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Hope for the New Year

Posted Saturday, December 29, 2012, at 9:05 AM

The coming of a new year always holds so much hope -- so much promise.

As we look to 2013, there is indeed, much to be thankful for. And as we continue celebrating this holiday season with family and friends, we also begin to look toward a year that will require serious thought and hard work.

Over the last few weeks the focus in Washington, and across the country, has been on the fiscal cliff. The politics are frustrating for most of us.

As I travel throughout the Fifth District of Missouri, so many of you have wondered aloud why elected representatives cannot simply put the angry rhetoric, partisan politics and entrenched positions aside -- and get the job done. I could not agree more.

A balanced budget is critical for our nation to continue the economic rebound we are now experiencing. It is not happening fast enough, but it is happening.

Getting our deficit under control is a necessary step for the long-term health of our economy. Businesses here at home and abroad must have confidence in our ability to accomplish this for job growth and economic security to continue. This is something we must do not just for ourselves and our children, but our children's children. I am committed to that goal.

I am also committed to strengthening the middle class and avoiding tax hikes on these hardworking families. This would include some 98 percent of Americans and 97 percent of small businesses.

These are the families playing by the rules, getting up each and every morning and going to work, and in many cases, still struggling to put food on the table.

At the same time, I believe the wealthiest Americans should pay their fair share. And I will defend Social Security and unemployment insurance for those actively looking for a job.

All of this can be accomplished while continuing to boost the economy and grow jobs.

We must get a comprehensive package put together and time is of the essence. I have often referred to the fiscal cliff as the New Year's Nightmare.

And while automatic cuts would not begin all at once, this is not a road we need to begin traveling down at all. What we need to do is come together, with open hearts, calm heads, and a spirit of cooperation.

That is what you elected us to do and that is what I will continue doing.

Another hope I have for 2013 is to see Liberty Memorial designated as "The National World War I Museum and Memorial" and a commission established to ensure a suitable observance of the centennial of WWI. This is something I have spent thousands of hours working on with hundreds of others in Kansas City and Washington.

The cooperation and bipartisan efforts shown in both cities have led to the passage of my legislation in the House. That effort has now passed the Senate.

There is much work ahead on this still -- and little time -- but we are moving forward and this is a very positive sign.

2013 also finds the Fifth District of Missouri geographically different than in the past due to redistricting. One of my priorities will be to assist in bringing together the urban and rural parts of my district.

We have differences but many more similarities. As we work in Washington to get a long-term, comprehensive Farm Bill signed, we need to look no further than a gallon of milk to visualize one of common interests we share.

From the farm to the table, we all have a stake and an interest in making sure an agreement is reached that is fair, equitable and serves the needs of all of us.

As we usher in another new year, my hope is this one brings civility in our nation's capital.

I see it throughout all parts of the Fifth District at every turn. People roll up their sleeves and do what needs to be done -- regardless of political differences. They do it for their neighborhoods, their communities, and because they believe it is the right thing.

Legislators cannot unleash a torrent of hateful, angry words and then expect others to be open to our point of view. We must treat each other with respect and come to the table with a spirit of compromise.

Compromise is not a dirty word.

In fact, it is just the opposite. People in Missouri's Fifth District expect, and deserve, elected officials who are working for them and representing them in a way that makes them proud.

And, for you, I wish a year of happiness, good health and prosperity. My hope is 2013 will be a year all of us can reflect on and say -- that was the year we joined hands and hearts -- and got the job done.

Happy New Year!

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Emanuel Cleaver II is now serving his fourth term representing Missouri's 5h Congressional District Having served for twelve years on the city council of Missouri's largest municipality, Kansas City, Cleaver was elected as the city's first African American mayor in 1991. During his eight year stint in the Office of the Mayor, Cleaver distinguished himself as an economic development activist and an redevelopment craftsman. Cleaver has received five honorary Doctoral Degrees augmented by a bachelor's degree from Prairie View A&M, of the University of Texas, and a master's degree from St. Paul Theology of Kansas City. Cleaver was unanimously elected the 20th chair of the Congressional Black Caucus of the 112th Congress. Cleaver, a native of Texas, is married to the former Dianne Donaldson. They have made Kansas City home for themselves and their four children.