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Public Statements

This Week in Washington


Location: Washington, DC

Washington is broken and everyone knows it. While admitting the problem certainly makes for a proper first step to finding a solution, that alone will not fix the many issues we still face. We must change the way we approach our problems. Partisan bickering and last minute gamesmanship do nothing for the average American.

While the past week brought a temporary end to the debt ceiling crisis, the agreement that was reached was anything but good. In true Washington fashion, an 11th hour deal was struck with the intent of averting crisis--but the bad deal that was presented and passed has only prolonged and postponed the potential for even more bad days to come. I completely understand the great risk of default, but I simply could not support a deal that violates the commitment our nation has made to senior citizens. I did support a compromise bill on July 30th that would've protected our seniors, reined in Washington's out-of-control spending, and honored the full faith and credit of our nation, but unfortunately it failed.

When you look into the actual numbers behind our National Debt, you find some surprising statistics. The largest sole owner of the U.S. debt is not China. America's largest debt is owed to our own Social Security Trust Fund. The U.S. Treasury has raided the coffers of the Social Security Trust Fund, borrowing from it over 2.6 trillion dollars. That money belongs to those who have paid it in over the years. So the next time someone says to you "Social Security is broke," remind them of the nearly three trillion dollars it is owed by the rest of the United States government. We cannot continue to allow our government to steal from retirees.

I've cosponsored legislation to instruct the federal government to keep its hands out of the Social Security and Medicare trust funds, as constantly raiding those accounts does nothing to ensure solvency or benefits for our seniors for years to come. By removing this added drain on programs that we must preserve, we can help end the growing uncertainty that seniors have faced in the ongoing talk of spending cuts in Washington. Sadly, many of my colleagues continue to use our seniors, veterans and small businesses as bargaining chips in the political debates surrounding spending. We can cut out our wasteful ways while preserving our promises and prosperity, continuing to be the best country in the world.

In 2010, I voted to extend tax cuts for small business owners and working families, because I understand that we're in tough times. I know small businesses are doing all they can to help create jobs to get our economy back on track, and I wanted to do all I could to help small business owners be successful. I believe we simply cannot call on our average working families and small businesses to pay more taxes during a recession. Big corporations are another matter. Sadly, we've seen big business take advantage of tax loopholes or relocate their headquarters overseas to avoid paying their fair share of taxes. Too many have enjoyed the gray areas of a dangerously complex and confusing tax structure, offering no domestic job creation or any benefit for our country--just payouts and bonuses for company executives.

Here at home, we remember all too well how our once vibrant manufacturing sectors have fallen victim to the awful trade deals crafted by Congress over the last two decades. As Washington leaders continue their work on even more upcoming deals with Korea, Panama and Colombia--I'm working to do all I can to stop them from hurting folks in our part of the world. This week, I introduced the Textile Enforcement and Security Act of 2011 to help crack down on the lax enforcement of the deals of our past, and help protect our nation from fraudulent and job killing products entering our borders from China and other nations. If we intend to compete in global markets, we cannot continue to hinder the American worker and American business owner by allowing others to break the rules while we pile on more restrictions for our own businesses.

I was angry that Congress adjourned before resolving funding for the Federal Aviation Administration. I was ready to stay and get work done. This standstill had halted the work of over 4,000 FAA employees, and affected an additional 70,000 jobs nationwide--halting over $2.5 billion in construction projects. The construction industry has served as such a vital part to our recovery, and investments in infrastructure and business expansion should not be stopped. Tens of thousands of workers and working families have suffered at the hands of Washington's continued dysfunction. The eventual resolution of this did not change the fact that the situation could have been prevented all together.

We have all had enough of empty promises. Clearly our economy is not improved by rhetoric. We have to take a real stand against these job killing trade deals, enforce our laws on the books, and stop playing the blame game. There is enough blame to go around on both sides of aisle. What we must have now is action. I, for one, am ready to go back to Washington and do what the American people need us to do--get our economy back on track and our people back to work. There is no recess for families out of work and struggling, and there should be no recess for Congress.

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