This is an op-ed from US Senator John Barrasso.
In the new Congress, the American people will give Republicans further opportunities to govern. Unlike our predecessors, we will lessen the burdens on the American people. In economic times like these, Washington should be doing everything it can to tighten its own belt and focus on private sector job creation. The Democrats have not only failed to do this; they’ve actively made it harder for Americans to make ends meet.
There are three areas where I see opportunities to help Americans. First, the Senate must follow the House and repeal the health care spending law and replace it with common sense reforms that will lower the cost of our health care. Second, we must lower the cost of energy by encouraging American energy and innovation; not by discouraging it. Third, we must reform Washington’s culture of spending now and paying later.
I am committed to repealing and replacing the President’s new health care law. A majority of the American people don’t like this law, and they are right. The law does nothing to lower health care costs—that’s the verdict from the nonpartisan Chief Actuary of Medicare.
Democrats have spent thousands of words and hours falsely claiming that this law controls costs. Their actions tell a different story. Right now, Americans are being hit with higher health care bills due to Washington mandates. Meanwhile, well-connected businesses and labor unions are being handed “waivers” from the Obama Administration that excuse them from bearing the costs of the same mandates. If the powerful and politically connected can escape the costs of this bill through waivers, it’s only fair that ordinary Americans coping with the recession get the same waivers. I am going to fight to make sure they do.
I will also fight for our states to have the right to opt-out of portions of this law. State officials should be focused on dealing with the health care needs of their people, not satisfying expensive Washington rules. I’m currently working with Senator Lindsey Graham and governors across our country on a bill that will restore states’ rights over the health care of their citizens.
The American people know that it shouldn’t take an army of lawyers and lobbyists to keep Americans safe from unwise and unconstitutional regulatory policy. It also doesn’t take 2,700 page bills filled with special favors and sweetheart deals to fix health care. It takes common sense reforms that help Americans. We need to allow people to buy health care across state lines. We need to provide the same tax relief for individuals that mirror the policy we already have for businesses. We need to deliver solutions for lawsuit abuse. Washington got this issue wrong but it doesn’t have to be permanent. Republicans are working to get it right.
On energy, Washington’s record is just as indefensible and shares the blame for rising gas prices.
Under the cover of creating green jobs, Washington has increased the cost of traditional energy. They’ve done it through politically motivated drilling moratoriums, limiting access to American energy, and imposing costly regulations aimed at trying to control the world’s climate. These policies show us that when the President says that he wants to make alternative energy the cheapest form of energy, he doesn’t want to make alternative energy cheaper. He wants to make all other energy more expensive. We need to make America’s energy as clean as we can, as fast as we can, without raising prices on American families.
I support green energy, but not at the expense of red, white and blue jobs. I am working to eliminate Washington’s ability to impose job-crushing and energy-crushing regulations. Soon, I will introduce sweeping legislation that will prevent the Obama Administration and states from imposing extreme climate rules. It will stop the President’s attempt to enact cap and trade through the Environmental Protection Agency and other Washington agencies. By passing this legislation, Congress can protect jobs, consumers, and small businesses from Washington overreach that stifles job creation and slows our economic recovery.
Nowhere is the failure of Washington’s usual approach more obvious than on spending. Already, every man, woman and child in America faces a debt of $45,000. Additionally, 41 cents of every dollar the government spends is borrowed money.
When you’re in a hole this deep, it’s time to quit digging. I support a Balanced Budget amendment to the Constitution, an earmark ban, a cap on discretionary spending and serious reform of emergency spending. Right now, any project that Washington doesn’t want to pay for, it calls an “emergency.” It happened at least ten times in 2010.
I would like to see the Senate implement a rule that any “emergency” project must receive a supermajority vote to be classified as an emergency. The same rule should apply to any violation of a discretionary spending cap. We must make it as difficult as possible to impose further burdens on the American people.
Back in 1980, Ronald Reagan asked the American people, “Are you better off?” The answer to that question is as obvious today as it was then. Over the past two years, Democrats have cared more for their agenda than for the agenda of the American people. In these economic times, legislators must listen and then lead. In the 112th Congress, we will work to lighten the load—not add more to onto the backs of Americans.
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