Thursday, July 20, 2017

Washington Gridlock

With the 112th congress when the Republicans took control of the house it appeared to be a harbinger of good thing. Not because it looked like the Republicans were taking back control, but because the chambers of congress were split. Finally, the push of partisan politics and partisan resolutions would end right? The Republicans and Democrats would be forced to work together and compromise to get things done leading to well thought out joint resolutions. However, as we all know, this was not the case. Rather than the two sides realizing that the United States is comprised both Democrats and Republicans and working towards a solution to work for the majority, they decided to hold ground and do nothing.

Compromise is the foundation of the United States from its core, our forefathers did not all agree with each other as it is lead to believe. However, they were able to come together in spite of their polar differences and come to decisions that worked for the vast majority of the population, not just party line. We are really no more polar than those in our history, but we are much less willing to work together.

The issues in Washington will not be a simple fix, it has taken decades to get to where we are, and it will take time to get congress back on track. Difficulty is no reason to just surrender and accept how our representatives have become, it is time to bring the two sides back together. This cannot nor will it happen with elections and voting continuing on the party line trend. Most other issues we face here in the United States hinge on our ineffective congress, and without addressing the issue of partisanship and party line gamesmanship the other issues will continue to pendulum depending on the control of congress.

As John Kennedy once said “Let us not despair but act. Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past - let us accept our own responsibility for the future.” I am not the Republican answer nor am I the Democratic answer, but I do hope to be the right answer.

The National Debt

Since the early 1980’s the National Debt has been exploding at historic rates and is not just to pin on a single President or Congress. Though many blame this primarily on spending in Washington, there are three major contributors to the national debt: spending, tax regulations, and government inefficiencies all of which need addressing. I would like to see the federal government first work to improve inefficiencies and work on ways to help the government save money through innovation, newer technologies implementation, and less red tape before cutting spending or raising taxes. There are many inefficiencies in the federal system and neither spending cuts nor raised taxes go to address this root problem.

Infrastructure

The infrastructure of the United States is in dire straights, not excluding Colorado. Our water systems, roads, and energy grid are all on the verge of being in shambles, and waiting will only prove to be more disastrous and expensive.

"Infrastructure is the physical framework upon which the U.S. economy operates. Everything depends on this framework, including transporting goods, powering factories, heating and cooling office buildings, and enjoying a glass of clean water.” ASCE - http://www.asce.org/uploadedFiles/Infrastructure/Failure_to_Act/Failure_to_Act_Report.pdf

The eroded water systems cause millions of dollars in damages every year from property damages due to main breaks to health care costs such as the 2008 salmonella influx in Colorado. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) has published numerous reports on our failing infrastructure. In one study, it is estimated that 7 billion gallons of water are lost due to leaks in our water infrastructure. Yet in forums such as the South Platte River Basin Implementation Plan when discussing water conservation and usage throughout Colorado our failing infrastructure is not even mentioned. Water is a top priority in Colorado, especially in the Fourth Congressional District, and working to improve our water infrastructure should be a top priority within that.

ASCE has also done extensive research on the condition of the roads in Colorado and estimates that the failing roads in Colorado cost motorists $1.034 billion a year from vehicle repairs and operating costs. They also rate that 70% of the roads in Colorado are in poor or mediocre condition. This was all prior to damages caused by this year and last year’s flooding which has crippled our road infrastructure more. Few in Colorado and the Fourth Congressional District are exempt from experiencing the issues of our road network. Including those from Grover through Greeley, Longmont, and Castle Rock all the way to those in the Southeastern part of Colorado. We are all affected by our depleting roads.

As with the previous two portions to infrastructure, the energy grid is also not up to par with where it should be to sustain the demand that has been place upon it, nor will it work for the continued increase in demand that will be placed on it. United States infrastructure upgrades must not only include updates to the power grid, but must include a plan for energy storage. There are many up and coming energy sources that are being developed in the United States and beyond, but energy storage is paramount for progress with our energy network.

Infrastructure is the foundation to our economic development among many others, and the longer we put of improving it the more and more detrimental it will be when they systems can no longer support our needs. This is why our infrastructure should be a top priority for the United States.

Age and Experience

One issue that many other candidates will not be posed is the question of age and experience. Though I am currently 28, and will turn 29 the day before the next congress will take place I am not the youngest person to run for congress nor am I the least experienced. There have been hundreds of people elected/appointed to the US House within the same relative age range including John Kennedy (29), Ted Kennedy (30), Paul Ryan (29), and William Claiborne (22) among numerous others. Some of the numerous candidates elected at a young age turned out to not be the best elected officials and others turned out to be great. However, this isnt just preamble to say younger elected officials do better, but to really state that age really doesn’t matter. There have been good and bad younger members the US House and there have been good and bad older members of the US House and as with anything, there are positives and negatives to both.

