Jan 03 2017

OMAHA WORLD-HERALD: A new chapter for U.S. begins today

By Senator Deb Fischer

Nebraskans are an optimistic people.

Maybe it’s the land, those sweeping vistas that stir the spirit to dream, to reach. Maybe it’s our constant willingness to roll up our sleeves. Perhaps it is family: those strong homes, those hopeful launching pads, those safe havens.

Whatever the source, Nebraskans have a profound faith in the future. We believe the best is still somewhere ahead, waiting for us to work our way there. The New Year finds us eager to set out after it.

In Washington, a new administration and Congress can help clear the road.

The 115th Congress begins today. My goal for it is simple: empower Americans to pursue that hopeful future, remove the roadblocks before them, and keep them safe along the journey. To do this, I’ll focus on several core issues: national defense, infrastructure, government overregulation and tax reform.

To have a better, more prosperous 2017 at home, we must protect our families from dangers abroad.

Terrorist organizations continue to commit acts of unspeakable violence. Rogue states, like Iran, covet weapons of devastating destructive power. Others, like North Korea, already possess them. As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I plan to work with the new administration and define a clear strategy to answer these threats.

Regarding infrastructure: Some of Nebraska’s roads began as pioneer trails, but they did not stay that way. By prudent planning, we have connected our communities with nearly 97,000 miles of public roads that bring families together and goods and services to market. We need this same common sense approach nationwide. By investing wisely in America’s infrastructure, we will build the framework for stronger communities.

From health care to agriculture, onerous regulations have made day-to-day life harder for Nebraska families. I will continue working to lift this burden in 2017.

Congress will repeal Obamacare this year. Health insurance premiums climbed by an average of 25 percent in 2016. Many Americans, including lower-income families, single parents and the elderly, spent dramatically more for the care they need. This law is collapsing under its own weight; its replacement is long overdue.

Rest assured, Nebraskans will not have the rug ripped out from under them. A two- to three-year transition period following the law’s repeal will protect families and give time to determine a better alternative.

Federal overreach, like the “Waters of the United States” rule, would have frustrated Nebraska homeowners and threatened the survival of agricultural producers across our state. On-farm fuel storage requirements burdened farmers and ranchers with strict rules originally written for oil refineries. Working together, Congress and the new administration will roll back these reams of red tape.

Congress will also look to lighten the load on families through tax reform. By updating our outdated, inefficient tax code, we can give small businesses breathing room to invest, hire more workers and begin new projects.

I am eager to get to work in the new Congress; I am also humbled by the trust placed in me. Many families have struggled the past decade, living paycheck to paycheck. I am committed to making life easier for them.

Despite our challenges, 2017 can, and should, be a time of hope. This is true for Nebraskans in a special way: This year marks our 150th anniversary as a state. Since entering the Union, we have made mighty contributions to our country. We anchor America’s national security; we feed a hungry world. And while our state began with an act of Congress, it was built by families — through hard labor, dogged determination, and unquenchable hope for a better future.

Let’s unleash that pioneer’s spirit once more. November’s election has given us a reprieve from heavy-handed government, but it will be up to us to make the most of this moment.