As the year 2011 comes to a close, I would like to reflect on the good, the bad, and the ugly of my first year serving rural Arizona in Congress. Having been a dentist and small-business owner for over 25 years, I thought it was my business experience that would help me stand out in the crowd. In fact the skills of leadership, fiscal responsibility, understanding the realities of over regulation and the value of a hard day’s work have been extremely valuable. What I found was that the skills needed to be an effective member of Congress are much like those needed to be an effective parent or teacher. They include common sense, the ability to communicate well, the ability to take constructive criticism, and knowing when to compromise and when to fight.
I’m pleased to be among the most effective legislators in the 95-person freshman class, passing two pieces of legislation, the C.C. Cragin Dam bill (which is now law) and my jobs bill the Southeast Arizona Land Exchange and Conservation Act (which awaits action in the U.S. Senate). In addition, I successfully proposed five amendments, which also passed the House. These amendments ranged from protecting your Second Amendment rights to expanding educational opportunities for Native Americans.
I have hosted over 22 town halls and have conducted six tele-town halls. I have heard from people who agree and those who disagree with votes I’ve taken in D.C. All along I have listened and weighed the voices of all Arizonans when casting votes. I am deeply honored to represent rural Arizona in Congress and am proud of all the good we have been able to accomplish.
I’ve also seen the bad and the ugly sides of D.C.
There is a bad habit that those who have been there a while have adopted. It’s an attitude of “why address a problem today if we can put it off until tomorrow.” Inevitably, when tomorrow arrives the same people do whatever they can to put these problems off another day. These career politicians are more concerned with re-election campaigns, polling data and easy choices than addressing the grave and difficult problems facing our country. The people of rural Arizona sent me to Washington to make the tough decisions and provide leadership, not support the status quo.
Examples of tough problems I’m working to address include our national debt and deficit, and protecting Social Security and Medicare for current and future generations. I support a complete re-evaluation of inefficient and ineffective programs that rely on taxpayer money such as the U.S. Postal Service, Amtrak, and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
I have received more than my fair share of criticism for some tough votes and the support of aggressive policies that address some of these important issues but I press on because that is what I was sent to Washington to do. The D.C. bureaucrats that let these problems fester are the problem and I am proud to bring a new perspective that demands results now. For that reason, I have on several occasions supported bipartisan solutions that may not be perfect, but begin to get our country back on the right track.
Job growth and creation was a major theme in 2010 and 2011. Many of us in our communities felt helpless as the representatives we sent to D.C. cast vote after vote against small government and businesses across our nation. These votes included Cap and Trade and Obamacare. Additionally, they allowed untold regulations to be implemented killing jobs and stifling our economy.
I have voted to undo the damage done by prior Congresses only to find these bills as with many good pieces of legislation and a budget are stuck in the U.S. Senate. This is an ugly truth that we need to address by bringing attention to it.
I end 2011 with a sense of accomplishment and a sense of ownership in the work I have done for Arizona’s first district. 2012 brings great hope for Arizona and our nation. There are important policy battles on the horizon and I’m looking forward to taking them on.