By Eric Cantor (R-Va)
Sunday, February 10, 2013
In America, we have high expectations for our nation. We have always believed we could be the best hope for mankind. That hope has led generations of immigrants to risk everything, and endure a tough journey to our shores looking for a better future. That hope is why parents work so hard to make it easier for their children to get ahead and achieve their dreams.
Because of that hope, coupled with a determination to see them come true, every generation since our founding has had it better than the one before. Until now.
Today, working moms and dads have a tough time making ends meet. Living costs are increasing while wages remain stagnant. Many are without a job. The first priority of every parent is to raise a healthy family and provide a brighter future for their children.
Opportunity for a child cannot become reality without a good education. Yet, many school systems are broken, and despite a desire for better alternatives, many families are stuck sending their children to unsafe and failing schools. College costs are rising, and students are graduating without jobs, as positions remain unfilled due to a shortage of skilled applicants.
Through all of this, it would help if parents could find more time to spend at home preparing their children for what lies ahead, or being there to comfort them when they are sick.
House Republicans will focus on solutions to help make life work for America’s working families. Based on the conservative principles of self-reliance, faith in the individual, trust in family and accountability in government, we will advance proposals this Congress aimed at producing results in education, health care, innovation and job growth.
This week, I spent a day with Rashawn Williams, a 20-year-old student from Washington, D.C. When Williams was younger, he attended a failing inner-city school patrolled daily by eight police officers. After he fell behind, his dad began to fight back. He discovered an opportunity scholarship program, which provided funding for his son to attend a private school. In two years, Williams caught up to his classmates and is now thriving in college. His three younger sisters are on a similar path.
Rashawn Williams and his sisters are the lucky ones. There are still too many kids trapped in dangerous schools with no place to turn. Nobody should deny them a safe learning environment. Their dad did not give up — and neither will House Republicans.
We will propose legislation to give these children the chance to succeed. We will call for reallocating federal education dollars to follow kids to the classroom. Students from low-income areas, as well as those with special needs, will receive more. That way, schools can compete for students, and have the right incentives to excel.
We will also propose legislation to provide working parents and their employers the option of flextime arrangements. This will give parents more time with their kids when needed. Unbelievably, a federal law from the 1930s prohibits hourly employees from converting overtime into future paid time off. In 1985, Congress addressed this, but only for municipal and state employees. We will propose this option for working parents in the private sector, so they too can make their life work again.
Families worry constantly about health care. The president’s health care law caused health insurance premiums to rise, access to fall and innovation to wane. To help families, we will bring forward legislation to repeal the medical device tax. This tax has made it more costly for companies to develop lifesaving devices in the United States and thus makes it harder and more expensive for patients to get the care they need.
In the long term, medical research is the only way to cure disease and control health care costs. House Republicans will prioritize redirecting federal research dollars in hopes to cure cancer and other life-threatening diseases. We will cut red tape, and insist on a clear and understandable process for drug and device approval that can pave the way for medical breakthroughs.
The best way to start working together in Washington is to agree we want to help make life work again. These common-sense proposals go a long way toward that end. There remain many other tough choices about Washington’s out-of-control spending, the mounting debt and taxes, especially in a divided Congress.
We stand ready to make these choices and to lead. We anxiously await President Obama’s State of the Union address to the nation on Tuesday, and hope to hear he is committed to setting differences aside. We must begin solving our country’s long-term fiscal problems, as well as the problems facing our families today. Progress on both fronts will help restore confidence and the promise of a better future for all.
Congressman Eric Cantor is the Majority Leader in the U.S. House of Representatives.