Perhaps the most important part of my job is talking to people about their lives, the issues they face and the ideas they have to make our nation stronger and more prosperous. Each week, our offices receive hundreds of emails and phone calls and letters from folks seeking assistance or offering advice. Recently, our office sent out questionnaires in which we asked citizens for specific suggestions on ways to improve the economy and create jobs.
I have always thought that answers should come from the people and be taken to Washington, rather than the other way around. The responses to our survey were overwhelming. Not surprisingly, they contained many common-sense, practical solutions to the challenges facing our nation's economy. I'm committed to doing all I can to help turn the economy around. And one thing I can do that I know will help is to take your good ideas back to Washington.
One of the ideas that came up most often in our survey was the need to encourage American manufacturing and the sale of American goods both at home and abroad. I couldn't agree more and have always been an advocate for Buy American. It is an idea that is rooted in our small towns and rural communities where, all across our district, businesses small and large make quality products that compete across the globe. We need good jobs, manufacturing jobs, jobs that strengthen our economy's foundation by circulating and keeping money and wages in our communities while continuing the tradition of manufacturing the best brand in the world: Made in America.
Fight Unfair Trade Deals
It was not surprising, especially in our region, that many of you see America's habit of entering into unfair trade deals, and our failure to enforce trade rules other countries have agreed to, as being major contributing factors to our economic struggles. Our part of the country was in recession well before the economic collapse of 2008. Our jobs were shipped overseas and our people were hurting due to failed government policies for years prior to the near implosion of Wall Street. Trade is a policy area in which the gap between wisdom of citizens and the lack of common sense in Washington is most evident.
Everyone I talk to here at home tells me we need to quit shipping jobs overseas, quit giving away industries in trade deals and reward companies that keep jobs in America. Yet getting people in Washington to accept this simple, logical wisdom of these facts is a monumental task. I admit it is frustrating, but also rewarding, every time I confront Washington pigheadedness with North Carolina common sense. I am proud to take your side and your ideas into this fight. It is one I think we will eventually win. I continue to fight against unfair trade deals and that is why I cosponsored HR 516 - the Bring Jobs Back to America Act, to establish a strategy to encourage manufacturing in the United States and for the repatriation of manufacturing jobs that have been sent off-shore.
Government Should Help, not Hurt, Then Get Out of The Way
Many of those who responded to the survey have very good ideas about the role of government as it relates to the economy and job creation. And while the role and size and expense of government is at the core of many of our policy debates in this country, it is clear to me that most people believe as I do: That government should make it easier to do business, create a policy climate that encourages growth and expansion of the workforce and enforce necessary rules with fairness and common sense, and then get out of the way and let private enterprise flourish. Government can simplify the tax code, reward businesses that keep jobs in America, enforce and enhance trade agreements to meet the needs and interests of our nation and stop the arbitrary and unreasonable enforcement of unnecessary regulations that stymie growth and cost jobs.
Bring Tax Dollars Home
It is crucial that our tax dollars come back home and be put to work here in the 8th District. That's why I've worked to help secure millions of dollars in grants for projects to improve our infrastructure to attract businesses here. Government should spend less and spend wisely, but when funds are available I want to bring them home to bolster our economic prospects.
The Best Solutions are Here at Home
One obvious consensus that can be drawn from the surveys, letters, phone calls and meetings that citizens have participated in across our district, is that partisan bickering, political infighting and the "Washington knows best" mentality are threatening to destroy our country and making real, practical solutions harder and harder to achieve. As someone who has worked for a living, I know the true genius of America is not to be found in the Congress or in a government agency. The true genius of our great nation is in our people. It is in the parent who, even in these times, manages to make ends meet and get their children the education they need to have a brighter future. It is the small business owner who invests their every dollar and waking hour of work into an idea. I know America has better days ahead, and I know the ideas and dreams and solutions that chart the path to that brighter future will come from our citizens.