Dr. Boozman's Check-up

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.

Calling it "entirely smart and compassionate", the Southwest Times-Record throws its support behind a proposal to extend additional tax relief to Arkansans who were affected by this spring's violent storms.

I am an original cosponsor of the bill, Southeastern Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2011, which extends approximately twenty tax credits and incentives to those affected by recent tornadoes, severe storms and/or flooding that swept through Arkansas and neighboring southeastern states in April and May. 

The Fort Smith-based paper notes that residents in 30 Arkansas counties are eligible for individual assistance and 51 counties are eligible for public assistance.  They could receive additional benefits if this bill becomes law.

My Flag Day Message

Jun 14 2011

The Stars and Stripes are a symbol of national pride. We salute it, display it and pledge to it. Today we celebrate our flag and all it stands for. National Flag Day is a day that honors the adoption of this symbol.

In 1777, the Continental Congress established an official flag for our country. Congress required that "the flag of the United States be made of thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation." The design has changed since then as more states have been added to the union. President Truman officially declared Flag Day a national holiday in 1949; however, Americans had been celebrating the unofficial holiday since the late 1800s.

Although Flag Day is recognized one day each year, we honor it every day. Each day before the Senate begins business in the chamber, we honor our heritage by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. If you travel to Washington D.C. and visit the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, you can see the symbol that inspired Francis Scott Key to write our National Anthem and our athletes wear an American flag emblem on their uniforms.

I encourage all Arkansans to recognize the importance of this national symbol. If you’re interested in getting an American flag, my office is happy to help. We can arrange to have a flag flown over the U.S. Capitol. With your flag, you will receive a certificate to commemorate the event that can be customized with a person’s name, the occasion for which the flag is being flown, as well as the specific date it was flown.

Our flag is a way to show our patriotism and is an important reminder of the men and women who have paved the path for the country we know today.

Yesterday I took to the Senate floor to push my colleagues to support a myraid of bills that will help create jobs in Arkansas. These commonsense bills would create the conditions for job growth, instead of perpetuating the uncertainty that is stifling job creation. 

Unfortunately as noted in this Washington Post story, "quorum calls have taken up about a third of its [the Senate's] time since January, according to C-SPAN statistics: more than 17 eight-hour days’ worth of dead air."

The Hill's Floor Action Blog noted the crux of my speech--that this is unacceptable.

There is no excuse to why this chamber fails to work on legislation and programs that will provide relief for the unemployed. The Senate majority and President Obama have failed to show that job creation is at the top of their agenda.

Let's drop the quorum calls and starting calling the roll for votes on bills that put Americans back to work.