homepage logo

Finding commonsense solutions

By Staff | May 6, 2011

West Virginians are ready for Washington to start fixing some of the incredible challenges facing this country, instead of simply adding to them. So in April, I embarked on “Commonsense Solutions” Week, visiting nine counties and traveling nearly 1,500 miles across West Virginia to discuss commonsense ways we can tackle problems small and large.

I kicked off “Commonsense Solutions” Week by announcing my support for two commonsense measures to control federal spending: the Corker-McCaskill CAP Act to cap federal spending and the Udall-Shelby Balanced Budget Amendment. As I have made clear, I will not vote to raise the nation’s debt ceiling without a responsible long-term debt fix in place, and I believe both of these measures represent a starting point to begin negotiating a final agreement to get our fiscal house in order while also keeping our promises to seniors.

In South Charleston, I spoke to West Virginians and outlined why exploding debt represents a threat to our families and the nation. Left unchecked, our exploding national debt will paralyze this nation. It will cost us countless jobs. It will strangle our ability to invest in vital priorities like energy, our children and our communities. It will weaken our national defense and it will derail critical programs like Social Security and Medicare. I believe that both the CAP Act and Balanced Budget Amendment offer a good framework for a bipartisan debt fix, but let me be clear: any debt fix must keep our promises to seniors and protect Social Security and Medicare.

Next, outside Cabell Huntington Hospital joined by doctors law enforcement and community officials, I announced a three-point plan to fight drug abuse nationwide, stressing the immediate need for commonsense federal measures to combat drug abuse in West Virginia and the nation.

West Virginia has one of the nation’s highest rates of drug overdose deaths, and I pledged my support for legislation that would put a federal ban on deadly synthetic drugs being marketed as “bath salts” and “plant food,” and add them to the list of controlled substances. I will introduce new legislation in the Senate to crack down on so-called “pill mills,” the places people can go to get powerful prescription drugs that they do not use for medical reasons.

Every day, our hospitals deal with the effects of drug overdose. Each day, families are being destroyed by prescription drug abuse and other synthetic drugs. No one should be able to exploit loopholes or weaknesses in the law to manufacture dangerous and illicit drugs. These commonsense measures would strengthen our laws and better protect our families and children from the dangers of drug abuse.

In Morgantown, I unveiled “The Jobs Score Act,” commonsense legislation that will help Washington stay laser-focused on what matters most: creating and protecting jobs.

For far too long, Washington has not done enough to reduce our unacceptably high unemployment rates or make jobs this country’s No. 1 priority. There is nothing more important than creating jobs, and its time that all lawmakers of both parties start thinking about one very simple question before they vote on bills: how will this affect jobs? The Jobs Score Act is a piece of commonsense legislation that will ensure your elected representatives know exactly how many jobs would be created, protected or lost with each bill.

The government already requires that bills be “scored” for the amount of money that each will cost. This commonsense legislation would simply require the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to determine the number of jobs that would be created, protected, or lost should a specific piece of legislation become law so lawmakers can take jobs into account as their top priority. This bill will make debates about jobs more transparent and concrete, giving lawmakers a solid basis of information for decision-making.

I am proud to say that many of these ideas came from talking to the people of West Virginia over the past few months. I’m also thankful for all the support, insight and suggestions from West Virginians about how to make these commonsense solutions even better. Rest assured, whether it is the solutions to our national debt and deficits, high unemployment rates, or substance abuse in our communities, I will work hard to make sure that we address the major challenges facing our nation while keeping our promises to our families, veterans and seniors.

Finally, on May 1 we learned that the United States had successfully killed Osama bin Laden a historic and just victory for this nation. I want to congratulate the President and salute the brave men and women of our armed services, as well as our intelligence community for their courage, persistence, and dedication in carrying out this mission. I hope this nation and the families of those who lost loved ones on September 11 can take solace in the fact that justice has indeed been served.

May God bless the state of West Virginia, and the United States of America.