Seven Years of Failed Policies
We recently witnessed the safety of our nation and the world weakened by Iran receiving sanctions relief. It is absurd that the President believes Iran can be trusted when it continues to openly mock the U.S., capture and imprison American citizens, and declare its intentions to destroy Israel and kill Americans.
Instead of addressing the serious repercussions of a nuclear-armed Iran and many other grave issues truly affecting our country in his final State of the Union address, the President used the House Floor as a stage to tout his personal agenda. By lecturing Americans and raising sidetracked issues, the President attempted to distract us from what have been the failed policies of his administration, such as underestimating the growth of ISIS, the Iran Nuclear Deal, ObamaCare, anti-gun executive overreach, and the refusal to enforce our immigration laws.
The President has failed to advance policies to improve our economy and protect our country from harm. In contrast, the first Republican-controlled Congress in nine years ended 2015 by passing a number of substantial legislative achievements and conservative reforms that will benefit our economy, provide our troops the tools they need to defend our nation, protect the unborn, and foster American innovation. We passed legislation eliminating burdensome taxes, providing states the opportunity to end Common Core, cutting the deficit, increasing refugee security screenings, and requiring the President to put forth a real, comprehensive strategy to defeat ISIS. Let’s have a deeper look at this contrast . . .
The President’s Failed Policies
1. Iran Nuclear Deal Disaster
In exchange for Iran's “compliance” with the President’s poorly negotiated Iran Nuclear Deal, the U.S. has begun lifting crippling economic sanctions it had imposed on Iran that prevented it from building a nuclear bomb. By unfreezing up to $150 billion in assets, Iran will now not only be able to invest more heavily on building its nuclear weaponry, but it will also most certainly further fund terrorist organizations and rogue regimes to kill Americans and innocent victims throughout the world.
Iran has deliberately violated this deal multiple times by conducting missile tests to perfect its nuclear weapons technology, as well as has increased its military presence in Syria and surrounding countries. Iran will no doubt thank us and President Obama for our “help” in executing its next terrorist attacks and the construction of its nuclear weapons stockpile.
Additionally, the President is putting American lives in danger by deliberately failing to enact legislation he signed into law. Instead, the President is deciding to placate to Iran’s deceptive intentions by not enforcing the Visa Waiver Program Improvement Act and allowing foreigners tied to terrorist hotspots like Iran to enter the U.S. without going through the extra layer of security screening as required by this law. It is clear President Obama has sold his soul to Iran and is welcoming potential terrorists from Iran into the U.S. with open arms.
2. No strategy to defeat ISIS and protect America.
The growing number of ISIS supporters and terrorist sympathizers entering, and already within, our country is unacceptable. Sadly, this influx is largely due to the President’s refusal to call ISIS terrorists what they are—radical jihadists. Just days before the devastating terrorist attacks in Paris, the President stated ISIS was contained. We now know that was a blatantly false statement, and even members of the President’s cabinet and military leaders testified that ISIS is, in fact, not contained and has not been since before 2010. Every day the President fails to take aggressive action and create a comprehensive strategy to destroy ISIS is another day our national security and American lives are put in jeopardy.
3. Misguided Agenda: Second Amendment, Guantanamo Bay Prisoners and Climate Change
The President continuously employs false rhetoric about loopholes in our gun laws to stoke fear and as a means to placate his political base. He overstepped his constitutional authority by imposing an unprecedented “gun control” Executive Order on law-abiding citizens. This unilateral action is a direct attack on the Second Amendment. To the contrary of President Obama's claims, existing gun sale laws and background check requirements apply just as much to gun shows as they do to any other place where guns are sold. President Obama chose to infringe on Americans’ rights instead of choosing to work with Congress in keeping firearms out of the hands of mentally-disturbed individuals and criminals who do not care about the law in the first place.
President Obama also renewed his promise to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility in his State of the Union address. I strongly oppose this policy, and have consistently voted to prevent the transfer of terrorists to the U.S. These prisoners were captured on battlefields, taking up arms against American forces and civilians, and a release of these terrorists will allow them to return to the battlefield.
