Govern responsibly. Break through partisan dysfunction. Get the job done for the American people.
That's what the public wants and expects out of its elected representatives. And as we begin the new year, both parties have the opportunity to do just that by working together and focusing on common-sense policies that move our economy and country forward.
People are understandably fed up with a broken political system that has diminished confidence in our public institutions.
The challenge before us today is to find areas of agreement that will make our nation more prosperous and secure than ever before. And here's the good news -- with a little effort, we can succeed.
Consider the following:
Tax reform: The U.S. tax code punishes everyone from families trying to make ends meet to employers trying to compete in the global marketplace. Congress and the president need to work together to create a simpler, fairer, pro-growth tax code that fuels the economy and helps put Americans back to work. As Florida's only member of the tax-writing House Ways & Means Committee, I am hopeful we can reach agreement and make this goal a reality.
Free and fair trade: Increasing access to foreign markets is critical to growing the U.S. economy and creating jobs. Currently, international trade supports more than 38 million American jobs with 2.2 million in Florida alone. A pending free-trade deal with Japan and 11 other countries offers us a prime opportunity to turbo-charge our economy and restore America's rightful standing as the world's global leader.
Energy independence: The U.S. needs a comprehensive, balanced energy plan that reduces our nation's dependence on foreign oil. We can start by increasing production of environmentally safe, renewable energy. Investing in renewable fuels such as wind, solar, and bio-diesel will help create thousands of new jobs right here in our backyard. It is also time we eliminated wasteful and unnecessary subsidies for Big Oil. The last thing we should be doing is throwing taxpayer dollars at an industry that does not need our help.
Job training and education: China recently surpassed the U.S. as the world's largest economy with India and Japan not far behind. We need to provide America's workforce with the education and training necessary to compete in the 21st-century job market. Restoring the American Dream and economic prosperity should be our top priority.
Nearly 157 years ago, Abraham Lincoln gave a speech in Springfield, Illinois where he delivered a message that rings true today: "A house divided against itself cannot stand."
Working together, we can get the job done.
U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota, is co-chairman of Florida's 29-member congressional delegation.