State of the Union Reaction

Published in the following newspapers: Cheney Free Press, The Grand Coulee Star, Huckleberry Press, The Odessa Record, The Othello Outlook, The Statesman-Examiner, Wilbur Register, Dayton Chronicle, and the Lewiston Tribune.

After President Obama delivered his State of the Union speech on January 25, I am more hopeful that he and House Republicans can work together in a bipartisan way to grow our economy, create jobs, and put our fiscal house in order.

In the few short weeks the 112th Congress has been in session, the new Majority has already shown our commitment to transparency, accountability, and returning America to its founding principles. On our second day in office, I joined Members of Congress in reading the U.S. Constitution on the House floor for the first time in history. We also passed a rule requiring a statement of constitutional authority for every piece of legislation.

Why is there a renewed focus on the Constitution in the 112th Congress? Is it just symbolism? No, it’s because we believe the values and principles contained in the Constitution are the key to keeping the American Dream alive for our children and grandchildren.

In Eastern Washington – and across America – there is a growing sense that the American Dream is slipping away. For generations, the American Dream has included the opportunity to study hard, remain in school, earn an education, pursue a career in a chosen field, marry, live a middle class lifestyle, raise children, watch one’s children strike out on their own and be successful, age gracefully, and retire without unmet needs. In recent years, we have begun to wonder if we can still pass along these and greater opportunities to our children and grandchildren. In my opinion, these concerns are justified.

What makes the American Dream possible is the Constitution – and specifically, the individual rights which are its foundation. These individual rights protect us from harm and open doors of unlimited opportunity regardless of one’s race, sex, religion, or economic background. Just as important, the Constitution places limits on our federal government so that it won’t crowd out the freedom, ingenuity, and moral worth of the individual. To move forward as a country, we must return to these fundamental values which have made America the greatest nation in the world.

To keep the American Dream viable we must revive our economic engine and rein in unchecked government spending.

We must create an economic climate in which small businesses have the confidence to grow and create jobs. As a newly appointed member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, I will be able to play a leading role in this effort by shaping America’s policy toward health care, technology, and energy. The Committee is already planning hearings to pass health care reform based on common sense, market-based solutions. Energy independence is also a critical issue. I look forward to advancing a thorough energy independence strategy encompassing conservation and innovation while utilizing and expanding domestic energy production.

As important, we must reduce government spending and borrowing. As a first step, we should roll back federal spending to Fiscal Year 2008 levels or less – a move that would save $100 billion per year. Following up on the commitment to smaller, smarter government, this Congress passed a five percent budget cut for Members of Congress, Committees, and Leadership, and voted to repeal the catastrophic health care bill that was signed into law last year. In the long-term, we need a pair of amendments to the Constitution —one that would limit federal spending as a percentage of the U.S. economy (GDP) and another that would require a balanced budget every year. As the mother of two young children – including a daughter who was born just last month – I pledge to be a leader on these vital issues.

As the 112th Congress moves forward, please be assured I am committed to doing what is good and right for Eastern Washington and America. No political party has all the answers. I will listen to you and make decisions that positively impact our future and opportunities for our children and grandchildren. Together we can reenergize the values of our founding fathers, change the direction of our country, and keep the American Dream alive.

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers represents Washington’s Fifth Congressional District in the U.S. Congress.

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