Although the issues surrounding climate change are controversial and emotional, there is yet to be a consensus on its true cause. The President’s efforts to address climate change could result in policies and regulations that would be disastrous to our already fragile economy. America’s first priority should be job creation and moving the economy forward, not legislation seeking to regulate carbon emissions that could significantly increase taxes and slow down economic growth.
We must protect our precious natural resources, especially in Florida. However, federal regulatory agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should not be allowed to circumvent Congress in implementing its protection efforts, and the President should not support it either. Not only have many of the EPA’s rules and regulations proven to be costly and burdensome to energy producers, citizens and job creators, but the President’s Clean Power plan includes shutting down coal-fired power plants in Florida designated as primary warm-water refuges for manatees, without which will cause these endangered animals severe health problems and possibly even death.
4. America’s weakened economy
Our country is more than $18 trillion in debt, due in part to waste, fraud, and abuse that occur when massive government programs are involved. Economic growth under President Obama has been sluggish, broken, faltering and historically weak. The President undeniably has presided over more market-distorting government spending that any of his predecessors. Manufacturing is declining, and consumers are not spending despite a huge cash infusion from cheaper gas prices. The housing market remains relatively dismal, middle class incomes are stagnant, and the labor force remains near a 30-year low. Unfortunately, few economists see prospects for faster growth on the horizon.
Republican Congress Achievements
1. Passed legislation to fund our military and force the President to implement ISIS-defeating strategy
As a Member of Congress, providing for our national defense and the safety of our citizens is my highest priority. Our Republican-led Congress recently increased funding for our military to ensure our troops can aggressively combat and defeat ISIS and carry out crucial counterterrorism programs. We also passed a bill requiring the President to put forth a real, comprehensive strategy to defeat ISIS and to increase funding for our military and our national defense.
We further passed legislation to tighten requirements under our Visa Waiver Program to combat potential threats, to prohibit the transfer of terrorist detainees from Guantanamo Bay to the U.S., and to require the President to fulfill his 2011 commitment to develop a comprehensive strategy to counter terrorists’ use of social media. Additionally, I will introduce legislation this week to censure the President for failing to enact the Visa Waiver Program Improvement Act as congressionally intended. The President must be immediately stopped from further harming our nation and putting us at risk for terrorist attacks.
With the rise of terrorists entering countries under the guise of seeking refuge, the House passed measures to prevent devastating terrorist attacks from taking place on our homeland, like in San Bernardino, California. Among these measures, we passed the SAFE Act, which suspends the admission of Syrian and Iraqi refugees into the U.S. until our nation’s top security officials can certify the integrity of their background checks and are able to declare each refugee, individually, is not a danger to the U.S.
I personally introduced legislation to prevent federal funds from being used for the admission of Syrian refugees into the U.S. until proper security screening measures are put in place. I also introduced the Finish the Fence Act, which directs the Secretary of Homeland Security to complete the required 700-mile fence along our southwest border by the end of this year. This is not only an issue of illegal immigrants crossing our porous border; it is also an issue of national security. ISIS is looking for every possible opportunity and weakness within our security systems to infiltrate and radicalize individuals in joining its jihadist regimes to kill Americans, including recruiting and training those illegally crossing our border and entering our country.
2. Replaced Common Core
This Republican Congress passed the most substantial education reform in 25 years that replaces No Child Left Behind and returns power over education decisions back to the states, local governments and parents. It is my firm belief education prepares individuals to provide for themselves, their families, and those in need. However, one size does not fit all when it comes to education, and overregulation by the federal government prevents students from thriving in school. As the father of two sons, I know firsthand the important role education plays in today's society, as well as a parent’s right to make decisions about his or her child’s education. What education needs is choice, competition, discipline and an elimination of federal mandates and high-stakes testing. This reform gives states the freedom to tailor education systems to the needs of their students without having to check in with Washington bureaucrats first.
