The past few weeks have been a refreshing opportunity for me to travel throughout much of our state and visit with Nebraskans from all walks of life. While I am often required to be in Washington for hearings and votes, I am always energized when I am home meeting with Nebraskans and discussing matters of great importance to folks in the heartland.
I enjoyed spending time in towns big and small, from the Missouri River to the Wyoming border, and I am thrilled to say I have spent time in each of our 93 counties during Senate recess and weekends. And while I heard a diverse array of comments and opinions during this state work period, several themes come to mind as I prepare for a busy week back in Washington. Many folks observed that the federal government is becoming too heavily involved in our day-to-day lives. Businesses are being forced to cope with more and more governmental red tape, which is impeding economic growth and job creation at a time when the job market and economy struggle to rebound. I am pressing for policies that eliminate unnecessary burdens on job creators and impair economic recovery.
One major source of added government intrusion into the private lives of all Americans is the President's health care law. With implementation of Obamacare ramping up in the next few months, a growing chorus of concern is being echoed in all corners of our state and, indeed, our nation. It was certainly a point of discussion in every town hall meeting I conducted. There is simply no doubt this law should be repealed. I led the first successful repeal of a portion of Obamacare, eliminating burdensome IRS paperwork requirements for businesses, and I will continue to push for policies that responsibly and effectively repeal this damaging law.
Hearing first-hand accounts of the impacts of federal laws helps me to better serve Nebraskans when I return to Washington. These discussions often provide the basis for meaningful solutions to problems facing many Americans. I am sure the insight from you will prove beneficial in the coming weeks as Congress faces a long list of challenges with many pressing deadlines.
We are fast approaching the upper limit of the federal government's ability to borrow money to cover its obligations--the debt ceiling. This must be addressed in the next couple months. We must also set spending levels for 2014 before the end of September. These issues provide Congress a chance to address out-of-control spending head on.
Nebraskans know the federal government is spending money at an unsustainable rate. Back home, we set budgets and make sure they balance. We are careful with our finances and don't spend money we don't have. This model has served our state well, and Washington should adopt it. We must curb excessive government spending and reverse the tide of our ever-growing federal debt.
The first order of business we must address this week is the U.S. response to the Syrian government's use of chemical weapons on its own civilians. Issues like this require very careful consideration of the consequences of action, as well as the consequences of inaction.
Thanks to everyone who participated in my town hall meetings. If you weren't able to attend, but have comments or concerns you'd like to share, I encourage you to call any of my offices in Nebraska or Washington. You can also leave me a note on my website: www.johanns.senate.gov.