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From Time to Time…

By Congressman Adrian Smith

“He (the President) shall from time to time give to Congress Information of the State of the Union and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.” – Article II, Sec. 3, U.S. Constitution.

Recently, President Barack Obama fulfilled his duty as outlined by the Constitution and presented his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress.

President Obama’s speech struck a bipartisan tone.  I appreciate the President’s willingness to reach across party lines to seek solutions, a trait which has been too lacking in Washington, D.C.

If he is serious about tackling an agenda to strengthen our struggling economy and help families prepare for the future, there is a great deal of common ground between the President and the House of Representatives.  However, he will need to move beyond proposing more spending and instead focus on making real changes to put our country back on solid footing.

Exporting more American-made goods and services will create jobs here at home, and yet President Obama has done little to push through stalled international trade agreements.

I agree with President Obama's statement: "the more we export, the more jobs we create at home," which is why I believe we must immediately pass trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea.

The importance of enacting these trade agreements is obvious.  Every dollar in agricultural exports generates $1.65 in economic activities such as transportation, financing, warehousing and production.  Nebraska's $4 billion in agricultural exports translates into $6.7 billion in additional economic activity.

Passing these pending trade agreements is absolutely necessary to create American jobs and boost economic growth by opening new markets for U.S. goods and services.  We’ve left America’s exporters at a competitive disadvantage by delaying these agreements and are losing ground to our international competitors – such as the European Union and Canada – which have already concluded trade agreements of their own.  The time to pass these trade agreements is now.

The President also mentioned the need for corporate tax reform to make our employers more competitive.  Moving our economy forward and creating a climate for job growth requires a tax code which empowers our nation’s job creators.

Recently the House Committee on Ways and Means – on which I serve – launched the first of a series of hearings focusing on fundamental tax reform.

Our tax code is increasingly complex and complicated.  This trend does not serve the American taxpayer and only creates more confusion and uncertainty.  It is past time for both sides to sit down at the table and make a serious effort to significantly reform our tax code for the better.

During his State of the Union address, the President sought to find common ground with Republicans and Democrats alike.  Some of what he said I agree with.  Spending must be reigned in, the tax code must be simplified, and trade deals must be enacted.

The challenge now becomes if the President will back up his speech with real efforts to put these necessary steps in action.  Hopefully, during the next State of the Union, President Obama will be able to say we took up the challenge and Congress passed meaningful legislation which provides greater certainty for families, our economy, and job creators.