Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Roll Call ~ Oregon and New Jersey

Welcome to another Roll Call. All information comes from each senator's website.

Gordon Smith (R) Oregon

Smith's foray into politics began in 1992, when he was elected to the Oregon State Senate. Upon his election to the United States Senate, Smith became the first U.S. Senator from eastern Oregon since 1938.

Health Care

Ensuring the health and well-being of our citizenry is one of the greatest responsibilities of our government. I believe that the foundation of a healthy nation begins with a strong health care safety net and affordable health care coverage for all Americans. As a member of the Senate Finance Committee, I have worked to develop policies that ensure Medicare and programs such as Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), which provide health care coverage for low-income individuals, remain strong and financially sustainable for years to come. I also have sponsored a number of initiatives that will benefit the State of Oregon, like increasing flexibility for the Oregon Health Plan and making coverage more affordable and accessible for small businesses and the uninsured.

Another important step to improving the health of our nation is to focus on mental health. As a founding member of the Senate Mental Health Caucus, I am working on legislation to improve access to vital mental health care services and to break down the stigma associated with mental illness. In the 108th Congress, we took a monumental step toward this goal with the passage of the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act, which augments suicide prevention efforts at the state and local level and on college/university campuses. This Congress, I am working to ensure passage of federal Mental Health Parity legislation that would help alleviate some of the burden placed on individuals and the public mental health system due to lack of access to treatment through many private health insurance plans.

As Ranking Member of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, I have had the opportunity to lead discussions on ways to strengthen Medicare, Medicaid, and public/private retirement programs, and to expose companies that prey on seniors with marketing scams. During my tenure as Chairman in the 109th Congress, I also highlighted issues such as long-term care, retirement security, disaster preparedness, America’s guardianship system and conducted stringent oversight over federal programs such as implementation of the Medicare prescription drug program. In the 110th Congress, I will continue to work on enact policies that protect seniors and ensure the long term sustainability of our entitlement programs for generations to come. (Blogger Comment: So many Americans are confused as to the role of government -- apparently this includes U.S. Senators. It is NOT the role or responsibility of government to take care of the health of its citizens. That is the responsibility of the citizens. Government-sponsored health care is socialism. Socialism was one of the greatest fears of the founding fathers. The role of the U.S. government is to ensure the safety of its citizens, not the health, not the prosperity, or anything else that requires the government to forcibly extract money from its citizens. While it sounds nice for everyone to pitch in and take care of each other, it's only charitable when we do it voluntarily and when it's done outside of the government's mandates. Certainly communities are welcome to come together and form health care co-ops to help each other, and we would encourage that kind of solution. But we do not believe in or encourage any type of socialism, no matter how great it sounds. The government has never been able to oversee any type of social program in an equitable manner, nor should we encourage them to keep trying to implement social programs that are destined to fail. The big question in health care is why aren't we demanding insurance reform so that we all can have affordable health care? Is it because Washington is corrupt and rely on lobbyists for support and money? We're just wondering how much money Washington receives from insurance and pharmaceutical lobbyists.)


Making quality education affordable and more accessible to every American is one of my top priorities as a U.S. Senator (Blogger Comment: not the role of government).

While it is of the utmost importance that we hold our schools and our teachers to the highest standards, the federal government must also support schools’ efforts to improve. (Blogger Comment: On the contrary, the federal government needs to get out of education. It has been a mess since they became involved.) For this reason, I have consistently voted to support more federal government spending on education. (Blogger Comment: This guy must be a moderate Republican. More federal government spending sounds like a liberal ideal.)

During my years in the Senate, I have been a constant advocate for Head Start and Early Head Start. I have long supported increased funding for both programs, and I appreciate the relationships I have developed with the early education community. These programs have a tremendous impact on the lives of the children and families they serve.

I have also worked with my Senate colleagues to launch an initiative that will help parents and children save and pay for their education needs (Blogger Comment: let's cut to the chase. He wants more taxes.). The proposals build on the various tax cuts and education reforms that Congress passed as part of the No Child Left Behind Act. I also introduced a bill aimed at helping people save money for college and have voted to increase the maximum Pell grant award (Blogger Comment: this is getting tiring, but we'll continue to repeat it until Washington gets it. This is not the role of government. College is voluntary and citizens are responsible for their own education. Why do people continue to believe that Washington politicians are professional educators?)

