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

April 09, 2012

A Serious Wakeup Call

The U.S. recently gained a disturbing world title.  As of April 1, when Japan lowered its corporate tax rate, the U.S. now has the highest combined corporate tax rate in the world.  The U.S. rate of 39.2 percent is well above the average global corporate tax rate of 25 percent.  Taxing American job creators at a higher rate than anywhere else in the world sends the wrong message and runs counter to efforts to increase U.S. jobs and encourage businesses to expand in the U.S.  Pro-growth tax refor… Continue Reading

April 02, 2012

Reining In The EPA

"In a nation that values due process, not to mention private property, such treatment is unthinkable," wrote U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito to describe the situation Mike and Chantell Sackett faced.  On March 21, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the Sacketts would be permitted to challenge a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) enforcement action against them.  This ruling means the EPA will not be able to use the Clean Water Act to strong-arm Americans without the op… Continue Reading

March 26, 2012

Honoring The Commitment To Rural Communities

More than 60 percent of Idaho is federal land, a majority of which is managed by the U.S. Forest Service.  With such a large footprint of federal land ownership, Idaho's counties that are home to federal forests often have an extremely limited tax base.  However, these communities are still expected to provide needed services and meet an ever-increasing list of requirements, including road maintenance, emergency response, law enforcement, solid waste disposal, and education, that benefit the fed… Continue Reading

March 19, 2012

Consumers Can Reduce The Cost Of Health Care

The private sector is working to change the way we can shop for quality health care services.  Many insurance companies are working with providers to offer programs that show consumers the cost and value of procedures in their community.  Unfortunately, provisions in Obamacare are undermining these developments.  At a time when Americans are experiencing the financial burden of medical care, consumers should have more control over their money, and the federal government should not hinder the pri… Continue Reading

March 12, 2012

Financial Fitness

Financial "literacy" or "fitness" encompasses a wide range of activities, such as managing money effectively; investing; setting up savings accounts for major life expenses, such as college and retirement; and prudent tax preparation.  However, being financially sound generally means putting together the financial reserves necessary to be able to meet financial challenges and retire without being stressed financially.  This objective can be much easier said than done and requires consistent pla… Continue Reading

March 05, 2012

Main Street Focus

Main Streets are the heart of our communities.  Families and friends gather for parades and other local celebrations along Main Streets.  Children trick-or-treat in Main Street businesses, and folks come together in Main Street establishments for buying, selling, entertainment and local charitable events.  These hubs also often signify the vitality of the area and attract visitors and other businesses.  Small businesses are central to keeping Main Streets across the state and nation bustling and… Continue Reading

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