Eric Cantor’s letter to incoming Congressional Republicans

The next majority leader of the U.S. House of Representatives, Republican congressman Eric Cantor (VA-07), sent this letter to the House GOP Members of the 112th Congress on Wednesday; outlining some of the initial thoughts on how Congress should be run.


Dear Republican Colleague:

Congratulations on your election and for being a major part of a new Republican resurgence. For the past two years, Democrats have refused to listen. Now that we have been given a trust – we will not make that mistake.

I have long believed that success for the Republican Party is tied to success for America. Thomas Jefferson once remarked that “governments are republican only in proportion as they embody the will of the people, and execute it.”

To that end, we must govern differently. Not just differently than the Democrats, but differently from our previous majority. And job number one is to focus on more jobs for more Americans and to shift the economy from stall to forward. It’s time to produce results. Americans are asking for the opportunity to assume responsibility and get back to earning success. I also believe we need to change the culture of Washington. I believe that we must change the culture of spending that has prevailed for far too long. And I believe we need to change our expectations of the Congress, the Leadership, the committees, and of each of us.

I have announced my intention to stand for election as Majority Leader because I am results oriented and I want to help lead that effort and bring about these changes. I write not only to ask for your support, but also to outline some thoughts as to how we can seize the opportunity and make these changes.

Let us be under no illusion – many of those who cast their vote for Republicans yesterday have their share of doubts about whether we are up to the task of governing; about whether congressional Republicans have learned our lesson.

I harbor no such doubts.

For the past two years, House Republicans dedicated ourselves to developing alternative solutions grounded in the time-tested principles of fiscal responsibility and small-government. On the stimulus, instead of pouring hundreds of billions of dollars into non-stimulative government programs, we proposed to give private-sector job creators an incentive to hire by exempting small businesses from 20 percent of their tax liability.

On health care, instead of the government takeover known as ObamaCare, we provided solutions such as medical liability reform and allowing the purchase of health care coverage across state lines which would lower costs while enabling families and patients to keep the care they have if they choose.

To create real jobs, we offered a “no cost jobs plan” that would cut unemployment by, among other things, halting the deluge of President Obama’s tax increases and approving negotiated free-trade agreements.

And on the budget, we challenged President Obama to freeze spending at 2008 levels, offered hundreds of billions of dollars in spending cuts, and enacted an earmark moratorium within the House Republican Conference.

Our efforts culminated with the release of the “Pledge to America,” in September.

Faced with an administration and a Pelosi-led Congress intent on reorienting the role of government in America, time and again we stood up against them. Now it is our responsibility to lead with the same conviction, vigor, and fight. Joined by our new Members, I know that we are ready for that challenge.

Having crisscrossed the country over the past year, I have consistently heard Republican candidates speak passionately about jobs and getting people back to work. They have inspired by articulating the case for constitutionally limited government that empowers individuals, families, local communities, entrepreneurs, and small business people. Our candidates have stood proudly for traditional values and have fought to ensure that we do not sacrifice our national security to political correctness or to a desire to win the approval of foreign elites.

We now have the opportunity to turn our words into action and produce real results. Like you, I am anxious to get started.

Most of us ran for Congress because we wanted to tackle the big problems facing our nation. We came to Washington to eliminate the deficit, to tear down barriers to job creation, and to reform a government that has grown out of touch with the governed.

I don’t think any of us ran for Congress with the idea that we could finally provide a subsidy to this industry or that, or to this community or that. Or that we would vote to continue the same federal programs and agencies that are failing our citizens and bankrupting our children and grandchildren. And I know none of us ran with the idea that we should go to Washington to congratulate a collegiate basketball team for having a good season – or feel obligated that we needed to do so – even if we happened to be a fan.

Yet that is what we have been doing under the recent Democrat majority and even all too often under the previous Republican majority. Our problems have grown too immense to waste any more time. America stands at a crossroads, and the decisions we make at this very moment will determine the type of country that our children will live in.

That is why we will drain the swamp rather than learning to swim with the alligators. How?

We start by rethinking how time is spent and about the types of legislation that will be considered on the House floor. We start by identifying our top policy goals and committing to take concrete steps every single week to advance those goals. And we hold each other accountable with this simple question: are the actions of the House, our committees, and our Conference consistent with our principles and do they advance the nation’s priorities?

We will not be able to roll back the leviathan overnight or balance the budget tomorrow or defeat terrorism once and for all next week, and people realize that. They understand how big the problems facing our country are, the obstacles that stand in our way, and the old, ingrained powers of Washington that will fight us every step of the way. Yet, people expect that we will fight each and every day to address these problems and make progress in every battle. We must not fall prey to the culture of Washington that exacerbates and creates problems. To put it simply, we must do the job we said we would do. We’ve talked the talk, now it is time to walk the walk.

I know we are ready.

In the attached document, Delivering on Our Commitment: A Majority to Limit Government and Create Jobs, I outline some thoughts on how we can begin that effort. Included is a particular focus on a sustained effort on jobs, reducing government spending, putting in place a new standard for prioritizing legislation, and how we strengthen oversight.

In thinking about and preparing this plan, I found myself guided by one simple proposition which I believe will be instructive for our efforts over the next two years: “Are my efforts addressing job creation and the economy; are they reducing spending; and are they shrinking the size of the Federal Government while increasing and protecting liberty? If not, why am I doing it? Why are WE doing it?”

I would greatly appreciate any thoughts, feedback, or suggestions you may have. I know that by changing the culture and focusing on our priorities, ours will be a lasting and worthwhile legacy: that we will achieve what we said we came to accomplish, and in so doing, deliver on the type of conservative governance that has been promised.


Eric Cantor

Delivering on Our Commitment: A Majority to Limit Government and Create Jobs


Over the course of the last four years in the wilderness of the minority, current House Republicans have learned some valuable lessons – both from the failures of the outgoing Democrat majority and from the failures of our previous majority, lost in 2006. Even more useful, the incoming freshmen have been learning directly from the American people – combining private sector and state-level experience with soon-to-be constituents’ ideas for a functioning Congress. Together, we stand at a critical crossroads in our nation’s history: we must tackle some major failures of our Federal Government, while restoring certainty in the economy and fiscal sanity to the budget. We must produce results. To do so, we will need to remain focused like a laser on our priorities during the 112th Congress and the priorities of the American people. Below I outline some of my thoughts on three key areas: Our Priorities, Scheduling Our Priorities, and Enhancing Oversight.

