Dr. Boozman's Check-up

Final Liftoff

Jul 08 2011

Space Shuttle Atlantis blasted off from Kennedy Space Center this morning. This marks the end of 30-years of Space Shuttle missions.

As Ranking Member of the Senate Subcommittee on Science and Space I had the opportunity to visit Kennedy Space Center in April for the planned launch of Space Shuttle Endeavor. During the tour of NASA facilities we saw the work being done preparing Atlantis for its final launch.

We are proud of everyone who contributed to the successful program and we are working to maintain our position as a leader in the space exploration. You can read my thoughts about the future of America’s space program in an op/ed posted on The Hill’s website.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released a report today showing that the unemployment rate increased to 9.2% in June.

Shortly before the “stimulus” passed Congress, Christina Romer, then-chairwoman of the president's Council of Economic Advisers, and Jared Bernstein, the Vice President's top economic adviser, released a report with their predictions about the impact of their plan on the economy.  One of their bolder projections at the time was that with the “stimulus,” our national unemployment rate would peak below 8% in 2009.

Almost two and a half years have gone by and our national unemployment rate has never been lower than 8% since the “stimulus” became law.

This chart adds the real numbers to the Romer-Bernstein prediction of the monthly unemployment numbers with and without the President’s “stimulus” plan.  As the red dots on the graph show, our national unemployment numbers are far worse than they were pre-“stimulus”.

The media has been talking at length today about  what  this report means in terms of the President’s political future, but that angle of the story misses the most important part: this about more than numbers, more than a report, more than a political talking point—its real people.  14.1 million of them to be exact.  All of whom are looking to Washington for help.

Unfortunately, the President and his allies in Congress have refused to provide the help these Americans need.  The government cannot create jobs, despite this administration’s efforts to prove otherwise, but we can help encourage an environment where the private sector can flourish.  

How many bad reports are necessary before the President and his allies in Congress recognize their policies are making matters worse, not better, for America?

'Stimulus' Stumble

Jul 07 2011

With unemployment rates rising in early 2009, the White House disguised a spending bill as a job creator to put Americans back to work. The ‘stimulus’ has been a failure since day one. President Obama promised that nationwide unemployment wouldn’t be more than eight percent, but the latest numbers show we have a 9.1 percent unemployment rate.

White House expectations of job creation from this flawed legislation fell flat and we’re experiencing more unintended consequences from this as described in the Weekly Standard.

An Overdue Honor

Jul 01 2011

On Monday, a 66-year old oversight was corrected.

87-year old Mansfield resident, Ralph “Lloyd” McDonald, was presented with the Bronze Star, an award given for heroic or meritorious service, by my Military & Veterans Liaison Steve Gray.  Mr. McDonald, who served as an infantryman during World War II, was injured on the battlefield on three different occasions.  He was also captured by German forces and held as a prisoner of war for almost a month.

Steve presented the medal to Mr. McDonald during a ceremony held before 75 friends, family members and neighbors at the Hartford Senior Center.  The Southwest Times-Record was on-hand to cover the ceremony and you can read their report here.

If nothing else, please take a moment to read the letter I prepared for the ceremony.  It is an amazing story of courage and patriotism, the kind of story that exemplifies the Greatest Generation.

We are faced with a wide range of issues that will have a big impact on the future of our country. From creating policies that will increase employment opportunities to cutting spending and becoming fiscally responsible to international conflicts that are using American resources, this is a challenging time. I am confident that we can address these topics and be an example for the rest of world.

You can hear my opinions on all the latest issues in this interview I did with Arkansas Abroad.

Senate Majority Leader Reid's failure to produce a budget in almost 800 days, along with a call to end the idea of tax increases that his party is floating, was the main focus of my speech on the Senate floor yesterday.

This is failure to govern at the most basic level and the American people deserve better. We need a budget that puts us on the path to fiscal discipline.

Read more about what I had to say over on The Hill's website.  If you missed the speech, you can watch it here and tweet your feedback to me or post it over on my Facebook page.   

This morning I talked with KASU's Mark Smith about the storm recovery, the economy and budget discussion underway in Washington. In case you missed it, you can hear our discussion here.

On Wednesday, President Obama spoke to the American people on the drawdown of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. As a reference to his speech in November 2009 at West Point ordering an additional 30,000 troops overseas, the President addressed his commitment to begin removing the troops this July. With the month of June coming to a close, and the people looking for promises to be kept, the speech came at a susceptible time for our nation.   

The President addressed that “our mission will change from combat to support,” and by 2014 the “Afghan people will be responsible for their own security.” In his speech, he stated by next summer 33,000 troops will return home and his expectations hold the responsibility of policing the country and continuing the advances we have made to the Afghan government after the removal. 

I am committed to a responsible transition and drawdown of American troops in Afghanistan. However, I believe that strategic decisions should be based on the recommendations of commanders on the ground, rather than to fulfill a campaign promise or arbitrary timetables. 

In testimony before the House Armed Services Committee on Thursday, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Michael Mullen said President Obama’s decision “was more than I recommended” acknowledging that the Commander in Chief overruled the commanders on his decision. 

I am well aware of the tremendous sacrifices that have been made by the members of our military and their families, yet we should listen to the advice of our Generals to facilitate a responsible exit strategy that will not undermine the gains we’ve made or compromise the safety of our troops who continue to serve in Afghanistan.

Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the Ranking Member of the Senate Budget Committee, put out a startling one-pager today about how our debt keeps our economy from creating jobs.  If anyone doubts that the ever-increasing debt is not a drain on the economy, they should take a minute to read my colleague's one-pager. 

Sen. Sessions's research also serves as further evidence why we need to cut spending immediately.  Now is not the time to increase spending, as some in Washington are advocating, as adding even more to our debt will only slow the recovery even more.      

Our country is facing a crisis.  If we do not raise our debt ceiling we will default on our obligations.  Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner says we have to raise the legal limit on federal borrowing by August 2. I have been working with like-minded colleagues to convince the rest of Congress that we must make significant budget cuts and enact serious spending cap mechanism—like a balanced budget amendment—if we raise the debt ceiling so that we don’t have to face this crisis again.

So why the disconnect?

Instead of having a serious conversation with the nation about areas where we can rein in spending, Senate Majority Leader Reid and his caucus are pushing for another “Stimulus”!  The very same failed ideas that increased budget deficits by $830 billion over a 10-year span and failed to bring unemployment down are being rehashed as a cure to our nation’s economic woes. 

The President’s advisors, at the time of the stimulus debate, claimed their plan would keep the unemployment rate below 8%.  Today, over two years later, our national unemployment rate is at 9.1%.

And now they want to try it again?

Pushing to new spending at a time when our economy is collapsing under the weight of this administration’s agenda is nothing short of reckless.  It is a proposal that is out of touch with reality and should not get off the ground.