Tax and Spend, Promise and Let Down
Congressman Roskam Op-Ed
Washington, Aug 22 - Following the November 2006 election cycle, Speaker Nancy Pelosi returned to Washington declaring that "Democrats are prepared to govern and ready to lead."
After 12 years bemoaning Republican leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives, Democrats finally had their chance to govern and lead', as Speaker Pelosi stated. However, after looking back on the first seven months of this so-called leadership many of us are still looking for results, including 82 percent of the American people who currently don't approve of the job Congress is doing.
Tax and Spend
Although Democrats didn't overtly campaign on a platform of higher taxes and increased spending, it is hard to overlook the record once in control of the gavel. Since January, the House has approved legislation that would increase taxes by $392 billion, causing your taxes to increase by an average of $3,026. Also, this new leadership has authorized over $832 billion in new federal spending, pushing your share of the national debt to $29,000.
Promise and Let Down
Upon their victory in 2006, Democrats promised to create the most honest, most open, and most ethical Congress in history.' Although a laudable goal, their rhetoric came up empty once in power. From lobbying and ethics reform to earmark reform, Democrats have come up short on their promises. Lack of transparency in the earmark process, including a billion dollar slush fund, is one example broken promises that have left the American people worse off, less informed and underrepresented.
According to Congress Daily, John Murtha, Chairman of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, promised that he would not use any spending bill to enact partisan policy on the war in Iraq and our troops. Another laudable promise, yet another let down. Specifically, it took House Democrats four months to support a clean Iraq supplemental bill to fund our troops fighting the War on Terror. This bill however, contained $17 billion in non-war and non-emergency spending to attract more Democrats to vote to support troop funds. Pork barrel projects should never take precedent over funding our troops on the ground.
Continuing with broken promises, Speaker Pelosi decried "In the next Congress, Democrats will take America in a New Direction, making health care for our children a real priority." This important priority however came at the expense of seniors by slashing Medicare by over $157 billion dollars to subsidize health care for family of four making up to $80,000. This legislation also repealed the legal requirement to verify citizenship status when determining eligibility for benefits, essentially opening the door to taxpayer subsidized health care for illegal immigrants.
Congress can do better
Congressional approval ratings are at an all-time low, 18 percent. The Democrat leadership must recognize their follies and realize that only working in a bipartisan manner will Congress be able to meet the needs of the American people.
Congress can and must do a better job addressing the pressing issues of our day. We need to solve challenges such as energy independence, health care, and retirement security without raising taxes on hard-working families. I look forward to returning from the district work period, optimistic that we can work together with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to address the issues of importance to this nation.