Bankruptcy, murder, loons, wages and “Franksgiving”
Endless Wars of Choice Are Bankrupting Our Nation - The New Congress Must Put a Stop to Them
Endless wars of choice are bankrupting our Nation, draining away money we desperately need here at home for education, medical research, human development, rebuilding our infrastructure, and so many other unmet needs. In my judgment, defunding these wars should be Job One for the incoming Congress in January.
The simple truth is, our national priorities are totally out of whack. Military spending,when adjusted for inflation, has increased by nearly 50 percent since 9-11. By comparison, spending on non-military items – things like education, health care, public transit and science – grew by only 13.5 percent over that same period.
The cost of these endless wars of choice, in both blood and treasury, is shocking. Over the past 17 years, our military involvement in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and Syria alone has already cost us almost $6 trillion. And when the costs of borrowing that money and taking care of those who have lost arms and legs and, in many cases, their mental and physical health in combat, the cost jumps to nearly $16 trillion over the next 35 years. Meanwhile, according to a new Brown University study, 480,000 people have lost their lives in these conflicts, and some 10 million more have been displaced.
As I have pointed out during meetings and conversations with incoming Members of Congress, the best way to put a stop to endless wars of choice that have cost us so much blood and treasury is to cut off their funding. In fact, that’s exactly what we tried to do last spring on the floor of the U.S House. During debate on the 2019 National Defense Authorization bill, I was able to introduce an amendment to de-fund the Overseas Contingency Operations account the Pentagon uses to pay for these wars, and save U.S. taxpayers $69 billion next fiscal year alone.
The amendment did not succeed. However, the very fact that Republican leaders allowed the measure to be considered is evidence that Democrats and Republicans alike are growing increasingly fed up by the waste and carnage these wars produce.
During my speech on the floor of the House last May, I posed a question to my colleagues: Do we want to be having this same debate ten years from now, having spent another ten or eleven trillion dollars on these endless wars of choice and so-called nation building abroad? No one raised a hand to say yes.
We will keep you posted as events proceed. Meanwhile, I want to hear your thoughts. Feel free to contact any of our offices listed below or send me an email.
The President's Thanksgiving Week - Pardoning Two Innocent Turkeys and a Gang of Saudi Murderers
Candles and pictures of murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi are placed outside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul,Turkey. According to the CIA, Khashoggi was killed inside the building by a Saudi assassination squad acting under orders from Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The President marked Thanksgiving week by upholding the traditional pardon of two innocent turkeys – and by abandoning our American tradition of moral leadership. He turned a blind eye to the conclusion of our own CIA and intelligence community that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the brutal murder of Washington Post columnist and Saudi regime critic Jamal Khashoggi.
In doing so, the President chose to ignore audio recordings of Khashoggi’s murder, intercepted phone calls, and copious intelligence briefings by CIA Director Gina Haspel describing details of the crown prince’s involvement.
Instead, he made it clear that personal relationships with the Saudi royal family, business as usual Saudi oil sales to the United States, and billions of dollars in U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia, were more important than holding thugs and murderers to account for their actions. What an outrage.
As established by our Founders, America’s leadership in the world has always been based on an unqualified commitment to the ideals of democracy, freedom of the press, and the rule of law. We cannot allow our great nation to lose the moral high ground and become just another country embracing thugs and murderers for profit and economic gain.
With Loons an Endangered Species in the Lower 48 States, Funding Support Grows for National Loon Center in Crosslake MN
These artists drawings show what the National Loon Center could look like on the outside and inside.
With the iconic Minnesota Loon on the Audubon Society’s list of endangered species here in the lower 48 states, the National Loon Center Foundation is leading efforts to help save and protect our State Bird by establishing a National Loon Center in the city of Crosslake, Minnesota.
Together with the Foundation, progress is being made toward assembling several million dollars for the Center from the state and federal governments, the University of Minnesota, foundations, citizens, and other private sources.
Specifically, the National Loon Center would be devoted to restoring and protecting loon habitats, researching ways to advance the wellbeing of loons, repairing shoreline, enhancing water quality, boosting environmental recreation, and educating the public on best practices for preserving loon populations.
The project and timing are critical because our loons are being threatened as never before by climate change, the BP oil spill, water pollution, and diseases spread by invasive zebra mussels.
On the federal level, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has entered into a memorandum of agreement to provide $2.6 million worth of land on the White Fish chain of lakes. The Gulf Spill Restoration Fund – provided by BP Oil Company to help alleviate the terrible damages caused by the 2010 BP oil spill – will add $450,000 dollars for the Center as part of a $7.52 million package awarded to the State of Minnesota and designated to help the loons recover from damage suffered while migrating in the Gulf of Mexico.
