Congress 2012: It’s time to lead

The second session of the 112th Congress begins at a critical moment in our nation’s history. Nearly two straight years of private-sector job growth is encouraging news, but we still have a great deal of work to do.  We cannot afford an election year of grandstanding and gridlock.  The work ahead of us is far too important. This year in Congress must be defined by courageous acts of bipartisanship that deliver results for the American people.

Congress must deliver tax reform and investments to boost job growth and keep our nation globally competitive.  Our critical work for the economic recovery begins by preserving a payroll tax cut for American workers, extending unemployment insurance for 2 million Americans for the remainder of the year and raising the debt ceiling. The American public is fed up with factions of extremists who turn legislative housekeeping into full-blown global crises.  The American people want results, not stunts.  

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Restoration of the American Dream for the middle class will take innovative policy approaches that bring more well-paying jobs home from abroad.  I’m encouraged by the president’s recent “insourcing” proposals, as I advocate for my own: the Market Based Manufacturing Incentives Act, H.R. 3495, and my pending proposal, the Scaling Up Manufacturing Act.  My market-based proposal identifies the next generation of world-changing technologies and spurs demand for domestically made products with consumer tax credits, ensuring that the iPads and LCD screens of the near future are stamped “Made in the U.S.A.” 

My “Scaling Up” initiative targets entrepreneurs ready to move from the research and development phase to production. It grants a 25 percent tax credit for money spent to construct or lease their first domestically located manufacturing facility — meaning they will be able to build, hire and thrive right here at home.

Congress must lead for each American student. As a lifelong educator and representative from Silicon Valley, I know the American Dream is first ignited in our classrooms. We must make science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education central to what students learn in American schools so we can equip and empower each American child to be a force on the world scene.  STEM education in our classrooms put a man on the moon and created the Internet, and it is the key to our nation’s future.  My proposal, the STEM Education Innovation Act of 2011, H.R. 3373, equips each student who dreams of being a global innovator — of being the next Steve Jobs or Sally Ride — with the skills needed to win the future. Congress must also reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act with changes that reverse the damage done by No Child Left Behind.

Congress must deliver a budget that promotes the values of the American people and addresses the fundamental needs of the economy.  Building on my authorship of The People’s Budget in 2011, I look forward to once again leading the Congressional Progressive Caucus’s (CPC) Budget Task Force in 2012.  The CPC’s updated fiscal plan will eliminate the deficit, forge a fair tax code, make wise investments that grow our economy and bring our troops home from Afghanistan. The CPC budget will accomplish all this while protecting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, because we cannot solve our debt problems on the backs of older Americans or our most vulnerable.  The CPC budget will put Americans back to work and guarantee that American industry is able to dream big, innovate and win.  

For 236 years, the story of America has been written by hardworking, imaginative men and women who roll up their sleeves, get to work, solve problems and propel our nation forward. The work of Congress in 2012 must embody the get-it-done story of America.  

That’s what the American people want.  That’s what the American people deserve.

Honda is Silicon Valley’s representative in Congress.  He is Budget Task Force Chairman for the Congressional Progressive Caucus, the author of The People’s Budget, and a member of the House Appropriations and Budget committees.

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