Several people have asked me what my thoughts are after the Super Committee failed to agree upon spending cuts.
My first thought and emotion was one of frustration. The national debt continues at $14 trillion and is growing. The longer our country postpones addressing these issues, the harder and more painful it will be to do so. There are different people to blame, but bottom line, an opportunity to address our Nation’s budget issues was lost.
My second thought and emotion was and is one of concern. The programs that are driving our indebtedness, such as Medicare and Social Security, are too important to older Americans to allow them to go bankrupt. And Medicaid, the health program for the poor, the aged, and the disabled is too important to put states in a position where they must cut necessary programs for the state to avoid bankruptcy.
The third thing, is that I am thankful that even without the Super Committee coming to an agreement, there will be an automatic $1.2 trillion in spending cuts. Unfortunately, this disproportionately comes from the defense budget which Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta says will hurt our military readiness. And even though there are automatic cuts, they do not institute the reforms needed to strengthen and preserve the important programs mentioned above.
On the other hand, I am optimistic about the United States of America. We have had worse problems than this, and the American people and our system of government have overcome. Even in the worst of times, the United States has emerged stronger than ever. The question before us is how will this occur.
I gained insight on this answer when recently I was walking with Paul Ryan, and asked whether he thought Congress could pass tax and spending reforms this Congressional session. He said that we could for some minor issues, but that for major reform, “It depends on what the American people decide in 2012.” I asked him what he meant. He said, “In 2008, when the American people voted for Obama they voted for bigger government and more spending. In 2010, when the American people voted for a Republican Congress, they voted for smaller government and less spending. In 2012, Americans will decide which direction they want our country to go.”
This is a different perspective. The log jam in Washington reflects the log jam in the American people. The next election will decide which vision of America is pursued.
The vision of President Obama and his supporters is the European model. A cradle to grave welfare state where taxes are high, there is less opportunity but social programs take care of people no matter what. The President pursues this even though it is unclear that European countries can sustain these social programs as their cost threatens these countries with bankruptcy.
The vision of conservatives is different and is of a smaller, less intrusive government, that allows greater individual liberty, more opportunity, with lower taxes, and a social safety net – but one that is sustainable and does not burden our children with a crushing national debt. Conservatives emphasize a strong economy where Americans have good jobs with good benefits which limits the need for Government welfare.
America is not just Congress’ responsibility but the American people’s. I like this. I trust Americans to decide the course of our country. As a Congressman, my responsibility is to listen to you. We all agree that the United States must do what the average American family does, which is live within its financial means. My goal is to take the wisdom of the American people and use it to influence policy in Congress.
There are particular issues that I am working on. One, is the Natural Gas Act. This bill creates jobs and increases our energy independence by developing America’s Natural Gas resources. Another is Medicaid reform which strengthens Medicaid for those who need it but allows Federal and state Governments to manage Medicaid in a financially responsible way.
I thank you for allowing me to represent the American people in these issues and others. Laura and I decided to run for Congress to make a difference. I take this responsibility seriously. I realize that there is a lack of trust in Congress. I ask you to trust that I will work as hard as I can on the issues that are important to our country. I will do so honestly, without thought for personal gain. My goal is that at the end of my service, our country will be better off because you have given me the honor of representing you in Congress.