Rep. Lipinski Op Ed - It's Time to Get to Work

Southwest News-Herald
By Congressman Dan Lipinski

I was honored to be chosen by the people of the Third District to continue serving as their Representative in Congress. The district boundaries have changed, but the top priorities remain the same: getting Americans back to work, providing greater opportunities for hard-working middle class families, protecting retirement security, and responsibly lowering our soaring national debt.
More and more over the past few years, I have heard from Democrats, Republicans, and Independents, that you are tired of the bickering and the stubbornness that have made it nearly impossible to find solutions to the problems we face.

As someone who works to bring people together to get things done, I share your frustration.

Now that the election is behind us, I am hopeful I will find more people in Washington who are willing to compromise and get results. The work needs to begin immediately.

First and foremost that means avoiding the “fiscal cliff,” the combination of tax increases and spending cuts that are scheduled to take effect Jan. 1. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says that “going off the cliff” would send the economy into another recession and push the unemployment rate back over 9 percent. But if we just cancel all the tax and spending changes without instituting an alternate plan, we will be adding enormously to our already unsustainable $16 trillion debt. We cannot afford to do this, either.

But we do have an alternative plan that would put the country on the road to long-term fiscal health. In March, I helped introduce a budget modeled after the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles Deficit Reduction Commission recommendations. Only a “Brave 38” supported this budget, but hopefully more representatives will have the courage to do the right thing now. I believe the plan offers the best roadmap to restoring a responsible federal budget. 

We cannot forget that we still have millions of Americans – including many of our neighbors – out of work. I will continue to push the Senate to follow the House’s lead and pass my American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act before the end of the year. This bipartisan bill, which will promote domestic manufacturing, passed the House 339 to 77 in September. This bill would help implement policies that will result in more products stamped “Made in U.S.A.” These jobs are critical to our communities.

When the next Congress is sworn in in January, my Five-Point Jobs Plan still will be a priority. The pillars of my plan are to strengthen manufacturing, modernize our infrastructure, educate the workforce, force other countries to trade fairly, and invest in innovation. I also will re-introduce my Buy American Improvement Act so "Buy American" laws are followed by the federal government spending our taxpayer dollars.

I am committed to starting right away on a new federal transportation bill that takes care of local infrastructure priorities. We must develop a solid, multiyear bill and avoid the repeated short-term extensions that occurred after the last legislation expired in 2006. 

I will also be paying close attention to progress on the Central Avenue bypass. After meeting recently with the Illinois Department of Transportation, I anticipate a draft final engineering plan for this vital project will be shared at a public hearing this spring.

I thank you for your support and look forward to working together to improve the lives of all Third District residents.