Weekly Column of U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander for the week of January 27, 2008

“We Are Ready to Work in Washington”

Posted on January 25, 2008

We must change the way Washington does business by going to work on the big issues facing our country. This week, as part of my new position as chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, I hosted a day-long retreat at the Library of Congress where 44 Republican senators discussed a variety of issues, including terrorism, economic stimulus proposals, affordable healthcare, and maintaining America’s global economic competitiveness. The discussions that took place at that day-long meeting proved to me that Republican senators are ready to roll up there sleeves and go to work. There is no excuse for us to take the year off when so many important things remain to be done here. So this year you are going to be seeing a steady stream of Republican senators with specific solutions that either are bipartisan or ought to be bipartisan, and we believe that is what the American people expect of us. Republican Senators are ready to help, working with our colleagues, to give the Senate an opportunity to vote for real change and to construct principled solutions for the problems facing our country. We are here to do good things for our country, and there is plenty to do. We see what is happening in the housing market, with oil prices, with rising health care costs. We know that we need to move quickly with a bipartisan approach to help get the economy back on track. Our preference is to let businesses and people keep and spend more of their own money to boost economic growth. We want to grow the economy, not the government. Other important areas we need to focus on include: • Ensuring that every American has health insurance, starting with small business health insurance plans which would allow small business owners to band together to purchase health insurance for their employees. • Reforming the tax code so Americans can afford to buy private insurance. • Keeping America’s brainpower advantage so we stop good paying jobs from going overseas. • Improving healthcare for rural patients – including expectant mothers who must drive long-distances to receive care – by stopping runaway lawsuits that require doctors to pay exorbitant malpractice fees. There is plenty of work to do. Thirty years ago, I began my service as the Governor of Tennessee. I was a young Republican Governor and Tennessee was largely Democratic. The media asked Democratic speaker of the house, Ned McWherter, and said: “Mr. Speaker, what are you going to do with this new young Republican Governor?” And to their surprise, the speaker said: “I am going to help him. Because if he succeeds, our state succeeds.” Now, we are not naive about politics in Tennessee. We had, and have, our fights and argued about our principles. But we kept our eye on the ball and got some incredible results by working together. I would like nothing more than to move that kind of cooperation from Tennessee to DC. I sense that from many senators. Of course, we will argue. We were elected because we have differences. This is a debating society. But we don't stop with our disagreements, we should finish with our results. I look forward to a constructive year of helping our country move ahead with a steady stream of specific solutions to big problems that get results because they either are bipartisan or because they should be bipartisan. ###