A Refreshing Display of Leadership

The Capitol Building from the West at dusk

I saw this in the Congressional Record and I thought it was worth re-posting. So often, we see our elected officials doing nothing but playing politics. Whether on the right or the left, our politicians are constantly engaged in their favorite sport, “Beltway Gotcha”. They regurgitate talking points, attempt to cast aspersions on the “other guys” and criticize others’ plans, while putting forth none of their own.

On Thursday, Congressman Young of Indiana spoke of the floor on the House about the problems we face in Washington. It was refreshing to see one of our Representatives focusing on solutions to our problems instead of just demonizing others. Read his statement below.

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+Kevin A. Nye

Source: Congressional Record (emphasis mine)

“Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak on behalf of the overwhelming majority of my southern Indiana constituents.

A year ago, they sent me to this body to give a voice to their frustrations with Washington–a frustration I shared then and share now more than ever. The American people’s frustration stems from a lack of real progress in addressing our Nation’s most fundamental challenges: Federal spending, our national debt, job creation, and the decline of the middle class. Our fellow citizens have concluded what I, too, have concluded–Washington is broken, and no one is in a hurry to fix it.

Congress hasn’t passed a balanced budget in over a decade. The Senate hasn’t passed any sort of budget in 3 years. Our national debt recently topped $15 trillion, and our unemployment rate hovers around 9 percent. Instead of trying to fix our problems, Washington would rather argue about who’s to blame for causing our problems. Sure, there’s a lot of agreement as to what’s wrong with our country, but not a lot of action geared towards making anything right. Our President and too many in this Congress would rather demagogue and demonize than lead and legislate. Washington is broken, and nobody’s in a hurry to fix it.

While many of our constituents are struggling to find a second, and in some cases a third, job, Washington is failing to perform its only job–governing. Is it any wonder that so many Americans are frustrated?

These aren’t Republican problems or Democrat problems. They’re not House problems or Senate problems; these are Washington problems. Unfortunately, after 11 months on the job, I’ve seen far too few Washington solutions.

Many of us came to Washington this year, some of us new to government, to offer solutions. We came ready with ideas. We came ready to defend those ideas, to respond to criticisms, to make the ideas into workable solutions and, ultimately, to implement those solutions to make a better life for those who sent us here. We came with the same sense of urgency that the American people expect of us.

But Washington is broken. Too many people in this city resist publicly committing to hard, workable solutions because parroting talking points is so much easier. But until we get down to brass tacks, we’ll continue to talk past one another.

So I make this entreaty to all of my colleagues: whether you are a Republican or a Democrat, commit to proposing workable solutions. Get into the details. Put them on paper. Until both sides put a specific, written, scoreable plan on the table, we’ll never find the common ground necessary to strike that grand bargain. In the absence of specifics, we’re just playing politics. That’s why Washington is broken.

Now, earlier this year, those of us on the Budget Committee introduced a comprehensive plan that would reduce our deficit over the next decade by over $6 trillion. It would balance the budget and start paying down our debt. It would create an environment where jobs could flourish and grow, and it would save and strengthen our safety net programs likes Medicare and Medicaid. Most importantly, it addressed our challenges with the sense of urgency they require.

If you disagree with that plan or you have a more optimal solution, let’s hear it. Introduce it. I’m open to better plans. I didn’t come to Congress because I thought I had all of the solutions. I came to Congress because my constituents wanted me to be part of the solution. But criticizing the other guy’s plan is not the same as having a plan.

Real leadership consists of presenting your vision for America to the American people and then defending it. In so doing, Republicans and Democrats may discover that we have some common ground, that we are not enemies, but friends. Let us summon up, as we have before, the ‘better angels of our nature’ and rededicate ourselves to the hard work of leadership.

Washington is indeed broken. Let’s hurry up and fix it together.”


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