I am writing as your constituent in the 3rd Congressional district of Oregon. I oppose S.365 - Budget Control Act of 2011, and am tracking it using OpenCongress.org.
All prominent, competent economists, including Dean Baker, Paul Krugman, and Robert Reich, oppose cutting government spending in a weak economy, as do prominent investors such as the CEO of PIMCO, who says that due to this bill, "unemployment will be higher than it would have been otherwise, growth will be lower than it would be otherwise, and inequality will be worse than it would be otherwise."
I urge you to oppose this bill. Default is a fraudulent threat, as President Obama would simply use his Constitutional authority to avoid default, if necessary.
Sincerely, Khalid Adad
Oregon's Senator Jeff
I know that you have been following the negotiations around the increase in the debt limit and efforts to reduce deficit spending, and appreciate that you have shared your thoughts with me about the best path forward. Given your interest in this issue, I wanted to share my views on the deal that was reached and which became law yesterday.
I voted against the deal because, in short, I felt that it would make it harder for middle class Oregonians to get ahead now and in the future. My complete statement is below explaining my reasons.
"I have spent the last several days immersed in the details of this budget deal, trying to understand its real-world impact on Oregon's middle class and small businesses. I have a single, simple measure to evaluate this proposal: is it going to create greater opportunities for prosperity and success for working Americans? Unfortunately, I have concluded that it will not, and so I cannot support it.
"First, this deal will contribute to the gathering storm threatening to make our current unemployment crisis even worse. Our unsustainable deficits are absolutely a long-term challenge that we must address. But millions of Oregonians and Americans are out of work right now. And with at least 5 million foreclosures looming, with the expiration of extended unemployment benefits forecast to cost half a million jobs next year, with the payroll tax holiday ending and costing another estimated 900,000 jobs in 2012, we should be relentlessly preoccupied with how to create more jobs. Instead, this package will add to the job losses, repeating the mistakes that have caused prolonged economic slumps in this country and elsewhere.
"Second, this deal will do serious damage to the programs that middle class Americans depend on. The bulk of the deficit reduction is piled onto that small part of the budget that funds things like Head Start, college financial aid, research into clean energy and medical cures, and safeguards against contaminated food and polluted air and water. These sorts of programs combined are less than one-fifth of the budget. And we are spending the same amount on them today in a real dollars, per person basis, as we did in 2001. Yet these programs -- critical to helping families in tough times, to giving kids the tools they need to succeed, and to keeping our economy competitive so there are good jobs in the future - would endure as much as 15% in cuts. Mortgaging the middle class's future and increasing their burdens now do not make America stronger.
"Moreover, while all reasonable people can understand the need for belt-tightening to bring down our unsustainable deficits, this plan exempts the wealthy and well-connected. The many subsidies and entitlements that they enjoy are tucked away in the tax code, which has been put off limits. So despite the dramatic increases in income of the best off in our nation since 2000, the sweetheart deals that litter the tax code are protected.
"Finally, this flawed product is the result of irresponsible threats to torpedo the economy by refusing to pay America's bills. The editorials are full of phrases like 'extortion,' 'hostage-taking,' and 'lunacy.' President Reagan himself said, 'This brinkmanship threatens the holders of bonds and those who rely on veterans benefits. Markets would skyrocket, instability would occur and the federal deficit would soar. The United States has a special responsibility to itself and to the world to meet its obligations.' A default would be enormously damaging to every American, and I respect and value the hard work of the President and Leader Reid to avoid that calamity despite the unreasonable ransom demands they were facing. But at some point we must finally stand up for the middle class and insist that their jobs and their futures be our priority, or this ugly drama will repeat itself again and again.
"I am fully committed to work towards real compromise, one that asks for sacrifice from everyone who can afford it to tackle our long-term debt challenges. I'm prepared to make hard choices when those choices are necessary to solve our nation's challenges and make it stronger. However, I cannot endorse a process that will worsen our economy, burden middle class families, and reduce our children's opportunities in the future, and doesn't ask those who have so much already to contribute one thin dime.
