COLUMN: There’s a Better Way: Poverty, the Economy, and Our Constitution
I recently asked over 100,000 people across the Third Congressional District if they thought today’s kids are on track to be better off than their parents. Of those who responded, nearly 78 percent said no. This sentiment isn’t unique to Colorado. An August 2016 Gallup poll revealed that 72 percent of Americans are dissatisfied with the way things are going in the United States.
Many of us “Baby Boomers” have been lucky to experience the American Dream. After growing up in Cortez, CO, I had the opportunity to attend Ft. Lewis College and become the first person in my family to earn a college degree. After college, my brother and I started a business, and I met my wife, Jean. We welcomed two beautiful daughters into the world, then two sons-in-law, and just recently our second grandbaby.
For decades, we heard stories similar to ours from families in towns across the United States. But recently, it seems like the American Dream we experienced is out of reach for too many people. There are too many families that are one paycheck away from being homeless, too many kids who will never complete high school, too many small businesses closing their doors, and too many adults who have given up on looking for work.
We have an opportunity to turn things around and make the American Dream a reality for everybody, and it starts by laying out our vision and the steps we need to take to get there. This is what the Better Way Agenda is all about.
Creating a better way means addressing some of the biggest challenges facing our nation – challenges like restoring constitutional authority, creating jobs and growing our economy, making health care accessible and affordable for everyone, protecting Americans from threats at home and abroad, and ensuring that everyone has a chance to succeed.
Our Better Way Agenda is made up of six different planks focused on: poverty, national security, the economy, the Constitution, health care, and tax reform. I’d like to share our plans on poverty, the economy, and the Constitution first.
Right now, there are 46.7 million people living in poverty, and the number of people living in highly-concentrated areas of poverty has doubled since the year 2000. For the past seven years, the government’s top-down approach has only made it harder to break the cycle. Under a Better Way, we’ll give people purpose by strengthening work requirements for government assistance programs. We’ll make sure people don’t lose needed benefits because they get married or take a higher-paying job. We’ll reward results by utilizing government programs that work and shutting down programs that don’t.
In many of the communities I have visited over the past several months, a weak economy is the root of many of the problems families face. Federal regulations play a role in keeping our communities safe and secure, but the federal government should be fostering competition, not picking winners and losers. The Better Way Agenda will help us regulate smarter. We will cut down on needless red tape and make the regulations we do need more efficient and more effective. We’ll stop relying on one-size-fits-all mandates, and instead, put more power back into the hands of state and local governments.
Restoring constitutional authority will play a big part in getting our regulatory system on the right track. As the federal government has grown, the separation of powers between our three branches of government has broken down. Although the legislative branch is supposed to hold power over the purse, today, two out of every three dollars the federal government spends are outside of Congress’ control. Under the Better Way Agenda, the Legislative Branch will write clear laws that leave no room for radical interpretation, and through Congress, the American people will have the final word over who is spending their money and where it’s being spent. This is the way our Founding Fathers intended for our government to operate.
To solve the complex problems our country is facing today, we need to implement reforms that are going to have real impacts in our communities and on our families. The Better Way Agenda is the start of this work, and I look forward to sharing the second half of the agenda – our plans for tax reform, health care, and national security – with you soon.