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Lee Rogers: Congress driving country off the fiscal cliff

Commentary

Posted: August 6, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: August 6, 2012 2:00 a.m.
 

One thing has been consistently true over the past several years of budget woes — Congress has failed us time and time again.

The recent timeline is a prime example. One year ago, the U.S. was approaching its borrowing limit. Congressional grandstanding and brinkmanship threatened a default on our debt and caused panic on Wall Street.

Congress passed the Budget Control Act of 2011 which called for a “super committee” of bipartisan House and Senate members to agree to a deal of at least $1.2 trillion in spending cuts or increased revenue over 10 years.

If Congress failed to act, an across the board cut of $1 trillion would be taken equally from defense and non-defense spending.

This across the board cut was termed “sequestration” and it was designed by Congress to be so atrocious that it would force them to act. If Congress only partially acted, let’s say agreed to half, then only the remaining half would be sequestered.

Immediately following the Budget Control Act of 2011, and for the first time in history, S&P lowered our country’s credit score citing, “the fiscal consolidation plan that Congress and the administration recently agreed to falls short of what would be necessary to stabilize the government’s medium-term debt dynamics.”

S&P also cited pessimism in the political parties and Congress’ ability to turn this agreement into a plan that would stabilize our nation’s debt.

Well, S&P was right. The super committee failed to pass even $1 of deficit reduction or revenue increases. Congress is paralyzed.

Now we have hysterics by our own Congressman Howard “Buck” McKeon to overturn the sequestration which he voted for. McKeon only wants to rollback sequestration for defense, of course.

He paraded in the CEOs of his top industry campaign donors to tell the rest of Congress how awful sequestration would be.

Instead, McKeon and the rest of Congress should be looking in the mirror to find the true source of the problem. It’s the job of Congress to pass a balanced budget and reduce our deficit.

No one wants sequestration. Instead of cutting programs that need to be cut, it takes an axe approach and indiscriminately cuts.

It was supposed to be so unpalatable that it would force Congress to act. It didn’t. But just reversing it isn’t the answer.

It will likely lead to further downgrading of our credit score which can increase interest rates for all of us, which may not be a concern for Congress members who can get special deals on interest rates.

The answer is telling Congress to go do their job.

We’re also hearing McKeon complain about the “fiscal cliff,” which sequestration is just one part of. The fiscal cliff was actually created by Congress by passing only temporary measures that all expire at the same time. At the end of this year, the Bush tax cuts and payroll tax cuts expire, and both alternative minimum tax fix and the Medicare doctor fix end. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that the effect of the fiscal cliff will be so large, that our GDP growth could be a negative number in 2013.

What’s Congress doing about this? Nothing. Instead, they’re getting ready for a long recess to tell all of us what a good job they’ve been doing and why they should be re-elected. Let’s give them a message in November. Country before politics.

Lee Rogers is a Democratic candidate for U.S. Congress challenging U.S. Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-Santa Clarita) in the November general election.

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