Optimistic About 2017



Our vibrant communities in Southwest Florida are home to people from all walks of life, including seniors, small business owners, farmers, veterans and first responders who put their lives on the line to protect us. 

We all share a desire for a strong economy, a secure retirement and a safe homeland. I’m going to work to achieve those goals in 2017 and help fulfill America's amazing potential.

We are at a critical crossroads that will shape our nation for decades to come. I plan to continue fighting for the interests of our region, our state and our country.

With more than 223,000 individuals receiving Social Security payments, Florida’s 16th congressional district, which I represent, is home to the second-highest number of Social Security beneficiaries in the country—and there are also nearly 220,000 Medicare recipients in Manatee and Sarasota counties.

Unless Congress acts, the trust funds from which these benefits are paid will be insolvent in less than 20 years.

We cannot allow that to happen. Seniors have worked their whole lives with the promise of a safe retirement and need to know these programs will be there for them during their golden years. 

I am committed to protecting and preserving Medicare and Social Security, as they can literally be the difference between life and death for our friends and neighbors.

I am also focused on growing our economy and creating jobs. 

Reforming our outdated tax code will help small businesses create good-paying jobs for Floridians. The tax code is longer than the King James Bible and is so complex that even a former IRS commissioner admitted that he could not prepare his own tax return.

One of the most glaring absurdities in our tax laws is that small businesses—which employ more than 3 million Floridians—face higher tax rates than the world’s largest corporations. My Main Street Fairness Act will fix that. Lowering the tax burden on these job creators will allow them to invest in their businesses so they expand, grow and hire even more people.

I also plan to introduce legislation that would make it less costly to start a new business, as well as legislation that makes it more affordable for small businesses to offer retirement benefits to their workers. 

We also have to ensure the safety of Americans by strengthening our porous borders and vetting systems so we don’t come under attack again. That’s why I will be re-introducing my 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.

I plan to hit the ground running when the new Congress convenes in January. In addition to the proposals I’ve outlined, I plan to introduce legislation to aid orange growers struggling with citrus greening, increase penalties for cop killers, prohibit the slaughter of horses for human consumption and stop our growing debt by ensuring that the government lives within its means. 

I will also continue my efforts to make sure the Department of Veterans Affairs implements my Veterans Identification Card Act so veterans receive their identification cards in 2017. The bill was signed into law by President Obama and it’s time that the administration got these cards out the door. These cards will help reduce the threat of identity theft that veterans currently face.

On Jan. 3, 2017, Washington started a new chapter, and I am ready to fight for the people of Southwest Florida.

Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Longboat Key, represents Florida’s 16th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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