3. Provided permanent tax relief to families and small businesses
For the past 15 years, conservatives in Congress have advocated for legislation to provide more long-term tax certainty for businesses, job creators and families that will help grow our economy. Congress recently passed legislation that will make a number of temporary tax provisions permanent, and will help American taxpayers and job creators keep more of their hard-earned dollars. Additionally, this legislation will help rein in the improper actions of the Internal Revenue Service.
As a former small business owner in Florida, I know pro-growth policies that foster the American entrepreneurial spirit are the best avenues we have to create jobs and advance innovation. The health of our economy is reflected in large part by the willingness of business owners to grow and hire new workers, and we must continue giving them the tools and incentives to do so, including simplifying and improving our tax code.
4. Lifted ban on the export of crude oil
Another important conservative priority of Republicans in Congress was lifting the government’s 40-year-old ban on crude oil exports, which we successfully accomplished. This ban lift will boost our energy production, create thousands of jobs, lower gasoline prices, and weaken countries like Iran and Russia, who use oil as a political weapon. President Obama entered into an unwise agreement with Iran that will allow the country to export oil, and the U.S. should not be put at a competitive disadvantage. The U.S. is now one of the leading producers of oil in the world, benefiting American workers and lowering the price at the pump. In order to keep domestic energy production and jobs growing strong, we must continue updating our energy policies to reflect 21st century realities.
5. Passed a budget reconciliation that defunded Planned Parenthood and repealed ObamaCare
With my support, Republicans in Congress passed the Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act. This is the first ObamaCare repeal bill sent to the President’s desk for a signature. This bill would have repealed the core pillars of ObamaCare that stifle medical advancements and cost jobs, as well as would have prevented taxpayer dollars from funding abortion providers, like Planned Parenthood. However, President Obama ignored the will and concerns of the American people and vetoed this important legislation. Holding firm in our promise to protect Americans and the unborn, the House voted today to override the President’s veto. Unfortunately, however, the lack of support by House Democrats caused this essential veto-override to fail.
Since first being elected into Congress, I have tirelessly fought to repeal and replace ObamaCare, which has drastically raised the cost of health care and was sold to Americans on broken promises. Health insurance premiums for Floridians are already expected to spike nearly 10 percent in 2016, with some health care plans increasing as much as 16 percent. Forcing Americans, Floridians and employers, under the penalty of higher taxes, to purchase and provide coverage of the government’s choosing causes these devastating premium hikes and damages our health care system. I will continue to offer viable solutions and support efforts to enact real health care reform that returns health care decisions from federal bureaucrats back to Americans and their physicians.
6. Cutting waste
Since Republicans took control of the House in 2010, the national deficit has been cut by almost two-thirds. Eliminating unnecessary, duplicative, and wasteful programs will further help reduce our ballooning debt and fraudulent spending that result from government programs that have grown too large. To that end, I have introduced multiple bills to help eliminate waste, such as addressing the estimated $21 billion in fraudulent tax refunds, requiring each federal government department and agency to justify every line item on their budgets to ensure all programs receive appropriate funding levels, and requiring the Office of Personnel Management to submit an annual report to Congress relating to the use of “Official Time” by federal employees to perform union activities during the official workday.
As a fiscal conservative, I have also given back nearly half of a million dollars from my Congressional budget to the Treasury since first being elected. If every day, hard-working Americans can live responsibly and on tight budgets, there is no reason our federal government cannot do the same, especially when it is spending taxpayer dollars.
For the past seven years, the President has brought us broken promises and failed and distracting policies. However, voters will have a clear choice of what kind of country they want to have in the 21st century come this next election cycle. I have faith this year Congressional Republicans will emerge a more unified, conservative party, and I have no doubt vision, inclusivity and leadership will prevail in better representing the American people.
As always, please continue to write, call and email your opinions to my office. I could not effectively represent you in Congress without the advice of my constituents. It is an honor and a privilege to serve you in Congress.
Dennis A. Ross