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When it comes to federal debt issues, it seems that Congress has grown adept at putting off major problems while refusing to compromise and solve problems.
Their solution to the fiscal cliff served as one reminder, and they displayed that tendency once again when they failed to reach a deficit solution in time to avoid the across-the-board cuts of sequestration on March 1.
The federal Office of Management and Budget pointed out in a February report that the law passed to trigger sequestration was never meant to actually take effect. It was instead supposed to serve as a mechanism to force to Congress to compromise on deficit reduction. Lawmakers basically passed a law that would make them agree and take meaningful action.
Sadly, under the threat of cuts nobody wanted, Congress members still played the “my idea is better, you guys are wrong” card, and Crook County’s representation in Congress followed suit.
Republican Representative Greg Walden said he did his part in voting for two House of Representatives bills that replaced sequestration with other spending reductions. He pointed out that they passed the Republican-led House, but the Democrat-controlled Senate did not act on them. So, it was their fault
Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley said he supported a Senate bill that he said would achieve the same cuts as the sequester — but stressed that the bill was blocked by Senate Republicans. Sequestration was therefore their fault
Senator Ron Wyden (D) meanwhile has introduced bills that will address Medicare costs and also fix tax loopholes. Their future is not yet determined — but given the recent political climate, it’s hard to imagine they will make it to the President’s desk either. It’s also not hard to imagine him blaming the party or chamber that blocks the bills.
Comedians have joked that the opposite of “pro” is “con,” and therefore the opposite of “progress” must be “Congress.” The comparison was good for a laugh, but when it comes to the deficit, it rings a bit too true. Lawmakers can’t seem to get anything done regarding the deficit, and that has to change or we risk dire economic consequences.
The federal government can’t keep spending the way they have — and they know it. The fact they passed a sequestration law as a consequence for their inaction proves it. Walden, Wyden, and Merkley and their colleagues need to figure out how to cut spending — and then actually do it.
Kicking the can down the road won’t fix this. Congress has run out of road on this one, and everybody will suffer if they don’t get the job done.