August 27, 2012

Rare Earth Minerals Critical to U.S.

A dependable supply of rare earth minerals is essential for national security, industrial production and economic success.  However, we import nearly all of our supply of these critical minerals from foreign sources.  The development of a domestic supply chain is necessary to ensure these elements remain available to U.S. manufacturers.  Seventeen elements are classified as rare earth elements (REEs).  The Congressional Research Service (CRS) reportsthat these elements are key ingredients in … Continue Reading

August 20, 2012

Post Offices: Keeping These Community Hubs

As the son of a former postmaster, I have great respect for the role of post offices in our communities.  Given the U.S. Postal Service's (USPS) problematic financial situation, many may be wondering about the continuation of their services.  It is a fair question as discussions continue about how to maintain services while enabling the Postal Service to balance its budget.  The importance of this service, especially in the rural communities that rely on local post offices for business and effic… Continue Reading

August 13, 2012

Seven Remarkable Idahoans

Idahoans have had seven more reasons to follow the Olympic Games in London.  Seven athletes competing in the 2012 Summer Olympics have strong Idaho connections--giving us opportunities to cheer on hometown champions.  Through their examples, Olympic athletes are inspiring us to push beyond the limits of what we may think is possible. Idaho has fielded a remarkable group of athletes in a variety of events for these Olympic games:   Kristin Armstrong, a graduate of the University of Ida… Continue Reading

August 06, 2012

To Survive And Prosper

How a nation handles its spycraft says a lot about its government.  Countries that undervalue it pay a huge price in stability and security.  Governments that direct it at their citizens undermine their own legitimacy.  States that mismanage it waste the investment and strategic advantage.  Most states study and learn about the intentions and capabilities of those who seek to do them harm.  A deficiency of sound intelligence undercutsa nation and its armed services.  But, a smart nation does no… Continue Reading

July 30, 2012

Making The Tax Code Less Fair, More Complex

Our tax code is about the most unfair, complex, expensive to comply with and anti-competitive code we could create.  One would think it could not get more burdensome and illogical.  Unfortunately, it can.  Hundreds of billions of dollars in tax increases, affecting every single American, will take effect if Congress and the President do not act by the end of this year.  President Obama would further complicate this by proposing relief for only one-year and for only some Americans.  Questions ar… Continue Reading

July 23, 2012

Food For Thought For Young Americans

Often, I hear young Americans questioning the relevance of national elections to their lives.  However, today's policy choices have significant effects on their lives, whether it is obvious, like looming tax and student loan interest rate increases, or seemingly distant, like entitlement program solvency, purchasing a home and how the growing national debt is addressed. Many are struggling to find employment or enough employment to repay student loans.  While recent action averted a doubling of… Continue Reading

July 16, 2012

Here To Help

Rachel, a student at Boise State University, was preparing to visit a brother stationed in England when she ran into some issues getting her passport approved in time for the trip because of errors by a government agency.  After working with the agency on Rachel's behalf, Rachel received her passport in time to visit her brother.     Sheryl of Lewiston, a high-functioning, permanently disabled constituent, contacted me for assistance when a federal agency was requiring repayment of disability a… Continue Reading

July 02, 2012

Celebrating Our Independence

Ten days before his death, Thomas Jefferson wrote his last letter in which he expressed his enduring belief in the Declaration of Independence and America as a model of self-government to the world.  The letter was a response to an invitation from the city of Washington to a celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of American independence.  Jefferson wrote, "I should indeed, with peculiar delight, have met and exchanged there congratulations personally with the small band, the remnant of that… Continue Reading

July 01, 2012

Need For Better Health Care Policy Undiminished

By its nature, the U.S. Supreme Court considers cases with far-reaching implications.  The 2011-2012 term has been no different.  In one of its most highly-anticipated decisions, the Court ruled that the individual mandate provision in President Obama's Health Care Law would be unconstitutional, unless it is considered to be a tax on the American people.  The ruling confirms that this law is a huge and unnecessary tax increase on all Americans.  That is not what President Obama promised.  We sho… Continue Reading

June 25, 2012

Idaho Waste Removal Vital To Nuclear Future

The Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Nuclear Safety recently held a hearing to consider the recommendations from the Blue Ribbon Commission (BRC) on America's Nuclear Future.  As policymakers consider the direction of nuclear waste management, meeting commitments made to remove defense waste from Idaho in accordance with the settlement agreement must be central to these efforts. During the hearing, the Subcommittee heard from Lieutenant General Brent Scowcroft, who served as … Continue Reading

