Reform the culture in Congress

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Contrary to what was recently written in The Gazette, I meant what I said last year when I asked Eastern Iowans to send me to Washington to change business as usual in Congress. What I discovered soon after taking office is that Washington is run by career politicians — on both sides of the aisle — who often care more about their careers than solving the tough problems that Americans want us to fix. That’s why I’ve made it a priority to clean up Washington itself — I believe if we don’t reform the culture in Congress then little will change.

As a career businessman, I negotiate hard for what I think is best for my district and country. Our Founding Fathers participated in and encouraged vigorous debate, robust negotiation and compromise. This is the best way for the truth to emerge — it’s healthy, not something to be avoided. And if Mr. Dorman thinks that standing tall to stop adding trillions to our national debt, save Social Security and Medicare, secure our borders, find better Congressional leadership, and uphold the Constitution is “throwing wrenches into the gears” I’ll wear that mantle proudly because I think the people of Iowa actually DO want those problems fixed.

At the end of the day I realize that government is ultimately about compromise. I truly believe that the big issues of the day need to be solved in bipartisan fashion. This is why I have consistently said that on large problems — like the looming insolvency of Social Security and Medicare — that the solution should incorporate BOTH Democrat and Republican ideas to ensure these vital safety net programs are around for our senior citizens and future generations.

I work hard every day to solve problems and make people’s lives better. It’s why I have worked to secure federal funding for the Cedar Rapids flood project; hosted a Veterans Job Fair and a Women in Business Forum; formed the bipartisan Term Limits Caucus with Texas Democrat Beto O’Rourke; invited First District parishes to nominate laypersons to see the Pope’s address to Congress in person at no cost; supported the bipartisan 21st Century Cures Act to boost spending on disease research; collaborated with Florida Democrat Gwen Graham to ban taxpayer funded perks for Congress; visited countless local businesses, health care facilities, schools, and non-profits; pushed to make the research and development tax credit permanent; and introduced the Fuel Choice and Deregulation Act to give Americans more options at the pump and help Iowa’s renewable fuels industry — to name but a few of the many things I’ve tackled since taking office.

Most Iowans I talk to feel career politicians in Washington have lost touch with the average American — and that’s why I’m fighting for term limits, ending first class flights and luxury car leases for Congressional members, banning politicians from becoming lobbyists, and eliminating the Cadillac pension program for Congress. Right now the system encourages politicians to only focus on re-election so they can stay in office and enjoy the benefits of power as long as possible. Meanwhile our debt continues to rise, health care costs skyrocket, wages remain stagnant, and our border stays unsecured.

Last fall I ended my campaign speeches with the following: “If you like the status quo, if you think America is heading in the right direction, if you like business as usual in Washington, then vote for my opponent. But if you want to change business as usual in Washington, if you want to change the direction of America and if you want someone who has the courage to stand up to his own party when necessary — then send me.” If the people of Eastern Iowa want another typical politician representing them in Washington they’ll have the opportunity to vote that way next year. In the meantime I’ll continue following through on my promise to change business as usual in Washington.

• U.S. Rep Rod Blum (R-Dubuque) represents Iowa’s 1st Congressional District. Comments: (319) 364-2288; 310 3rd Street SE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52401

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