I'm not sure I could have picked a more intense year to become a member of the U.S. Senate. In 2009, we saw our country enter an economic recession; our government bailout Wall Street; our military recommit to our efforts in Afghanistan; and our citizens, businesses, hospitals, and public officials make their voices heard regarding proposed health care reform.
I hit the ground running in January, and am pleased to report to you that I have been fully engaged. It seems hard to believe now, but back in April the Senate had not yet delved into the thick of the health care reform debate, and I was troubled at the possibility of cap-and-trade legislation being rushed through the Senate. The value of bipartisanship was eminent as I was able to ensure cap-and-trade would be robustly debated in the full light of transparency, not quietly passed as a part of the budget process. When ACORN made headlines this summer, I worked to stop your tax dollars from funding the fraudulent activity of ACORN employees. On other fronts, several of my proposals yielded more funding and benefits for our military veterans and the National Special Olympics Games in 2010. On health care, I held town halls across the state and personally read thousands of your letters and messages. Earlier this month, I wrote a letter requesting analysis from the President's own Department of Health and Human Services. The results proved what I've been saying all along: the Senate health care bill is too costly, increases overall costs instead of decreasing them, and is just plain bad policy for Nebraska and our country.
Despite the challenges that lay ahead, I see great hope for our country in 2010 and beyond. I have seen remarkable and inspiring things from my fellow Nebraskans over the last year. At the town hall meetings I hosted across the state, I was inspired by the passion and breadth of knowledge exhibited by Nebraskans who attended out of concern for the future of our country. It was gratifying to see how the Internet--especially my web site and YouTube--creates such an immediate and direct channel between citizens and their public officials. In seconds, a curious Nebraskan can access my entire database of floor speeches, press releases, weekly columns, and information on the issues and equally as quickly send me their thoughts and opinions. These tools allow Nebraskans and citizens across the country to have their voices heard and drive debate like never before.
In the coming year, I encourage you to take advantage of these great tools to help me serve you and represent you. I read your emails and letters, and I carry the concerns and cares of Nebraskans with me to meetings, hearings and the Senate floor every day. With a pen or an Internet connection, you have a hand on our country's steering wheel and a voice in determining which path it takes. I urge you not to take this opportunity lightly, as we face ever-growing and more complicated challenges in the year ahead.
Have a very Merry Christmas, and may God Bless you in 2010.