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Congressman Rob Bishop

Representing the 1st District of Utah

BISHOP: Giving Americans a new voice

May 26, 2010
Op-Ed and Speech
OP-ED by Congressman Rob Bishop, Washington Times

Americans are fed up. They're frightened by an exploding debt and frustrated with an unresponsive federal government. They're tired of a sagging economy and unelected bureaucrats who seem to think Washington always knows what's best. A recent poll found that four out of five Americans don't trust Washington. Another poll found that 86 percent of Americans think the federal government is "broken."

The overwhelming distrust the American people have for Washington should come as no surprise. Bailouts, buyouts and takeovers have been the focus in Washington instead of job creation, fiscal discipline and the overall health of our economy. Leaders in Washington have spent the past year siphoning power from the people, states and local institutions, using it to create inefficient, unaccountable one-size-fits-all, Washington-led government programs that ignore the regional and cultural diversity of this great nation.

Unemployment threatens economic security regardless of party affiliations. Republicans and Democrats alike are frustrated that Washington continues to fall short of meeting even the most basic expectations. People across the nation are increasingly finding that their lives are controlled by a government that is out of reach and out of touch. They can see that Washington has taken over functions never intended for it that it is incapable of managing.

The misguided belief that the federal government has the solution to every problem facing this country has led to the Washington that exists today - one that is out of reach and out of touch. The centralization of power and one-size-fits-all solutions are exactly what the Founding Fathers sought to prevent when they drafted the 10th Amendment to the Constitution.

Over time, we have gotten away from the core principles that empower people and limit government intrusion.

Today, Americans across the country are rising up and saying enough is enough. They are tired of top-down mandates from federal bureaucrats in Washington. It's time Washington started listening.

It is unacceptable that the current Washington agenda is crafted more than ever before in backroom deals made behind closed doors by a few in this majority who think they know what is best for the country. This wheeling and dealing has led to one of the most unresponsive and unpopular Congresses in history.

House Republicans agree with the American people that the time has come for an overhaul of the way Washington does business. It is time for Congress to really listen to the people.

Later this year, House Republicans will partner with the American people to offer a new set of policy solutions. We will ask that Americans speak out about their priorities and what they think Congress should be addressing. This new initiative, based on interaction from the people around the country, will radically alter the way the national agenda is formed.

While this new initiative will be driven by input from all Americans, it is safe to say the tax-and-spend approach will not be up for consideration. After 1 1/2 years of Democrats' failed policies of historic proportions, I think it's safe to say that this plan is the wrong direction for the country. Just look at the current unemployment rate as evidence.

Central to this effort is a new online forum, AmericaSpeakingOut.com, where each and every American will have an opportunity to participate in building a new agenda for Washington. This new interactive forum will enable you to submit a policy solution, promote your priorities, debate the ideas posted by other Americans and share the conversation with your friends and neighbors via Facebook and Twitter. This unprecedented new approach to interactive policymaking will provide a venue for online conversation between Americans and those elected to represent them.

By empowering the American people to help determine the agenda in Washington, Congress will be more accountable and responsive than ever before. I anticipate that some in Congress may not like this new approach because it means they will have to set aside their personal agendas and start listening to the American people.

We have spent the past 1 1/2 years shackled by political agendas that have led to further job loss, a stagnant economy and more bailouts, buyouts and takeovers. While congressional and administration leaders sit with their fingers crossed that things will improve eventually, Republicans will be working directly with the American people to develop a new way forward for this country. With this new effort, Americans can speak out and have their voices heard. I am proud to be a part of this new initiative, which will elevate the voice of the people and begin redistributing Washington power back to the people and states.

Rep. Rob Bishop is a Utah Republican.