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An Agenda for American Families

Op-Ed

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Location: Washington, DC


An Agenda for American Families

By Congressman Joe Pitts

This week, the Republicans in the House of Representatives introduced the American Families Agenda. The action plan is a reflection of the commitment by House Republicans to provide American families with commonsense solutions to the challenges they face in their daily lives. The agenda seeks to provide America's families with more freedom in their jobs, greater healthcare and retirement security, safer communities, and access to affordable education.

I would like to highlight a few of the important provisions of the plan and the accompanying pieces of legislation that we believe the American people deserve to have passed.

The first solution is to assure American families are more financially secure. There is no doubt about it, American families are being pinched by raising prices, not the least of which is the high cost of gasoline. The economy stands on shaky ground. American families want lower prices at the pump and policies that put the economy on the road toward long-term, sustained growth.

One of the bills offered by the House Republican Conference aimed at achieving this result is the aptly named No More Excuses Energy Act. This bill will increase energy production at home, and encourage conservation and alternative energy production from wind, nuclear, natural gas, and other alternative forms of energy.

The truth is, politicians in D.C. have run out of time and excuses for not finding affordable sources of energy. We need to increase production in order to meet the increased demand that is contributing to the high prices.

Another kitchen table issue for American families is the cost of healthcare. Republicans in the House want every American to have affordable healthcare. However, we differ from our colleagues on the other side of the aisle on how to go about achieving this objective—we want people to own their own healthcare and have the ability to choose their own coverage.

Included in the Agenda are bills that would allow patients to take their healthcare with them from one job to another, and one state to another, a tax break to allow every American to be able to buy their own healthcare, and legislation to allow small businesses to band together across state lines in economy of scale to purchase health insurance. There are also bills that would place an emphasis preventative health measures.

We know that American families care deeply about education, so we have addressed this issue as well. A good education is the doorway to success and a critical part of making our country more competitive in a global economy. Not only do we need to make it easier for young adults to get a college education, we have to do a better job of providing the basic fundamentals for all children. College tuition is on the rise, historically at about twice the rate of inflation.

Among the bills put forward by House Republicans is a bill I introduced called the Help Kids Save for College Act. This bill enhances popular 529 college savings plans by allowing employers to make tax-free matching contributions to an employee's 529 account—up to $500 a year, per child. These 529 accounts, named after their section of the tax code, allow individuals to save for higher education costs by earning tax-free interest.

Other bills included would improve the education of our nation's children by ensuring every child in America can read and write and returning control over education decisions back to the local level.

The Agenda also includes important plans to keep our nation safe and honor our soldiers and veterans. Our nation's most solemn duties are to take care of our troops, veterans, and their families and to keep families safe. It is critical that we continue to fight and win the war on terror, and that we support our men and women who serve in our Armed Forces and their families.

House Republicans know that American families are not interested in partisan bickering. They simply want results. We stand ready to respond to the priorities of the American people will legislation that will address their most pressing needs.


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