Our Priorities

Through the America Speaking Out (ASO) initiative, our Conference heard directly from the people about their priorities and about some of their ideas for solutions to our nation’s most pressing problems. The culmination of this project, “The Pledge to America,” provides concrete proposals. If elected as your Majority Leader, I will act to bring each Pledge proposal before the House for a vote, including votes early in the year on keeping tax rates low, reducing spending, repealing Obamacare, and permanently prohibiting taxpayer funding of abortion. While these are but initial steps that should be taken, it is critical that we develop a framework for sustained progress, especially when it comes to economic growth and job creation, reducing spending, and shrinking the size of the Federal Government while increasing and protecting liberty.

Economic Growth & Job Creation

Job creators across this country have made clear that resolving policy uncertainty in Washington and reducing the costs of government rules, regulations, statutes, and barriers to trade are some of the most effective things that a Republican controlled House can do to lay the groundwork for economic recovery and job creation.

When you consider that President Obama is now actively working to enact his agenda through agency regulations, it is clear that we must embark on a sustained effort using oversight and the congressional power of the purse to provide a check on the Administration’s anti-employer agenda.

It is my desire – working through each of our committees – to conduct an immediate and comprehensive review of existing and proposed government rules, regulations, and statutes that impose additional, unnecessary costs on employers and job creators. Interim and final reports would be issued by each committee over the course of the first half of 2011. This effort would produce numerous benefits, including:

· Providing a basis for ongoing and sustained legislative action on jobs;

· The production of a comprehensive report detailing the war on job creation that is currently being waged through government policy and regulation;

· Providing all Members with information about how government policies are hurting specific sectors of the economy, creating a basis for Members to organize coalitions of job creators in their district; and

· Ensuring that we remain focused on the economy and jobs.

Fast Fact: The annual cost of federal regulations in the United States increased to more than $1.75 trillion in 2008. These regulations cost small businesses with fewer than 20 employees as much as $10,585 per employee. Since taking office, the Obama Administration has had under consideration 230 economically significant regulations from 16 different federal agencies.

Reducing Spending & Shrinking the Size of the Federal Government While Increasing and Protecting Liberty

We have an historic opportunity, with the backing of the American people, to affect real change in government spending. Because we lost our way, Republicans ceded our traditional advantage in the area of fiscal responsibility and our core Republican principle of limited government. Perhaps the single greatest criticism of our previous majority is that “we spent too much” and that we “grew the size of government.”

We’re not the same Republican Party.

Republican governors across our country are already succeeding in harnessing Americans’ positive energy to reduce government’s footprint; from New Jersey to Minnesota to Mississippi, to my home state of Virginia. And even beyond our borders, European nations previously entrenched in the downward spiral of welfare statehood have reemerged to make bold strides towards reining in spending and outright cutting governmental largesse.

Now is the time to act.

And while we won’t regain the trust of the American people overnight, there a number of sustained efforts we can undertake immediately to ensure that we are worthy of their trust.

Rescissions Bills:

In 1995, the new Republican majority brought forward a rescission bill to rollback excessive spending. Rather than one bill, however, it is my goal to bring forward a series of rescissions bills as your Majority Leader. Each of which would be open for amendment to reduce spending even further. In 1995, the House considered five floor amendments to provide additional reductions in spending. Given the rapid increases in spending over the past several years and the fact that we have largely been precluded from offering amendments to spending bills, I suspect there will be great interest in offering proposals to cut excessive spending.

I believe this approach – a series of rescissions bills under an open amendment process – will provide House Republicans the opportunity not only to demonstrate our commitment to fiscal discipline, but also to highlight the simple fact that government spending exploded in the last Congress.

Fast Fact: In March of 1995, the new Republican majority brought forward a rescission bill cutting $17 billion in spending across 12 different cabinet agencies, the Congress, White House, and a variety of independent agencies.


Through the YouCut program over the past six months, we have brought to the floor over $150 billion in spending reductions. In the process, we have built a powerful online community which has cast over two million votes, and has a direct relationship with the policies and actions of the House GOP. Such citizen engagement in the federal budget process is unprecedented, but not completely surprising in light of the fiscal situation we face.

These are individuals who now have ownership and specific interest in our efforts to cut excessive spending. As Majority Leader, it is my intention to work with our committees and schedule at least one YouCut proposal each and every week. And the YouCut program will not be limited to just discretionary spending, we will also find ways to produce savings from mandatory spending. Our legislative schedule will — each week — be a testament to the priority we place on getting spending under control and changing the culture of spending that has dominated this city for far too long. Cutting spending will be an important part of our congressional routine.

It is also my goal to work with every member of our Conference to identify a spending cut that they can champion as part of the YouCut program. This effort will ensure that when someone asks a House Republican, “So what would you cut from the budget?” we will have a lengthy list of actions and proposals at hand.

While the YouCut program will not be limited to just discretionary spending – we will also find ways to produce savings from mandatory spending – it will provide a mechanism for Members to put forward terminations and reductions in programs without having to wait for the relevant appropriations measure to come to the floor so that an amendment can be offered. If anything is clear, it’s that people want to cut spending and they want it done now – they’re not interested in waiting until another day.

Fast Fact: Through the YouCut program, House Republicans have brought over $150 billion worth of savings to the floor:

Major Entitlement Reform:

Getting our long-term deficit under control will require that we address major entitlement reform. It is a conversation that we must have, but one that is easier said than done. President Obama, congressional Democrats, and their liberal allies have made it abundantly clear that they will attack anyone who puts forward a plan that even tries to begin a conversation about the tough choices that are needed. It is also clear that their ideas of entitlement reform are modest changes to existing law combined with massive tax increases, possibly even a new VAT.

Unfortunately, I do not believe that President Obama will work with us to enact real entitlement reform unless it includes major tax increases. And I cannot go along with such a deal. New tax increases would not only cause further harm to our economy, but they also fix the wrong problem: Washington doesn’t have a revenue problem, it has a spending problem.

So what are we to do? As a Conference, I believe that we should immediately start a conversation with the nation about the kind of entitlement changes necessary for us to keep the promises made to seniors while meeting the obligations made to young workers and our children. We must outline our proposals, encourage the minority party (and the President) to offer their own, and have a serious discussion about the impact of each alternative. Our efforts will set the stage for concrete action.

