Thursday, July 2, 2015

Freedom

This week marks the 239th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence and the birth of our free and sovereign nation. We all know well the Declaration's chief passage:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Our nation’s philosophical foundation, unique in the history of the world, is reflected in these profound words. The Declaration provides a framework for a vibrant American society by outlining the notions—ever ancient and ever new—of who we are as a people. Rooted in the fundamental concepts of liberty and justice, the United States has grown and prospered across time. Our strength is drawn from our values: the dignity of all persons, the importance of community, and the responsibility of freedom—the cherished first principle of human life.

As we celebrate this Independence Day, we are also reminded that our freedoms are under some duress. Cultural discord, economic hardship, and political dysfunction are wounding our country, and different accounts of how to preserve our freedom often clash harshly in the public square. Some turn to either the government or the market, hoping Washington or Wall Street can solve our problems. While we must work toward both proper government and economic dynamism, the answer to our troubles lies in a third way: promoting a strong society.

Society is the space where individuals can flourish in strong families and communities—the space where liberty is sustained. It is the place where persons can pursue genuine freedom, which is the ability to do what we ought for ourselves and one another. As we navigate a particularly turbulent period of national affairs, we might consider the words of the second stanza of America the Beautiful: "Confirm thy soul in self-control, Thy liberty in law." Freedom is best secured and practiced when it is ordered toward that which is good.

As we spend the holiday with families and loved ones, enjoying the festivals, parades, and fireworks displays in our communities, we celebrate our blessings as Americans: that our home is built on such enduring higher truths. The clear and powerful ideals of the Declaration offer a reminder of our nation's capacity to overcome the greatest challenges. May we remember those who have sacrificed before us and our obligation as citizens to protect and pass forward in time the great virtues of our nation.

I wish you all a happy and safe Independence Day!

About the Author:

JEFF FORTENBERRY has served as the U.S. Representative for Nebraska's 1st congressional district since 2005. He is the Chairperson for the Subcommittee on Department Operations, Oversight, Nutrition and Forestry. Vice Chair of the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health and Human Rights and has a seat on the Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia.

He is a member of the following Caucus groups: Civil War Battlefield Caucus - Congressional Biofuels Caucus - Congressional Farmer Cooperative Caucus - House Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Caucus - International Conservation Caucus - Sportsmen's Caucus

Congressman Fortenberry has become the most knowledgeable representative on Capitol Hill for nuclear security issues.

Monday, June 29, 2015

"Killjoys" — A Review

After two episodes of the new Syfy Channel series “Killjoys” I think it might be safe to say that if the writers and/or suits doesn't screw this one up then the cable network will have themselves a new hit show somewhere on the order of “Defiance.”

To give an idea of what “Killjoys” is about for those who have yet to view the show, it can be summed up as Browncoats with a license to misbehave and badges to boot.

“Killjoys” follows the escapades of three space-faring bounty hunters. However, the term bounty hunter has been replaced with the title of Killjoys, which seems appropriate to the task they are hired to perform. Killjoys are bound to no individual, no government, no military and no corporation but are an entity totally self-governed and self-policed. Their only allegiance is to tracking and bringing back whatever they have been hired to secure, be it human, animal, tech or just about anything someone or something holds as valuable.

The series stars Aaron Ashmore ("Warehouse 13," "Smallville"), Tamsen McDonough ("Lost Girl," "The Incredible Hulk") and Luke Macfarlane ("The Night Shift"). It is the creation of Michelle Lovretta ("Lost Girl").

I made the comparison to the Joss Whedon series “Firefly” because the first two episodes shown so far have that Whedonesque feel and look to it and unless Syfy pulls a Fox this show should fare better than “Firefly” when it comes to number of episodes and seasons.

I can recommend the series based on what I have seen so far and will continue giving it a chance to improve.

I give “Killjoys” a solid * * * our of 5 Stars.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Supreme Court Decision Reinforces Need for Patient-Centered Solutions in Health Care

This week, the Supreme Court issued its highly anticipated ruling in King v. Burwell. Americans have awaited the Court's decision for months, and many hoped this case could serve as a needed check on the Obama administration's health care overreach. Unfortunately, the Court dealt a setback to both the rule of law and the American people by ruling in favor of the administration.

In King v. Burwell, the Court had to determine whether the insurance subsidies provided by the President's health care law to those who purchased plans on the federal exchange were unlawful. The law as written says subsidies are available to individuals who purchase insurance through state exchanges, but the administration expanded these subsidies to include those who purchased insurance from federally-operated Healthcare.gov.

By a 6-3 ruling, the Court upheld Obamacare's subsidies. I am disappointed with the Court's decision, and I remain committed to finding solutions for Nebraskans who are suffering under Obamacare's regulations, price increases, and broken promises.

President Obama insists his health care law is working, but he chooses to ignore the millions of Americans struggling to pay rising premiums and all those who lost their insurance after being told they could keep it. Despite my multiple inquiries to the administration, there is still no resolution for the 80,000 Nebraskans impacted by CoOportunity Health's liquidation. This certainly does not reflect a working law.

The collapse of CoOportunity Health, a Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan created under the President's health care law, left tens of thousands of Nebraskans once again searching for insurance with even fewer options. At a Ways and Means subcommittee hearing on Wednesday, I raised questions about CoOportunity Health with Julie McPeak, Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance.

Tennessee's Community Health Alliance, also an Obamacare Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan, was given permission to suspend enrollment when warning signs of insolvency arose. For unknown reasons, CoOportunity Health was not allowed to do the same. I am still working to get answers from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as to why this happened and what can be done to help those impacted by this Obamacare failure.

In the meantime, I will also continue working to roll back Obamacare's regulations and restore consumer choice in health care. Over the past couple weeks, the House has passed two major health care reforms which I cosponsored and supported in my role on the Ways and Means Committee. One of these bills, the Protecting Seniors' Access to Medicare Act, would repeal Obamacare's Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) to prevent a panel of unelected bureaucrats from determining the types of care seniors can receive. Secondly, the Protect Medical Innovation Act would repeal the medical device tax and encourage investment in life-saving medical advancements. These bills have been sent to the Senate for consideration.

Though the King v. Burwell ruling is a setback, it only reinforces the need to find patient-centered solutions for the issues Americans across the country are facing with their health care. In the wake of the Court's decision, we will continue our efforts to help those impacted by Obamacare's rising insurance costs, burdensome regulations, and bureaucratic mismanagement.

About the Author:

Congressman Adrian Smith from Nebraska serves on the Committee on Ways and Means. Congressional Rural Caucus (Chair), Congressional Rural Veterans Caucus (Chair), Modern Agriculture Caucus (Chair), Congressional Pro-Life Caucus, Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus, Congressional Western Caucus and Congressional General Aviation Caucus.

Smith has been noted for his consistent voting against tax increases, massive government bailouts, and in his opposition of the affordable healthcare act (aka ObamaCare) which is creating massive uncertainty for our nation's job creators.

Smith, a co-sponsor of the Balanced Budget Amendment and a supporter of a Congressional earmark moratorium, has earned a reputation as a solid conservative through his votes to protect the rights of gun owners, efforts to limit the scope of government, and his strong pro-life voting record.