The writer is beginning his eighth term as a Republican congressman.
From the beginning of the fiscal cliff debate, I held a simple position — not to entertain raising taxes unless there was fundamental tax reform and real spending cuts that would put us on a fiscally responsible path to reducing our deficit.
However, the deal struck by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Vice President Joe Biden, passed by the Senate in the dead of the night and ultimately passed by the House of Representatives, did not accomplish that goal. That is why I voted against the bill.
The president promised during his campaign a “balanced” approach, yet refused any offer of “shared pain” to solve our fiscal crisis.
Raising taxes with little to no spending cuts does not make for a balanced agreement.
Instead, the McConnell-Biden deal makes a token gesture for spending, with a $1 cut for every $41 of increased taxes and no structural changes.
Nothing in this deal puts us on a path to fiscal responsibility. Nothing in this deal reduces the trillion-dollar deficit our country incurs yearly or helps pay down the $16 trillion in debt our country already owes.
My core belief is that taxes reduce freedom and hurt people overall. I have never wavered on this belief.
That's why in 20 years of public service I have never voted to increase taxes, not even a garbage fee while I was on the City Council. Because, for me, this is a core value.
Yet, as I told the good people of the 2nd District of Nebraska, I am willing to raise taxes, if and only if we join hands with the president and my friends on the other side of the aisle and together share the blame, share the credit and share in providing a real solution to our fiscal and economic problems.
But the deal the House voted on this past week, as a response to the president's complete and total refusal to negotiate spending cuts and only put tax increases on the table, resulted in forcing those of us who believe that more taxes equals less freedom and fewer jobs to compromise our core value.
This was not shared pain. There was no balance.
Our government has a spending problem. It is imperative that we get our spending under control, or we will go the way of other nations.
This is not just for us but also for our children and future generations to come. We can no longer afford to spend our way into oblivion.
So I say to the president: We the people need you to keep your promise for a balanced and shared approach. This is the beginning of a new year and an opportunity to legislate with a new Congress. We need you to work with us and not against us. We need you to change from candidate to national leader, one who is willing to make tough decisions.
The United States requires a leader who is willing to put country and its citizens first. And when you have the courage to govern like two of your predecessors, Ronald Reagan and John Kennedy, and work with Congress, I will join you.
Hand in hand.