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U.S. National Debt:

A Heritage Of Overcoming Challenges

Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo

Thanksgiving provides a fitting time to express thankfulness for our nation's great heritage in the face of difficulty. Despite considerable challenges, we can get our nation on the right track. Making our economy stronger and more competitive, and creating the lasting, high-quality jobs that our people and our families depend on, remain necessary steps in charting a productive course for our nation.

Thanksgiving has often been celebrated during times of significant challenges. The Pilgrims and their Native American allies faced many obstacles in sustaining their communities. However, in 1621, the Plymouth colonists and the Wampanoag Indians expressed gratitude for a bountiful harvest and their many blessings when they celebrated one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the American colonies. In 1789, following the conclusion of the American Revolution, George Washington issued a Thanksgiving proclamation to express thankfulness for the conclusion of the war and the ratification of the U.S. Constitution. In 1863, during the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation to ask for the healing of the wounds of the nation and scheduled Thanksgiving in November. The hardships surrounding our nation's independence and the Civil War were immense, but our nation overcame the challenges.

While it is clear that we have considerable work ahead, Americans will once again meet the challenges. To strengthen the economy and create lasting jobs, federal overspending must be curbed and trillions of dollars in tax increases on American families must be prevented from taking effect in a few weeks. Congress must act quickly by January to prevent every American taxpayer from facing job-stifling, higher taxes and smaller paychecks through the expanded reach of the Alternative Minimum Tax, reinstatement of marriage tax penalties, cuts to the child tax credit and increases in the death tax on family businesses.

Additionally, a clear focus on increasing our nation's competitiveness is needed. It is unacceptable that there are Americans willing to work but unable to find available employment. It is also unacceptable that there are U.S. small businesses willing to expand job opportunities and innovate, but they are stifled by government overregulation and tax uncertainty. We need to truly focus on job creation. Instead of trying to overspend taxpayer dollars that may create temporary government employment, we need to take a hard look at policy, including taxes and regulation, affecting small businesses and workers, and establish an atmosphere that best enables Americans and small businesses to innovate, create long-term jobs and compete successfully in world markets. Preventing expected tax increases, curtailing unreasonable government mandates that negatively impact American's small businesses and expanding market opportunities for U.S. businesses, workers and exporters through advancement of the pending free trade agreements are essential to this effort.

The message from Idahoans and America is understandable - Congress must get to work. I am confident we can develop constitutional-focused, sensible solutions to the issues facing our nation. Ensuring community and local roles in decision-making will be critical to obtaining lasting solutions. As we join together with family and friends and express gratitude for our many blessings this Thanksgiving, America's legacy of prevailing over our challenges is primary among our many blessings.

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