- Your Voice
For 26 years, it has been my privilege to represent the people of Arizona in the U.S. Congress. As many of you know, that service will come to an end when Senator-elect Jeff Flake takes my place in January. And as you might imagine, this is a bittersweet moment for me. But, in the end, public service is never really about the servant – it’s about the public.
More than four years ago, a Russian attorney named Sergei Magnitsky selflessly exposed a brazen plot by senior Russian officials to embezzle some $230 million and was subsequently jailed on fabricated charges. As confirmed by the Russian Presidential Council on Human Rights, Magnitsky was mercilessly beaten and denied medical care while imprisoned over the next year, eventually dying in police custody of untreated pancreatic disease.
As the late Senator Robert Byrd (D-W.V.) once noted, James Madison said at the Constitutional Convention that the Founders intended the Senate to be ‘a necessary fence’ that could ‘protect the people against their rulers.’ In contrast to the House of Representatives, which was set up to represent the people’s passions, the Senate was conceived to both represent the states and serve as a chamber of sober reflection. “[The] Founding Fathers intended the Senate to be a continuing body that allows for open and unlimited debate and the protection of minority rights,” Byrd said. “Senators have understood that…since the Senate first convened.”
Many lament the state of affairs in Washington today. The Congress doesn’t seem to function as it should. President Obama issues executive orders that bypass the normal legislative process and evade democratic accountability. Everyone, it seems, is arguing rather than listening.
The year was 1623, and the first settlers of Plymouth Colony found themselves in a dire situation. Since their arrival in New England three years earlier, the Pilgrims had struggled to jumpstart their fledgling colony – a settlement founded on the hope of religious freedom and with the financial backing of a group of English investors who expected a handsome monetary return. Under the terms agreed to with their investors, the Pilgrims were to be organized under a commonwealth, a form of government that would ostensibly ensure their survival in the harsh New England environment by allowing each member of the colony to draw from a common pool of resources (while giving the investors back in England the ability to more easily collect profit).
This November 12th, we commemorate Veterans Day – a time to give thanks to those who have served in our armed forces. These brave men and women valiantly answered the call when their country needed them most, leaving behind friends and family to risk everything in the name of freedom. On the ground, in the sea, and in the air, they trained and fought for the traditions and ideals upon which our nation was founded – and that continue to make it a shining beacon across the globe. We owe a great debt of gratitude to these courageous defenders of our liberty.
Much attention this political season has been paid to the issues of taxes and spending – and rightfully so. It’s no secret that we face serious challenges with regard to the deficit, our unwieldy tax code, and the looming implementation of ObamaCare. Yet, many of our government’s most far-reaching and intrusive actions have actually originated behind the scenes and out of the public eye: that is, in its issuance of a flood of federal regulations.
Our second president, John Adams, stated that “[f]acts are stubborn things.” But during a campaign season, the facts are frequently ignored by candidates engaging in revisionist history – an old trick for those with empty records. For example, consider some recent claims made by President Obama regarding our nation’s economic mess.
It has been said that the only thing necessary for the persistence of evil is for good people to do nothing. Nowhere is this truer than in North Korea, a repressive police state that mercilessly tortures its citizens and routinely threatens its neighbors – and the United States – with war. Clearly, it is in our interest to see democratic reform in Pyongyang, both for our own safety and for the well-being of North Korean citizens themselves. But change won’t happen overnight – which is why we must plant the seeds of freedom and human rights now that can one day lead to a more democratic regime less prone to lashing out at the free world.
Last month at the United Nations General Assembly, several Muslim-majority countries pushed for the implementation of a so-called “blasphemy ban,” with countries like Iran arguing that religiously insensitive language should be classified as “hate speech” and banned under international regulations.
Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities famously begins: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” Yet, for two Arizona business owners who recently visited my office, it can only be described as the worst of times. Not only are these job creators up against the headwinds of a weak economy, but costly mandates and tax hikes enacted by the president and his allies in Congress are poised to crush their businesses and force many of their employees into the unemployment queue.
