Weekly Update from Rep. Denham - February 14, 2014
As you may have heard, on Tuesday the House voted yet again on a proposal to raise the national debt ceiling to accommodate for our out-of-control spending. We were asked to authorize the Treasury to finance hundreds of billions of dollars in new federal debt without any associated long-term spending reforms. Instead of seizing this opportunity to reexamine our priorities, we were asked to allow the government to continue to spend on autopilot.
Our current national debt is $17 trillion and counting. That’s over $54,000 owed by every man, woman and child in America. Each dollar of this debt will be left for our children and grandchildren to pay
I cannot in good conscience vote for legislation that raises the debt ceiling without any reforms. Unfortunately, we face this decision far too often in Washington and will continue to repeat this same counterproductive process as long as the President and the Senate refuse to engage in real negotiations about our fiscal future.
I have supported plans to balance our budget within 10 years, including House-passed budgets authored by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan. I also supported the budget agreement we passed in December, which on net reduces the deficit by $23 billion. And through House efforts to curb spending, we’ve enacted the largest deficit reduction bills since 1981 and cut total federal spending for three years in a row for the first time since the Korean War.
Yet with $17 trillion in debt, now is not the time to declare victory. There is still no end in sight to our runaway spending. Instead of supporting a “clean” budget ceiling hike, we should be having a real conversation about changing our spending trajectory. That means real reforms to both mandatory and discretionary spending.
Given the opportunity we had to assess the fiscal health of our country with a vote on the debt ceiling, we should have taken this moment to conduct a full and true audit of the Federal Reserve System. For too long Congress has been limited in its ability to exercise appropriate oversight of the Federal Reserve even as its policies affect the economic security of every American. Last Congress, 326 of my colleagues and I came together on a bipartisan basis to support such an audit. Especially given the fact that since the 2008 crisis, the balance sheet of the Fed has grown exponentially each year, increasing the influence of its actions on taxpayers, the American people deserve transparency from such a crucial organization.
As members of Congress, we are elected to lead. That responsibility includes making tough financial choices for the future of our nation. Those choices must include an honest assessment of our fiscal health, and such an assessment is not possible as long as one of the major government actors in our economy operates in secrecy. Without such a measure, and a significant change to our spending trajectory, I will not cast a vote to burden future generations with this unsustainable debt, and for that reason, I opposed Tuesday’s proposal to give the President an unlimited credit card.
On Tuesday I also voted to restore full Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) benefits to military retirees. This was a vote to protect pensions and restore COLA for veterans nationwide, and the measure passed with wide bipartisan support. I hope to see the Senate quickly vote to send this bill to President Obama’s desk.
I spent the second half of the week in the Central Valley where I visited the Newman Rotary and met with one of my constituents who has personally experienced the challenges many are having with Covered California. David is a health insurance broker working to ensure coverage for his clients and finding that despite spending hours on casework, he hasn’t been able to get clients access to care through the state exchange. He also has clients who have paid for their coverage but not able been to see a doctor or get necessary refunds. As a small business owner himself, he is feeling the weight of the Affordable Care Act firsthand. My staff and I are hoping to help him navigate some of these problems, but his stories remind me how important it is that we fully repeal and replace the law with patient-centered, common-sense reforms that protect jobs.
On Thursday I met with Birgit Fladager, Stanislaus County’s District Attorney, to discuss her work in the Central Valley and how I can help prevent crime through work on the federal level.
Birgit and I had a productive discussion on Thursday in Modesto.
During his visit to Fresno this morning, President Obama essentially offered to throw money at our drought. Unfortunately, our drought has been repeatedly exacerbated by burdensome state and federal regulations. The House acted last week to put every option on the table for discussion as we work to help California cope with a pending drought of historic proportions. We must continue a larger conversation about how we can fix the Central Valley’s woes and ensure our agricultural community remains vibrant and strong as the backbone of the Valley economy. I look forward to seeing the Senate put California water legislation on the floor and remain ready and willing to work across the aisle with anyone who can propose a long-term solution to our drought. The Valley has no time for partisan political maneuvering in the face of crisis.
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I hope you have a happy Valentine’s Day and a great weekend!