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Perspective | Get to work Congress

By Pat Freibert

PatFreibert 2The White House wasted no time in delivering on several significant Trump campaign commitments: Achievements include early confirmation of his Supreme Court appointment; regulatory reforms; energy initiatives; environmental initiatives; confirmation of his cabinet secretary appointments; and the biggest victory by a president in a generation in the Supreme Court’s 9-0 decision upholding the essence of his executive order protecting Americans from unchecked immigration from a handful of countries acknowledged to export terrorism and terrorists.

The pace has now slowed significantly with the opposition party (aided on occasion by a handful of members of his own party) deliberately stalling action on the president’s initiatives. Dozens of presidential appointments have still not received confirmation hearings, and getting these positions filled is a key to efficient governing.

Undermining the president, and open hostility to his initiatives may pacify the rabid base of one political party, but it contributes in no way to a functional federal government. Too many important issues await debate and action to waste time on petty politics and endless preoccupation with issues of little interest to most Americans. What makes sense is getting down to the nuts and bolts of solutions for our nation’s challenges such as tax reform, healthcare reform, national security readiness and improving the nation’s economy.

Not the least of national importance is the issue of terrorism unleashed on Americans here on our own soil. Case in point: Congressman Steve Scalise, majority whip in the U.S. House of Representatives, is still facing a long recuperation after being shot along with a number of other Republican lawmakers while practicing on a ball field near the Capitol.

Americans must set examples of respect for each other’s political beliefs and differences. Respect and tolerance in this regard must be taught at home and in schools.  Respect and support for those enforcing our laws is also necessary in our free society.

Meanwhile, back in Congress, there are too many vacations and “August recesses” for its members, while the nation’s work is not getting done. Recent consideration for canceling their “August recess” was welcome news and almost unheard of.

Another congressional perk is their very own special health insurance while the nation’s other citizens must navigate the vagaries, escalating expense and diminishing choice of “ObamaCare” health insurance. Does the electorate remember the promises of members of Congress “to live under the same health insurance” as their constituents? What a struggle this health insurance issue has been for America’s workers and employers. How many members of Congress “live under” ObamaCare health insurance and restrictions? 

The economy is far more important to Americans than “August recesses” and time off work for members of Congress. Members should remain at work until they make progress in improving the economy.

Some of the “jobless problem” can be attributed to the fact that the U.S. never experienced a year of economic growth above 3 percent under Obama. The average growth for those 8 years was 2 percent, ending at 1.6 percent – though every Obama budget forecast confidently predicted growth of at least 3.4 percent and as high as 4.6 percent for the years of 2009-2014. It never happened, of course, and that matters because economic growth equals jobs, and U.S. workers need more, good-paying jobs.  We still have approximately 100 million “working age” Americans not working. In fact, Washington currently spends $1 trillion each year paying people not to work.

Talented, award-winning economists stand ready to assist President Trump with his plan for economic growth and a brighter future. But most of President Trump’s early achievements have come through executive action and without legislative support from Congress.

As President Obama learned, there are limits to what a president can achieve without the collaboration of Congress. It is time for Congress to do the work its members were elected to do and create an environment that allows job creation and greater and sustainable economic growth.

Pat Freibert is a former Kentucky state representative from Lexington. She can be reached at [email protected]

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