As we are making our case to the public, we can also take concrete steps to lay the groundwork for bigger reform, including reworking the budget process and addressing, in a fiscally responsible manner, near-term funding issues, such as Medicare reimbursement policies.

Equally important, we must spend the next two years earning back trust on fiscal matters. Entitlement reform is only possible if people believe we are competent stewards of their hard earned dollars. And they will have little reason to trust us if on one hand we tell them that we have to make changes to Social Security and Medicare while the other hand is increasing discretionary spending like years past, returning to earmarking, and taking only token steps to eliminate waste.

Fast Fact: Over two-thirds of Republican voters believe the budget can be balanced without reducing spending on Social Security or Medicare.


While I recognize there are a variety of views regarding earmarks in our Conference, I believe that continuing the moratorium we adopted last March is essential to achieving our larger goals. People have had it with the earmarking process and they have good reason to be fed up if one were to look back and truthfully assess the growth and perversion of the process over the last twenty years. As I wrote in a recent op-ed:

The old adage that he who can’t be trusted to reform the “small” problems can’t be trusted to reform the “large” ones applies as much to government as to individuals. Both Republicans and Democrats have an enormous task before us if we are going to get America’s fiscal house in order.

We will have to propose and execute real reductions to existing programs. If we hope to preserve Social Security and Medicare for seniors, younger workers and our children, we must begin the conversation about common-sense ways to reform both programs.

These are big things – and there is little question that turning trillion-dollar deficits into surpluses, while starting to pay down our national debt, is an enormous mountain to climb. Yet the long climb to fiscal responsibility must begin with a few smaller, but necessary, steps.

If Republicans put forward real federal spending reductions while simultaneously returning to the old way of earmarking billions of dollars, we will rightfully forfeit the people’s trust. After all, how can anyone defend reducing spending for housing programs, for example, while still earmarking for their favorite local museum?

This is an issue to be decided by the Conference – likely during the Organizational Conference the week of November 15th. If the Conference elects to maintain the moratorium, as Majority Leader I will be proud to act to apply it to the whole House – Republicans and Democrats. In short, we will not consider House legislation that includes earmarks.

Health Care:

Our new Republican majority will move to repeal ObamaCare and replace it with commonsense alternatives that lower costs while protecting those with pre-existing conditions. Of course, even if our repeal bill makes it through the Senate, we can expect that President Obama will veto it. But that doesn’t mean the fight is over.

If all of ObamaCare cannot be immediately repealed, then it is my intention to begin repealing it piece by piece, blocking funding for its implementation, and blocking the issuance of the regulations necessary to implement it. In short, it is my intention to use every tool at our disposal to achieve full repeal of ObamaCare.

Scheduling Our Priorities

One of the primary duties of the Majority Leader is to schedule legislation for floor consideration. I believe it is critical that we rethink how we use the floor and the types of legislation that we consider so that we can better reflect our priorities and the challenges facing our country, our families, and our children.

To this end, I propose that we develop and articulate clear standards for the type of legislation that will be brought to the floor. Many of you have worked hard on proposals in this area – restoration of the 72 hour rule, constitutional authorities, and many more – and I look forward to working with you in the weeks ahead to introduce and adopt many of these ideas in the Conference and House rules.

At a minimum I believe these standards should include:

Developing and Articulating Clear Standards for Bringing Legislation to the Floor

Few things are as frustrating as getting started on a legislative project only to run into an unexpected roadblock. While this is not always avoidable, Leadership and chairmen should articulate clear standards for legislation. I propose that such standards include:

(1) Demonstration of the Federal Government’s constitutional authority to act and why it is not more properly an activity for state or local government (consistent with the requirement in the Pledge to America);

(2) If the proposal authorizes new spending, how it will explicitly be paid for;

(3) If the proposal continues existing spending, why it is worth borrowing 37 cents out of every dollar;

(4) Demonstration that the proposal is consistent with our goals of protecting families, promoting life, and upholding our traditional values; and

(5) How the proposal advances our overall priorities: jobs and the economy, reducing spending, and shrinking the size of the Federal Government while increasing and protecting liberty.

Reforming the Legislative Schedule and the House Calendar

This may sound strange coming from a candidate for Majority Leader, but I believe too much emphasis is currently placed on the legislative floor schedule. I don’t believe Americans want us to pass more legislation that simply adds new layers to the already overweight Federal bureaucracy. In fact, for one of the first times in recent polling, Americans think the Federal Government does too much.

Therefore, I think we need to refocus our time in Congress. The modern congressional calendar is built around a Democrat notion of over-legislating and over-spending. If we all believe in limited government – and I know we do – than we must reform how we use the day-to-day schedule of the House. I will be discussing the 2011 House calendar with you further, but for now, I think we can all agree that the 3-day work week and the overlapping schedule it creates, leads to knee-jerk legislating.

Instead, I believe we need to return to a committee-driven legislature that investigates problems, listens intently to the citizenry, and proposes well thought-out solutions when necessary. Some of the best and most important work done each and every week is happening in our committees and subcommittees – yet Democrats have all too often ignored that great work. Oversight in particular, which all of us want to make a priority, is primarily a function of the committees.

I believe a number of reforms are warranted to restore the balance between floor work and committee work.

Protect Committee Time:

Just because we’re in session, does not mean the House floor needs to be utilized. Repetitive floor votes and filling time with half-baked legislative proposals – as is currently done by the Democrat majority – is not a suitable answer. The legislative schedule ought to reflect the importance of hearings and oversight. Setting aside specific time each week for committees to meet without interruption from floor activities, whether each morning or specific days, would provide a protected, regular time for committees to conduct their important business.

Highlight Committee Oversight on the House Floor:

While oversight work is primarily done in the committees, there is no reason we cannot use the House floor to highlight committee work. A committee report on its oversight activities and findings can easily be brought to the floor for debate and even adoption by the full House. This can be an especially useful tool when the problems under investigation do not require a normal legislative response.

