“This place needs to be reformed.”

Duffy, Adams, Dold, Runyan and Ribble Discuss First 16 Months in Office at Ripon Society Breakfast

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Ripon Society hosted a breakfast discussion this past Friday for five Freshman Republicans — Reps. Sean Duffy (WI-7), Sandy Adams (FL-24), Robert Dold (IL-10), Jon Runyan (NJ-3), and Reid Ribble (WI-8) — who, in their remarks, not only discussed their experiences over their first 16 months in office, but displayed the kind of straight talk that has come to characterize the 2010 GOP Class.

“Congress doesn’t work very well,” Ribble declared. “It’s a uniquely frustrating environment, and the system itself is so messed up. This place needs to be reformed. And it will only be reformed if the people of the United States – the sovereign leaders of this place – stand up. That is what it is going to take to make this place work. To the degree that I can influence that change, that is where I’m focusing my attention. I will work as hard as I can to reform this place and make it work for the American people.

Dold echoed Ribble’s remarks, pointing not only to what he sees as the Freshmen’s most significant accomplishment since taking office, but what he considers the greatest lesson learned.

“We’ve been able to take the dynamic in Washington from, ‘How much more can I spend?’ to, ‘How much more I can cut?’ If you think about it, that is a pretty significant shift. But I’m also sure that others would agree – Washington is broken. Yes, we came in here wanting to solve the problem with one vote. We wanted to solve the problem immediately. Obviously, you can’t do that … What it really boils down to is the lack of leadership in Washington. There is a leadership deficit that needs to be fulfilled, and frankly, that’s the lesson learned.”

In his comments, Duffy pinned much of the responsibility for the partisan stalemate on the White House and Senate.

“I thought the White House and Senate would help the House deal with the massive deficit,” the Wisconsin Republican stated. “To our surprise as the Freshmen class, there was no willingness to deal with these big problems. President Clinton came to the center after 1994, and I thought the same would happen here. But I think this President has stayed in his current track or has gone further to the left. That has been a frustration for me.” Duffy also took a moment to discuss Tuesday’s recall election in his home state. “It will be one of the first big battles of 2012,” he observed. “I think it will tell us if the voters are going to reward politicians who go big. I think Wisconsin is going to support bold action and support Governor Walker.”

Runyan spoke of a different kind of battle in his remarks — one that was fought on the gridiron during his years as a player in the National Football League, and one which in some ways parallels the battles he is fighting as a Member of Congress today.

“I can remember throughout my career, knowing the rules of the game, knowing what was legal and what wasn’t, and playing right there at that threshold,” Runyan stated. “After a while, it got to a point where, financially, it was hurting me and the rules hadn’t been changed. What does that sound like? A lot of these agency regulations we live with in this country. That’s the regulatory environment we live in. It’s not against the rules, but you’re afraid to go out and take those chances in order to make a living. I was taught to be a man first, stand up for what you believe in, work your tail off and everything else will come to you. I didn’t worry about what I had coming to me. Is someone going to take care of me? Those thoughts were never in my frame of mind.”

Adams, who served in the military and worked as a deputy sheriff before her election to the House, concurred that there is a constant battle being waged with the federal bureaucracy in Washington, and said that Congress and the President must come together to figure out a way to create “a more efficient and leaner federal government.”

“Here we have some of the most mounting deficits our country has ever known,” Adams stated. “We have real issues facing real people, and we have small businesses in our districts being crushed by regulations. We have a lot to accomplish to get our country back on the right track. This means, it needs to become a more efficient and leaner government. It needs to get smaller and businesses need to be able to grow. If you look at almost all of us who came in together, we came here with the same message from our constituents – get up there and fix it! We’ve had an interesting year. We have a Senate that doesn’t seem to want to work with us, we have regulations strangling all of our businesses, and we have an Administration who’s not holding their agencies accountable. That’s what I see as our biggest challenge moving forward.”

 The Ripon Society is a public policy organization that was founded in 1962 and takes its name from the town where the Republican Party was born in 1854 – Ripon, Wisconsin. One of the main goals of The Ripon Society is to promote the ideas and principles that have made America great and contributed to the GOP’s success. These ideas include keeping our nation secure, keeping taxes low and having a federal government that is smaller, smarter and more accountable to the people.