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Monroe Evening News: House tackling Americans’ concerns

June 24, 2013
Opinion Editorial
We're continuing to work on the American people's priorities in the House and tackle their biggest concerns. Right now, that includes developing a healthy economy so hardworking individuals can find and keep good-paying jobs, providing access to education and training, lowering tax rates, ensuring access to affordable health care and reducing energy and fuel costs. I have been working with my congressional colleagues toward these goals to restore growth and prosperity now while also securing it for the future. 

One such initiative is expanding American energy. Michigan recently had the second-highest gas prices in the country at over $4 a gallon, placing another burden on struggling families, young people and businesses. Meanwhile, the United States sits on a treasure trove of natural resources. New practices allow producers to easily extract natural gas, coal and oil from the ground, all while doing it cheaper, safer and with less disruption to the landscape. Projects such as the Keystone XL pipeline would create tens of thousands of jobs, but unfortunately the administration refuses to move forward with this plan. This is in spite of the State Department declaring it environmentally safe, labor unions agreeing it will create jobs and both the House and Senate passing legislation approving the pipeline.

If we want to put people back to work, we also must focus on comprehensive tax reform. I support tax reform that lowers tax rates, dramatically simplifies the tax code and closes loopholes because together these reforms will help families, bring back jobs from overseas, provide incentives for small businesses and bring in more revenue through economic growth and job creation.

Michigan's economic growth also is directly related to how well we train our workforce for today's and tomorrow's jobs and educate our children. Unfortunately, our country's current workforce programs are riddled with inefficiency. To address these issues, earlier this year the House passed the Supporting Knowledge and Investing in Lifelong Skills (SKILLS) Act, which would save taxpayer dollars and empower local workforce leaders and community colleges with the flexibility they need to address the skill set demanded for area jobs. And with education costs on the rise, we need to do everything we can to make it more affordable. Last month Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Flint Township, and I introduced the Helping Families Save for Education Act, which will allow working families to save more money and for a longer time to help pay for tuition, books and other educational expenses. 
Another burden placed on families, young people and small businesses is the cost of health care. Under the president's healthcare law, small businesses and manu-facturers will find it harder to hire and it will force many seniors out of plans they have and like. In fact, in January the IRS issued regulations where they assume the lowest cost under this policy will cost the average American family $20,000 a year. I believe there are better ways of addressing the problems in our healthcare system than imposing big-government solutions and have continued to support proposals to address this flawed law. Commonsense, patient-centered solutions such as ending lawsuit abuse, expanding the flexibility of medical savings accounts and allowing the purchase of insurance across state lines will make health care more affordable and help families.

Lastly, hardworking taxpayers across Michigan live within their means in large part because they create responsible budgets. It's only natural that they expect the same from their government. Currently, the United States national debt is nearly $17 trillion dollars, while the annual deficit was $845 billion for fiscal year 2013. Earlier this year, we passed the No Budget, No Pay Act requiring Congress to create a budget or forgo their pay. The federal government needs be a better steward with what it has and manage taxpayer dollars responsibly.

My hope is that the president and Senate will join us in these pursuits so we can all focus on solutions to grow a healthy and prosperous economy, create jobs and expand opportunities for all Americans.

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