A plethora of problems face the freshman class of 2010 - health care, taxes, immigration, national security, the deficit - but newly elected members of Congress say they are undaunted, and even optimistic about the future. Congressmen-Elect Allen West (R-Fl), Hansen Clarke (D-Mi) and Cory Gardner (R-Co) discusses their views on "Washington Unplugged" Wednesday as well as the likelihood of the new Congress making real progress.
West told CBS News' Jill Jackson that "the unemployment situation, the foreclosure situation, there is legal immigration, health care and national security, we have some big issues to work on in Washington, DC and the American people aren't patient."
Clarke told CBS News' Wyatt Andrews that no matter all new members, regardless of background, know that the public is hurting.
"All of us right now in this country are feeling financially insecure and we are all in the same boat, despite our race and I understand that," he said. "I am going to represent everyone, I am conservative, not in the ideological sense, but in the sense that we've got to be conservative with how we spend people's tax dollars, in the liberal sense."
Gardner told CBS News' Bob Orr that under-performing senators need to beware.
"We ran for election this year on the economy, on jobs, on reducing the size of the Government and if those people who are up for election in 2012, in the Senate, if those people don't realize what people want to hear and want to see acted upon, they won't win in 2012," Gardner said.
Despite differing party affiliation, they all agreed on the necessity of cutting spending.
"People are struggling right now and I want to make sure that the dollars are returned to help people effectively and if not, we use their money to pay down this debt, which is posing a large national security threat for our country," Clarke said.
Gardner said progress can come despite members' differences.
"I look at who is willing to cut spending, to make sure taxes aren't increased and find ways to move this country forward," he told Orr. "Sure we can work together but it has to be for the benefit of this country."
West, who ran as a Tea Party candidate and was one of two African American Republicans elected to the House, addressed the focus on the color of his skin. "I think that I am black, and I am a member of Congress, and that is the way it should be," he said.
Watch "Washington Unplugged" above, also featuring "Flash Points" with CBS News Security Analyst, Juan Zarate.