The American people have grown weary of Washington ignoring the majority of Americans who want Congress to address our nation's most pressing issues.
While millions of Americans looked for employment, Washington rammed through an unconstitutional, unpopular and unaffordable government takeover of health care. And when job creators were searching for economic certainty, Washington implemented more regulations and tax increases on businesses.
For the past several months, I held town halls and meetings across the 10th District of Georgia in order to gather ideas and solutions to the issues we face. House Republicans recently unveiled "A Pledge to America," which is a governing agenda that reflects Americans' priorities and values.
The Pledge includes more than 20 items that focus on job creation, spending limits, Congressional reforms and national security. "A Pledge to America" is not a comprehensive agenda to change everything that is broken in Washington. However, it is a pledge to Americans that Republicans are focusing on our nation's immediate needs. More importantly, it puts us on a path to restore a Constitutionally-limited government.
At every town hall and meeting, the majority of individuals wanted to know how Congress plans to incentivize growth and end economic uncertainty. The Pledge reflects the American people's frustration with Washington's tax-and-spend agenda. In an effort to do no more harm, the Pledge proposes to permanently stop the pending tax increase on individuals and businesses, and instead allow small business owners to take a tax deduction equal to 20 percent of their business income.
It is critical we allow job creators to keep more of their hard-earned money so they can buy inventory, retain and expand their employees - a goal I have been working towards for the past year with legislation such as my JOBS Act (H.R. 4100).
With the national debt soaring above $13 trillion, each man, woman and child currently owes nearly $42,000 for their share of the debt. It is critical we protect our nation's future, and the first step to do so is placing the federal government on the path to a balanced budget.
Because Democrats in this Congress have not passed spending bills for the 2011 fiscal year, we still have the opportunity to reduce spending. The Pledge proposes to return spending to at least pre-stimulus, pre-bailout levels, which would easily save $100 billion next year.
Our annual spending bills are just one vehicle to rein in out-of-control spending. The Pledge also proposes to sunset duplicative and outdated government programs, reform the budget process, terminate T.A.R.P., and continue to allow the American people to pick which programs to cut. In addition, it proposes to cancel all unspent stimulus funds.
While families, small businesses and state budgets are cutting back, it is time Congress does the same. The Pledge includes a 5.8 percent cut to Congress' budget.
These cutbacks represent only a small piece of a larger pie, but I can assure you I will fight to ensure these spending reductions are just the beginning to a new era of fiscal responsibility.
In addition to the economy and spending, health care remains a top concern among Georgians. The Pledge to America not only includes a provision to repeal Obamacare, but it also replaces it with commonsense, market-based solutions. As a family physician, I understand it is critical we find solutions that lower costs, protect the vital doctor/patient relationship, and prevent taxpayer-funded abortions.
The Pledge also includes promises to pass clean troop-funding bills, keep Guantanamo Bay detainees off American soil, work with states and local officials to enforce immigration laws, and much more.
In addition to positive legislation, Georgians have demanded Washington change the way it does business. The American people rejected the price and product of Obamacare, but perhaps even more they rejected the process. The Pledge restores accountability and transparency by suggesting members of Congress be allotted the opportunity to read, debate and offer amendments on all legislation. It is time to end the era of closed-door backroom deals.
At every town hall, Georgians pleaded for Congress to return to a Constitutionally-limited government. In order to ensure Congress stays within the boundaries established in the U.S. Constitution, each piece of legislation will require a section citing the specific constitutional authority for the legislative action.
"A Pledge to America" is an excellent start, but there is a lot more work to be done. The interactive process used to draft the Pledge is not a one-time event. House Republicans will continue to provide opportunities for all Americans to provide input and ensure those thoughts are translated into legislation.
It is critical that Georgians remain engaged and hold Washington accountable. I urge Georgians to arm themselves with knowledge by re-familiarizing themselves with the U.S. Constitution and the Federalists Papers so they can hold public officials accountable. Congress should work for "the people," but change in Washington will only come when lit by small grassfires of "we the people" all across the country.
(U.S. Rep. Paul Broun, M.D., represents Georgia's 10th Congressional District.)
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