All day, I’ve meant to write a post about the debt battle in Washington, and haven’t found the time, and now Steve Benjamin has gotten out ahead of me. This just in:
Today I’d like to take a moment and talk with you about an issue of critical importance.
Right now, whether broadcast on our nightly news, echoing through the halls of Congress, or debated and discussed over kitchen counters and coffee tables across America, our entire country is immersed in a great conversation about budget deficits, debt limits, and our national priorities.
As Mayor, I am no stranger to this conversation. In fact, it was not that long ago that Columbia’s future was so unsure that Moody’s Investor Service assigned the city’s credit rating with a negative outlook questioning our ability to right the ship and stabilize operations.
But we took action and, by working together, we made the tough choices. We streamlined our operations. We saved taxpayers over $1 million by removing unnecessary budget vacancies. We increased oversight, installed new financial safeguards and we rewarded employees for being more efficient.
It wasn’t easy. But through hard work and sacrifice we improved our credit rating in record time and finished this fiscal year with a $3 million budget surplus.
We made the tough choices just as local governments across America have, by putting the public good ahead of political ambition. Now, with the August 2nd default deadline only weeks away, we expect our federal government to do the same.
We need to put our nation’s fiscal house in order so that we can move forward with investments in our infrastructure and communities that lay a foundation for future economic growth and prosperity.
The United States must pay its bills. Failure is not an option.
The consequence of default or delay would mean military salaries, Social Security and Medicare benefits would go unpaid while cost of our national debt would grow as would the cost of carrying that debt.
Everything from your home mortgage to your car loan and credit cards would cost more while your 401(k) and college savings account would be worth less.
Our fragile economic recovery would come to a halt and we would come face to face with the very real prospect of another recession, longer and deeper than the one before.
We cannot afford to simply kick the can down the road. We must believe in what is possible and overcome the challenges before us.
But in the midst of this challenge, I see reasons to be hopeful.
I see President Obama and Vice-President Biden working across the aisle with men like Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to find a bipartisan solution.
I see a movement to close special interest tax loopholes so we all pay our fair share and shoulder this burden together.
I see a commitment to entitlement reform and a framework to make Medicare and Medicaid stronger and more efficient without shifting the cost of care to seniors and those with disabilities.
I see real progress being made and, beyond the shouts of hecklers and cynics, I still believe.
I still believe we can still do big things. I still believe we can make a real difference. I still believe we can overcome the challenges before us because I still believe in America.
The time to act is now. Call your Congressman and Senator today. Tell them it’s time to protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Tell them it’s time to protect our future. Tell them it’s time to stand up against the special interests and for the American people.
Tell them to act now and raise the debt ceiling before time runs out.