Health care savings without Medicare cuts

by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse

As President Barack Obama and congressional leaders continue discussions to avert the so-called fiscal cliff - the mix of tax increases and spending cuts set to take effect automatically in January - we hear a troubling but familiar refrain in Washington: To fix our deficit, we must cut Medicare benefits. That is flat-out wrong. The fact is, we have a systemwide health care cost problem in America. Health care expenditures are nearly 18 percent of our gross domestic product. The next least-effi… Continue Reading


Health Information Technology: Paving the Way to Improved Patient Care

by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse

In the 1950s, President Eisenhower started an interstate highway system to link our country, from Rhode Island to California. To this day, the interstate system remains the heart of our country's road infrastructure, supporting travel, commerce and transportation. This public investment paid off in long-term social and economic benefits for all Americans. Health care offers a new opportunity to build a lasting national infrastructure that will -- like our interstate highway system -- connect in… Continue Reading


Secret spending threatens democracy

by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse

A conservative organization backed by Karl Rove, American Crossroads, is planning to spend over $300 million in this year's elections - and he's not planning on telling anyone where most of that money is coming from. In fact, there will be over a billion dollars spent this year by Super PACs (political action committees) and other groups - and much of it is shrouded in secrecy. It's a direct threat to our democracy - and it's a direct threat to the interests of ordinary, hardworking Americans.… Continue Reading


State lawmakers must act to fight domestic violence

by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse

In 1994, Congress passed the Violence Against Women Act, landmark legislation that vastly improved the way our nation responded to incidences of domestic violence. As Rhode Island's attorney general, I saw first-hand how VAWA bolstered our own state's ability to protect and assist victims of domestic violence, and I am committed to protecting this important program. The law expired last year and needs to be reauthorized. The Senate voted 68-31 last week to do just that. The House of Representati… Continue Reading


Make the rich pay their fair share

by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse

In this time of tight budgets and tough choices, and with income-tax-filing day this Tueday, too many Rhode Islanders are feeling squeezed. To make matters worse, they're hearing about people making over $1 million a year who are actually paying a lower total federal tax rate than they are. That's just wrong. Americans deserve a straight deal, but when it comes to taxes, they're not getting one. Just look at Warren Buffett, a billionaire investor who has famously revealed that he pays a lower f… Continue Reading


Let’s Shine a Light on Big Money in Politics

by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse

The American people are making it clear that they're fed up with a system that gives special treatment to special interests while middle-class families suffer. Everywhere they look, it's the same story: a tax system that allows multimillion-dollar earners to pay a lower tax rate than a truck driver or janitor; a banking system that allows credit card companies to ignore local laws and charge sky-high interest rates to consumers; and, thanks to the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision,… Continue Reading


Closing the Doughnut Hole Provides Relief to Rhode Island Seniors

by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse

In this tough economy, with seniors hit particularly hard, I'm thankful that a boost to Social Security income starts in January. I'm also thankful that last year's health care reform law is providing some relief from the cost of prescription drugs, which continues to place a heavy burden on many retired Rhode Islanders. As I travel across the state, I have heard countless stories about Rhode Island seniors affected by the dreaded Medicare Part D "doughnut hole." This coverage gap leaves thousa… Continue Reading


Let’s have a straight deal for R.I. consumers of credit

by Sheldon Whitehouse

With the holiday shopping season upon us, Rhode Islanders deserve to know that they are getting a straight deal from their credit-card company - that they will be able to buy that special gift for a child or loved one without being slammed by unfair interest rates. Unfortunately, right now, too many of the big banks and their credit-card subsidiaries are taking advantage of middle-class families through a loophole that allows them to ignore the laws of consumers' home states and charge sky-high … Continue Reading


A plan to help R.I. businesses add jobs

by Sheldon Whitehouse

With unemployment still near 11 percent in Rhode Island, job creation remains my number one priority in the U.S. Senate. I know too many families in our state are hurting. I've heard from so many Rhode Islanders about how this tough economy has affected them: families struggling to keep their homes, unemployed workers struggling to find that next job, and small businesses who need to hire more workers but just aren't sure they can afford it. I hear you loud and clear, and I am fighting hard i… Continue Reading


Congress must keep promises to seniors

by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse

Since the start of the recession, seniors in Rhode Island have struggled to keep up with rising costs at the pharmacy, grocery store and gas pump. Making matters worse, they haven't seen an increase in Social Security payments since 2009 - the longest such lack in decades. Seniors all over the state have told me that their dollar simply doesn't go as far as it used to, and many are worried about what the future will bring. I will continue to fight for our seniors and make sure that their voice… Continue Reading


