Congressional Delegation supported Governor Beebe’s request for federal disaster assistance which made Arkansas eligible for emergency funding. I also joined many of my colleagues on the Senate Agriculture Committee in sending a letter to the Secretary of Agriculture requesting that he use all of his existing authority to provide relief, and pointed out the vulnerability of the livestock industry.

Not only is the widespread drought affecting the availability of hay and grazing pasture, but the drought will also have an impact on the availability and price of our grains for both livestock feed and the production of food, the effects of which will be felt by every American. Because of this, I and many of my Senate colleagues sent Lisa Jackson, the administrator of the EPA, a letter requesting that she use her existing authority to adjust the corn-ethanol mandate of the Renewable Fuel Standard in order to prevent a potentially catastrophic shortage in our nation’s corn supply.

I am pleased to see the administration today has taken steps to provide money and flexibility in providing our ranchers with funding to help maintain their herds. Arkansas will receive nearly $3.5 million through the Natural Resources Conservation Service, a division of the United States Department of Agriculture, to help crop and livestock producers cope with the impacts of these drought conditions. At the same time, there is more we can do to protect our livestock producers as well as middle class families at the check out line.

It was great to catch-up with our former Governor Mike Huckabee on his radio show this afternoon. We talked about the agreement to avoid a government shutdown and The End Government Shutdown Act which would allow us to automatically continue funding for discretionary programs whose budget has not been approved by October 1 for 90 days. This would allow for government operations to continue running without any interruption in service. It is a commonsense solution to the chronic budgeting problems. Click on the file linked below to listen to the segment.

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

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.   

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.

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.