Mayor Steve weighs in on debt debate

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:

Dear Friends,

The U.S. Capital BuildingToday 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.

Steve Benjamin

12 thoughts on “Mayor Steve weighs in on debt debate

  1. Lynn T

    Let’s see — call Wilson, Jim DeMint, and Graham, and urge them to do the right thing, not just what is easiest for them, their campaign funds, and their egos. I may spend my time on something with greater potential to work, like trying to develop cold fusion in my kitchen.

  2. Steven Davis

    I’m still waiting to hear how much business he drummed up while on his taxpayer paid Paris vacation.

  3. Doug Ross

    Gee, Steve Benjamin regurgitating the Obama White House talking points. Shocking.

    Typical liberal scare tactics. Old people will lose their Social Security checks. I thought Social Security was solvent for decades? Where’s all that money? Social Security “checks” are paid via direct deposit with the push of a virtual button.

    A ceiling isn’t a ceiling if you keep raising it.

    I’m hoping for some fiscal sanity for once to prevail. It won’t. Both sides will cave and declare victory.

  4. Karen McLeod

    Doug, if by “caving” you mean compromising, well, that’s how our gov’t is supposed to work. When it doesn’t, no one gets anything that they want.

  5. `Kathryn Fenner

    @ Steven Davis–as an actual city taxpayer–are you?– I applaud his trip and figure that the old sales maxim about how you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find a prince applies. Columbia certainly isn’t going to get any aviation job action if Steve DOESN’T go.

    Besides, Steve can easily afford his own vacation, and would not likely choose to go to the air show. He’s also not making any money at his law practice while he’s in Paris.

  6. Michael

    Here’s a contrast for you: in the past few days, two South Carolina politicians have sent out op-eds over email on the debt limit debate. One a Democrat, one a Republican. Neither a federally-elected official, so they have no official say in this matter. It’s not remarkable that both stuck to their respective party’s talking points. But while Governor Haley sent her debt limit column (written with Rick Perry) out through her political campaign website (as it should be done, complete with the return address), Mayor Benjamin instead decided to use his official city account to send it out as an official city communication, even including the City of Columbia seal. Bad call – this should have been sent from his campaign account.

    Come to think of it, how come I am all of a sudden receiving all these official emails from Steve Benjamin and the City of Columbia? I don’t live in Columbia, and I never signed-up for Steve Benjamin’s campaign emails. The only place they could have gotten my email was from the South Carolina Democratic Party email list or the list of another Democrat’s campaign that I had signed-up for in the past. And now Mayor Benjamin is sending me politically partisan emails from an official government account – and I’m not even one of his constituents. Nice.

  7. Steven Davis

    So… we have to raise the debt ceiling to pay off our bills. Isn’t this the same as printing more money?

    If I understand it right, if I’m in financial trouble, I can just apply for another credit card and use that to pay the other bills… and everything will be fine for another year.

    “If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging”
    Will Rogers

  8. Steven Davis

    @Kathryn – I’d say over the past month, I’ve done as much as Steve Benjamin has to recruit aviation businesses to Columbia. I attended an air show, took a ride on a commercial airline, and I’ve even talked to a few pilot friends of mine. And it didn’t cost the city a dime.

  9. `Kathryn Fenner

    @ Steven Davis–You are not a government. Your personal economy is a microeconomy–yea, perhaps a nanoeconomy. Macroeconomics is a whole different thing.

    and thanks for talking up Columbia–every little bit helps.

    Somehow, I think Steve Benjamin was operating a bit higher up, but since we don’t know much about you, perhaps not.

  10. Steven Davis

    @Kathryn – Since Benjamin went on the taxpayer’s dime. Do you expect a report will be generated detailing who he met with and what was discussed? I’d think a public official taking a vacation at the taxpayer’s expense would warrant, at minimum, an agenda and something more than a verbal report. I’m curious how much time he spent looking at Boeing and Airbus aircraft and how much time he spent looking at military fighter jets and oohing and ahhing at the demonstration teams.

  11. Steven Davis

    How is what I described different than what Obama is wanting to do? We’re both paying off expenses by taking out additional loans.

    Robbing Peter to pay Paul, I believe is how it’s put.

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