"Somewhere in the frenzy of economic anxiety, ideology, and electoral politics, Washington has lost its way. The greatness of America and the strength of our economy cannot be separated from the well-being of the American middle class. If we continue to sacrifice their prosperity to subsidize the well-off and well-connected, we sacrifice America's future."
I appreciate hearing from so many Oregonians about this debt ceiling agreement. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and please keep in touch.
All my best,
Jeffrey A. Merkley
United States Senator
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Dear Mr. Adad:
Thank you for contacting me about the federal budget. I appreciate hearing from you on this important issue.
I want you to know that during the 112th Congress I will continue to fight for bipartisan, common sense ideas on how to reduce our federal deficit and balance the budget. Congress must work across party lines to effectively address this issue, just as I have done with Senators Gregg and Coats on comprehensive tax reform. Reducing our nation?s deficit is not a partisan issue and we must be willing to sacrifice politics in order to make the tough decisions necessary to balance the budget. At the same time we must take appropriate measures to ensure that any effort to balance the budget does not put our economic recovery at risk or endanger essential safety-net programs.
Congress recently passed the Budget Control Act in an effort to reduce the nation?s deficit and to raise the debt limit. Had Congress failed to increase the debt limit, the U.S. Department of the Treasury would, for the first time in history have defaulted on its debt and a broad range of government payments would have been stopped, limited, or delayed, including military salaries and retirement benefits, Social Security and Medicare payments, interest on the debt, unemployment benefits and tax refunds. Additionally, this would have forced the federal government to pay higher interest rates, increasing borrowing costs and worsening already high budget deficits. I voted in support of this legislation because allowing the country to go into default would have put our economic recovery in serious jeopardy.
The Budget Control Act also created the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction. The legislation instructs the joint committee, made up of an equal number of Congressional Democrats and Republicans, to develop legislation to reduce the federal deficit by at least $1.2 trillion over the next ten years. For the proposal to be considered under the special, expedited procedures, however, it must be approved by this bipartisan committee by November 23, 2011, and passed by both chambers of Congress by December 23, 2011.
This bipartisan committee has an opportunity to find savings and reduce our nation?s deficit without arbitrarily slashing programs that are critical to the nation?s most vulnerable populations. On top of that, I believe the members of the bipartisan committee should also look for ways to grow the economy and put people back to work. To substantially reduce deficits, our economy must continue to grow and one of the most effective ways to ensure growth is comprehensive tax reform.
Our tax code is broken, burdensome, and confusing and it must be overhauled. That's why I introduced the Bipartisan Tax Fairness and Simplification Act of 2011 with Sen. Coats of Indiana. I continue to believe that lowering tax rates, broadening the tax base, and getting rid of special-interest tax loopholes are critically important to ensuring our nation?s prosperity. I have talked to members of the Joint Select Committee and urged them to take up comprehensive tax reform as part of their final package.
As the work of this bipartisan committee progresses I will continue to provide my input and ideas on how best to move the country forward. I remain committed to protecting those who are most vulnerable but I will also work to ensure that future generations are not burdened with unsustainable debt.
Again, thank you for keeping me apprised of the issues that are important to you. If I may be of further assistance in the future, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Note to Congressional staff & elected officials reading this: this letter was sent through Contact-Congress features on OpenCongress.org, a free public resource website, but in the future we seek to compel the U.S. Congress to adopt fully open technology for constituent communications. For more information how your office can better handle public feedback through an open API and open standards, contact us -- even today, there are significantly more efficient and responsive ways for our elected officials to receive email feedback than the status quo of individual webforms. For greater public accountability in government, we must make the process of writing one's members of Congress more accessible and empowering. Looking ahead, we will release more data from Contact-Congress letters and Congressional response rates back into the public commons. This will result in a new open data source on bills & issues people care about, as well as encourage best practices in constituent communications and make it possible to grade members of Congress on their responsiveness & citizen satisfaction.