As 2012 comes to a close, now is the time to look toward 2013 and the challenges ahead. Some people make resolutions at the start of the New Year. For my part, I have 5 key goals for the upcoming year:
1. 2013 could be the year for bipartisan agreements in Congress. Call me na*ve but I still believe that Democrats and Republicans can work together for the greater good. Our democracy was built on compromise, and compromise is good government. Overly partisan politicians with an "all or nothing" attitude most often get nothing. Let's hope that 2013 can be the year to stop drawing lines in the sand and members of both political parties can work together.
2. For too long Congress has spent money that we simply do not have. Our nation's crushing national debt is the biggest threat to our security. We cannot continue spending money that we simply do not have. I am convinced that the only way we can get our country back on firm economic footing is by enacting permanent spending controls like a Balanced Budget Amendment that will ensure all future Congresses do not spend future generations of Americans into oblivion. In 2013, I hope to make permanent spending caps a part of the national dialogue.
3. Agriculture is the number one industry in our First Congressional District. As I write this column, Congress has yet to pass a Farm Bill. During my first term in Congress I have advocated for Southern agriculture. I co-founded the Rice Caucus and the Chicken Caucus in the House that brings together members of both political parties to form a collective voice for the rice and chicken industries. In 2013, I hope to use my new leadership role as subcommittee chair of the Livestock, Rural Development and Credit Subcommittee to protect Arkansas producers as new farm policy is debated and drafted.
4. I have often said the biggest differences in Congress are not between Democrats and Republicans. The biggest differences are between rural and urban interests. In 2013, I want to work with other rural representatives to protect our rural way of life. Last year we had some success in keeping rural post offices open and fighting back against the EPA. In 2013, I hope to build on the past successes to ensure rural Americans have a seat at the table and decisions are being made.
5. Finally, I hope 2013 can be another winning season for the Arkansas State Football Team under the new leadership of Coach Bryan Harsin! Go Red Wolves!
Let's hope these 5 milestones can be met in 2013. I wish you and your family a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!