Education should be a priority for all Americans and requires no less than the support of both the federal government and state governments to improve academic performance (Blogger Comment: Oh boy! See all previous blogger comments).


I have always believed the best economic policies are those that foster the entrepreneurial spirit that has made our country great. And like most Americans, I believe families are best able to decide how to spend their hard earned paychecks (Blogger Comment: Really? Because you just took away all our money for your education and health care programs). I strongly supported President Bush’s tax cuts because I believe they helped provide Americans the additional tools and freedom they need to better fulfill their dreams (Blogger Comment: We have a dream - We have a dream that some day we'll be able to keep most of our money to take care of our own education and health care. We have a dream that some day Washington will stop trying to micro manage our lives and stop lining their pockets with our taxes.).

Through smaller government (Blogger Comment: Can you say headache? Because that's what this guy is giving us. Didn't we just read that he believes the federal government needs to get more involved in health care and education, but now he wants us to believe that he's for smaller government? Can you say stupid? Because that's what he believes we are.), disciplined spending and continued tax reform, I believe that our economy will continue to expand, enabling us to reduce the deficit and pay down the federal debt, while at the same time lessening the tax burden for American families.

As a member of the Senate Finance committee I have had the unique privilege to be closely involved in formulating economic policies aimed at growing the American job market, and increasing the vibrancy of our economy. Recent trends suggest that equipping Americans’ natural ingenuity with a favorable tax code has helped revive our economy, and I am proud to continue my commitment to that end (Blogger Comment: That would be great, but he hasn't said anything that makes us believe that he's actually going to vote to reduce taxes. He has too many programs to fund at our expense.).

Frank Lautenberg (D) New Jersey

Working to improve the quality of life for all New Jersey families, Senator Lautenberg has fought to provide opportunities for every citizen (Blogger Comment: not the role of government. Americans have freedom to pursue their own opportunities.).

As the top Democratic member of the Senate Budget Committee, Senator Lautenberg helped negotiate the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, which restored fiscal discipline to the Federal government, ended years of deficits and raids on Social Security, and actually created large budget surpluses. This helped keep interest rates low, increased business investment, and contributed to the greatest period of economic growth in our nation's history.

Senator Lautenberg has also been a strong proponent of keeping taxes low, especially for middle class families. The 1997 budget law, for example, included significant tax cuts for families with children. Senator Lautenberg also supported tax deductions to offset college costs, and abolishment of the so-called "marriage penalty." And he voted against the two largest tax increases in American history, in 1990 and 1993 (Blogger Comment: We have double checked and, yes, this guy's a Democrat. Does the Democrat party know that he's for low taxes?).

Beyond restoring fiscal discipline and supporting middle class tax relief, Senator Lautenberg has focused on promoting economic development in New Jersey. He's done it town-by-town, rolling up his sleeves to secure federal help for renewing local business districts like Pennsgrove and Paterson, or upgrading critical local transportation links from Cape May to Paramus.

Senator Lautenberg has fought to preserve or expand federal installations like McGuire Air Force Base, and win federal projects that create jobs from Moorestown to Princeton. Nationally, he's promoted technology and investment by backing tax credits for research and for investments in new businesses; by writing tough laws that punish foreign companies that steal American inventions; and by promoting federal defense conversion programs that put defense technology to work creating non-defense jobs.

He's fought for trade laws that are fair, protecting jobs at home and opening markets abroad. To prepare workers, he's backed programs for apprentices to smooth the transition from school to work.

Senator Lautenberg also has made it a priority to support programs critical to the economic security of average New Jerseyans. He has always strongly supported Social Security and Medicare, and opposed privatization plans that would lead to deep cuts in guaranteed benefits. He also has supported efforts to increase the minimum wage and provide workers with the job training they need to succeed in an ever more complex and technological economy (Blogger Comment: Now he's starting to sound like a Democrat. Any "program" from the government means more taxes and it's not the government's job to help private citizens "succeed".).

As a member of the Intelligence Committee and the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, he worked to keep our military strong, while improving pay and living conditions for our troops.

Senator Lautenberg has also been a leader against terrorism. He wrote the law banning foreign aid to states that sponsor terrorism (Blogger Comment: That just seems like common sense. At least someone in Washington, D.C., has some left.). He authored legislation to deny tax breaks to companies that operate in states that actively support terrorism. He led efforts to increase US opposition to Hamas and other violent fundamentalist organizations in the Middle East. And he wrote the law that allows victims of terrorism to collect damages from countries that sponsor terrorist acts (Blogger Comment: Good luck collecting that.).

