Buchanan Outlines 2017 Priorities
“We Stand at a Critical Crossroad”
WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan today outlined his key legislative priorities for 2017, with job creation, protecting Medicare and Social Security and safeguarding America from terrorists topping the list.
As Congress prepares to go back into session next week, Buchanan said reducing taxes for ordinary Americans, simplifying the tax code and eliminating unnecessary regulations will spur economic growth and create jobs. He said strengthening Social Security and Medicare will help current and future seniors live with dignity and independence.
“We stand at a critical crossroad that will shape our nation for decades to come,” Buchanan said, adding, “I’m optimistic we will embrace this challenge and take the steps necessary to fortify the economy, restore the American dream and safeguard our people against the threat of radical Islamic terrorism.”
Buchanan, entering his sixth term as a senior member of the powerful tax-cutting Ways and Means Committee, will play a central role in the critical debate over tax reform.
He is focused on fixing the tax code by lowering individual tax rates, making it easier for businesses and individuals to file taxes and making sure that small businesses don’t pay more in taxes than large corporations. The world’s largest corporations face a maximum tax rate of 35 percent, while Florida’s 2.3 million small businesses can pay more than 42 percent of their income in taxes.
The Ways and Means Committee will also be key in protecting Social Security and Medicare. Unless Congress acts, the trust funds from which these benefits are paid will be insolvent in fewer than 20 years. Rather than allowing massive benefits cuts to take effect, Buchanan has committed to protecting both Medicare and Social Security. In 2016, the President signed into law Buchanan’s proposal to preserve Medicare Advantage plans.
“Medicare and Social Security are two of the most successful government programs and I’m committed to preserving them,” Buchanan said. “So many people depend on these programs. Medicare beneficiaries make up 17 percent of the U.S. population – and roughly 220,000 Americans rely on Medicare in just Sarasota and Manatee counties alone.”
Buchanan also pointed to the recent terror attack by an asylum-seeker in Berlin as evidence that Congress needs to act swiftly to protect Americans.
“I'm very concerned about ineffective screening of foreigners trying to enter the country,” Buchanan said. “Other countries with loose border security are seeing attacks by radical Islamic terrorists and we need to do everything we can to keep another tragedy from happening on our soil.”
Buchanan will also continue his efforts to help veterans by pushing the Department of Veterans Affairs to implement his Veterans Identification Card Act, which was signed into law by President Obama. These cards will help reduce the threat of identity theft that veterans currently face.
The Congressman, who serves as co-chair of the Florida congressional delegation, will introduce a package of legislative proposals in January, when the 115th Congress convenes, which includes:
- The Main Street Fairness Act, which ensures that small businesses – which employ more than 3 million Floridians – never pay a higher tax rate than large corporations.
- The Social Media Screening for Terrorists Act, which directs the secretary of Homeland Security to vet all public records, including Facebook and other forms of social media, before admitting foreign travelers and visa applicants into the country.
- The Emergency Citrus Disease Response Act, which aids Florida orange growers in their battle against the predatory citrus greening disease. The legislation provides tax incentives for farmers who cannot afford to replace trees affected by citrus greening. The bill passed the House in 2016, but did not pass the Senate before Congress adjourned.
- The Retirement Security for American Workers Act, which makes it less costly for small businesses to offer retirement benefits, and could help the more than 76 million Americans who work for companies that do not offer the opportunity to save for a secure retirement.
- An amendment to the Constitution of the United States that requires Congress to balance the federal budget. Balancing the budget is an urgent priority as the U.S. is nearing $20 trillion in federal debt.
- The Thin Blue Line Act, which toughens penalties against anyone who murders police and other first responders. The bill would make the murder or attempted murder of a first responder an “aggravating” factor in death penalty determinations.
- The SAFE Act, which permanently bans the killing of horses for human consumption in America. The bill also bans the export of live horses to Mexican and Canadian slaughterhouses where the animals are killed and then shipped overseas.
“My job is to be a voice in Washington for the people of the Suncoast,” Buchanan said, adding his legislation would help seniors, veterans, taxpayers, among other people.
Buchanan said he is looking forward to the new session of Congress after just completing his most successful term yet when it comes to passing legislation he wrote and introduced. He recently scored his fourth major legislative win of this past session with the adoption of his bill to save Medicare Advantage plans.
Other Buchanan accomplishments passed in previous sessions of Congress included citrus greening research, job training for veterans, funding for Sarasota National Cemetery and veterans’ health care.