I called my Representative, Jay Inslee, about 6 weeks ago asking about his involvement in the debt ceiling talks. I received a reply yesterday.
Rep. Inslee says his vote avoided a downgrade and then goes on to let me know about the additional spending he was able to save or increase as part of the debt deal.
Here is the letter:
August 23, 2011
Dr. Mr. XXXXXXXXX
Thank you for contacting me with your concerns over the agreement reached to raise the statutory federal debt limit. I appreciate hearing from you.
On August 1st, I voted in favor of S.365, the Budget Control Act of 2011 to prevent an economic disaster. This bill was unfortunately an unbalanced proposal that doesn't meet the expectations that the American people have for solutions to the debt problem. But because passage was necessary to avoid serious harm to our economy and because this bill takes steps to reduce our deficit, while protecting Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare and education, the right solution was to move forward.
This legislation will allow increases to the statutory federal debt limit estimated to last until 2013 while directing more than $2.1 trillion in cuts to federal spending over the next ten years. House leaders from both parties were able to come together with President Obama on an agreement that has averted a predicted downgrade of U.S. bond ratings and other harmful economic effects associated with the inability of the Treasury Department to provide funds for Congressionally-ordered expenses. I think from this point forward we must focus on growing the economy and creating jobs to put our fiscal house in order.
It is unfortunate that such decisions are being made during this difficult time for the American people. Our economic challenges can only be solved by a balanced and fair approach, which is why I voted against extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. We must also look to responsibly downsize our federal budget without putting our most vulnerable citizens at risk, which is why I support our social safety programs and education that will aid our economic recovery.
I am dedicated to preserving the solvency of Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare. Social Security is one of the most successful poverty reduction programs in United States history. Fewer than 12 percent of older Americans today fall below the poverty line, without Social Security that number would be nearly 50 percent. I believe we have an obligation to provide both current and future retirees with public retirement benefits that they have paid into through hard work over their lifetimes.
You may be interested to know that during the debates on health reform legislation, I fought hard to include language in the final package that will help correct the geographic inequities in Medicare reimbursement rates that have long hurt both Medicare enrollees and caregivers in Washington state. The agreement, negotiated with Speaker Pelosi and the White House, will provide $800 million to providers and hospitals that are currently under-reimbursed in Medicare yet perform high-quality care. I also supported H.R. 2, the Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009 (CHIPRA) which seeks to enroll 4.1 million new children in the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and Medicaid, bringing the total number of children covered by the program to over 11 million.I also strongly believe that we must adequately fund our education priorities because our children's education is too important of an investment to underfund. With regard to concerns about student aid, I want you to know that I am a strong supporter of the Pell Grant program and this agreement includes enough new funding to maintain the maximum Pell Grant at its current level, despite increases in student enrollment.
Education is one of my top priorities in Congress and I will continue to do everything I can to improve learning environments for students, teachers and administrators in our schools. Like you, I believe that we must address pressing issues in our education system. The federal government has a responsibility to act as a partner to the states and local school districts in order to provide the funds necessary to meet our children's educational needs. You can be sure that I will fight to make sure our students have the tools they need to succeed in school.
Our short term economic crisis and long-term debt problem should be about bringing people together in an honest and transparent debate about how best to marry our principles with economic reality. I will continue to work across the aisle to accomplish these goals.
Again, thank you for taking the time to contact me about such an important issue. For news on current federal legislative issues, please visit my website at www.house.gov/inslee, where you can also sign up to receive my e-newsletter. My office is here to serve you, so please feel free to contact us in Shoreline at 206-361-0233 or in Washington, D.C. at 202-225-6311 for assistance.
Very truly yours,
Beyond the fact that my Representative seems unaware that we were downgraded, my biggest issue with the letter is calling social security a successful poverty reduction program. Anyone who is willing to spend a few minutes to understand how social security works would know that the only ones who really benefit from it are those who would not have been responsible enough to save for their own retirement at all if not forced into this ponzi scheme of a retirement plan. The average senior citizen would have been substantially better off if they would have invested the money in any reasonable secure investment instead of having the money taken to give to current retirees.
And those of us who are responsible are forced to pay into this system and suffer as a result.