Dr. Boozman's Check-up

Yesterday I visited with Talk Business’ Roby Brock and answered your questions that Roby received over twitter and facebook. These questions ranged from my recent visit to Heifer International to address food security issues to tax rates to the Global War on Terror. Thanks to Roby for inviting me to participate and thank you for your questions. I appreciate the thoughtful questions posed by the people of Arkansas. If you missed the interview, you can watch it here or read about our conversation here.

I will be joining Governor Beebe, Senator Pryor, Congressman Womack and Fort Smith area officials at the unveiling of a 5-year strategic plan of the Fort Smith Regional Alliance later this morning.

This 8-county plan is aimed at bring economic development and jobs to Crawford, Franklin, Johnson, Logan, Sebastian and Scott counties in Arkansas; as well as Le Flore and Sequoyah counties in Oklahoma. 

Similar regional development alliances in Little Rock and Northwest Arkansas have shown to be effective, so today's announcement holds a great deal of promise for the Fort Smith area.

The event begins 11:30 a.m. today at the Reynolds Room of the campus center at the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith.

You can read more about it in this story from Talk Business.

Some of Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad's closest allies are now leaving him to fend for himself as pressure from the international community to end the violence against his own people intensifies.

I commend the Administration for imposing sanctions on Assad's regime early on, but since the bloodshed continues to get worse, it is time to get tougher and implement further sanctions on his regime.  

That is what 67 of my colleagues are advocating in a letter we sent President Obama last week. The letter urges President Obama to "work swiftly to identify and implement additional sanctions—including on Syria’s banking sector—to send a clear message to the Syrian government that its behavior will not be tolerated."

The following is the full text of our letter:

August 3, 2011

The President
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

We write to urge you to immediately implement additional sanctions on the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. While we appreciate the measures you have taken to date—including imposing sanctions on President al-Assad, his family, and associates—we believe it is time to significantly increase pressure on the regime. No government should be allowed to inflict such suffering on its people without a harsh rebuke from the United States and from the broader international community. 

Specifically, we request that you implement a number of key sanctions outlined in P.L 108-175, the Syria Accountability & Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act of 2003. As required under this law, President George W. Bush implemented two of the available sanctions—a ban on exports to Syria other than food and medicine, and a ban on Syrian aircraft landing in or overflying the United States.

We are pleased that you have maintained these sanctions, but seek further implementation of the law, including a ban on U.S. businesses operating or investing in Syria, restrictions on travel by Syrian diplomats in the United States, and blocking transactions of property in which the Government of Syria has an interest. We also request that you work swiftly to identify and implement additional sanctions—including on Syria’s banking sector—to send a clear message to the Syrian government that its behavior will not be tolerated.

In addition, we ask that you engage with our European allies and European energy companies on ceasing the purchase of Syrian oil and investment in Syria’s oil and gas sectors, and that you work to encourage the European Union to sanction the Commercial Bank of Syria, as the United States did in 2004.

We share your stated strong concern that the Syrian government has responded with unconscionable brutality and violence to calls for real political reform. According to available figures, an estimated 1,600 Syrians have lost their lives and thousands more have been injured. In addition, thousands of refugees have fled to Turkey. 

The Syrian people deserve a government that represents their aspirations, and respects their basic human rights. It is clear that President al-Assad is not committed to pursuing the reforms that would meet these goals. As such, the United States and the international community must hold the regime accountable, and pressure them to change course. Implementing additional sanctions would show the Syrian people that we stand with them in their struggle for human rights and a more representative government, while also making it clear to the Syrian regime that it will pay an increasing cost for its outrageous repression.

Thank you for your continuing concern and we look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

The cost of health care is skyrocketing. In a government report released late last week, it’s estimated that health care spending will account for 20 percent of our country’s economy by 2020. This means health care spending will grow faster than the economy.

While the President's health care initiative sought to reform the industry, this was not the answer. We need free market principles that will help drive the cost of health care down. Who is left to pay the tab? The American taxpayers. Read the Associated Press story that details the costs and what it means to the bottom line.

FLASHBACK:  August 3, 2010.

On this date in history, The New York Times ran an opinion piece authored by Treasury Secretary Tim Geither entitled “Welcome to the Recovery”.  Meant to help sell President Obama’s “Stimulus” bill, the Geither–penned piece was part of a larger PR campaign the Administration dubbed “Summer of Recovery”.

Let’s see how “well” that has worked.

This time last year, the nation’s unemployment rate was at an alarming 9.5%. 

Almost a year later, at 9.2%, the numbers aren’t much better.

The most incriminating number is where the national unemployment rate stood in February 2009, when President Obama signed the “Stimulus” into law.  On that date in history, the 8.2% unemployment rate was whole percentage point lower than it is today.

This summer the focus is still on job creation.  If we had done it right the first time— instead of the “Stimulus”—more Americans would be working this summer.

The Senate and the House approved a debt reduction bill that will allow our country to fulfill its financial obligations. I’ve heard from many Arkansans including Social Security recipients concerned they would not receive their checks if an agreement was not reached. The Social Security Commissioner announced today that payments are on schedule. Read it here.

The House of Representatives has sent two pieces of legislation for Senate consideration that achieves the goals of significant reductions in spending to honor our financial obligations and puts us on the path to fiscal responsibility.  Unfortunately, the Senate has refused to even debate the bills.

Now, at the 11th hour Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has introduced his own legislation to address our nation’s debt crisis. This plan falsely claims to reduce spending by $2.2 trillion when it only reduces spending by the $1 trillion amount of the Boehner bill that was approved by the House and tabled by the Senate yesterday.

The Reid plan would seek to raise the debt limit by a record $2.4 trillion, about three times the $900 billion increase passed by the House, and three times the amount of spending that it cuts.

What’s worse, the Reid plan is an opening for takes hikes. Read the story in the Daily Caller that details the gimmicks accounting for tax increases.

Weak… Anemic… Barely crawling…

Revised figures show our economic growth expanded at a slower-than-expected 1.3% pace during the first quarter of the year.  The President claimed that his “Stimulus” would foster economic growth.  The recent jobs figures and now the revised first quarter GDP data paint a different picture.  The President’s “Big Government” policies will not create jobs.  Let’s pursue a real job creation agenda, one which spurs the private sector instead of wastefully adding to our already out-of-control national debt.
I visited with Mark Smith on KASU's "Morning Edition" today.  Along with a lengthy discussion about the debt ceiling debate, we talked about the Norwegian terror attack, FEMA's upcoming deadline for disaster aid and Congressman Mike Ross's retirement announcement.  If you missed it, you can listen to the entire interview here.