House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio performs a mock swearing in for Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013, on Capitol Hill in Washington as the 113th Congress began. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

OP-ED: Priorities for a new Congress

I will begin work in the the 113th Congress with the priorities and needs of  you and your family in mind.

I remain committed to a bi-partisan spirit of  cooperation to work with a recently re-elected Democratic President and Senate as well as our Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives. All of us know that our first priority must be to deliver more than ever by creating more jobs in this time of  economic trouble.

We must make a united effort to improve our lagging economy by bringing federal government spending under control, lowering taxes for the middle class and eliminating unnecessary government regulation.

This Congress must produce significant cuts in government waste in order to deal with our mushrooming $16.9 trillion dollar debt. We should reduce the federal debt which puts a crushing burden on your children and grandchildren – each child’s share of the debt is $52,000 today … $69,000 per child by 2016.

Waste and duplicity in the federal budget is now estimated to be as high as hundreds of billions of dollars a year. Congress must start by going through the budget line by line and dollar by dollar, keeping what works and cutting the fat.

Another major priority is easing the regulatory burden on America’s job creators, especially small businesses. Now more then ever we need to give America’s small businesses a much needed boost through regulatory and tax relief.

Tax reform should be a vitally important goal for everyone. We need to make a careful review of our complicated tax code to remove special interest tax loopholes. That means creating a fairer and simpler tax code, lowering tax rates, and reducing small business taxes to produce increased economic growth.

Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security are always a priority for me. These vital services will not be there for your grandchildren if we do not save these programs now through debt reduction

It is our responsibility to every citizen in this country to make meaningful reforms to the social safety net. We must ensure that they remain for all those already counting on them as well as generations to come.

Immigration reform continues to be a crucial issue. I am cautiously optimistic that during this new Congress, we will pass immigration reform. However, I believe it might be easier to tackle different reforms in smaller bills.

In order to achieve the current problems on immigration, we must provide an eventual path to a permanent legal status. During my years in Congress, I have worked to extend Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for U.S. residents from Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, Haiti and other nations. I have also been a staunch supporter of the DREAM Act.

Working with our colleagues on both sides of the aisle, I know we can find a real and permanent solution to immigration reform. It would be impossible to identify and round up the millions of currently undocumented immigrants before bringing our nation’s economy to a halt, especially during these tough economic times.

I will continue to work hard and fight for your voice to be heard and represented in the United States Congress. May our diversity and differences give us the ability to make this time both productive and fruitful for all our people.

OP ED: Priorities for a new Congress  ileanaros lehtinen politics NBC Latino News

Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla), Chairman of the Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee.

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