While running for president in 2008, then-Senator Obama promised that families making less than $250,000 a year would not see a tax increase as a result of his health-care plan. Many warned that such a promise was simply untenable – that there was no way to do what he proposed without increasing taxes on middle-income Americans. Now, the numbers are in, and they don’t look pretty for already over-taxed families.
Leaders of the Chicago Teachers Union recently called a strike over proposed education reforms and, in so doing, helped spark a national debate about education in America. One of the most intense discussions centers around whether we should pursue policies that increase teacher accountability using data on classroom performance and student achievement. In my view, this is just the type of reform needed if we truly care about retaining world-class teachers and giving our children the education they deserve. Here’s why.
Christopher Chenery grew up barefoot and poor. Determined to improve his family’s future, he worked hard and developed a business savvy that resulted in a profitable career as a public utilities executive in the early 20th century. Even with the onset of the Great Depression, Chenery remained successful enough to purchase back his family’s horse farm (which his cousin had previously been forced to sell). Restoring a sense of family pride, Chenery built stables and a home on the farm, which he owned and operated until his death in 1973.
In the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s ruling on ObamaCare, a significant amount of attention has been paid to the fate of the individual mandate. Lost in this intense focus on the mandate, however, is the coercive expansion of Medicaid that the court ruled unconstitutional by a vote of 7 to 2.
Leadership. Few words in the English language are used – or, frankly, misused – more often. But, to paraphrase a former Supreme Court justice, you know it when you see it.
Proponents of ObamaCare often tout the law as a means to extend health coverage to more Americans. Yet, more coverage may not necessarily mean more care for either the insured or the uninsured, with experts predicting that the law will only exacerbate a crisis that already exists in our health care system: an acute shortage of physicians. The numbers are disheartening, with our country set to have an estimated physician shortage of up to 125,000 by 2025.
Eastern European political leaders don’t often make headlines in the U.S. Recently, however, a good deal of attention has been focused on former Polish President Lech Walesa; I think it’s worth taking a look at his inspiring story. Especially in these trying times, it’s important to remember that ordinary people can beat the odds and do incredible things. Who would have believed that an electrician with no political experience could help bring freedom to millions?
The issue of illegal immigration is wrought with strong emotions and political divisiveness – no one understands this more than the citizens of Arizona. Yet, legal immigration has also played an undeniably important role in the shaping of our nation’s history and culture; many of us owe our present American identity to immigrants from a not-so-distant ancestry. I see no reason for tension between our heritage of welcoming immigrants and our bedrock commitment to upholding the rule of law.
There’s been a lot of talk lately about class and income. Perhaps no one has talked about the issue more than President Obama.
Very rarely do one or two sentences tell us much about a person. But every once in a while, just a few words – from “tear down this wall” to “let them eat cake” – can speak volumes about a public official, succinctly and effectively crystalizing his or her belief system for the public at large.
Last week, the Labor Department released another disappointing jobs report. It showed the unemployment rate remaining stuck at 8.2 percent, with the economy gaining only 80,000 jobs in June – far short of the number needed just to keep up with new jobseekers attempting to enter the workforce.
Last week, the Supreme Court delivered its long-awaited ruling on the constitutionality of the president’s health law. Importantly, the Court rejected the administration’s claim that Congress may use its powers under the Commerce Clause – traditionally reserved for regulating the sale of goods between states – to compel all American citizens to purchase government-defined health insurance.
On March 26, a conversation between President Obama and Russian President Medvedev was inadvertently captured by a live microphone; Obama, discussing missile defense, begged for “space,” and promised the Russian leader “flexibility” on the issue until after his re-election fight. Though certainly not intended for public consumption, these comments were no accidental slip; they are entirely consistent with the president’s larger objective of a world without nuclear weapons.
We fortunately welcome a new year without a tax increase.