It’s been quite a while since I last wrote but I want you to know that I am still paying attention. I took the month of August off from social media so I was a little more out of the loop as to what you were doing but I also honored your “August recess” by not writing to you during that month. Since then, I’ve been busy getting my kids off to school and keeping up with the overabundance of produce from my garden. As the days turn cooler and the leaves turn red, though, it’s time to get back to business.
I’m actually feeling more excited and hopeful about politics than I have in a while. Here’s a list of things that give me hope:
- You continue to use the rhetoric of bipartisanship and keep doing photo-ops with Democrat Josh Gottheimer.
- You voted against your party once this summer (see my previous letter) proving that you will act independently if you have a compelling reason to do so.
- There are deadlines coming up for legislative action with some significant (mostly political, but also economic) consequences if the legislation doesn’t come together.
- President Trump seems to want Congress to pass legislation on immigration that secures a place in the US for people who registered under the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Yes, I know that this is weird, given his previous rhetoric on immigration, but everything about this presidency is weird.
- President Trump is acting in unpredictable ways (no surprise there) but in ways that will put pressure on Congress to work on bipartisan legislation (a bit of a surprise, that one).
Given these positive signs, I generated a to-do list for you for the next three months. Here are some things that this constituent thinks you need to be working on:
- Passing a federal budget before the next “debt ceiling” deadline in December. I know that a lot of other things will get more media coverage and could distract congress from this job, but this is the most crucial and time-consuming thing you need to do, right? A government shut-down in December would be a lump of coal in Congress’s stocking.
- Continuing to work on stabilizing the health care marketplace. Let’s see if we can’t get some laws in place that guarantee every American reasonable options for buying health insurance. My sense that there are various plans out there. It’s time to get something passed so that no one is left without coverage.
- Passing immigration reform. There is a bill out there, the “Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act” (DREAM Act) that was introduced in 2001 and still has some life. It came 5 votes short of passing in 2010 and a new version was introduced in July. President Trump has given you a six-month window to pass something like this before the widely popular DACA program expires. It will be messy and contentious, but with people like yourself who have vowed to be “problem solvers,” it’s doable.
That’s more than enough to keep you busy until December. You will notice that I did not include tax reform in my list. That’s because that while I talk idealistically, there are also things about which I’ve got to be realistic. Large-scale tax reform, I predict, will play out a lot like large-scale health care reform. Congress will come up with some ideas, but as soon as they were “scored” and it became apparent that the benefits are largely going to corporations and people in higher income brackets, it will be impossible to come to agreement. I’m not opposed to tax reform as a concept. But it should wait until other, more urgent priorities are accomplished.
This is your moment to shine, Tom. Roll up your sleeves and show us what you can do.
I’m watching with interest,