The same can be said for experience. Going into the 2012 election there a hailstorm of media about the experience of some of the candidates. Digging into this a little I decided to compare the age of a few of our presidents to their average approval rating while in office. Doing this showed no correlation between approval rating and age or between approval rating and experience. However, I would tend to feel that experience in politics should not be seen as a good thing. This experience at least seems to be experience in political gamesmanship, party politics, schmoozing special interest groups, and experience with bureaucracy. When it comes to moving a country forward experienced ideas and ideals do not move the country forward, whereas new ideas and new ideals can help move the country forward. Let’s look at it this way, if you hired a neighbor kid to mow your lawn, and he/she has mowed your lawn for years, this experience would account for little if he/she started to not show up for work most of the time, not listen to your requests, and continually mowed over your vegetable garden. Experience in congress may prove to give us the same experience we have received from congress in the last few years.

Defense and National Security

National Security and Defense should always be a primary focus of our Federal Government. Though physical defense should not be undercut, the area that needs focus in today’s world is not just physical, but cyber. Cyber attacks are becoming more and more common and are just as threatening to the wellbeing of the citizens of the United States are typical attacks. Our economy and military are becoming fairly dependent on technology which make them more susceptible to these types of attacks. Though we should continue keeping our military above par, we also need to make sure we are keeping in mind these cyber attacks and protecting ourselves to this new aged warfare.

Immigration

When addressing immigration issues, one must ask what the overall purpose for immigration reform is. What is failing in our current system, how do we want it to look, and fundamentally what is the root purpose. When immigration was moved under the Department of Homeland Security under the George W. Bush administration, it became clear that the primary focus of our immigration system would be the security of the United States, first and foremost. One bill that was passed last year to address the immigration system here in the United States was Senate Bill 744 which was put together by a bipartisan group of republicans and democrats. Though the bill was not passed on a very bipartisan vote, I felt that the “Statement of Congressional Findings” was, for the most part, well put together. Their findings were:

(1) The passage of this Act recognizes that the primary tenets of its success depend on securing the sovereignty of the United States of America and establishing a coherent and just system for integrating those who seek to join American society.

(2) We have a right, and duty, to maintain and secure our borders, and to keep our country safe and prosperous. As a Nation founded, built and sustained by immigrants we also have a responsibility to harness the power of that tradition in a balanced way that secures a more prosperous future for America.

(3) We have always welcomed newcomers to the United States and will continue to do so. But in order to qualify for the honor and privilege of eventual citizenship, our laws must be followed. The world depends on America to be strong—economically, militarily and ethically. The establishment of a stable, just, and efficient immigration system only supports those goals. As a Nation, we have the right and responsibility to make our borders safe, to establish clear and just rules for seeking citizenship, to control the flow of legal immigration, and to eliminate illegal immigration, which in some cases has become a threat to our national security.

(4) All parts of this Act are premised on the right and need of the United States to achieve these goals, and to protect its borders and maintain its sovereignty.

As stated, I believe that these findings did an overall great job outlining the purpose for immigration reform. The bill has since stalled out in the House due to complaints from both sides. Though the arguments from both sides have some validity, the bipartisan nature of this bill stemming from four republicans and three democrats including many from border states immediately impacted by immigration is a great step forward towards resolution.

Second Amendment

The Second Amendment is one that has been the focal point to many discussions over the past few years due to a rise in publicly covered events such as the Aurora theatre shooting, the Newtown school shooting, and many others. As a respectful gun owner, many recent proposed and passed laws start to trample on the Second Amendment, and cause more rights violations than they do prevent these tragedies from happening. The flaw is that these governing bodies are passing laws with the intent to keep things from happening; however this is not the point of laws. Regulations should not be drafted to keep incidents from happening, but to make negative actions punishable by law. Beyond this, if elected, I will oppose any efforts by any level of government to create a federal gun registry.

Education

When looking at the social and economic issues of today there is only one area that can go to address nearly every one of them, education. Education is the key to so many of the struggles here in the United States including drug issues, gang issues, violence, poverty, economy, and more. Though education cannot single handedly solve all of these problems, it can go a long way in helping reduce them. The United States has gotten to a point where education is meant to put everyone through the same mold, and has been exacerbated with policies such as No Child Left Behind and the push for standardized testing. Education should push students to excel in the areas of strength, but also help address areas of weakness. Each individual is not meant to go on to be teachers, doctors, astronauts, or engineers, we all have our own strengths and weaknesses and should not be forced to conform to a single mold.

Energy

Energy is one of the top industries in Colorado and in the fourth district. Over the past five years this industry has really taken off in the part of Colorado with large expansions by Anadarko, Baker Hughes, Halliburton, Vestas, and others. This is a great industry to promote at many different levels and not only provides a great source of jobs in the region, but also brings a lot into the state. The energy industry is continuing to grow and will need continued support is Washington to further the investment in the state of Colorado and the Fourth Congressional District.

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