February 6, 1997 in City

Goals Of Local Control, Balanced Budget Remain Unchanged

George R. Nethercutt Jr.≪ Special To Roundtable
 

As I begin my second term representing Eastern Washington in the U.S. House of Representatives, I will continue to follow the basic principles which have guided me both in my civic involvement and my political career.

When I consider a bill before Congress or prepare legislation to respond to concerns I hear when talking to my neighbors, I do so with the understanding that people in Eastern Washington know better how to run their own lives than does the federal bureaucracy in Washington, D.C. At the same time, I recognize that the federal government has made a number of commitments to its citizens and we, as your representatives, must honor them.

In the new Congress, we will again consider a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution. In the last Congress, the House mustered the two-thirds majority needed while the Senate fell one vote short of the required two thirds. With the election of 14 new Senators, I expect that measure to pass Congress and be sent to the states for ratification.

To balance our budget, we will again take up the difficult task of reforming federal programs and eliminating unnecessary or duplicative agencies. Serving on the House Appropriations Committee, I will continue to participate in this process. All federal spending must pass through our committee, and I will work to make sure that we protect essential programs and make the best possible use of taxpayer resources.

Other issues that will be at the top of our agenda include strengthening Medicare to make it financially solvent, reforming campaign finance laws and providing Americans with tax relief. Given the Medicare trustees’ dire warning of this critical program’s impending bankruptcy in less than five years, we must act now to honor our commitments to America’s senior citizens who depend upon it to meet their medical needs.

When we consider campaign reform legislation, I will work to make sure that any bill we pass requires candidates to make full disclosure of the sources and amounts of all their contributions. In my campaigns, I have policed my own finances, making certain that I receive no more than one third of my contributions from political action committees (PACs). This way, at least two thirds of my campaign contributions will come from individuals.

In addition, I will introduce a number of bills in this Congress, including some legislation that did not come up for a vote in the last Congress.

In September, I learned that because of an oversight in the 1986 tax reform law, Congress had not specifically excluded farmers from the alternative minimum tax, which includes income from installment sales of inventory property. Despite the intent of Congress, the IRS has begun taxing farms on this basis, thus including the value of a harvest sale as inventory.

This is unfair to farmers because it does not take into account the vagaries of weather that may prevent them from harvesting the expected yield. That is why I have introduced H.R. 426, the Family Farm Tax Simplification Act, a bill to restore the original understanding of farm tax policy. My bill would add language to the law specifically excluding cash-basis farmers from the alternative minimum tax.

I also plan to reintroduce the Working Americans Wage Restoration Act. When workers complained that they were taxed twice on their wages, I wrote this bill to allow them to deduct payroll taxes. It would mean a savings of $1,770 per year for a two-income family or about half of the average Spokane family’s annual grocery bill.

My Citizen Debt Reduction Act would allow citizens to voluntarily contribute all or part of their tax refunds, Social Security or military retirement and veterans’ disability benefits to specifically reduce the national debt.

Serving on the House Education Reform Task Force, I will continue to push for education reform measures which reduce the federal education bureaucracy and give local school boards and parents more discretion to control the education of their children in their communities.

As I work on these and other bills, I will continue to return home often to listen to my neighbors in Eastern Washington and respond to their concerns. But, even when I am in Washington, D.C., people visiting our nation’s capital can stop by my office and meet with me. I also welcome letters and phone calls. Citizens’ input gives me the chance to know which issues are of greatest concern to 5th District residents.

In the last Congress, we reformed a number of important programs, giving the American people the changes they have been seeking.

We will continue to build on the progress we have made. And I will continue to respond to my constituents, bearing in mind how our actions in Washington, D.C., affect people in Eastern Washington and how they enable citizens to better control their own lives and determine their own destiny.

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