Reforming the Suspension Calendar

The suspension calendar is overused. While it is an appropriate vehicle to consider truly non-controversial legislation, the legislation still ought to be worthy of the House’s time. I do not suspect that Jefferson or Madison ever envisioned Congress honoring the 2,560th anniversary of the birth of Confucius or supporting the designation of national “Pi” day. I also do not believe that there is a groundswell of public enthusiasm demanding that Congress act on these sorts of resolutions. Instead, I believe people want our time, energy, and efforts focused on their priorities. Therefore, as Majority Leader, I will propose the following changes to how we consider suspensions:

(1) Eliminate expressions of appreciation and recognition for individuals, groups, events, and institutions. (There are other remedies that allow Members to show support without requiring the 435 votes of the House of Representatives.)

(2) Consider designations and namings of post offices and other federal buildings only one day each month. (Congress has a constitutional duty to establish post offices, but I do not imagine the Founders ever contemplated this duty soaking up deliberative hours every week.)

Fast Fact: During the 110th Congress – Democrats’ first two years in the majority – 2,185 bills were considered on the House floor. Of those, 1,544 were considered under suspension of the rules. This past year, of the bills considered under suspension, more than half named a post office or building, congratulated some individual or team, or supported the designation of particular day, week, or month.

Enhancing Oversight

We all agree that we need to prioritize oversight, but the question is, ‘How?’ There are a number of suggestions that would require each committee to have an oversight subcommittee or that would create a super-bicameral panel to conduct certain oversight work. But none of these proposals fundamentally alter what I believe is the greatest impediment to oversight: the current culture.

Most weeks, the focus of the Leadership – and frankly most Members – is the legislation being considered on the floor and the voting schedule. This must change. We must create a culture that prioritizes oversight and does it within existing resources. Oversight that focuses on our key themes and how we solve problems – as opposed to scoring political points—will not only result in better legislation, but also resonate with the public.

In addition to building protected, regular time into each week’s schedule for committee work, I believe there a number of steps that we can take to elevate and enhance oversight:

Oversight Hearing of the Week

Just as Leadership seeks to highlight a legislative message of the week for Members at the weekly Conference and for the media at stake-out, we should highlight one major oversight hearing each week that plays into our overall focus on job creation and reducing spending. At a minimum, the hearing should be highlighted on the floor schedule and incorporated into the week’s priorities.

Oversight Reports

Current House rules require each committee to establish an oversight plan, but save an end-of Congress report, there is little regular standard reporting of what it is that committees are accomplishing in regard to oversight. Establishing quarterly reports of the oversight activities of each committee not only helps us build an ongoing record of achievement, but it also ensures that oversight work is prioritized. As discussed earlier, when a committee’s oversight work produces findings that might not result in legislation, but is worthy of attention, we should consider bringing to the floor a resolution approving the committee’s findings and report.

Individual Member Oversight Initiative

It is often forgotten that effective oversight can be done through a Member’s personal office or a caucus. In the past, individual Member efforts have produced reports, floor amendments, and significant press coverage. In the late 1990s some Members even took to visiting federal agencies (with little or even no notice) to see for themselves the inner workings of those bureaucracies. This type of individual Member initiative can supplement the work of our committees. It is my intention to establish an initiative whereby we work with each office that is interested in undertaking its own oversight project.

Field Hearings & Forums

We can enhance our oversight activities by reaching beyond the beltway and hearing directly from those impacted by government policies. As we develop our oversight plan I believe we should incorporate traditional field hearings along with individual Member, delegation, and caucus forums across the country.

Final Thoughts

Let’s face it – Congress has become a progressive Democrat’s dream. It spends money without concern, increases dependence upon government, and when necessary to tide itself over, raises taxes. To change this liberty-threatening cycle, we Members of the House Republican Conference – must bring real reform to the House and not tolerate the mistakes and ethical lapses of our previous majority.

We have our work cut out for us, but I have no doubt that the flame for the conservative cause burns bright within this new Republican majority.

This will not be a sprint of 100 days or 100 hours. This will be a methodical march, requiring top to bottom reform, and focusing on producing results in three key areas:

1) Jobs and the Economy,

2) Reducing Spending, and

3) Shrinking the Size of Government While Increasing and Protecting Liberty.

I’m ready to begin this march with you, fight alongside of you, and stand arm-in-arm with you through each of the battles along the way. I humbly ask for your support to help represent your priorities and ideas for reform. And during that first week in January, I know we will all be sober, but purposeful, when we say:

I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion, and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.

  • Dave Graves

    Great letter. Great suggestions. The time for action is NOW. Beware of the “go slow, don’t rock the boat” folks on BOTH sides of the aisle. Even if defeat in the Senate or a veto in the White House may be likely that is no reason not to push the issues. Keep the Progressives from both parties on the defense.

  • As a business owner who utilizes the guest worker”H2b” program for a portion of my seasonal labor needs, I would like to know what is being done to prevent the democrats with their union backing from making this program null and void.

    Thank you

    Todd E. Pendleton

  • Diana Schwab

    Yeah . . . Eric Cantor . . . dealing with the problems facing our country . . . Go Eric !!!

  • Richard Wagaman

    Eric is correct about one thing and that is “governments are republican only in proportion as they embody the will of the people, and execute it.”

    The Independent Voters are an interesting bunch (they currently have more supporters than the old parties, The Economist, Oct. 23, 2010, page 71). They voted for change with Obama in 2008. Now in 2010, they voted against Obama, also for change. What I think they are saying is that neither party has it correct–both need to change to survive.

  • Billy Martin


    We have been waiting for this moment for a long time. At the grassroots level, we have worked hard to ensure that Republicans (conservative & constitutional) are elected and then commit to turning this country around. Finally, we have succeeded. I congratulate you and your efforts as well as all the others. One BIG CONCERN we ALL have is will the Republicans do what they did last time or will they take this serious and get down to business. I have faith you will work hard for America but many are concerned. Thank you again.

  • ed phillips

    Fantastic letter!!!
    Great start and the voters are with you.

  • Daniel A. Polk

    Good start, Congressman Cantor! I particularly like your suggestions about revising the way the House operates to emphasize judicious use of time, ect. I hope your colleagues will buy your arguments.

  • Neal Thompson

    Now the heavy lifting starts.
    With limited flexability and great demands it will be a great challange.
    Please look at the work done by Mohammad Urnus and his Gramine Bank. His latest book in now on the stands. He shows how Social Businesses can lift people out of poverty with little assistance and a great deal of support from the private sector. No Government can do this and probably should not, but individuals and businesses can.
    We are now forming a new “For profit business” here in Virginia, that will sell to foreign business, and will earmark a portion of our profits for assisting in the development of non profit businesses that will increase employment and become self sufficient along the Gramine Bank model.Private enterprise can do this to help eliminate poverty here at home. Please read his book.

