The State of a Better Union

Last night, President Barack Obama delivered his State of the Union address – my first as a U.S. Congressman. You’ve heard a lot of instant reactions from the Beltway and beyond about the President’s message, but it’s my hope we can take a step back from the minutia and develop a better sense of recent history.

Let’s remember where we were when the President delivered his inaugural address last year. When the President took office, America had just endured the worst year for job loss since 1945. In the last three months of 2008, our country was hemorrhaging an average of 673,000 jobs per month. By the last three months of 2009, that number was reduced to 69,333, a 90% improvement. To be sure, the state of our union needs to be much stronger, but because of the efforts of President Obama and Democrats in Congress, we’ve endured the worst of the Bush recession and we’re creating an economy that once again creates jobs for the middle and working classes.

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Reform moves through the House

I applaud the The Financial Reform bill that made its way out of the House with a lot of good reform measures included. When you look into the massive unaccounted for giveaways that the Fed is involved in, worth Trillions, number one on the list is the Grayson-Paul amendment to audit the Fed, which was included in the bill.

The "Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2009" now has to get through the US Senate in whatever form it takes there, and we can begin to see some needed reform.  Congressman John Garamendi has more on the bill in a post here.


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A Great First Step for Wall Street Reform

In my last post, I cited a New York Times story that indicated that most economists think the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is helping to create jobs and stimulate our economy. Earlier this week, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office confirmed the economists' findings.  

According to the CBO, in the third quarter of this year alone, 600 thousand to 1.6 million jobs were directly created or saved by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, reducing our country's unemployment rate by 0.3 to 0.9 percent. This is an especially important finding for my home state of California, which at 12.3 percent, suffers from the third worst unemployment rate in the nation.

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Town Hall Concerns and Capitol Hill Action

In my last post, I cited a New York Times story that indicated that most economists think the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is helping to create jobs and stimulate our economy. Earlier this week, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office confirmed the economists' findings.  

According to the CBO, in the third quarter of this year alone, 600 thousand to 1.6 million jobs were directly created or saved by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, reducing our country's unemployment rate by 0.3 to 0.9 percent. This is an especially important finding for my home state of California, which at 12.3 percent, suffers from the third worst unemployment rate in the nation.

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The Most Important Vote I Have Ever Cast

I have had one of those weeks that you remember for the rest of your life. On Tuesday, I won a congressional election. On Thursday, I was sworn in by Speaker Nancy Pelosi and got to cast the first vote of my congressional career: a resolution honoring female veterans and military personnel. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to cast the most important vote of my 34 years in public service.

The health care reform bill that cleared the House yesterday, if approved by the Senate, will transform this country's health care delivery system. Denial of treatment for pre-existing conditions will be a thing of the past. None of us will have to worry that if we fail to report the chicken pox, we'll be denied treatment from our insurers for cancer. Out-of-pocket expenses will be capped and subsidies and tax breaks will be made available to consumers and small businesses. This combined with the reduction in administrative overhead costs, the savings associated with an emphasis on preventative medicine, and other measures will provide us as individual consumers and as a nation with substantial long term cost savings. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the health care reform bill will cut the deficit by over $30 billion over the next decade and will continue to create a surplus over the next 20 years.

Yesterday's plan also includes a public option that, while not as expansive I would have liked, is still very worthy of support. And as most of you are well aware, we had an unfortunate setback for women's health in yesterday's voting. But on the whole, this is change we can believe in.

When I was California's Insurance Commissioner, my staff fielded thousands of calls from California residents who fell victim to the insurance industry shenanigans. When large fires hit San Diego, Oakland, and elsewhere, hundreds of consumers were victimized a second time by their insurance companies. My capable staff was successful at coming to a consumer-friendly resolution for almost all cases, but at times, I had to personally ring up high ranking industry executives to use all forms of persuasion available to my office to make sure my constituents were treated fairly.

When one's business model depends on collecting monthly payments from people in the hope that you'll never have to provide them with the services they are paying you for, it's disappointing but not shocking that the insurance industry looks for loopholes to maximize its profits.

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Diaries

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