Dear Rob ,
When Massachusetts sent a Republican to the seat formerly held by Senator Ted Kennedy, they reiterated a message too often forgotten in Washington: listen to us. I’ve heard this message from you for quite some time. (Bobby, no you haven't. You refuse to meet us.) People across the country are fed up and angry, and they think that Congress and the White House are not listening to them (We know they aren't, including you.). As we say in Alabama, this was a bellringer, and House leadership needs to listen.
The current state of health care reform epitomizes Americans’ disgust. We can all agree that health care is a concern and needs to be reformed, but what good is health care reform if people don’t have jobs? If they can’t feed their children? Pay their bills? The economy needs to be our top priority (gee,thanks for finally seeing the light).
Closely rivaling Americans’ concerns about the economy is their wariness of federal spending. Too often in the past, Congress was not held accountable by the people. But trillion dollar deficits as far as the eye can see have awoken them, and rightfully so. For our children and grandchildren’s sake, we must get our fiscal house in order. (So when are you going to stop voting for spending increases and breaks for some people?)
These challenges are not easy to solve. Improving the economy in the middle of a budget crisis is a tall task, but Members of Congress are sent to Washington to be the people’s voice and tackle tough problems.
There is plenty of blame to go around for our current condition. Democrats need to recognize that ambitious plans to address longstanding priorities such as health care, energy, and other spending initiatives must be postponed if the American people disagree with this agenda. Republicans must remember that they were in charge when hundreds of billions of dollars in deficits were common even when our economy was in better shape. (Yes, and you must remember Congress controls the purse and the Democrats have controlled it most of our lives.)
There are some simple solutions that will help solve some of these problems. First, we must reinstate statutory pay-go. Statutory pay-go budgeting rules were in place when we experienced record budget surpluses in the late 90s.
Second, we should pass a fiscal commission that will force Congress to act on legislation designed to reduce excessive long-term government spending. Support for some form of a fiscal commission spreads across party lines. (The Democrats don't need bi-partisanship to solve anything right now. Stop blaming Republicans and get the job done. We don't need any more commissions, why don't you sponsor bills to reduce spending now. Are you a leader or follower?) But too often, leadership of both parties ignores these common sense solutions. Let’s come together, not as Republicans or Democrats, but as Americans, to do to the work of the people.
Leadership should heed the calls of their own constituents and people around the country. They need to listen to the good ideas of people in both parties, and especially from the moderates who are willing to listen to and to work with the other side of the aisle. (What's so magical about moderates? Seems to me they can't make their minds up about right and wrong, good and bad.)
In the coming months, Congress needs to come together and fix the economy while not breaking the bank. We should pass smart and innovative solutions such as the AMERICA Works Act and the Small Business Start-Up Savings Accounts Act that will help get our economy back on track. We need to help small businesses, and focus on improving Main Street and not just Wall Street. The 2001 and 2003 tax cuts should be extended to give families and entrepreneurs assurance that the federal government won’t be asking any more from them in these trouble times. (Again another good sounding spending spree. You still don't get it do you?)
And while we’re addressing these problems, some of the things that have divided us in the past should be permanently set aside. We should stop the harsh partisan rhetoric that serves little purpose other than to undermine the faith that the American people have in both parties. (Congressional inaction and the bad consequences of Congressional parties is the reason for the lack of faith.) Congress should sit down and thoroughly debate issues and not rush to pass a bill simply for the sake of doing “something”. The doors should be open so the public can see the legislative process. And finally, elected officials must stay focused on the issue for which we have a real mandate: improving the economy. (And what have you done to improve things?)
As always, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call my offices at the numbers below. It is my great pleasure to serve you and the entire Second District of Alabama.
Congressman Bobby Bright