  • Theodore Morrison

    Republican leasership would do well to enlist as much help as he is able to provide from Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahama. He makes more sense on how to acheive budget cuts in a surgical way, not the meatax of across the board cuts, a lazy man’s method. Coburn understands the budget in programic detail so that greater reductions can be made, but with actually less adverse impact on the people. Since he has no leadership ambitions, probably he will be ignored. Incidently, he is the only republican who ought to run for president.

  • William Brewer

    Great letter that I am saving to review from time to time.

    In the context of BD: Let’s celebrate the partial RIGHTING of the ship of state and invite those that have been clustered on the LEFT rail, threatening capsize, to rejoin us in the center of the boat and start bailing together.

  • John W. Roberts

    Dear Congressman Cantor,
    Your three key areas are those that are so very much needed. With regard to the second, and as far as infrastructure is concerned, the solution is at hand. While the construction recession has lowered the cost, simultaneously, means have just been developed to construct with certain types of concrete that will assuredly provide the durability that will make infrastructure projects last twice as long, and cut way down on user inconvenience due to much lower maintenance. The taxpayer wins; the invironmentalist wins; society wins. The just-developed means is the concept of sustainability. For the first time in decades, we can build roads that will provide a return on investment instead of being a taxpayer’s burden. Infrastructure legislation should require that funds be invested (not spent such as “shovel-ready’) with the concept of Sustainability paramont in the wording.
    Your letter to incoming Congressional Republicans is a reasoned, timely, and logical message. Those who read it will be impressed by your vision.
    Sincerely, John

  • Mike Barrett

    Sort of unbelievable that Cantor will solve the nations fiscal imbalances by attacking earmarks, but leaving DoD alone. Fact is, he just revealed that either he has no clue, or he thinks we can all continue to be fooled. Failing that, write a seven page letter. What he needs to realize is that people are mad, that they want real solutions, and if he does not deliver, he will be next. And frankly, he made a really bad start.

  • Randy Cumpston

    Thank you Eric for your service to America. Be bold, honest and fight for the American way. Our republic will survive due to statesman like yourself. God speed to you and the 112th

  • nora simpson


  • Linda Taylor

    You need to get up your nerve and start talking about other things that will really make a difference. For example, stop talking about Republicans believing it is not necessary to curtail social security or medicare. Acknowledge that these entitlements are a major problem. The retirement age must be raised. The healthcare bill cannot be repealed, most likely, so target the objectionable parts and add such things as tort reform, insurance across state lines, and elimination of the health insurance tax deduction for business. Declare a tax holiday for overseas profits so US corporations can bring billions home and invest here, a stimulus that does not add to the deficit. Raise taxes on “carry” of hedge and private equity funds to make them pay the income tax rate, not cap gains rate. Congress can safely let some of the Bush tax cuts expire on the very wealthy (over $1 million, for example)to reduce the deficit without harming the economy. Another group that resists giving up what they should not havae are employee unions for government employees, who work to elect their bosses and then hold the government hostage for bigger benefits than the private sector gets, etc. At a minimum, government employees should have the same 401k plans the rest of the workforce has. Curb agricultural subsidies.
    The theme through all these recommendations is to do smart things, even though they may not please this or that interest group. “Smaller government” and “no new taxes” should not blind us to intelligent and fair legislation. The fact is that we have to fundamentally change entitlements that are rampant due to various powerful interest groups that are dragging the country down. It is time to tell the American people the hard truth and not worry about the political consequences-that sacrifice has to happen on the part of everyone or our ship will continue to leak and sink.

  • Alan R Gladstone

    Eric—-you are on the right path. NOW just follow through and get this country straightened out from the Pelosi mess.

  • Will White

    Mike Barrett the Democrats are on the way out we will throw the rest of the bums out in 2012.

  • Bruce

    Sell Pelosi’s plane. A great symbol of the steps to be taken towards a leaner government.

    Don’t let the liberal media define an issue. Take them to task every time they misstate your issue and your solutions (even if you have to do it a hundred times a day). Every time you make a comment to the media, start by correcting their misstatements since the last time you made a statement.

  • Mike Barrett

    Well Will, perhaps you are correct, but the message to me is if you don’t perform, the independents will kick you out of office. The republican strategy of obstructionism worked this time, but now they have skin in the game. If they don’t act to create jobs and improve the economy, they will be out as well.

  • Joe Bartlett

    An impressive presentation and proposals.
    Ambitious but worthy.
    Good luck!
    Semper Fidelis!

  • Greg Beck

    Good start. As part of the concerned and engaged citizenry I recommend a few other items:

    1) KEEP THE LEGISLATION SIMPLE AND DIRECT– do NOT overly complicate the legislation and create mega- packages of 2000 page programs that are incomprehensible to anyone including legislators. Kepp it simple!!!

    2) LET THE SUNSHINE IN– it’s the BEST disinfectant. As stated above, place all legislation on-line WELL ahead of votes so that the public has a chance to comment and provide input to their representative. Ideally, reps should make a trip back home in their district BEFORE a vote to hear the will of the people.

    3) ELIMINATE EARMARKS ENTIRELY– Eliminate the earmark system which has NOTHING but bad press and leads to abuse and corruption. Minimize the number of amendments (see recommendation 1 above).

  • Delores Anderson

    I am totally in agreement with you and inclusion and a major oversight over-haul in drastically in need. Go get them and make them do it right. Start with the rediculous ‘HEALTH PLAN’, then close our borders and fix Social Security. It just isn’t right that I have paid into it since the age of 16, and now that I am 65, the current administration wants to give it away to everyone who has never contributed one copper penny.