On the state level, the Center is on track to receive $4 million dollars from the Legislature via the Environmental and Natural Resources Trust Fund, which is paid for through proceeds from the Minnesota Lottery. In addition to private money from supporters, the University of Minnesota also contributed $55,000 dollars for the now complete project engineering feasibility study.
Meanwhile, as I have pointed out before, invasive zebra mussels spread deadly infections to our Minnesota loons and destroy sport and commercial fishing habitat. My amendment to the Water Resources Development Act, signed into law earlier this fall, directs the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to accelerate the battle against these invaders, along with Asian carp and hundreds of other species attacking our lakes, rivers, waterways and wildlife.
Wrong Mr. President – Boosting the Federal Minimum Wage to $15 Dollars an Hour Is Sensible – Not “Silly”
Editorial cartoonist Monte Wolverton nails it. Corporate profits are at an all time high while minimum wage workers struggle to make ends meet.
The President and his top economic advisor, millionaire Wall Street financier Larry Kudlow, ought to spend less time bragging about newly created jobs, and more time connecting with the real world, where it often takes two or three of those jobs just to make a living.
Demonstrating cluelessness about how millions of low-income Americans struggle every day just to put food on the table, Kudlow recently told the Washington Post that in his view, the federal minimum wage – enacted by President Franklin Roosevelt and Congressional Democrats in 1938 – is “a terrible idea,” and that increasing it would be “silly.”
What nonsense. It is a moral imperative that anyone willing to go to work eight hours a day, 40 hours a week, be entitled to a living wage and a secure and comfortable life. No one should have to hold two or three jobs in order to live in a nice home, pay the bills, put some money away for retirement, and have a little left over at the end of the week for a movie, a meal out, or a trip to the lake to wet a fishing line.
That's why, earlier this year, I joined as an original cosponsor of the Raise the Wage Act to boost the minimum wage to $15.00 an hour by 2024 – and index it to gradually increase starting in 2025.
The simple fact is, the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour has millions stuck in poverty. This is especially true for the working women who make up 70 percent of minimum wage earners – in many cases young mothers who barely break even after child care expenses.
In fact, the University of California’s Center for Poverty Research reports that a single parent with one child working 40 hours a week at a minimum wage job will earn below the federal poverty line of $16,070.
That must end.
Beyond the fact that raising the minimum wage is the fair and decent thing to do, it’s also commonsense economics. Minimum wage earners spend the money they make locally, on groceries, fuel, and other necessities of life. That’s good for business, good for jobs, good for communities and good for everyone.
Our Week in St. Paul
My Field Representative Rick Olseen attended the promotion of Lieutenant Colonel Joe Sharkey of the Minnesota National Guard to Colonel. Rick Olseen has worked with the Colonel for the last six years with my offices work with the National Guard. The ceremony was in the Veterans Service Building overlooking the State Capital in St. Paul.
Our Week in Lindstrom
Our Vietnam Soldiers Remembered, is a display open right now at the Chisago County Historical Society in Lindstrom. With the photos and items on display it highlights how horrible war is, what’s really moving is the stories from men and women who served in Vietnam. My Field Representative Rick Olseen visited recently. The hours are on their website.
Our Week in Nisswa
The City of Nisswa held their annual City of Lights celebration last week, and crowds gathered to meet the live reindeer that helped make the day special. Nolan Congressional Field Representative Tiffany Stenglein was on hand taking pictures.
Coming Up in Washington
- The House is expected to pass a Coast Guard reauthorization bill and send it to the President.
On This Day in History, November 26, 1941
From "Franksgiving" back to "Thanksgiving"
President Roosevelt carves the turkey after signing legislation officially designating Thanksgiving to be on the last Thursday of November.
Undoing the change that became known as “Franksgiving,” on November 26, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed legislation forever designating the last Thursday in November as America’s official Thanksgiving Day. Now here’s the rest of the story as explained on the website historyextra.com.
In 1939, with the last Thursday in November falling on the last day of the month, President Roosevelt became concerned that the shortened Christmas shopping season might dampen economic recovery. He therefore issued a Presidential Proclamationmoving Thanksgiving to the second to last Thursday of November.
Some 32 states consequently issued similar proclamations, but 16 states refused to accept the change. As a result, for two years two days were celebrated as Thanksgiving.
To end the confusion, on October 6, 1941 Congress set a fixed date for the holiday: it passed a joint resolution declaring the last Thursday in November to be the legal Thanksgiving Day.