Republicans need to be solution oriented
U.S. Sen. Dan Coats, Guest Writer
Americans decisively voted (Nov. 4) to move our country in a new direction. The results of the midterm election represent a repudiation of President Obama’s failed policies but also an opportunity for Republicans in Congress to put forward responsible legislative solutions.
The first and primary responsibility of the federal government is to provide for the security of the American public. Today, our country faces a variety of threats, including radical extremists like ISIS, the Ebola virus and inadequate border security. Unfortunately, many of the administration’s responses to these challenges have failed: an unenforced red line with Syria, dubious negotiations with Iran and promoting amnesty for those in the United States illegally. Addressing these issues and protecting our homeland is paramount at this critical time, and Congress has an important role to play.
Additionally, Republicans should concentrate on passing legislation that will grow the economy. This is a focus that Washington lacked over the past several years despite an anemic recovery from the 2008 financial crisis.
Since 2009, the percentage of working-age Americans who are not in the labor force has reached near-record levels. There are fewer full-time jobs in America than when the recession started. And nearly 29 million of the 124.5 million Americans in prime working years ‘ ages 25 to 54 ‘ are not employed. As Hoosiers, we are fortunate to live in a state that is fiscally responsible and a destination for employers, but overall our country is struggling.
The GOP agenda for the next Congress should include common-sense, bipartisan ideas that President Obama has repeatedly resisted: repealing the excise tax on medical devices, constructing the Keystone XL pipeline and reforming federal regulations that prevent businesses from growing and hiring. Repealing the president’s disastrous health-care law to replace it with more effective and patient-centered solutions will remain a top GOP priority.
In addition, Republicans should seize the moment and finally tackle the anvil hanging over the country’s future: our debt and deficit problems. Fixing these issues will not be easy or occur overnight, but there are several areas where Republicans can work with President Obama, if he is willing to work with us.
A major component must be tax reform. There is a bipartisan consensus on the need to reform our complicated tax code, which has grown to more than 70,000 pages of rules, costing employers time and resources. The United States has the highest corporate tax rate among developed countries, resulting in a large number of companies relocating overseas. Reforming the tax code to address the multitude of special provisions that benefit only a few will make American companies more competitive and benefit workers and families.
Other areas of potential agreement include expanding exports and new infrastructure investments. Increasing trade means access to more markets for American companies. New trade agreements combined with laws that adequately protect American employers and workers from unfair foreign trade will lead to job creation and economic opportunity. Though Republicans have differences in approach with President Obama, both sides believe there is room for compromise on meeting our country’s infrastructure needs.
Hoosiers sent me back to the Senate in 2011 to tackle the big issues we face and pass along a stronger America to the next generation. To my great frustration, Harry Reid effectively shut down the Senate during the past four years, stifling debate and blocking proposals that did not fit his narrow political agenda.
This change in leadership provides a fresh start and an opportunity to move forward much-needed measures to strengthen our security and economy. I am anxious to get to work.
Dan Coats, a Republican, is Indiana’s senior U.S. senator.