Leading by Example - I’ve worked to earn the trust of the people of the Space Coast by being an example of accountability in government. When it comes to accountability, I believe that Members of Congress must lead by example.
Since being sworn into Congress in 2009, making Congress and Washington more accountable and transparent has been a top priority for me. This builds on the similar steps I took as a member of the Florida Legislature where I kept my office under budget, fought for transparency, and held state agencies accountable by literally writing the book on government accountability with my Activity Based Total Accountability plan (ABTA). ABTA requires state agencies to tell the taxpayers exactly what was accomplished with their tax dollars. (Read more about ABTA here.)
Reforming Congress: I have made Congressional reform and accountability priorities in my service in Congress.
- Blocking Congressional Pay Raises - Since I came to Congress in 2009, I have helped support successful efforts to block Congressional pay raises for 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013. I also thought it was wrong for Congress to pass a pay raise in 2008. To lead by example, I have given every cent of that pay raise back to the US Treasury each year.
- Ending the Congressional Death Benefit - I introduced legislation to end a generous congressional death benefit. I believe Members of Congress should purchase their own life insurance like all other American and we should end the special payment of one year’s salary to the surviving family when a Member of Congress dies.
- Cutting My Own Budget by Over $500,000 - I’ve made it a priority to cut my own Congressional office budget and returned unspent money to the U.S. Treasury. I also worked to support successful efforts to cut overall Congressional budgets by 5% in 2010 and 6% in 2011. We also froze federal salaries for two years.
- Ending the Revolving Door Between Congress and Lobbying - I introduced legislation to close the so-called “Daschle Loophole” by instituting a 5 year ban on lobbying by former Members of Congress and senior Congressional staff to limit unfair influence on the legislative process.
Promoting Transparency: My rule in Congress about passing “Too Big to Read” bills has been “If I can’t read it, my vote is NO”.
- 72-Hour Rule - I introduced legislation in 2009 to require that legislation be made available to the public and Members of Congress for at least 72 hours before any vote could be held on it. At the beginning of this Congress, the 72-hour rule was included in the House Rules for the 112th Congress.
- Single Issue Voting – In 2009 I filed legislation to encourage single issue voting which would prevent unrelated amendments from being attached to must-pass legislation.
- Congressional Committee Transparency – My amendment requiring that all Committee votes be posted on the Committee website within 48 hours.
- Auditing the Federal Reserve – I proudly cosponsored legislation to require an audit of the Federal Reserve. This was partially enacted into law in 2010 and now I’m working to get the rest of it approved.
Holding Regulators and Wrong-Doers Accountable: As a member of the House Financial Services Committee and the Investigations and Oversight Subcommittee, I’ve focused on holding regulators accountable for their failures to enforce existing regulations and implement new ones fairly. Below are just a few of the areas on which I have focused.
- I pressed the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to investigate the massive breakdown that allowed Bernie Madoff’s $70 billion Ponzi scheme to continue despite having all of the evidence.
- I’ve been a leader in calling for a special prosecutor to investigate MF Global’s collapse, former Senator Jon Corzine’s role in the “misplacement” of over $1.2 billion in client money, and ensure that the money is returned to thousands of small investors.
- I’ve worked to hold banking regulators accountable for over-regulating and causing the failures of small community banks while applying less regulation to large banks. Small community banks are the life-blood of our local economy and small businesses need access to them.
- I believe that accountability will help restore public confidence in our financial markets and further protect investors from future abuse and fraudulent activities.
Jobs and Economy
Restoring a growing economy is the most important issue facing Congress right now. In fact for me it has been the most important issue since I arrived in Congress in 2009. Sadly, in 2009 and 2010, the Obama Administration and the Pelosi-Reid led Congress chose to largely ignore the economy and instead focus on passing a massive federal takeover of health care that most Americans did not want and now want repealed. It was wrong to put the economy on hold for two years.
Businesses large and small face great uncertainty about the potential costs of a mountain of regulations red tape flowing from Washington, from the health care bill, the Dodd-Frank law, and a host of federal bureaucracies that are out of touch with main street America. Over 4,000 regulations are being written right now, all with new rules and regulation for those wanting to do business here in America. With these costly and burdensome regulations, it’s not surprising that small businesses don’t want to expand and hire new workers. To help remedy the problem I voted for a moratorium on new regulations so that America’s employers can focus on their businesses, expanding, and hiring new workers rather that trying to figure out how to comply with the latest expensive regulation coming from Washington.
There is never a good time to raise taxes, but now is the worst time to raise taxes on American businesses. We need to encourage businesses to grow and expand here in American by lowering taxes. I oppose the Administration’s proposals to raise taxes on small businesses. If adopted, those tax increases would result in millions of small businesses paying higher tax rates than large corporations, putting small businesses at a competitive disadvantage.
The Corporate tax rate in the United States is the highest in the world. We need to lower this rate too, so that large companies will be encouraged to grow and expand their businesses here in America.
We don’t need more large government spending programs to stimulate the economy. We need sound long-term solutions that make the United States a good place to start and build a business today and tomorrow.
The President’s health care law was the wrong prescription for our health care problems and I believe it should be repealed. The law undermines individual liberty and choice, adds trillions of dollars to the National Debt, has resulted in higher health care costs, undermines Medicare, and imposes a costly burden to America’s job creators.
Let’s be clear here. We absolutely need to change the way health care is provided in this country. We need to make sure that health insurers cannot drop people from coverage when they get sick and we should enact responsible reforms that enable those with pre-existing conditions to enroll in health insurance. And, we can do this without turning everything over to the federal government.
