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Rep. Hunter pushes to have REAL unemployment numbers released

A group of House lawmakers signed on to the Real Unemployment Calculation Act in an effort to keep both political parties honest when it comes to the nation’s unemployed.

The lingering recession prompted Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) to introduce new legislation that would require the Bureau of Labor Statistics to report the nation’s true unemployment number. Currently the government’s reported monthly unemployment numbers do not include those who have given up looking for a job. Hunter says the Bureau of Labor Statistics currently calculates those Americans that have given up looking for work in the U-5 calculation.

Hunter points out that using the real unemployment numbers brings America’s out of work folks up to 9.9 percent, not the 8.3 percent the Obama Administration currently touts.

“In order to effectively address the economic challenges we face, and confront the national unemployment situation, we must know the full extent of the problem,” said Congressman Hunter. “As some pundits and politicians cite a near 8 percent unemployment rate, they are purposely avoiding a subset of Americans who are not counted. The Bureau of Labor Statistics does, in fact, provide alternative measurements of unemployment, but they are consistently overshadowed by the U-3 rate, which ignores a large group of people. We need to be realistic and focus our attention on the figure that provides the most accurate representation of national unemployment—not the figure that under-represents the challenge we face.”

For more information on the national unemployment rate numbers, click here.

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© Copyright 2012 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.

Mexican long-haul trucks take to U.S. highways today, angers Teamsters

Despite a protest rally from Teamsters, a speech from Jim Hoffa Jr. and bi-partisan Congressional members, Mexican long-haul trucks will take to U.S. highways today.

Safety standards and the threat of losing more than 100,000 truck driver jobs was not enough to sway the Obama Administration’s decision to allow Mexican trucks, approved through a North American Free Trade Association (NAFTA) pilot program, to gain access to U.S. and deliver their goods.

Using a Russian roulette analogy for Mexican truck safety standards, Hoffa said it would take a serious car accident to get Mexican trucks off the highways.

“This pilot program will be a fiasco, just like the last one was,” Hoffa told roughly 100 Teamsters at a San Diego border rally. “You know it’s trouble when the very first carrier that DOT approves is axed because of safety concerns. Department of Transportation (DOT) has never been able to verify the safety of Mexican trucks. That’s why the Teamsters for 17 years kept the border closed to a permanent program that would let any Mexican truck travel anywhere in the U.S.”

San Diego Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter Jr. and Democrat Bob Filner voiced their bi-partisan support of the Teamsters and vowed to continue the fight in the halls of Congress. “It’s about American jobs,” Hunter told the rowdy crowd. He also said the Mexican drug cartels would find a way to take advantage of the new trucking arrangement with America.

Rep. Filner agreed and added that “lives will be lost. I just hope it isn’t a school bus full of children.”

Another fear American truck drivers voiced concerned about was the loss of union wages. While many union truck drivers earn $250 for a trip from the border to Los Angeles, Mexican drivers could charge as little as $50 for the same trip.

Traditionally, the Teamsters have provided good-paying blue collar jobs for drivers throughout the country something they contend will be put in jeopardy if this pilot program is expanded. “The whole idea is to tear down the Teamsters,” said Richard Middleton, Vice President for the Teamsters International Western Region.

The new program will also affect local independent truck driving operators. Jose Escott, of Yucipa, California explained that he immigrated, legally, in 1987. “I gave up my Mexican passport and worked very hard to earn my business. I oppose this NAFTA program. It will kill the American spirit that I love and it will export trucking jobs to Mexico.”

Hoffa wrapped up the questions by pointing to the unsafe driving conditions south of the border. “This is not a level playing field. There were 10,000 hijackings in Mexico last year. What American truckers are going to put their lives on the line to deliver flat-screen TVs in Mexico?”

“We’ve had enough of this madness,” he finished.

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© Copyright 2011 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.

GOP’s new health care slogan is “repeal and replace”

save California from financial ruin, 12 Republican Representatives in California are asking Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and State Attorney General Jerry Brown to join other states with lawsuits based on Constitutional merits.

Several states attorneys’ general filed lawsuits challenging the federal governments ability to mandate health care insurance and force states to pick up the tab.