  • Gig Berkowitz

    Dear Congressman Cantor, as a personal friend and a supporter of your mission, I can appreciate the enthusiasm you show in your letter. Your personal expectations have always been high and it’s my ferverent hope that it becomes infectious in the halls of Congress. While many proposals need to be addressed in short order, many need time to develop a consensus for passage. You breakdown of the operation of Congress is wonderful and maybe it will bring about the speed you (Congress) need to act in a manner befitting the hopes of the American people.
    While many of the comments above raise some other questions that were not specifically addressed, I personally believe that you have a handle on them and with your position of Majority Leader, everyone’s concern’s can be addressed timely fashion. Good luck and please call on me if I can lend any assistance in your quest for making this a “Better America!” Best, Gig

  • Dr Donald Willard

    Great- we expect all elected Republicans and some Democrats who promised to follow your example. Social security was worked for by the taxpayers. It is not among the many handouts not earned by recipients. Keep it seperate in discussions. The department of energy does none of the things for which it was created. We do not need it. Education is constitutionally the preogative of the state- we do not need it at the federal level. It costs far more than the department gives back to the states. It has no constitutional power to make it’s many mindless regulations. Czars should not exist. It is an illegal and costly attempt to bypass congress. Will you continue to allow the executive branch to grab such power against the will of the people?

  • Richard Martin

    Eric. Good letter. I am impressed that you recognize the failures of previous Republican efforts. the Contract with America had some really good ideas such as term limits, but nothing came of it. The Bush administration was a disaster and much of your work will be undoing what was done under Bush.

    Care must be taken when working with bank and other financial institution regulations. The big banks have demonstrated conclusively that they cannot regulate themselves. Those financial products that triggered this recession should be regulated out of existence.

    Finally, give the Obama administration, particularly the Defense Department, credit for a serious effort to reign in costs and for stopping the recession from becoming a depression. Good luck!

  • Will White

    So Mike are you saying the Democrats did a poor job ?

  • HisRoc

    Mike Barrett,

    You seem to be under the impression that Cantor and the Republican leadership should go after DoD spending in order to reduce the Federal deficits. I have an even juicier target for you to consider: entitlement spending.

    Defense spending in the United States is less than 4% of GDP and continuing to decline as a percentage of GDP as the economy improves. That is down from over 9% during the Viet Nam War and 37% when World War II ended.

    On the other hand, entitlement spending is currently at 40% of the Federal budget and represents approximately 15% of GDP. Worse, it is growing at approximately three times the average annual rate of GDP increase and may consume over 50% of GDP as soon as 2032. So, you could eliminate defense spending completely and the country is still going to go bankrupt in the first half of this century if we don’t curtail entitlements.

    So what is the solution? We need to set a goal to slow the growth of entitlement spending to the rate of GDP growth. Here are some ideas on how to do it:

    -Reduce, but not eliminate, COLA increases in entitlement payments. No where else in our economy are personal incomes guaranteed to increase in an amount equal to cost-of-living increases. Impose a negative COLA when the cost-of-living decreases, as it did for the past and current years.

    -Impose means testing for entitlement payments. Social security was originally intended to provide a safety net for the poor, not to be a Federal pension program.

    -Raise qualification thresholds for entitlement programs. Why do children in Virginia in families with twice the median income in most counties qualify for SCHIP? Why do able-bodied workers have the option of drawing Social Security when they are only 62 years old?

    -Eliminate the caps on entitlement program taxes. Why should someone earning $150,000 a year pay Social Security taxes only on the first $106,800? This would increase the trust funds and lower the outlays from the general revenue of the Federal government.

    Notice that I have not itemized fraud, waste, and abuse as potential savings opportunities. That is a favorite canard of politicians and is nothing more than smoke and mirrors. I don’t know of any Federal spending program that is free of waste, from entitlement programs to farm subsidies to defense spending. Pretending that you will lower spending by eliminating waste is a coward’s alternative to making tough choices.

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  • Rodney Rooks

    Good letter. However, what about enacting the fairtax plan and really get the economy going? If the republican party does not follow through on there promises then there will be no party. Good luck.

    Thank You,

  • Diana and Michael Dougherty

    I would suggest. as a small way to cut costs, for every member of congress to diminish their staff by one person. Even that would cut costs. Also, salary gains for congress should not be raised if there is no cost of living for Seniors.

    There are some Departments that may be abolished because they have not succeeded in doing what they should be doing; i.e., Department of Education. Our childrens’ education has gotten poorer and poorer. I see high school children acting and speaking as if they were 10 years old or else speaking “slang” or gibberish. I am a child of South American immigrants. I had to learn to speak English in school, not at a special class but was put in a lower grade for a few months. Within 3 months I was able to speak correctly. Why is Spanish spoken in schools when the children should be made to learn our national language!! I feel it is insulting to our country. Those who don’t want to learn English will never succeed in this country. Congress should stop all these “special” classes. Children know how to learn and are eager for it!

  • Susanne Crain


    I do appreciate your detailed plans giving us some idea as to how you plan to proceed. Those who don’t have a plan, plan to fail. I also realize that our problems cannot be solved overnight. I still think that the President and his followers as well as the spin being put out in most of the national media, still “just don’t get it!”

    Making a stand against earmarks and initiating the “You Cut” projects is certainly one way to help eliminate wasteful spending. However, I do not see one item that I think we Americans would appreciate coming from Congress – that being the doing away with the self-serving, self-voted automatic annual pay raises given while we Americans (the actual ones for whom Congress works and should be the ones to determine any raises) are out of work and our seniors who are on a fixed income cannot qualify for a COLA increase these last two years in their Social Security due to a reportedly planned and skewed “different” formula that leaves out specific expenses that all know have increased, measurably. Yet, for some reason(?) Congress does qualify for an increase?

    As to ideas to cut other “entitlements,” there is a statement that serves to solve this problem …”If one does not work, one does not eat.” Contrary to the socialist agenda of the progressive “more government control” movement ideology in order to have their “new world order” that “baits the trap of dependency by issuing government handouts,” most Americans really don’t want to be on welfare; they want to be able to provide for themselves and their families. Notably, there are those who are legitimately disabled and deserve to be helped. However, there is much room for improvement in the accountability structure needed in the selection and follow-up of who qualifies for and for what period of time these benefits are made available. The more we are able to keep the qualifications for these types of programs under the more intense supervision of local authorities rather than through federal administration, the more waste and fraud can be curtailed. This brings to mind another upcoming problem – that of extending unemploymemt benefits. My newspaper is filled with job offerings. True, these jobs may not be the “career” job that one wishes to obatain, but it would provide some income. However, we have perpetuated the idea that one has the right to collect unemployment because it pays more and these “other jobs” are beneath ones status. It used to be that one would even work 2 jobs in order to pay their bills!

