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Montgomery Advertiser - Teamwork, Toughness Key to Fixing Problems

Op-Ed

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By Representative Martha Roby

Last week I was proud to share the news that the Air Force no longer plans to relocate C-130 aircraft from the 908th Airlift Wing stationed at Maxwell Air Force Base.

This is positive news for the River Region and especially for the families who depend on the more than 850 direct and indirect jobs associated with the 908th.

It didn't happen by accident. It took members of Alabama's House and Senate delegations working together and not backing down in demanding top military commanders account for any fiscal savings associated with this move.

I worked closely with my delegation colleagues -- particularly Sen. Jeff Sessions and Rep. Mike Rogers -- using our combined resources to demand answers from Pentagon brass about the merits of moving these aircraft and associated jobs. There is no doubt in my mind our teamwork and toughness paid off, as the Air Force, unable to identify practical savings, eventually altered its "strategic guidance" plan to no longer include moving Maxwell's C-130s.

Teamwork and toughness got the job done.

This is a useful lesson going forward into the new Congress. There are monumental tasks before us -- avoiding the "fiscal cliff," paying down the national debt, turning this "jobless recovery" into a real recovery. Decisions made in the coming weeks and months will affect generations of Americans in a profound way.

Yet, with the mixed results of the election, many wonder whether anything will actually get accomplished.

It's a fair question. President Obama was re-elected. The Senate remains in Democratic control and the House in Republican control, with the ratio of Republicans to Democrats barely changed.

For as much as the nation seemed fed up with the status quo, it voted to keep its elected government basically the same.

So did the people vote for more gridlock? Do we have a mandate for more of the same?

Of course not. The American people want solutions to the problems our country faces. They may disagree on exactly how to address the issues, but they want them addressed all the same.
If there is a mandate, it is for leaders to find a way to avoid the fiscal cliff in the short term and solve the debt crisis for the long term. Americans want reasonable, responsible reforms that will help, not hurt, our economy.

So, how do we do it?

First: teamwork.

Though the views of members of the House and Senate are as divergent as the people we represent, we bear the responsibility to work through our political differences and get things done. That's our job.

There is common ground, and I am eager to work with men and women of good faith from both parties to find it. One area where I believe common ground exists is tax reform. Any serious plan to address the $16 trillion debt must include meaningful reforms to entitlement programs. If some pro-growth tax reforms -- broadening the tax base, lowering rates and closing loopholes -- could help us reach an agreement to finally deal with entitlement spending and debt, it's worth considering.

With election dust barely settled and no actual legislation on the table, it's too early to speculate on specifics. But in broad terms, there is reason to be optimistic Congress can work together and make progress on this issue.

Second: toughness.

Make no mistake -- retreating from our conservative principles is not an option. For the last two years the House has stood strong as the people's last line of defense against an overreaching, over-regulating and over-spending government. That's a role we'll continue to fill, and the president should expect that going forward.

We're not going to play games like the White House and Senate have tried to over the last two years. If the president and Senate Democrats insist on economically harmful small business tax-rate hikes with no serious plan to tackle the debt, Republicans must show some toughness and let them know we won't back down from our conservative principles.

Neither side got what it wanted out of the election. Republicans were denied our candidate's bid for the White House and Democrats failed in their attempt to regain control of Congress. Yet the issues facing our country remain.

Republicans aren't going to abandon our core conservative values, just as I don't expect Democrats to change their stripes either. The good news is we might not have to in order to achieve results.

While holding firm to our conservative beliefs, we can work together to solve some of our nation's big problems and put our country on a more prosperous, sustainable path. That's our job, and it's time to get back to work.


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