From the day I was elected to Congress in 2009, I have been engaged in a fight to change the culture of Washington, D.C.
No doubt, trying to sell reform to members of Congress on changing a system that they have benefitted from has been an unbelievable tough sell but this is one that we can never give up on. There are many reforms that could easily make Congress better serve the American people but I believe that the top three are a balanced budget amendment, mandatory term limits for every member of Congress, and a requirement that all members of Congress be subject to all of the same laws, rules, and regulations that Washington, D.C. imposes upon the American people.
- Balanced Budget Amendment. In 2010, I founded the Balanced Budget Amendment Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives to help build support for its eventual passage. A balanced budget amendment would strip the power away from Congress to continually spend money that we simply do not have. It would put an end to the decades of reckless out-of-control spending and stop our crushing debt from rising further and threaten the future of our country. A Constitutional Amendment requiring the President and Congress, like every family and nearly every state in the country, to balance the budget each and every year. Colorado, along with 48 other states, has a balanced budget requirement in its constitution. Requiring a balanced budget forces legislators to come together, in a bipartisan way, to decide what their spending priorities are within the resources available.
- Mandatory Term Limits for Every Member of Congress. In 2011, I introduced House Joint Resolution 93, a proposed Constitutional Amendment to limit members of Congress to no more than 12 years in the Senate (two terms) and 12 years in the House of Representatives (six terms). Last year I signed on as a cosponsor of House Joint Resolution 41, which accomplishes a similar goal. I believe that by requiring mandatory term limits on every member of Congress the institution will ultimately be more responsive to the American people. Colorado has had term limits for all elected state and local officials for over twenty years.
- Make Members of Congress Subject to the Same Rules, Regulations, and Laws that they impose on the American People. No one in public office should live under a different set of rules than the American people have to live under. When I served as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps, I never ordered my subordinates to do anything that I was not willing to do myself. Consequently, after Obamacare passed, I dropped out of my federal health insurance plan, available to members of Congress, and I purchased an individual plan, without a taxpayer subsidy, through Colorado’s health insurance exchange. My co-pay tripled and my deductible skyrocketed from $350 to $4,500 and from $4,500 to $6,200, I’m responsible for 40%. If every member of Congress did what I did, Obamacare would not be in place in its current form today. Instead, the President granted a waiver that excused members of Congress from Obamacare and it will be the middle class that will now bear the brunt of these dramatically increased out-of-pocket costs.
Reforming government, at any level, is never easy and changing Washington, D.C. is a really tough fight but with 21 years of combined military service, I’ve been trained not to give up or give in.
U.S. Representative Mike Coffman is a Marine Corps combat veteran and a former small business owner.
Rep. Mike Coffman
The Villager Newspaper
October 8, 2014