    One more thing, and I’m done. The Federal Reserve just took 20% of my income because they have begun to monetize the dollar, again!! Something that Bernake said under oath would not happen!! (By the way this is also part of the “Progressive Movement” of lowering tha value of the dollar to achieve their ideology of issuing in a One World Order(Soros). Talk about a “backdoor tax” on all Americans – WOW!

    Thank you for listening and for your continued efforts and support to “Help us take our America Back.” I hope that you will continue to keep us informed and give us ways in which we can help you in the future.

  • Brent Raper

    When has the Republican Party ever reduced the size of the federal government? Not in my lifetime. Not since Eric Cantor has been in Washington. The last Republican President to balance the budget was Eisenhauer. Clinton did it. Magically, Republicans forget everything they ever said was urgent as soon as they control the Whitehouse. For eight years during the Bush presidency nary a word about the deficit. Taxes and terrorists were the problems and there was plenty of money for rebates & wars & expensive new benefits for seniors. Now when the economy tanks, and we get a Democratic President you say we’re spending too much. And every economist & barber in America knows that government spending helps bring us out of a recession. Reagan’s revolution was based on stimulus (and debt). You need to start really working for the American people & stop acting like an errand boy for Wall Street.

  • David

    “On the stimulus, instead of pouring hundreds of billions of dollars into non-stimulative government programs, we proposed to give private-sector job creators an incentive to hire by exempting small businesses from 20 percent of their tax liability.”

    Rather than focusing tax benefits on one group or another, you should work to cut tax rates for everyone. Each time Congress creates a new exemption for small business, it creates a new impediment to small businesses growing into medium-sized businesses. We need to stop discouraging small businesses from outgrowing their special tax benefits, not adding another encouragement for them to stay small.

  • Eric Z

    I wish you success and as someone who lives in your district I will vote based on your actions and results; not your words or intentions.
    Here are a few suggestions:

    Make hiring illegals a serious crime and large fine. This will improve employment numbers and discourage continued illegal immigartion.

    Defund departments and agencies that are not enforcing laws already in place related to borders.

    Eliminate Ponzi schemes used to fund government programs.

    Eliminate departments not in the constitution and that are not effective (dept of energy, dept of education, plus a few dozen more).

    Eliminate earmarks.

    Sell off federal assets that are idle or not in use (land, buildings…).

    Get America off foreign oil imported from countries that are no friends of the US (Venezuela, Saudi Arabia…).

    Get rid of all Tax deductions, giveways, credits…. and replace with a flat tax. These special IRS rules are only political favors for friends and punishments to enemies. Every dollar earned should be treated the same.

  • Sara Stoller

    I think the letter is a darn good starting point. To the other commentors mentioning specific details for spending cuts, I think Rep. Cantor’s letter has addressed and laid out some deliberative process to capture those details. However, I do think Greg Beck’s suggestions are important to echo: 1) Keep legislation straightforward and unencumbered, 2)Let the sunshine in, and 3) Eliminate earmarks. It is a good start, with an extremely beautiful ending. May G-d continue to inspire vigilant watch over America.

  • Bob

    Nice words. Let’s see what you do.

    Interesting that there is no mention about the 500 pound Gorilla running amok re article I section 6; or the 2,000 pound Gorilla re Article II section 1.

    Join the Kerchner case and we’ll know you’re serious.

  • Rebecca S Ferris

    thank you for the inspiring words. i trust you will address the inequitable benefits received by congress and perhaps we will see a closer resemblance to the average working citizen’s wages and benefits. After all civil servants should appear to be working for a living.

  • Ralph L. England

    Eric, You have an excellent draft but I would like you to address the Federal Reserve System plan to buy 600 billion of Bonds. I feel this system should be reined in if possible by congress. It is another effort to devalue our money . It has been there policy of overreaching which will eventually set off a wave of inflation.

  • JD

    An all too brief response to a lengthy letter:

    !) referring to SS as a “discussion we must have” I would suggest Congressional and Federal worker salaries and benefits should be a discussion we all have…. NOW! Freeze all annual wage increases, automated or otherwise (listening Eric?). Elimination of the taxpayer funded benefits programs for Congressional members and all other Fed workers, replaced with benefits and health insurance available to private industry.

    2) STOP playing with the monstrous 70,000 page Tax Code as you propose to do Eric… eliminate the existing Tax Code and replace it with the simplified 125 page tax code as proposed in The FairTax Amendment. This removes power from Congress that invites corruption (lobbyists buying members of Congress). While we are at it, eliminate the IRS as proposed in the FairTax Amendment, as well as eliminate ALL the “imbedded” taxes in the manufacturing process that are killing businesses and driving them overseas (it ain’t just the Unions Eric… it’s our tax structure… are you still listening??).

    3) TAX IMPORTS! STOP taxpayer/government funding/grants and handouts to businesses manufacturing overseas. Tax the imports from overseas, no matter whether the company is American or not… TAX IMPORTS.

    4) No more earmarks…not a moratorium… STOP THEM! NOW! Period.

    5) Eliminate the Board of Education – it is a worthless waste of billions of taxpayer dollars and the government has NO BUSINESS manipulating what kids are taught. The result to date is a public school system nationwide that is a pathetic joke. Kids taught nothing about government, civics, history… nothing.

    6) ENACT THE FAIRTAX PLAN and STOP lying about how it works. It does NOT increase taxes. It REPLACES existing taxes on businesses (manufacturing) and income… in both cases eliminating jobs and taking away earned income of Americans. REPLACE these taxes, imbedded and personal income, with a national sales tax, which would be paid by everyone in the WORLD who buys a product within our borders. STOP THE LIES!

    7) People of this country, citizens, deserve and should be entitled to healthcare on an equal basis, not on the basis of income. Fix it! Your proposal above does nothing for the poor, the elderly, the in-firmed, children, and those who are born with various illnesses Eric. FIX IT! National healthcare programs that WORK are available in countries throughout the world… there is NO NEED to reinvent the wheel… simply look at what works and cannibalize what works to meet our needs as a nation. That is how Medicare and Medicaid were born. I know. I was there. Eliminate ObamaCare is simply a vote getting slogan. Stop the BS.

    I have so much more… and I do not trust either Republicans OR Democrats because they do NOT want to give up power (thus no discussion of anything that would eliminate their power or their finances or their incomes… please note all of that in the letter above.

