The true strength of our Democracy lies in the fact that it allows for, and depends on, ideas for policy and practice to flow from the people to the government. Our system works best when government is responsive to, rather than suppressive of, the needs and opinions and ideas of citizens.
As your representative, it is my duty to vote in a way that I believe to be in your best interest, and to put forward legislation that will improve the lives of people and increase the strength and security of our nation. Over the past four years, the inspiration for those votes and legislation introduced has come from my discussions with citizens across the 8th District. It is common sense that the more people who are thinking about a solution, the greater the odds a good idea will emerge; and the closer to the source, the better.
People tell me every day that they need, want, and deserve a fairer, more effective, responsive and efficient government. They are right. They deserve nothing less. We were able to take some additional steps this week to help end the practice of bad government and return to better practices of fiscal responsibility. Even better, it was done so through bipartisan efforts, which I believe is the only way we will get our government, and our nation, back on track. It’s beyond time that folks in Washington put partisanship aside and take actions in the name of our united nation, not political parties, and I was glad to see these efforts made.
This week, the House passed H.R. 4053, the Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Improvement Act. This legislation will help eliminate erroneous and improper payments made by the federal government, and is long overdue in my opinion. According to the Government Accountability Office, in Fiscal Year 2010 alone, the federal government made $125.4 billion dollars in improper payments — to fraudulent Medicare providers, deceased Social Security recipients and countless other illegal, improper or wrong parties. Last year, in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services alone, it was found that nearly 10 percent of payments made were deemed improper. This government waste must end.
In a time where we’re fighting to control federal spending and get our government’s books in order, we need to make every effort possible to not spend a single penny wastefully or unwisely. In a time where there’s an honest ongoing fight to protect our seniors and those among us who have the least, money is being siphoned off by crooks and cheaters and erroneous payments are being made to those who have passed away. It’s so incredibly important that we do not attempt to balance the budget on the backs of our older Americans, and government waste like this only leaves more proof that there are better cuts to be made than directly to benefits.
As our nation’s leaders continue to debate the solution to the fiscal cliff issues we face, I’ll continue to remind them that our seniors and veterans and working families are not to be held hostage in this political fight. Amidst talks of possible reduced benefits or the threat of raising retirement ages, I’ll remind them that our seniors did not get us into this mess and they surely shouldn’t be forced to help get us out. I question the intent of politicians who think that our nation’s fiscal issues are further at risk because 65- and 66-year-olds are seeing their doctors. It’s beyond time that this nation starts to keep promises, not break them the moment it’s not politically convenient or as part of some sort of presumed “referendum” following an election. Both sides of the aisle are to blame, but I’m hopeful that they’ll come to their senses and protect our American people.
Good ideas are rarely found at the political extremes, and the ongoing bickering and pronouncement of “lines in the sand” and issues both parties are unwilling to budge on do nothing for compromise and moving our nation forward. I’ve heard this from you, the people I’m proud to represent, and I’ll continue to make your voice heard in Washington as my time in Congress nears its end. It remains an honor to serve you.
n Congressman Larry Kissell (D-N.C. -8) offices include Rockingham: 230 East Franklin St., Rockingham, N.C. 28379, Phone: 997-2070; Concord number (704) 786-1612; Fayetteville number (910) 920-2070; Washington office: 1632 Longworth HOB, Washington, D.C. 20515; phone (202) 225-3715. Web site, kissell.house.gov.