The Ripon Forum

Volume 48, No. 4

December 2014

“Washington needs to be recalibrated so that it is smaller, less intrusive, and more accountable.”

By on December 10, 2014



President Ronald Reagan spoke often about America being the “shining city on the hill”. Unfortunately, the dysfunction taking place in Washington has blurred this aspirational vision of America.

Over the past six years, the headwinds coming out of Washington have severely impacted opportunities for hardworking American families and taxpayers. Because of these headwinds and the conflicts arising from divided government, the approval ratings of President Obama and Congress have dropped to historically low levels. In addition, about two of every three Americans think that our country is on the wrong track. Moreover, during this time period, the typical American family has seen its income remain stagnant while their costs for food, education, healthcare and energy have risen.

Over the past few months, the failed economic policies of the Obama administration have allowed the Chinese economy to surpass ours. Terrorist groups and rogue states are on the rise around the world and our border security is non-existent. The federal budget is a mess. Unelected, unaccountable Washington bureaucrats have inserted themselves in to far too many aspects of American businesses, educational institutions, and our homes. Lastly, the ideologies of a radical left have placed a higher value on bugs and trees than on human lives and economic opportunity for families. These conditions are unacceptable and it is time that elected officials in Washington work to renew Americans’ trust in their government.

The results of the recent midterm elections show that Americans want change. Americans are looking for Washington to do the following – create an environment of economic opportunity for American families, restore our national security, balance the federal budget, limit the federal government to its constitutional roles, and reinforce traditional American family values.

The results of the recent midterm elections show that Americans want change.

While it will take substantial time to reverse the problems described above and to restore our country’s exceptionalism, we need to first focus on creating an environment for economic growth. Every piece of legislation and every federal regulation should be judged by its impact on an overarching goal of creating “more jobs and better paychecks for hardworking American families.” To do this, Congress should tackle tax reform, regulatory reform, litigation reform, and patient-centered health care reform based upon private sector principles (to replace Obamacare). In addition, Congress should develop a 21st century energy strategy based upon“architecture of abundance”, similar to the energy strategy I recently co-authored with Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal.

The economic growth that arrives from the successful implementation of the foregoing policies will help produce additional revenues to allow us to restore our country’s defense and border security resources. We are safer at home and the world is more stable when America is strong. Rebuilding our national defense is essential to restoring America’s respect around the world. Again, the words of Ronald Reagan are relevant as he believed in a philosophy of “peace through strength.” We are much less likely to have war if our national security is strong.

Solving the federal government’s fiscal mess is also a national security issue because our exploding debt is now our nation’s biggest security weakness. Washington needs to be recalibrated so that it is smaller, less intrusive, and more accountable. This includes fixing our on-going fiscal crisis by balancing the budget, being fiscally responsible in spending, and reforming entitlement spending – the true driver of our debt. Over the past four years, the House of Representatives has passed four “Path to Prosperity” budgets which tackle these issues head-on and set the federal budget on a glide path to balance in the next few years. In 2015, we need to build on those budgets and have them enacted by both the House and Senate.

The 114th Congress will be sworn in on January 6. During that process, each Member of the House and Senate will take an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America. Both Congress and the American people would be well served if all Representatives and Senators would also recommit themselves to adhering to the Constitution by limiting the activities of the federal government to those which are specifically enumerated in that document.

As the new Congress carries out its business, it should reaffirm its commitment to protect all human life (including the lives of the unborn) and to protect the values that enable families to be healthy – emotionally, physically, and economically. Our reaffirmation should also include commitments to protect our religious liberties set forth in the Bill of Rights.

Through these efforts, we can rebuild trust with American people; and we will help restore America’s promise, prosperity, and security for current and future generations.

The 114th Congress presents America with a unique opportunity to return to its exceptional roots. By taking full advantage of the possibilities that lay ahead, we can restore America to the “shining city on a hill” that Reagan envisioned.

Bill Flores represents the 17th District of Texas in the U.S. House of Representatives. He serves as Chairman of the Republican Study Committee.

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