June 18, 2012

Honoring Fathers

While the holiday has roots that stretch back more than a century, our nation has been officially observing Father's Day for 46 years.  In 1909, Sonora Smart Dodd was listening to a Mother's Day sermon and reflecting on all her father had done for her family when she had an idea to establish a day to honor fathers.  Sonora's father, William Jackson Smart, was a Civil War veteran who raised Sonora and her five siblings by himself on a farm after his wife died during childbirth.  Since Sonora's fa… Continue Reading

June 11, 2012

Rational Energy Policy Still Needed

Since 2008, we have experienced three periods of severely increased gasoline prices.  Idaho gas prices currently average$3.77.  High gas prices put pressure on families trying to get to work, school and elsewhere.  They also drive up the cost of food and goods and divert resources that could otherwise go toward expansion of America's small businesses and job growth.  We simply must be smarter and more efficient in our use of all forms of energy, and aggressive development of our own energy resou… Continue Reading

June 04, 2012

More Than 1,100 Days And Counting

Every American family and business has to develop a budget.  The President offered a budget.  Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives offered budgets.  Republicans in the U.S. Senate have introduced several budgets.  Yet, three years have passed since the Senate Majority last adopted a budget plan.  The dire need for adoption of a comprehensive plan to take America off the path toward fiscal crisis and put us on a path toward economic growth drove me to join another recent… Continue Reading

May 28, 2012

Honoring The Legacy Of Great Americans

The modern observance of Memorial Day grew from Civil War-era community observances, in which friends and families gathered to remember those lost in the war.  Over time, as this local practice caught on, it became known as Decoration Day.  Later, honoring the fallen of all the nation's wars, it became Memorial Day.  It has been, in the truest sense of the word, a day of remembrance born at the grassroots level. Reminders of what Memorial Day is about are all over the world.  In Normandy, Franc… Continue Reading

May 21, 2012

Still Plenty Of Room For Belt Tightening

In March of 2011, I wroteabout a U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report that highlighted potentially redundant government programs and offered opportunities to save billions of dollars, without reducing services, through eliminating government overlap.  A year later, GAO reportedon the progress made in eliminating potential duplication, overlap and fragmentation in the federal government and identified additional areas and actions that can be taken to further improve program effe… Continue Reading

May 14, 2012

Honoring Mothers

Through tradition and Presidential proclamation, Americans have set aside the second Sunday in May to celebrate mothers.  Mothers are the backbone of society, and as a son, father and husband, I know they are the glue of our families.  We should honor them every day, but since 1914 we have had a day on the calendar to annually remind us to do so.  Prior to the formal declaration of Mother's Day, U.S. mothers gathered in the aftermath of the Civil War to promote peace.  Mothers who lost sons and… Continue Reading

May 07, 2012

Caring For Each Other

Reports that unemployment statistics in Idaho are down are welcome.  Unfortunately, an estimated 62,000 Idahoans remain jobless and 1 in 6 Idaho residents--including more than 95,000 Idaho children--are food insecure, which means that they lack enough income and other resources for food.  Idahoans, food banks and other organizations have been working effectively to address this problem, including developing successful partnerships with Idaho's agricultural industry.  However, despite success in … Continue Reading

April 30, 2012

From The Mailbag: Social Security And Medicare

As active participants in the decisions made in Congress, Idahoans contact me with valuable input about the issues our country faces.  Realizing that many may not have the chance to contact me, I post the top five issues of concern from Idahoans and my responses on my website.  The number one issue constituents have contacted me about recently is protecting Social Security and Medicare benefits as Congress considers measures to address our nation's debt crisis.  The following is my response: … Continue Reading

April 23, 2012

April Brings Shared Effort To End Violence

With April representing Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Child Abuse Awareness Month and the week of April 22-28 signifying National Crime Victim's Rights Week, Idaho and national organizations are working to promote the need for communities to work together to raise awareness of victims' rights and services, prevent and respond to violence and honor victims and survivors.  This also provides a fitting time to advance legislation reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) that has hel… Continue Reading

April 16, 2012

Sales Abroad Support Idaho Jobs

The U.S. International Trade Administration (ITA) recently reported that Idaho's sales of goods in foreign markets in 2011 reached a record high of $5.9 billion.  These sales of Idaho products abroad supported approximately 20,000 Idaho jobs, or about 3.9 percent of total private sector jobs.  Idahoans are developing innovative products and selling them in more than 150 countries, and these international sales are helping to support and boost Idaho jobs.  In one Idaho success story, approxi… Continue Reading

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