As the first session of the 113th Congress ends, year-end performance reviews are under way. Public opinion of Washington is remarkably low. The mismanaged roll out of the federal health insurance website and broken promises from the president have frustrated many Americans. A shortsighted decision by the Senate majority leader to trample on minority party rights has likely poisoned the well for sweeping bipartisan achievements in the U.S. Senate.
Whereas many in Washington seem to believe that redistributing wealth and raising taxes magically will solve income inequality, cure global warming and achieve world peace, the fact is that Washington has a spending problem, not a revenue problem.
It’s frustrating this Congress busted the spending caps agreed to in August 2011. Although Washington won’t face a government shutdown after the New Year, it’s irresponsible to raise an additional $63 billion in revenue over the next 10 years, but spend it all over the next two years. These kinds of budget agreements contribute towards the $17 trillion national debt hanging over the taxpaying public’s head.
Here are a few items of business I’m working on to try to make a difference in how government serves “We the People.”
• Strengthening whistleblower protections. Congress needs to step up oversight as tax dollars flow throughout the federal bureaucracy and the courts need to stop diluting whistleblower protections. A provision was included in the National Defense Authorization Act to protect military whistleblowers from retaliation. Much more needs to be done.
• Vetting nominees. Whether it’s the IRS, Homeland Security or lifelong appointments to serve on the federal bench, members of the U.S. Senate have the constitutional duty of advice and consent. Scrutiny of these nominees is an integral function of our republic’s system of checks and balances that demands more than rubber-stamp approval.