By Rick Larsen
I take great pride in representing Washington's 2nd District in Congress. Not only is it one of the most beautiful parts of the country, it is also where I was born and raised.
With so many questions about Congress these days, it's important to me to always remember from where I came. Dad was a power line worker in Snohomish County, and mom worked hard raising eight kids. They pressed us to do well in school and remember our commitments to our community. It wasn't a fancy upbringing, but it was a solid one in my hometown of Arlington.
The values of service, commitment and community that my parents instilled in me are what motivate me while I'm working for you in Congress.
The 2012 election could be a watershed moment for our region and our country. As Americans go to the polls, the choice they face is stark. Since Republicans won control of the House of Representatives, they have tried to slash government by hollowing out Medicare and defaulting on our obligations to our children-all while trying to give huge tax cuts to the highest earners and leaving future generations to foot the bill.
Those actions are not a reflection of the values I learned here in northwest Washington, and it is not what made America great. The United States didn't get to be the world's leader in innovation by accident. We invested in education to have the best workers. We built our infrastructure to provide the foundation for economic growth. And we decided that it is to all our benefit if our retirees have Social Security and Medicare so they can live healthy and independent lives.
We need to focus on creating jobs in northwest Washington, rebuilding the middle class, and protecting the benefits that our seniors and veterans have earned. We have had enough with ideological attacks on women's health and phony attacks on Medicare.
From my visits around our district, it is clear that people want a representative in Congress who will get results for our local communities. That is why I have worked hard - even in an increasingly divided environment - to pass legislation and find local solutions by working across the aisle.
My commitment to working across party lines led to modernizing pipeline safety laws to protect our communities from the possibility of explosions like we saw over a decade ago in Whatcom County.
I worked with Republican colleagues to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank, which helps businesses right here in Whatcom County export their goods - not their jobs - overseas.
While some in Congress have been more interested in reducing protections for our environment, I was able to garner wide bipartisan support for a bill that protects critical salmon habitat in northwest Washington.
I stood side-by-side with the workers at Intalco Works in Ferndale to make sure it has a stable supply of power and can bring new jobs here once again.
I fought for a robust transportation bill to fix our roads, bridges, highways and transit systems, because in Washington state, transportation means jobs.
And I worked tirelessly to make sure that students at Western Washington University, Whatcom Community College, Bellingham Technical College and other colleges across the country would not be slammed with a doubling of the interest rates they pay for student loans. Students need to hear a very simple message from their country: We will invest in you.
Our work is not done.
Over the next year, Congress will have to address some of our most serious long-term challenges, including creating jobs, tackling our budget deficit and building a 21st century economy based on American innovation.
Any solution to our long-term deficit must protect the guaranteed benefits of Social Security and Medicare. We need a balanced approach to balance the budget, not a shortsighted solution that places the burden of our deficit on the backs of the vulnerable, senior citizens, or our veterans.
I have always been your neighbor first and your Congressman second. My heart has always been here in Washington state. I have the right priorities: working to improve the local economy and create jobs and working across party lines to get things done. I ask for your vote.
Rep. Rick Larsen is a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives, District 2. The primary election is Aug. 7, with the top two candidates moving on to the Nov. 6 general election. For more information go online to bellinghamherald.com/election-news. Our online Voter Guide allows you to see candidate responses side by side, prepare your own sample ballot and share your endorsements on social media.