Congressional members in California are concerned the new law will add too many financial burdens to the state in a time of deep recession. Lawmakers also contend the federal government will short-change individual states and it would only be a matter of time before state governments would have to enact steep tax increases to pay for the millions of new health care participants.

Virginia Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli, who has filed a lawsuit in federal court in Richmond, Virginia, said Congress lacks authority under its constitutional power to regulate interstate commerce and force citizens to buy health insurance. He contends that the bill also conflicts with a state law that says Virginians cannot be required to buy insurance.

In addition to the pending lawsuits, bills and resolutions have been introduced in 36 state legislatures seeking to limit various aspects of the health care reform plan through laws or state constitutional amendments, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

“When the Democratic majority in Congress passed their health care bill, they ignored the simple fact that forcing every American to buy health insurance, even if they don’t want to do so, might very well undermine the constitutional rights of Americans,” Congressman Hunter said.

“Of course, we can’t predict the outcome of challenges on this basis, but there is a very good chance the mandate, as well as the legislation itself, is determined unconstitutional. Congress has never before mandated that individuals buy a specific product, so anyone who suggests that the legislation is standing on solid precedent is wrong. But regardless, the federal government has always left these types of decisions to states,” he explained.

According to a new Rasmussen Reports poll, 55 percent of the voters want the Republicans to repeal the health care bill, while 42 percent say leave it alone. These numbers combined with the lackluster Presidential approval rating in the mid-40s prompted the Commander in Chief to hit the road and campaign in favor of the new health care legislation.

Companies like John Deere and Caterpillar (where Obama made a pitch to employees that health care will help their business) have predicted their health care costs will increase by as much as $100 million under the Democrats new health care bonanza, this will force large manufacturing companies to shed jobs – not add to the payroll. These companies insist the new plan bends the costs of health care up, not down as hoped.

The California Representatives wrote a joint letter to impress upon the Governor and Attorney General that President Obama’s new health care bill could be an “unconstitutional overreach of authority that severely undermines the individual liberty of every American.”

“We need health care reform, but not at the expense of the Constitution. The president must remember that the Constitution comes before politics, and all we are asking is for California to address this in the courts,” said Congressman Bilbray (R-CA).

The federal government will now require all individuals to purchase health insurance or face substantial financial penalties; something many proponents argue is within the purview of the commerce clause.

However, “contrary to this interpretation, we believe such a mandate and coinciding penalties for non-compliance are unconstitutional on the basis that even the broadest interpretation of the commerce clause would not confer on Congress the authority to force individual citizens to purchase health insurance,” the letter reads.

The California delegation points to Virginia and Idaho that has enacted state laws to protect their constituents from any federal mandate and as more details are uncovered by lawmakers other states are weighing their options when considering similar lawsuits.

“We hope you will offer your support for this effort and provide the necessary leadership to help bring a measure forward,” the Congressmen said.

The health care beef with most Americans lies in the constitutionality of the federal government forcing citizens to purchase a service. The Congressmen and the Supreme Court have acknowledged limits when it comes to interstate activities.

However there are also several financial issues to consider when the Health and Human Services Department begins the arduous task of implementing the massive health care program.

Californians’ can expect to pay $2-3 billion annually for the various health care related expenditures as well as growing the state Medicaid program. Currently, California is operating with a $20 billion budget deficit and this new entitlement program is sure to create a wider budget gap.

In an effort to gain support, the President has embarked on his “sell the health care package to the American people” tour and he has taken jabs at the Republican Party along the way by mocking the Armageddon that would happen if health care became law.

“So after I signed the bill I looked around to see if there were any asteroids falling or cracks opening around the earth,” Obama said. “Turns out it was a nice day. Birds were chirping. Folks were strolling down the Mall. People still had their doctors.”

Most question why the President has to go on the road to sell a bill if it is so popular with Americans? “He has to sell legislation because it is so unpopular.”

The California Congressmen that signed the letter to Governor Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Brown were; Duncan Hunter (R-CA), Tom McClintock (R-CA), Darrell Issa (R-CA), Brian Bilbray (R-CA), Ken Calvert (R-CA), Ed Royce (R-CA), Devin Nunes (R-CA), Tom Campbell (R-CA), Mary Bono-Mack (R-CA), Wally Herger (R-CA), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).

