Thursday, December 09, 2004

Doyle's e-newsletter

Reading the newsletter from the congressman, great effort by the way, has many interesting connections to the mayor, rather than the president. Bad budgeting. Bad will with closed and quick decisions. (see comments)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Doyle E-Newsletter Number 6 December 9, 2004

Dear Friend,

Congress has just completed its work for the year. I wanted to take this opportunity to fill you in on some legislative action that took place in the past few days.

On December 6, Congress finally completed action on the legislation needed to keep the federal government operating in fiscal year 2005 - more than two months after the federal fiscal year began. This 3,300-page, $388 billion omnibus spending bill was the inevitable result of a budget process that has been grossly mismanaged for the last four years.

The Republicans control both the House and the Senate, and yet they failed to ever agree on a budget resolution outlining the federal government's tax and spending goals for 2005 - despite the fact that Congress is required by law to approve such a bill each year by April 15.

They also failed to enact 12 of the 13 annual spending bills needed to keep the government running by the beginning of its fiscal year (September 30) . As a result, much of the federal government was forced to operate on a series of short-term "continuing resolutions" for the last two months, causing unnecessary disruptions and delays in the activities of a number of government agencies.

Now that the necessary appropriations bills have finally been approved, it is clear that the federal government will run another massive budget deficit again next year - and that it will continue to produce such unhealthy deficits for the foreseeable future.

In a tacit acknowledgement of this sobering reality, Congress also recently voted to raise the national debt limit - the amount the federal government is allowed to borrow - to $8.2 trillion. That's $2.3 trillion higher than the debt limit that was in place when President Bush was sworn into office in 2001.

The fiscal mismanagement under this administration has been staggering. The Bush administration inherited a $5.6 trillion surplus and turned it into a $3.5 trillion deficit.

As one might imagine, this is not a sustainable trend - especially since the President and the Republican leadership in Congress have also expressed support for making the recent tax cuts permanent and privatizing Social Security. These two changes would add trillions more to the national debt over the next ten years alone.

I have been working throughout my service in Congress to promote greater fiscal responsibility. I am proud of my support for bipartisan legislation in the 1990s that helped produce record budget surpluses, and I have been working consistently in more recent years to produce more balanced federal budgets that nonetheless address our nation's most pressing needs.

I will continue to work in the upcoming 109th Congress in support of federal budget policies that promote economic growth, create new jobs, invest in our future, and fulfill our commitments to our veterans and senior citizens.

In a related note, the massive spending bill approved by the House and Senate last month contained a provision allowing Members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees and their staffs to look at individuals' income tax returns - and exempting them from the criminal penalties that would normally apply for violating the confidentiality of those records.

I voted this week with a majority of Members of Congress to eliminate this dangerous provision before any taxpayers were subjected to this invasion of their privacy, but it never should have come so close to enactment. This outrageous provision almost became law because the House Republican leadership rushed a major piece of legislation to a vote literally hours after it was drafted. That is a very dangerous practice, and it should be stopped.

The rules governing debate in the House of Representatives require that final legislation be available for three days before being voted on, but Republican leaders have consistently rammed major bills through Congress without giving Members enough time to look through them. The net effect has been the passage of a number of badly flawed bills that negatively affect the daily lives of many Americans.

As the Washington Post editorialized recently, under the Republican-controlled Congress, "Every year the process of passing the spending bills that allow the government to function becomes longer and sloppier. Since Congress fails to approve spending bills in any orderly fashion, a number of them are rolled into an "omnibus," which is passed so quickly that few members know what it contains.... Last year's Medicare bill also was kept under wraps as long as possible, and it contained dozens of provisions with no relevance to Medicare. The energy bill, too, was kept secret as long as possible...."

I promise you that as long as I serve in Congress, I will continue to fight to make sure that the American People's interests are adequately represented in "the People's House."

Finally, in its last bit of important business before adjourning for the year, Congress approved legislation to implement many of the 9/11 Commission's recommendations for reforming our nation's intelligence and counter-terrorism efforts.

This legislation, the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act, will overhaul our intelligence agencies and institute reforms in the federal agencies responsible for border security, aviation security, maritime security, emergency responders, and law enforcement.

I strongly supported the 9/11 Commission's recommendations, and I voted in favor of this bill when it was approved by the House last night.

As recommended by the 9/11 Commission, the new law creates a strong Director of National Intelligence (DNI), who will direct all 15 of our nation's intelligence agencies and serve as the principal intelligence adviser to the President.

The new law will also implement the 9/11 Commission's recommendation to establish a National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) within the Office of DNI to coordinate all elements of counterterrorism operations planning. The National Counterterrorism Center will be led by a strong director - who will be appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate.

The new law also contains several important provisions to restructure the FBI's intelligence and counter-terrorism operations.

In addition, the new law follows through on the 9/11 Commission's recommendation to establish an independent Privacy and Civil Liberties Board that will review federal government policies and practices that could have an impact on an individual's privacy or civil liberties.

In order to better "connect the dots," the new law requires the President to establish an Information Sharing Environment to facilitate the timely sharing of vital threat information among federal agencies - and with relevant state, local, and private sector personnel.

Finally, the new law contains a number of provisions to enhance national preparedness (including more help for our emergency first-responders) and improve the nation's aviation, maritime, and border security.

No bill is perfect, and legitimate concerns may arise about some of the provisions in this legislation, but I believe that the bill's major policy changes were urgently needed and deserved my support. While enactment of this legislation is just one step - and much more remains to be done in order to protect our country from terrorism - it is an important step forward in terms of making our country safer.

It continues to be a pleasure to serve you, and I look forward to hearing from you. Please feel free to e-mail me at to share your thoughts with me or to request assistance in dealing with the federal government - or, if you prefer, you can use my web site,

Until next time, I am

Mike Doyle
Member of Congress