Thursday, December 6, 2007

Boyda's Top 10 Problems in DC

Earlier this week, Congresswoman Nancy Boyda was the host of the Jim Cates show for the whole show- 8 - 11 a.m. All accounts are she did a great job.

Boyda used a Letterman-esque "Top Ten" list to keep the show moving. We've already talked about her exciting new NAFTA legislation, but here is the whole list of her ten biggest problems with Washington, DC:


By Rep. Nancy Boyda

If you're like most Kansans, you trust Washington about as far as you can sling a piano – and with good reason. From the Abramoff lobbying scandal to the Craig sex scandal, from $3 gasoline to the endless war in Iraq, from the skyrocketing national debt to the runaway cost of health care, Washington has proven time and again that it doesn't deserve your trust.

If Kansans hope to clean up our nation's capital, I believe that our first step must be to define the problem. Why, exactly, do we have so little faith in our leaders? What has gone wrong?

If you ask me, there isn't just one problem – there are many. I could probably list a hundred, but for now, here are what I see as the top ten things wrong with Washington, D.C. today.

10. Capitol Hill is an ethical swamp. Earlier this year, in an effort to begin cleaning up Capitol Hill, I authored legislation to strip the government pensions of Members of Congress who commit federal crimes. The good news: My provision passed the House unanimously and was signed into law by the president. The bad news: So much work remains to be done. Until Congress is held accountable by a powerful, independent ethics committee, corruption will remain the rule rather than the exception.

9. D.C. kicks Americans while they're down. If you're a middle-class Kansan having difficulty paying to heat your home this winter, or if you're working hard but can't afford health care for your kids, or if you're disabled in a car accident, don't look to Washington for help. Although Congress has passed several bills to help the middle class, all have been vetoed by the president.

8. Washington is out of touch with the heartland. Many of my colleagues in Congress only visit their districts a few times a year. They simply don't have a clue what life is like for everyday Americans. I've worked hard to avoid being trapped "inside the Beltway" – for example, I turned down the Congressional health care plan so that I stay in touch with the cost of health insurance, and I fly home to Kansas nearly every weekend – but far too many politicians have lost contact with their constituents.

7. Lawmakers play hide-and-seek in the federal budget. Every single Member of Congress can request federal funds for "earmarked" projects in their communities; most never release their requests to the public. You have no way of knowing how your elected officials want to spend your tax dollars. That's just wrong. Members of Congress should be required to disclose their earmark requests to the public. I was the first representative in Kansas history to do so: You can view a full list of my requests at

6. D.C. has abandoned our kids. Earlier this year, a Kansas man found guilty of possessing child pornography walked free because Congress had written a needlessly vague law. I authored legislation to close this loophole, and the House of Representatives passed it unanimously last month – but Congress should have done its job right the first time. Washington has ignored our kids in other ways, too: Just look at the President's veto of the critically important Children's Health Insurance program, or the consistent underfunding of our schools under No Child Left Behind.

5. Politicians use, then abuse, our nation's veterans. Our VA facilities are badly overburdened. Many veterans wait months or years to receive the medical care they need. Congress took a major step toward fixing the problem by passing $5.2 billion in emergency funding for the VA, but at many facilities, the backlogs remain severe.

4. Washington is gambling with our national security. The war in Iraq has stretched America's strategic readiness dangerously thin. Our military will need about ten years to reset its resources across the globe, and until then, America will be ill-equipped to respond to terrorist attacks or rogue nations. The world is growing more dangerous each day. Congress must take steps to rebuild our readiness and refocus our military on global threats.

3. Congress doesn't understand the word "illegal." Illegal immigration is undermining our nation's economy and endangering our security. America can't ignore this problem any longer, and we can't afford another 1986-style amnesty. We need meaningful, aggressive immigration reform that strengthens our borders and cracks down on employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants. And we need it now.

2. Republicans and Democrats can't play in the same sandbox. Turn on C-SPAN for an hour, and see if you can spot even five minutes of substantive debate. An unseemly amount of House floor time is wasted on shouting matches; the Senate is routinely a hair's breadth away from a filibuster. Republicans and Democrats rarely even talk to each other, let alone accomplish real work. In my role as Republican Liaison for the freshman class of Democratic representatives, I'm working hard to reach across party lines. Too often, partisanship gets in the way of progress.

1. NAFTA. You'd be hard-pressed to find a politician in America who hasn't, at some point or another, acknowledged problems with the North American Free Trade Agreement. NAFTA is dragging down our economy, weakening our borders, and devastating our manufacturers. After fourteen years, it's time to either fix NAFTA or get the heck out of it. In early December, I'll introduce legislation to require precisely that.

These problems are daunting, and they won't disappear overnight. But they can be solved, and the solution begins with individual Kansans – people like you.

As I've so often said, democracy is a contact sport. If we want to have any hope of cleaning up the Washington train wreck, each and every one of us must do our part.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We will never be able to stop the rising cost of education and medical care until we secure our borders. Stop illegal immigration. The former president pushed very hard to get NAFTA passed , but most people in the midwest were against it.

This blog is not affiliated in any way with the Kansas Democratic Party, the Democratic National Committee, Congresswoman Nancy Boyda, the Office of Congresswoman Nancy Boyda, or the campaign to re-elected Congresswoman Nancy Boyda. All commentary herein not directly attributed must be considered the opinion of the authors of this blog and not of any other individual, including Congresswoman Nancy Boyda.