By Thomas Reed
The quote "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results" has been attributed to many famous figures from Ben Franklin to Albert Einstein to Rita Mae Brown. Regardless of who actually said it, it certainly applies to Washington, DC.
For decades, our national government has spent much more money than it brings in. Save for a few years in the mid-nineties (when, incidentally, we had a Democratic President and a Republican House as we do now), our debt has grown to the point where it now totals $17 trillion dollars, or approximately $55,000 per man, woman and child in America. Think about that: for each baby born today, he or she draws their first breath in America owing over $55,000 in debt.
What is even more appalling is that it appears our present generation is content to saddle their children and grandchildren with this immense burden. I reject this notion because I care about the generations to come and I will fight every day to ensure this monster of debt is finally tamed.
No one wanted the government shutdown or the threat of default. I voted four times for bills that would prevent the shutdown. I then voted 17 more times for bills which would have re-opened critical portions of the government which secure our defense, pay benefits earned by our veterans, maintain treatments for sick children, re-open the National Institute of Health and keep services available which help the most vulnerable among us. Despite these votes, the President refused to negotiate and refused to compromise. He knew he was winning the public relations battle and therefore refused to even talk with us. To me, this demonstrated our leaders are focused solely on politics, not solutions.
So, in an atmosphere of fear and amid claxons of impending doom within hours, I was asked to vote yet again to continue the status quo in Washington -- a temporary (in this case 90 days) extension which does nothing ... nothing ... to address our problem. Borrow more. Don't change anything. Worry about the consequences later. Pundits advised me voting yes was best for my re-election in November 2014. "The most important thing is survival," I was told. "If you vote no, you're going to have trouble inside the beltway (Washington)."
I'm not interested in the politics of survival. It is time to lead and I for one am all in.
I wasn't sent to Washington to have the easy conversations or take the easy votes to ensure my survival. I went to Washington specifically to have those hard discussions to ensure our nation's survival. Thus I voted against the measure because increasing the debt limit without addressing our debt and deficits is irresponsible and does nothing to get the country on a path where we live within our means. Putting off dealing with our massive debt and deficits will not make solving the problem any easier in the future, it will only make it harder. Another government funding fight looms just around the corner on January 15th and another debt ceiling debate is not far behind on February 7th.
Those interested in preserving government as usual blame the Tea Party or socialists or whatever group or ideology they can find. I opposed the bill not because of any allegiance to a group or "extreme" ideology. I voted no because short-term political patches too often take the easy route instead of the necessary route. Only in Washington politics is fighting for a long-term solution which isn't politically expedient considered an "extreme" position. Until the Washington culture of kicking the can down the road changes, Americans will be subjected to short-term patches that allow the government to jolt from crisis to crisis. The long-term jeopardy to our security, our children and grandchildren's future, our economy and the value of the dollar, will continue unabated.
For my part, I will continue working with a small bipartisan group on our Honest Proposal, which is a three-year framework that puts in place spending reductions and reforms on which both parties can find and have found common ground. Our plan calls for the adoption of a budget resolution by December 31st, 2013, promotes the enactment of tax reform to create jobs and ensures entitlement reform is completed to preserve the safety net for those among us who need it most. As a "reward" for doing what Congress should do anyway, my Honest Proposal would remove the continuous debt ceiling fights by automatically lifting the debt ceiling as Congress achieves these necessary reforms and spending reductions.
Whether it's the Honest Proposal or another plan, I promise you I will work tirelessly in support of a long-term solution. Not for the sake of politics, but because it is the right thing to do. I will forge ahead because I care that our nation prospers for all generations to come.
Many of you are sending your thoughts, questions and concerns to my office and I appreciate that. Please visit my website, www.Reed.house.gov, to read more about the "Honest Proposal" and tell me what you think. I appreciate all of the feedback -- both pro and con. It's clear the solution is not going to come from Washington. The more people from all sides who are involved in this conversation, the better off our children and grandchildren will be. Please join me in this critical fight!