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The Work Ahead in 2012
As we look forward to 2012, I want to thank you for blessing me with the honor of serving you in the U.S. Senate for the past year.
My first year in Washington was eye-opening in many regards, mainly because I saw firsthand the extent to which dysfunction has become entrenched in Washington’s political culture. However, I’m optimistic that we’ve started taking positive steps to reclaim America from the politicians who are leading us towards a diminished future.
During my campaign for Senate, I pledged to come to Washington, stand up to the misguided direction the President and Democrat-controlled Congress were leading our country and offer a clear alternative.
Fighting For Fiscal Discipline and Job Creation
Among other efforts, throughout my first year, I proudly cast votes to:
- “Cut-cap-and-balance” our budget;
- Approve job-creating free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea;
- Add a strong Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution;
- Save Medicare;
- Repeal ObamaCare;
- Oppose short-term and short-sighted budget gimmicks, as well as debt-increasing budgets.
I also introduced or signed on to a variety of measures to shrink the size of government, including the Returned Exclusively for Unpaid National Debt (REFUND) Act, which would allow state legislatures to reject and redirect debt-financed dollars from the federal government to help pay down our national debt. And I voted against raising the debt ceiling in the absence of real measures to control our long-term spending problem and provide greater certainty to job creators. Altogether, when it comes to spending and tax issues, the Heritage Action for Americans (HAFA) rated me the second most conservative senator.
When I campaigned for this office, I also promised I would work with anyone in any party to advance policies we agree on. That’s why one of the things I’m proudest of are the initial steps we’ve taken to find common ground with Democrat Senator Chris Coons of Delaware on the AGREE Act, a bill that combines elements of job creation plans put forth by the President, Congressional Republicans and Congressional Democrats. While I firmly believe the best ways to create lasting prosperity are through tax reform, regulatory reform, entitlement reform and overall spending reform – issues that may not be resolved until after the 2012 election – I also believe we can’t keep wasting time and should at least act on the things we all agree on to help small businesses. The AGREE Act is a step in that direction.
Focusing On Florida
In serving Florida, we were able to re-focus attention on the lingering effects of the Gulf oil spill on small businesses, as we held a July Small Business Committee field hearing in Pensacola. We also succeeded in securing a third-party audit of the Gulf oil spill claims facility to ensure that funds are being spent effectively. On the regulatory front, we led the fights to stop a job-killing numeric nutrients regulation in Florida and to stop a harmful IRS mandate that would stifle small business lending. As NASA ended its shuttle program, I joined my Florida colleagues in challenging the Administration’s lack of vision for our space program moving forward. And we kept beating the drum in stressing the importance to our national security of bringing a nuclear carrier to Mayport.
America’s Role In The World
Another positive development for me this year was the opportunity to engage in our national conversation about America’s foreign policy. In a year of historic upheavals around the world, particularly in the Middle East, I was able to articulate my beliefs about America’s national interests in opposing dangerous tyrants, standing with freedom fighters and being a forceful voice for democracy and human rights. Having a platform to speak out in the Senate also gave me a chance to shine a spotlight on the human rights abuses taking place all over the world, as cruel regimes brutalize innocent people, assaults against democracy take place in countries like Nicaragua, and as modern day slavery continues in the form of human trafficking.
Of course, my official travel abroad and to Florida’s military installations reminded me of how blessed we are as a nation to have so many patriotic, courageous men and women who put their lives on the line for us every day.
Serving Our Constituents
Finally, one of the most rewarding parts of our work is assisting our constituents with federal government services and benefits, including Social Security, Veterans Affairs, IRS tax issues, Medicare and visa issues, among many others. During my first year in office, we received just over 6,000 cases and have closed almost 5,400 of them.
We also heard regularly from constituents in the form of letters, emails and calls to our office. As part of this effort, we launched a web video series called “Marco’s Constituent Mailbox”, which gave us a chance to pick out a few letters each week and respond directly to you. In total, we filmed twenty segments, responded to 48 letters and garnered over 41,000 views on YouTube.
In 2012 and beyond, I hope you’ll continue letting us know your thoughts and positions on different policies being considered up here, as well as your own personal stories.
Looking Ahead To 2012
Much work remains to be done in 2012. We still have a growing debt that recently exceeded $15 trillion. We have essential Social Security and Medicare programs that are going bankrupt and need to be saved. We have millions of unemployed Americans in need of work. And we face increasing turmoil abroad as the Iranian nuclear threat grows and people remain brutalized and enslaved by cruel governments. But as your U.S. senator, I look forward to working on these and many other issues on your behalf.
Thank you. May God bless you and your family. And may God bless the United States.
P.S. Throughout the year, I delivered several major speeches that I hope will be part of an ongoing conversation about what it will take to lead America towards a more secure and prosperous future. Check out the videos below to re-visit some of the memorable moments of my first year in office:
- How to ensure the 21 st Century is another American Century.
- Why the debt ceiling debate was a missed opportunity to tackle our debt problem.
- My Reagan Library speech about the proper role of government in America.
- My Helms Center speech about America’s proper role in the world.
- Why we need policies that create new taxpayers, not new taxes.
- Why we are a nation of haves and soon-to-haves.