On behalf of my family and our staff, we wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas. This time of year is so special in that it reminds us of the reason we are here and how we are called to serve one another in His name. Over the past few weeks, we have been reminded about how answering the call to serve is not always easy -- and certainly is not always popular. And, oftentimes it comes with a lot of criticism. But, I am honored by the support we have had from people across the country who are grateful that we are taking a stand about leaving things better for the next generation than we found them. This video (below) addresses the priorities and principles I have when considering legislation and the positions I take in Washington.
Early last week, we learned that the House would take up legislation (referred to as “Plan B” in the media) to allow taxes to go up on higher-income earners. While it may seem simple to put the burden on the top 1% of earners, those who make more than $1 million represent more than 300,000 small business owners that produce 41% of small business income – and more than half of these small businesses employ 10 or more people. Tax increases on those small business owners will have a direct impact on employment. When small businesses already face a crippling regulatory regime and when they are about to be forced to endure ObamaCare, they cannot be asked to shoulder any more burden. Plain and simple: higher taxes, more regulation, and ObamaCare mean fewer jobs.
House leadership ultimately decided not to take up the legislation, and that was for the best because Senate Majority Leader Reid said he would not take up the bill and President Obama said he would veto it. As Washington attempts to avert the so-called “Fiscal Cliff,” it is important to remember that the problem is still that Washington simply spends too much – not that it taxes too little. I introduced my own legislation well over a year ago to make all of the Bush-Obama tax rates permanent, and the House passed a similar bill in August; that should remain the position of the House when it comes to taxes.
On spending, it’s time for Washington to stop playing games with the numbers, and we need to cut spending NOW. We were also asked to vote on a bill called “The Spending Reduction Act of 2012,” but when the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office scored the proposed legislation, it contained a $45 billion increase in the deficit for this year - but "promised" bigger cuts in the future! When is Washington going to be straight with America about what it is doing with taxpayers’ money? We are staring down their fifth straight year of $1 trillion deficits. Credit rating agencies are serious scrutinizing our spending patterns. And here we were – debating something called a 'spending reduction bill' that actually increases spending by a $45 billion in 2013. You deserve real solutions and honest budget talk.
Protecting Religious Liberty
This week the House took up the FY 2013 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). It included a key provision of the Military Religious Freedom Protection Act (HR 3828), legislation I introduced earlier this year to provide protections for chaplains to ensure they are not required to participate in or perform any services, rites, or rituals that conflict with their religious views, and ensures service members will not be denied promotion or any other opportunities for speaking their sincerely-held religious views. As you might recall, I introduced the legislation in response to the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and the repeal training instructions that limit the religious liberties of service members and chaplains. The inclusion of my conscience protection language is a significant victory for all men and women in uniform. It tells our soldiers, our commanding officers, and our chaplains that the freedoms of speech and religion, which they are risking their lives for, do not have to be left at the door when they agree to serve.
However, I ultimately voted against the NDAA because it expands the use of taxpayer dollars for abortions. In addition, the bill fails to adequately protect constitutional rights by allowing individuals to be detained on suspicion alone, and it does not prohibit the indefinite detention of American citizens apprehended overseas. I am troubled by such failure to protect constitutional rights in the NDAA.
The Week Ahead
The House may be called back in to session this week to consider further legislation that deals with taxes and/or spending. We will keep you posted. In the meantime, pray for our nation and our leaders that wisdom and cooler heads may prevail – and that we may return to a politics that keeps the next generation in mind.