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The Message Voters Really Sent

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Washington, January 22, 2010 | comments
While the Massachusetts Senate race is a clear rejection of the policies put forward by President Obama and Congressional Democrats, Republicans must not lose sight of the fact that their own policies were rejected with equal fervor just three short years ago. The voters sent a clear message in Massachusetts, but I am worried politicians on both sides of the aisle will misinterpret that message and fail to give the American people the leadership they want and deserve.
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“While the Massachusetts Senate race is a clear rejection of the policies put forward by President Obama and Congressional Democrats, Republicans must not lose sight of the fact that their own policies were rejected with equal fervor just three short years ago. The voters sent a clear message in Massachusetts, but I am worried politicians on both sides of the aisle will misinterpret that message and fail to give the American people the leadership they want and deserve.

“While the media has focused on the Democrats’ healthcare bill as the biggest issue in the Massachusetts election, I think the real message voters sent is a rejection of the status quo. To be clear, the American people disapprove of the healthcare bill, but they also disapprove of a Congress that is out of touch with Main Street and focused too much on who wins and who loses.

“What voters really want is for Republicans and Democrats to set aside their party labels and focus on what is best for the country. Voters want their Congressman to focus on ways in which the federal budget can be reduced, not increased. Voters want their Congressman to make their interaction with government simpler, not more complex. Voters want their Congressman to consider each proposal on its merits, instead of selling his or her votes to make political points and giving out special deals for those who have the most leverage. Put simply, voters want a government that works for them, not against them.

“No single party has a monopoly on failed policies or over-the-top rhetoric. Republicans and Democrats alike have been poor stewards of taxpayer money and too focused on winning majorities in Congress instead of listening to the majority of Americans.

To get back on track and restore the trust of the American people, I believe Congress needs to undertake a few simple measures that are long overdue. They include:

  • New ethics rules in the House and Senate that put an end to special deals, prohibiting members from selling their votes for special favors like those secured for Nebraska in the Senate Health Care bill;
  • A return to open debate in the House of Representatives where amendments to bills like healthcare reform can be offered by members on both sides of the aisle;
  • New rules in the House and Senate that require the final text of legislation to be posted online one week before a vote and ensure bills go through the committee process before being brought to the floor;
  • Passage of true pay-as-you-go provisions that limit federal spending and cannot be circumvented by simply lumping big spending initiatives into “emergency” measures;
  • Passage of a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution;
    An honest dialogue with the American people about the shared sacrifice required to get our budget, including programs like Social Security and Medicare, under control;
  • The creation of toll-free phone lines that allow constituents to contact congressional offices for free.

“While there are many other reforms I believe should be undertaken, those listed above are ones on which members on both sides of the aisle could agree and that could be implemented quickly.

“These are reforms that make Congress more open and accessible, provide reassurance to the American people that their Members of Congress are not for sale, and start our nation down a path toward fiscal discipline.

“Perhaps most importantly, these reforms are not my idea--they are reforms brought to me by the people of Idaho.

“I believe these reforms speak to the message I heard coming from voters in Massachusetts, Virginia, and New Jersey over the last several months, and they are reforms I intend to bring to my colleagues in Washington, DC.”

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