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Freshmen Congressmen band together to shore up immigration and prevent amnesty

A bipartisan group of freshmen Congressmen joined Duncan Hunter (R-CA) to introduce legislation that outlines several guiding principles for comprehensive immigration reform.

The freshmen lawmakers are proving they are listening to what the voters are telling them, smaller government, fewer taxes, shoring up the borders and looking at immigration issues sensibly. Off the table is amnesty for those who are in this country illegally.

“Our national and economic security continues to be threatened by our porous borders and the inconsistent enforcement of existing immigration laws,” said Congressman Hunter whose district is near the U.S./Mexican border. “The immigration reform debate must not be dictated by misguided calls for open borders and amnesty. The American people expect security to be a priority and immigration laws to be thoroughly enforced in our communities and the workplace. This resolution emphasizes these principles as the basis for any immigration reform measure that might move forward.”

The Bipartisan Reform of Immigration through Defining Good Enforcement (“BRIDGE”), H.R. 1026, Resolution was introduced by Congressmen Hunter, Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), Frank Kratovil (D-MD), Glenn Nye (D-VA) as well as 18 other House members and hopes to change the immigration debate as the 2010 Congressional session unfolds.

The immigration BRIDGE Resolution states that Congress make E-Verify mandatory for all employers and hold employees accountable as well; Provide sufficient border infrastructure and manpower to secure and control our borders; Reject amnesty or any legal status that grants citizenship to those living in the U.S. in violation of current law.

The measure’s primary sponsor, Congressman Jason Chaffetz, explained that, “Our government has a duty and responsibility to make our first immigration priority the enforcement of existing immigration laws by ensuring that illegal behavior is punished, not rewarded. Any discussion of comprehensive immigration reform must begin with a renewed commitment to enforce our immigration laws. We need to remove the incentives that encourage illegal behavior if we expect to get immigration under control.”

Senior Ranking House member Lamar Smith (R-TX) agrees, the Ranking Member on the House Judiciary Committee said, “I support the resolution introduced today by my colleagues. Making E-Verify mandatory, securing our borders and rejecting amnesty are some of the keys to reclaiming jobs for American workers and upholding the rule of law.”

With the votes cast in Massachusetts, it’s quite clear Americans are fed up with business as usual, partisan politics and the idea that Washington D.C. knows more about what families need succeed. If citizens have to follow the laws of the country, so should those who hope to immigrate to America and add to its rich diversity.

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It’s time to move on Afghanistan

After returning from Afghanistan over the weekend, Congressman Duncan Hunter-R CA called on the Obama Administration to accept Stanley McChrystal’s strategy of sending more troops to the hostile region.

With the number of U.S. deaths on the rise, Rep. Hunter, who is a veteran of the wars in the Middle East, would like to see the White House make a swift decision to fight the counterinsurgency in Afghanistan.

“This trip to Afghanistan provided a great opportunity to learn more about the challenges facing our combat personnel and the efforts of military and civilian leadership to achieve victory,” said Hunter. “There appears to be unanimous agreement among military commanders and their civilian counterparts that additional combat troops are needed – and needed fast.”

Now that the Afghan Presidency has been decided, Hunter says it’s up to President Hamid Karzai to step up and provide the type of leadership that is needed to carry Afghanistan forward.

“Karzai must reassert himself as a strong national leader who is committed to fighting corruption, establishing the rule of law and creating new opportunities for the Afghan people,” he explained.

Hunter also would like to see the U.S. begin taking a leading role when it comes to training the Afghanistan military and law enforcement agencies.

“Training Afghanistan’s military and police forces must also be a priority, much like it was in Iraq at the time of the surge. Afghanistan is certainly not Iraq but we know from experience that a strong counterinsurgency strategy and well-trained security forces can put us on a direct path toward mission success.”

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Congressman Hunter talks health care in Ramona

Main town USA lurks at every corner in Ramona, California. The neighbors are nosey, the cars remain unlocked and it’s sweltering past the 100 degree mark in this quaint town, but that didn’t stop the locals from packing the Ramona Mainstage venue to capacity leaving many outside hoping to at least shake the young congressman’s hand.

They were not disappointed. Duncan Hunter Jr., a self admitted conservative, replaced his father, who made a run for the White House last year, but Hunter Jr. was not given the seat. He had to earn it the old fashion way – beat his competitor.

