Guest Column: It’s time to join hands and work together for solutions

Published 9:28 am Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Guest Column by Joseph Brown Sr. and Robin Brown

Joseph Brown Sr. and Robin Brown are members of the Freeborn County DFL Party.

Joseph E. Brown, Sr.

Joseph E. Brown, Sr.

The 2016 presidential election is less than 100 days away. American voters will elect a new president who will take office on Jan. 20, 2017. Our hope is that Americans will unite behind our new president with the shared vision for a nation whose citizens are safe both at home and abroad, travel on roads and bridges that are in good repair, work within an economy where everyone may obtain a job with a livable wage and don’t worry about how they will pay for their health care.

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Our hope is for a strong and productive Congress that is able to work with our new president. It is the job of the Congress to create and vote on the budget, and it is the president’s responsibility to sign or veto the budget presented by Congress. Our hope is that Congress will vote on a simple and fair tax structure that results in a balanced budget. As citizens, it is our civic responsibility to hold our Congress accountable for their actions.

Regardless of political party, we must all take responsibility for the actions of our Congress. Congress spends federal dollars they have not had the courage to collect because we let them do so. The president should not take the blame for the federal deficit any more than he or she should claim credit for a federal surplus, because Congress has the sole responsibility to vote on tax bills and appropriations. The president’s jurisdiction is limited to signing or vetoing the bills Congress has passed.

Robin Brown

Robin Brown

It should be noted the last time we had a federal surplus was when we had a Republican majority in Congress and a Democrat in the White House — Bill Clinton.  We currently have a Republican majority in Congress and a Democrat in the White House.  If we are concerned about the negative effects of a record breaking federal deficit, then we need to address the source and hold them accountable — Congress.

At some point, Congress must be required to pay for the services, tax cuts, and wars they write into law.  In contrast, during the past two presidencies, we witnessed Congress: cut income taxes for the wealthy — without the corresponding long term decrease in expenditures, implement a new drug plan under Medicare — without a viable way to pay for it, as well as allow wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to become our longest wars — without paying for either of them.

We are responsible for Congress because we are the voters who elected them.  And it doesn’t seem to matter whether Congress is controlled by the Democrats or the Republicans when it comes to deficit spending. We need to insist Congress live within their means and that means they must stop spending money on foreign wars, tax cuts and new drug plans until they are willing to raise taxes or cut less crucial programs to pay for our priorities. If a priority (insert your favorite here) is important enough to write into law, it is important enough to pay for it.

As we focus on the presidential election, we need to hold each of the two major candidates accountable for their economic, social and military plans for America. They need to be specific about their plans for growing our economy, providing for our national defense, protecting our environment, repairing our roads and bridges and making health care available to all. They need to share a specific vision and plan for making our country an even better nation than we are today.

A few weeks ago, we celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary by taking our first vacation in 25 years.  We visited England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, The Republic of Ireland and Wales and were impressed by the cleanliness and safety of each country and the amount of love and respect they have for the United States of America. We participated in a Fourth of July parade in Ireland where Americans were asked to march and carry their respective state flag. The crowds cheered and personally thanked us for our support over the past 100 years as we helped win World War I and World War II and protected the British Isles from foreign enemies. It was truly an eye-opening and humbling experience.

We are so fortunate to live in this great nation. We are so blessed to live in the awesome state of Minnesota. We acknowledge we have challenges to address and problems to solve, but we are convinced that by taking personal responsibility for our families and neighborhoods, we will continue to be a beacon of hope for citizens throughout our nation.

It is time for us to join hands and work together for common solutions. This can and should be done in a positive way without the need to attack political opponents.  Our hope is that during the next 100 days, we can focus on the type of future we want for our families and nation and make a thoughtful and positive vote for the candidate of our choice. After the election, it will be time for us to support and encourage our new president, no matter who she or he is.