Partisan Bickering is No Answer to Problems10/28/2010
America faces many challenges — from growing the economy and putting people back to work, to tackling the deficit. But as middle-class Americans continue to suffer, too many political leaders only seem interested in bickering and partisan politics. During the contentious health care debate, a constituent said to me at a town hall meeting in Oak Lawn, “We should stop the fighting between Democrats and Republicans and work together as Americans to solve our problems.” This is how most Americans feel, and it is a principle I have always followed, focusing on finding common-sense solutions to the issues we face in the Third District and across our nation.
Despite intense pressure in Washington, I stood firm and voted against the health care reform law, believing that reform is needed but knowing that the law isn’t fiscally sustainable, fails to lower costs, cuts Medicare, and changes the abortion-funding status quo. If party leaders had followed the advice of my constituent in Oak Lawn, I am confident we would have developed a better solution to the crisis in our health care system, one that I could have supported and that would have received broad support from the American people.
Some doubt that bipartisan cooperation and problem-solving are possible in the age of cable TV talking heads and the 24-hour news cycle. Others think the truth is all on one side and cooperation is a dirty word.
My view is different. History shows that bipartisanship has often been a prerequisite for solving seemingly intractable problems. Take two well-known examples: welfare reform in the mid-1990s and the comprehensive tax reform of 1986. In each case, leaders from both sides of the aisle were able to work together to address a complex and divisive issue. And to this day, members of both parties can agree that our country is better off as a result.
Unfortunately, such cooperation is now rare. Relentless partisan warfare has become the norm. Nevertheless, I have refused to join in the name-calling and the accusation-hurling. Instead, I have worked to create jobs, revitalize American manufacturing, and improve the quality of life in the Third District.
My National Manufacturing Strategy Act, which will promote American manufacturing jobs and strengthen national security, passed the House this year with bipartisan support. As a longtime proponent of legislation to combat China’s currency manipulation, which has cost countless American jobs, I helped lead passage in the House of the bipartisan Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act. As chairman of the Subcommittee on Research and Science Education, I helped write and pass in the House the bipartisan America COMPETES Act, which invests in high-tech research and education to keep America competitive in the 21st Century.
I have also worked in a bipartisan manner with federal, state and local leaders to make a number of local transportation improvements. In 2005, when Washington was controlled by Republicans, I worked to pass a fully paid-for transportation bill that directly dedicated $29 million to projects in the Third District, plus another $100 million for local rail improvements.
Last year, I joined with state leaders to secure an additional $60 million to complete pre-construction work on the Central Avenue Bypass. By partnering with Metra and others, I was able to bring weekend service to the Southwest Service line and create a railroad quiet zone in Oak Lawn.
And safety at Midway Airport has been improved with the deployment of end-of-runway arrestor beds that I helped persuade the U.S. Department of Transportation to install.
I am proud of these accomplishments, and I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to spark job creation, restore fiscal discipline, and put America on the path to prosperity. In the end, partisan bickering leads only to gridlock, which benefits no one and which our nation can ill afford as it struggles to emerge from recession.