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Congress needs to make tough choices on difficult issues
January 28, 2013
In less than a two-week span, two-thirds of Crook County’s Congressional delegates came to Prineville to take citizen input on pressing concerns.
Now as they go back to Washington, they need to find a way to address those concerns in a meaningful and effective way.
Democratic Senator Ron Wyden and Republican Representative Greg Walden combined for three town halls in which they updated local residents on the state of the national debt, expressed their views on how to curb gun violence, and emphasized a need to reform Social Security and Medicare before their trust funds go broke.
Walden gave the audiences of his town halls a visual aid that showed how the national debt will reach 800 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product by 2080 if spending and revenue continue on their current path. He combined that graphic with another graph that showed how the GOP House budget proposal would balance the U.S. budget and eliminate annual deficits in about 10 years.
During his town hall, Wyden stressed that any budgetary plans should also include reforms for Medicare and Social Security, which run the risk of bankruptcy within the next decade or two.
Walden said that any meaningful changes would require Congress making some very tough decisions. He is right. Whatever cuts Congress must make to balance the federal budget, and whatever changes they make to the Medicare or Social Security program, they have to risk making some unpopular choices to balance the budget.
One citizen asked Walden when Congress was going to actually lead the citizens and tell them – like it or not – what has to happen to save our country from bankruptcy. He never directly answered that question, but suggested holding hearings where each federal agency and program justify their worth and affordability.
While that might help, it strikes us as a potentially long and drawn-out process that will make a dent in the debt, but not cut the necessary quantity of expenses quickly enough. We elected our Congressional representatives to act on our behalf. They need to take the lead.
They need to take the lead on preventing gun violence in the same manner. Many people in federal government have trumpeted the need to ban guns and ammunition. However, Wyden and Walden have insisted that the federal government should focus on caring for the mentally ill people that have committed the violent act, and not banning firearms, which threatens to infringe on the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens.
We agree with them, and we suspect they are not the only ones in Congress that feel that way. We therefore feel that Walden, Wyden, and other likeminded lawmakers should take a stand against gun bans, and instead pursue mandates to more-efficiently utilize existing resources to improve the diagnosis and treatment of the mentally ill.
In the end, our country needs Congress to work together and make tough choices. They have to find a way to deal effectively with controversial issues like the budget and gun violence as well as tax reform, job creation, and many others.
Walden and Wyden gave us their ideas, as lawmakers often do. Now, they need to make them happen.