    JD Adams

  • Mike Barrett

    Frankly, as a businessman, my main concern is that the recovery in progress will be interupted by the intrasigence of the republican leadership. Fact is, most of the cuts proposed by the President should be approved, and perhaps others. But we must build a 21st Century defense, not continue to build unneeded and unnecessary weapons systems, not an enlarged Army. Second, yes, update SS; raise the retirement age, increase the amount subject to this tax, and require all state and local employees to join. Reduce federal employment by 5%, but spur investment in needed infrastructure, research, and science and technology. Get to work, stop with the ideological rants, do no harm.

  • Jay D

    Federal government currently spends about a trillion dollars a year more than revenues and the debt ceiling is nearing it’s max – again. Michael Steel is on record as saying: “We are not going to compromise on raising more debt. We are not going to compromise on raising the debt ceiling,”

    REAL test of GOP debt/deficit reduction sincerity will be:
    – Can you pass enough targeted and across-the-board cuts to put off the increase, before the vote comes up?
    – If not, how far are you willing to go … or will you compromise?

  • Tibor Arato

    How are you going to create jobs in this country if you are constantly creating legislation the gives
    companies tax breaks that outsource their jobs overseas? How can we put people back to work without more jobs in this country?

    The cost of Medicare and Prescription drugs for seniors has risen to the point of bankrupting the people who worked hard and spent sparingly to take care of their families. Now we can hardly afford to live.

    How can you keep giving yourself raises and retirement benefits that are unreasonable high and expect the voters to believe you are working for their welfare.

    Stop the illegial immegrants from coming into this country NOW.

    Make the large phramicutical companies reduce the cost of medication that is necessary for many people to live.

    Do the work you were elected to do and don’t just spend your time fighting over the unecessary political infighting.

  • Mr. Gale Smith

    I am very encouraged by the prospect of getting the country moving forward. Another lesson can be learned from President George HW Bush’s failure to get a second term…’it’s the economy stupid!’

    Now is the time to focus on fixing the economy and getting people back to work…reward the makers, provide an opportunity for the takers to become makers, provide stability in costs to the makers – taxes, health, etc. – so that business leaders can make plans, hire staff and get our economy moving forward.

    The last priority should be ‘investigations’ against the government and congress especially the President’s team. While some of the Republican zealots want this, if it doesn’t contrubute to jobs and the economy, it is a distraction and is disfunctional! Focus, focus, focus, focus!

  • Cap federal spending. Each budget cut will suffer a 1000 cuts from all opponents. With a cap congress will have to do their job and will have a bulwark to use from all the opposition.Until the congress stops spending and borrowing our country is in a death spiral. See old Heritage Foundation paper “The 4% solution” regarding capping Federal spending.

  • Bill Hogan

    You all talk about fixing this and fixing that. Well all those elected should hear this! If you don’t start doing what you were elected to do, you won’t be there in 2012!!
    A good start would be to stop giving yourselves raises when no one else gets them. If social security by doing away with the BIG plan YOU gave each member and GO on THE SAME plan as the rest of us have. SS will be fixed in a week!!!!

  • Tibor Arato

    Nem e’rdekel …..

  • Nagy Dezso

    Talan egyszer sikerul minden..

  • MS

    While others have talked about entitlemtent spending, I have not seen my pet peeve addressed. We MUST address the problem of those who receive federal funds through entitlement programs and who have those entitlement payments increased in various ways, whether through higher HUD qualifications, higher food stamps, welfare payments, medical and dental coverage…simply because they chose to have another child while receiving those payments! As a private citizen I have not once been given a raise or larger house when I chose to have an additional child and we MUST stop encouraging this behavior in those who receive taxpayer funded entitlements. We must also address the issue of taxpayer funded entitlements given to those here illegally. While many states have laws forbidding illegal aliens from receiving benefits, most of those same states will not allow offices to ask for proof of citizenship when anyone applies for those funds…in effect allowing illegals to receive billions in entitlement payouts. I do not begrudge helping anyone who truly needs aid…I deeply resent my government reinforcing the entitlement mentally that we must all recognize as deeply engrained in our society when 47% of the population pays nothing and the remaining 53% sacrifice harder every day to provide for those who could and should be providing for themselves!

  • Al Wunsch

    Letter is a great start and I’m sure there are many ideas, some conflicting, about what should be done and how to go about it. Some things in your letter prompted these reactions:
    I liked your priorities and I do think that we need to go back to committee work (real substance and fact finding) with hearings on the floor of committee recommendations/status reports for all to take a shot at.

    Why not permanently ban earmarks? If there are needs at home, then the appropriate committee should work the problem and take it to the floor – do the benefits justify the cost etc.

    We need a balanced budget. Ryan seems to have a good handle on budget issues. I don’t think it is unreasonable to consider eliminating depts such as education and energy and reexaming interior and the EPA.

    The medicare and social security entitlements need to be revamped and for starters, as you mention, we need to make sure that those who are in or too close to retirement to recover are grandfathered in. Congress needs to take the dems head on with these issues by laying out the initial ground rules and then making sure that the products are ouputs from serious and substantive committee work. By defusing the scaretactic accusations up front with the initial groundrules announced to the public, the people will support this effort.

    We need two committe assignments with up front groundrules for taxcode reform and immigration reform. All issues should be on the table. In the past these issues are dealt with by deals and with commissions that eliminate some things before even starting the task (e.g. eliminating consideration of the Fair Tax as a possibility when looking at tax reform). If the people see that all issues will be fairly treated and will be debated in a serious and competent way, they will support the effort and wait to see the results.

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  • Thanks for running a clean campaign.
    I have several ideas:
    Do one job at a time and do it
    right. Then you can go to another need of our country.

    Be proud that you are an American and let all countries know. We could have an “I LOVE AMERICA

    I have read that many congressmen do not even read
    the bills before they vote. We teach our children to read and study before taking a test. What an example the government is setting for our children
    and grandchildren!!!

    We need to bring prayer back to the classroom. Nascar has a prayer before ever race but our children can’t take a minute to ask God to help them
    through the day. Something is wrong!!!

    Reduce the number of staff that the First Lady has
    under her control.

    If the first family takes vacations let them pay for it themselves. I can’t afford to take vacation but
    if I did I would have to pay for the vacation.

    Stop all the fussing in the Congress and get to
    work rebuilding America. You are not being paid by
    the American citizens to air dirty laundry.

    I can pray for you and I will. May God Bless you in
    the tremendous job you have to do.

    Nan Rowe

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