We need to enact policies that focus on driving costs down and making quality health insurance more affordable for all Americans. These proposals include putting in place market forces that empower individuals in health care decisions. Americans should be allowed to purchase health insurance across state lines and we should encourage the rapidly growing market for high deductible health plans and Health Savings Accounts which empower individuals in the health care marketplace. We should adopt a generous tax deduction for the purchase of health insurance. And we need better high risk pools to ensure good affordable health insurance for those who otherwise could not afford insurance.
Taxes and Spending
Ronald Reagan said it best when he said that “government doesn’t have a revenue problem, it has a spending problem.” The federal government took in about $2.2 trillion in revenue last year but it spent $3.6 trillion. In fact, President Obama has done this for every year of his administration, accumulating more debt in four years that every president from George Washington through George W Bush and it is bankrupting this nation. We need only look to Europe to what happens when nations follow this path. Our debt level has already exceeded that of several European nations. I believe that is the wrong legacy to leave our children and that is why I have voted against most of the spending legislation during my service in the Congress.
The Administration’s proposal for closing this gap is to raise taxes further on those that are already paying taxes including millions of small businesses. Yet, we already have the highest corporate tax rate in the world and more than half of all Americans are already paying no income taxes. Reagan was right, Washington has a spending problem and we must restrain spending. I voted for the Cut, Cap and Balance plan to put us on a path toward fiscal responsibility and enactment of a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution. Unfortunately, the U.S. Senate rejected them both. I am fully committed to restraining government spending.
As your Congressman, I am committed to a strong national defense. We must ensure that our troops are the best trained, best prepared and best equipped for the battlefield. This posture of strength is the best defense. We must recognize that the world remains a dangerous place and we must remain vigilant. Fulfilling our commitments to those who have served is key to preserving our all volunteer force.
Like all areas of the budget, our national defense budget needs to become lean, but we must do this by cutting out any fat while making sure not to cut vital military operations and facilities like Patrick Air Force Base and the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. I opposed the sequestration of the national defense budget because I believe that restraint needs to be more targeted and direct, rather than across the board cuts. I voted for legislation to replace the defense sequester, and that is still being blocked in the U.S. Senate.
The U.S. Department of Energy was created during the Carter Administration to ensure energy independence and reduce our reliance on foreign oil. The fact that we are now even more dependent on foreign energy supplies demonstration that the solution is not found in Washington agencies and departments.
The solution is really comes by enacting sound policies that enable America to develop its own energy sources. Our economy is built on access to affordable energy. We need an all of the above approach to developing our own American energy – oil, gas, nuclear, solar, hydroelectric, wind and biofuels.
Reducing our reliance on volatile Middle East oil is a key to ensuring a more stable supply of oil. Approval of the Keystone XL pipeline will enable us to import oil from Canada, one of our allies, and will provide us with a more reliable source of reliable oil and reduce our billion-dollar a day payments to the Middle East. It will also put thousands of Americans to work in building the pipeline and refineries.
Rather than the mountain of red tape, and burdensome rules from federal agencies we need a federal government that opens the doors for safe energy development. We can start to open those doors by rolling back the outright bans and excessive regulations on offshore oil drilling, exploring ANWR’s oil deposits and building new, safe nuclear power facilities that Washington has denied. In the meantime, we can continue to move forward on advancing alternative energy technology like solar power, battery and biofuels that can new energy sources down the road. But only with an “all of the above” energy independence strategy can we reach a place where America produces its own energy for its people at a lower cost to American families.
As a former NASA employee and former Chairman of Space Florida, I believe that America absolutely must remain at the forefront of space research and exploration. Not only will continued space exploration keep much-needed, high paying jobs here in Brevard County and throughout the Space Coast, but it ensures America remains first in innovations that will make the world a better place to live, and puts America in the lead on sending man farther out into space than anyone could have ever imagined.
Space is the ultimate military high ground and we cannot afford to cede that to Russia, China or anyone else. To do so puts our national security at risk. The Chinese have already taken laser target practice at satellites and they are building a space station. Meanwhile, we are paying the Russians over $60 million to put U.S. astronauts on the International Space Station. I am working hard to restore American leadership.
I have supported a robust commercial cargo and commercial crew program for NASA. These programs are working to ensure that American launch vehicles are used for putting American astronauts and supplies on the Space Station. We saw the successful commercial cargo launch in May and NASA is now moving forward with a more affordable commercial crew competition so that we can eliminate the need for Russian launch services. Advancing the Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle and the heavy lift Space Launch System (SLS) remain key to our missions beyond low earth orbit.
My RACE for Space Act (HR 4401) was approved by the House and will serve to eliminate red tape and ensure that the Department of Defense and commercial space launch companies can get better efficiencies launching at the Cape. I have also worked to eliminate the red tape when it comes to shifting NASA facilities and equipment to commercial space companies.
Over a decade after the 9-11 attacks our nation’s borders are still too porous. The Administration has failed to implement a reliable exit-entry system so that we know who is here and who has left as required. Implementation of this system and a border fence are priorities.
I oppose amnesty plans because they fail to address the fundamental problem, which is unsecured borders. We allow over a million new immigrants into the country each year under our current immigration laws, which is by far the most generous immigration policy in the world. Respecting our immigration laws should not be abandoned as some in Washington have proposed. We should not reward those who have broken our laws while making those who are seeking to immigrate legally wait even longer. This sends the wrong message.
We must secure our borders as a matter of national security, and once we accomplish that we must get to the business of deporting any illegal immigrants who have been convicted of felonies in our courts, so we can make a real impact in the fight to make our nation safer and more secure.
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