Congressman Jason Chaffetz new Rep.
Public policy must not be driven by population centers alone
Warning that rural communities are becoming "less and less relevant," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told farm belt leaders last month that population shifts to cities and suburbs mean fewer voices in Washington advocating for rural issues.
As one of those voices representing the interests of America's less populated counties, I believe issues such as natural resources, multiple-use recreation, and food supply are important to all Americans. With the new configuration of Utah's third Congressional District, I represent five new counties with significant rural components, including this one. Although there are fewer of us outside big cities, our issues are relevant to America's population centers.
When I originally ran for Congress in 2008, I promised voters I would seek to restore the core American principles of fiscal discipline, limited government, accountability and a strong national defense. Going forward, I remain committed to those principles. In addition, this session I am committed to pursue responsible energy development, defend the Second Amendment, and facilitate better and broader plans for multiple uses on federal lands.
Fiscal discipline was and is my top priority. If we are to ensure a prosperous future for the next generation, we have an obligation to deal with our spending and borrowing addiction. We cannot perpetually borrow nearly 40 cents of every dollar we spend. In 2011, I authored and the House passed a Cut, Cap and Balance bill that would have put us on a much more stable trajectory. Unfortunately, the Senate's refusal to consider that bill led to the disastrous sequestration deal, which threatens to gut defense spending while leaving the real drivers of our debt unresolved. I intend to pursue responsible spending cuts, program changes that keep entitlement programs sustainable, and pro-growth policies that generate revenue through economic expansion.
Limited government is a second important principle. As population centers continue to grow, they tend to drive public policy. But people who live on top of each other tend to prefer more regulation and more government than those in smaller communities who live a more independent lifestyle. Just as rural Americans should not dictate the policies of urban centers, urban centers should not dictate the amount of government rural Americans must tolerate. Federalism allows communities to determine how much government they want and need without forcing a one-size-fits-all approach on every state. I will pursue policies that limit federal control and favor local autonomy.
As a member of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, accountability is a principle I work to enforce each and every day. Government must have checks and balances. As we saw with Fast and Furious, the GSA scandal, and the Benghazi terror attack on 9-11, government is not infallible. Large, cumbersome bureaucracies can be slow, wasteful, unresponsive or downright sloppy. Government must be held accountable just like any other organization. When mistakes are made, we have to identify the problem and work toward reform. I will continue to make accountability a hallmark of my work in Congress.
Finally, the most prosperous country on the planet will always be the target of attacks. We must have a strong national defense to protect our citizens and our economy. We have the best military on the planet. They must be adequately funded and trained. However, our military is not a nation-building force. In the event we must involve ourselves in military conflict, we must establish our mission, give our troops the tools and authority to accomplish that mission, and then bring them home. I will continue to be a fierce advocate for our troops. But I will not arbitrarily send them into harm's way without an explicit mission and an exit strategy.
In addition to my efforts to advance these core principles, I plan to be actively engaged in energy development issues, multiple-use land issues and Second Amendment protection. I look forward to representing you in Congress. I welcome your comments and feedback through my website at Chaffetz.house.gov. You may also follow me on Twitter at @JasonintheHouse.