Moving the Country ForwardOctober 21, 2013
This week’s deal approved by bipartisan majorities of the House and Senate, and signed into law by the president, provides a short-term extension of the debt ceiling and temporary funding of the federal government. However, it resolves none of the serious, long-term financial crises facing the American people. I voted in favor not because I thought it was a good deal — it clearly is not — but because it is necessary to move the country forward on several key fronts.
First, it avoids a debt default. We have a moral obligation to cash the checks we have already written — even when it is painful to do so and though I opposed much of the spending. A default, even a brief one, would have immediate and catastrophic effects on the U.S. and world financial markets. It would rattle the confidence of our creditors, who would demand significantly higher payments for financing our $17 trillion national debt — and those higher interest costs would cripple our government and threaten our ability to provide even the most essential services.
Second, this deal brings Democrats to the negotiating table to finally tackle our massive and unsustainable government spending. According to the Treasury Department, the federal government owes $38.55 trillion more in benefits over the next 75 years than it expects to receive in revenue for programs including Social Security and Medicare. But this is not just a looming disaster today that our grandchildren will have to deal with. By 2016, before the next president is sworn into office, the Social Security Disability Insurance trust fund will be depleted, affecting millions of deserving Americans for whom the program is intended. So far, Democrats have been unwilling to acknowledge these problems, or consider common-sense reforms to the mandatory spending that eats up most of our federal budget. Talk won’t guarantee results, but it’s a step forward with a president and party that have repeatedly declared their unwillingness to negotiate.
Third, the shutdown took the focus away from other issues that require immediate action. The government shutdown and the Obamacare rollout both started Oct. 1, yet the media spent far more time on the shutdown than on the historically disastrous launch of the health-insurance exchanges. Administration officials recognized long ago that the health-care exchanges had serious deficiencies, their systems were poorly designed, and the experience of Americans enrolling in Obamacare would be fraught with frustration. Simultaneously, Americans are receiving notices each day informing them that their existing health-care insurance premiums are skyrocketing or are having their policies canceled outright — a direct result of mandates in Obamacare. Even the president now acknowledges there are serious problems.
The end of the temporary budget impasse may appear like a victory for the president today, but it is by no means the end of discussion on Obamacare or runaway government spending. We must and will continue to confront this administration’s reckless deficits and the massive debt that threatens our prosperity and will burden future generations.
Issa, R-Vista, represents the 49th Congressional District and is chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.