To improve the security of Americans here at home, Senator Lautenberg has worked hard to reduce crime and fight the scourge of gun violence. Over the strong opposition of the National Rifle Association, he won enactment of the law banning wife beaters and child abusers from owning guns. He was the leader in efforts to close the gun show loophole. He successfully blocked a program that gave guns back to convicted felons. He also supported a variety of other measures, such as the assault weapons ban and the Brady Law, to reduce gun violence. In addition, he cosponsored legislation to abolish parole and toughen penalties for violent criminals (Full Disclosure of the Bloggers: We are members of the NRA. We fully support gun rights. However, we also believe that convicted felons forfeit their gun rights when they commit crimes. As long as Senator Lautenberg doesn't support taking gun rights away from regular citizens, we don't have a problem with penalties being imposed on convicted felons. But if we find out that Senator Lautenberg supports gun bans on law abiding citizens, we will have a huge problem with that.)

As the grandfather of 10 children, Senator Lautenberg believes that a healthy environment is one of the most important legacies we can bequeath to future generations. He worked to pass the Safe Drinking Water Act and fought for extra treatment of drinking water to prevent vulnerable children from being poisoned by contaminants. He has also worked to preserve open spaces and keep our beaches and oceans clean and swimmable.

Clean beaches are crucial to New Jersey, which depends on the billions of dollars that Shore tourism pumps into our economy. To protect this resource, Senator Lautenberg wrote laws to require testing of beach water so our children don't get sick, to ban ocean dumping of sewage, to get garbage off our beaches, to control medical waste, to prevent oil spills and to stop oil drilling off our Shore.

The Senator has also worked to renew and improve the cleanup of Superfund toxic waste sites. He wrote the federal law to give citizens the right to know about the toxic emissions that companies spew into the air, water and ground. He drafted "brownfields" legislation, now law, to clean up abandoned industrial sites and promote economic development. He established a program to prevent pollution before it becomes a problem. And he helped create and expand federal parks and refuges, like the Sterling Forest, the Forsythe and Cape May refuges, and the Coastal Heritage Trail in South Jersey. He currently serves as the ranking Democratic member of the subcommittee on global warming (Blogger Comment: Seriously? We have a committee on global warming? How do we get our tax money back for this waste of time?).

Senator Lautenberg firmly believes that the key to his success was a quality public education that allowed him to take advantage of the GI Bill and succeed in college. He is committed to ensuring that today's children have the same opportunity (Blogger Comment: We have said this in previous blogs and will continue to say it. Why does the federal government think they know what constitutes a "quality" education?).

Unfortunately, too many schools are in poor condition and lack sufficient access to modern technology. To help our local school districts pay for crucial school building modernization, Sen. Lautenberg sponsored the Public School Modernization Act, to provide $25-billion in zero-interest bonding authority. New Jersey's share, estimated at $545 million, could have translated into about four million square feet of school renovation and construction (Blogger Comment: $25-billion??? See all previous blogger comments on government spending and the role of government.).

But Senator Lautenberg knows that some of our at-risk children need special one-on-one help. That's why he sponsored the Juvenile Mentoring Program Act -- or JUMP -- in 1992. One study showed mentoring produced dramatic results at a cost of just $1,000 a match (Blogger Comment: Obviously, kids make bad choices regardless of their parents best efforts. However, programs need to be community based, not paid for by the federal government.). Compare that to the roughly $25,000 a year we're forced to spend to put someone in jail once they've dropped out of school and turned to crime or drugs.

Senator Lautenberg also led the fight to authorize and fund a national Intelligent Transportation Systems program because he believes we are going to need smarter roads and vehicles to move both commuters and commerce efficiently in the next century. These types of initiatives can help reduce traffic and eliminate gridlock.

Besides building new transportation systems, Senator Lautenberg believes we must make our roads, rails and skies safer. Besides cutting into teen drunk driving by encouraging states to make 21 the national drinking age, Senator Lautenberg wrote the law establishing a national .08 blood alcohol standard. Senator Lautenberg also successfully fought attempts to expand the use of dangerous triple trailer trucks and other longer combination vehicles.

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