This was no small feat as Hunter Jr. was busy fighting in Afghanistan for the U.S. Marines much of the campaign season. Luckily he had a strong family to conduct a large part of the race without him being present. Hunter won and now calls Washington D.C. home much of the year.

Today, Hunter Jr. shows up in his big Chevy pickup truck, dusty shoes and a few minutes late due to a shaving injury. Not to worry, he quips, “I’m bleeding for you.” He takes his time entering the venue and shakes the hand of each and every person who waited in the heat to see their congressman.

Once inside, it’s a little cooler, until the conversation turns to health care and what this small town expects of Hunter when he returns to D.C. next week.

He starts with a semi-apology. “It seems the conservatives were eclipsed by the Obama star, but we are no longer voices in the wilderness. Because of you our power is coming.”

This is a good part of the district for the freshman Congressman, says Michael Harrison, deputy chief of staff for Duncan Hunter Jr.

Growing up in strict family, goals were always set and now that the Congressman is in Washington D.C. nothing has changed. “We (Republicans) are trying our hardest to rebound.”

A smile comes across his face when he talks about the ‘team’ of Republicans. “We all voted against the stimulus package. That was an accomplishment because there were some who wanted to vote for it, but in the end we all agreed.”

It was the tragedy of 9/11 that would alter Hunter Jr.’s path and lead him away from a technology career to join the Marines and fight for his country. He served two tours in Iraq and was recalled to active duty in Afghanistan for a third.

With his experience in the military, Hunter Jr. is a natural to fight the illegal immigration invasion of our southern borders and he also gravitates toward National Security issues. It bothers him that this administration is cutting defense spending while the country is fighting two wars.

“We are always playing catch up when it comes to artillery and body armor,” Hunter expresses his frustration for the first time. “I don’t get it; we are cutting our missile defense program by $1.2 billion when we know it works.”

Hunter explains there are some in the Obama administration who believe America will never fight another real war, with an opponent of equal standing; “That’s just not rational.”

Eventually the town hall event heads into the firestorm of health care. Hunter admits that elections have consequences, but sometimes the partisanship is too much. “I could walk into a meeting and tell the Democrats that I have a cure for cancer and they would say no.”

Perhaps, Hunter will get used to this type of D.C. tactics, but something tells you he is just not that guy, plus his father who was a well-respected congressman for 27 years would probably kick his butt.

The health care industry needs reform, says Hunter, “it just doesn’t need a massive government overhaul. I think we can fix it little by little.”

Ramona resident, Ted Trout, retired from the Navy and wanted to make sure his Tricare/health care was not going to be tinkered with by Washington. “They won’t touch it,” Hunter quickly responds. “It’s completely exempt.’

Not all problems will be as lucky, Medicare has a lot of meat on the chopping block. This is another point of contention with the Congressman. “If there is a public option, any punishment for small businesses or excessive Medicare cuts, I will not vote for the bill.”

That being said does the Congressman think this legislature will pass? “You never know,” he pauses. “Most blue dogs (conservative Democrats) will roll over and have their belly tickled for a treat.”

However, the health care discussion has not been in vain and four Republican amendments have been added to the extensive 1,200-page bill. One of them was offered up by Hunter.

The House Education and Labor Committee accepted his amendment to protect small businesses from a broad employer mandates. “As part of the legislation’s ‘pay to play’ provisions, businesses are required to provide employees with health care coverage or risk incurring a penalty tax equal to eight percent of annual payroll expenses.”

This amendment would kick in when an employer requests a hardship exemption that would result in firing employees due to the cost health insurance.

It’s something.

Other options Hunter would like to see in a redesigned health care bill would include, inter-state health insurance portability, tort reform, good oversight, less regulation, cost cutting measures and fraud prevention.

Unless the current bill HR3200 is scrapped, none of those options will be invited to sit at the Democrat table.

In the end, all were glad to hang out with Hunter on their day off from everyday life and most left knowing they would be represented in Washington D.C.

The event was hosted by Orrin and Cheryl Day, the owners of Ramona Mainstage. “We just wanted our community to hear from our Congressman first hand where he stands – not the TV sound bites we all hear from the main stream media.”

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