Cybersecurity needs complete plan

by Sheldon Whitehouse

The Internet has nurtured a remarkable amount of innovation, commerce, freedom of expression and economic connectivity. But these great benefits are accompanied by an ever-growing number of serious cybersecurity threats. Cybercrime has put our country on the losing end of what could be the largest illicit transfer of wealth in world history. Whatever its form - copying source code, industrial espionage of military product designs, identity theft, online piracy or outright theft from banks - cyb… Continue Reading


Keeping Rhode Island Families in Their Homes

by Sheldon Whitehouse

This has been a hard winter for many Rhode Island families: heavy snow and freezing temperatures; the lingering effects of the recession in double digit unemployment and budget shortfalls; and perhaps most cruelly in these winter months, foreclosures which cost many families their homes and blight surrounding neighborhoods. Nearly more than one in twelve Rhode Island homes are currently either in foreclosure or have delinquent payments of at least 90 days. These are our friends and neighbors. … Continue Reading


Seeking a fair deal for R.I. manufacturers

by Sheldon Whitehouse

From the Old Slater Mill, in Pawtucket, to modern submarine production, at Quonset Point, the manufacturing sector has always been central to Rhode Island's economy. Simply put, in the Ocean State, a strong manufacturing sector means a strong economy. Now, as we face our 21st month of double-digit unemployment, we must do more to revitalize the state's proud manufacturing sector. Over and over, I've traveled around the state to meet with local manufacturers, listen to their frustrations and dis… Continue Reading


A plan to mend filibuster, not end it

by Sheldon Whitehouse

Many Americans remember Jimmy Stewart in "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," standing at his desk on the Senate floor, mounting a filibuster - reading from the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bible. "Democracy's finest show," Frank Capra has one character say, "the right to talk your head off ... the American privilege of free speech in its most dramatic form ... one lone and single American holding the greatest floor in the land ... bleary-eyed, voice gone." Americans today … Continue Reading


Judicial activism

by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse

Once again, the first Monday in October has brought another term at the U.S. Supreme Court. And once again, the Court has taken up questions of constitutional and statutory law that deeply affect the lives of all Americans. As the new term proceeds, it's a useful time to consider "judicial activism," and what this charge means. For years, we've heard about liberal judicial activism, a term leveled by conservatives so repeatedly that it is now in the common parlance, but without any clear meanin… Continue Reading


Why We Need a Foreclosure Moratorium

by Sheldon Whitehouse

Following an all-too-brief period of public scrutiny, Bank of America announced last week that it's back to business as usual, resuming 102,000 foreclosures in 23 states. Like several of the other large mortgage servicers, the bank had voluntarily frozen foreclosures earlier this month in light of revelations that its agents had not followed proper procedures in foreclosing on homeowners. With voluntary efforts to stem the foreclosure crisis falling short time and again, we now should consider a… Continue Reading


A foreclosure nightmare

by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse

The Wall Street Journal's projection this week that investment banks will pay out a record $144 billion in bonuses this season shows that Wall Street has recovered from the recession. The homeowners whose mortgages were securitized and used to fuel the Wall Street bubble, however, are not doing nearly as well. Foreclosures remain epidemic in harder-hit states like Florida, Nevada, and my home state of Rhode Island, and our economies are slow to recover as a result. Elected officials have heard … Continue Reading


Creating Jobs by Investing in Infrastructure

by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse

When President Obama took office, the economy was in a tailspin the likes of which we have not seen since the Great Depression. Back in January of 2008, we were losing 700,000 jobs per month and things appeared to be getting worse. In response to this crisis, President Obama worked with Congress to pass the Recovery Act, which stemmed the bleeding by creating or supporting an estimated 3 million jobs to date, including 11,000 in Rhode Island. While we can never know exactly how bad things mig… Continue Reading


Cyber self-defense can help U.S. security

by Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse, Barbara Mikulski, and Olympia Snowe

Recently, we completed an intensive, bipartisan six-month study on cybersecurity and presented it to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Although the nature of our study requires that most of it be classified, one of our key findings is entirely unclassified, and we hope it will change the way the country acts in cyberspace. Simply put, computer users must practice active cyber self-defense. This means that if users would allow automatic, and generally free, software updates and maint… Continue Reading


It’s crucial to extend jobless benefits

by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse

Rhode Island businesses are working hard to recover from the Great Recession, but more than 71,000 people in the state remain unemployed through no fault of their own. Our unemployment rate now stands at 12.3 percent. It has been at more than 8 percent for nearly two years, at double digits for more than a year. I hear from constituents all the time who are eager to get back to work, but the jobs simply are not there. Through the recession and its aftermath, Congress has done the right thing a… Continue Reading

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