— To watch U.S. Rep. Tom Graves' response to President Obama's State of the Union address, click here.
Good evening, I’m Congressman Tom Graves of Georgia.
America is a patchwork of unique states, with unique communities. Together, through our families, faith and hard work, we all contribute to form a more perfect Union.
In the last four years, we’ve seen Washington growing more powerful and attempting to shape our lives. Rather than respect the differences that make our Union, Washington seeks to make us uniform.
The president’s State of the Union address captured the power struggle we have in America today.
It’s clear that the president wants to expand Washington’s power. From raising taxes to infringing on our Second Amendment rights, we see the long arm of the federal government reaching ever deeper into our wallets, our homes, our businesses and our communities.
Think about it this way: Washington just took over $600 billion out of our communities with the latest tax increases. It wrapped its arms around one-fifth of our economy with the national health care law. It shackles our state budgets by refusing to modernize entitlements. Even young kids are getting a taste, literally, with their new federal diet at public schools.
After four years of this, our national debt has exploded, the economy remains fragile and millions of Americans are still struggling to find jobs.
President Obama’s vision for our country puts Washington first. I believe in putting Georgia first.
The question of our future is, how do we transfer power out of Washington and let our state and local communities lead?
One of the best ways to achieve this is through a balanced budget. It’s the commonsense solution for our debt problem, and it would require Washington to work more efficiently. The road to a balanced budget must have modern, 21st century solutions to the tax, spending and entitlement problems from the last century.
For example, the current tax code is about 4 million words, and the annual filing process takes families and businesses over 6 billion hours to complete. It makes us less competitive in the global economy and bogs down progress. The slowness of this current tax code is more suitable for the era of telegrams and steamboats, not the age of the internet and commercial flight.
You see, in order for hard working families to succeed, we do not need to take more from you in order to feed the government’s appetite. Instead, we must remove Washington’s barriers to progress.
Americans deserve a tax code that is simpler and fairer, and puts families and businesses first. We must build the Keystone pipeline and allow more energy exploration in this country. Washington must be a better steward of your tax dollars so that we invest less in China and more in our ports, schools and roads.
I recently received a letter from a high school student named Autumn. She wrote of her concern about the national debt and asked what it means for her future. Her letter reminds me that the task of shrinking Washington is tough, but it is so important for future generations.
It will take some serious battles along the way. And yes, we’ll be faced with showdowns, shutdowns and fiscal cliffs. But, I know Georgians sent me to here to fight for your families and clear the way so that you can seize opportunities and succeed in life.
Reading that letter from Autumn, I know our cause is worthy. Her future, and the future of our great country, depends on our success.