Thursday, July 21, 2011

Politics have forever been an enigma in my mind. That was until I came face to face with severe mental illness within my family. There is simply no way around government when it comes to the services and programs offered for those with mental illness. "Medicaid currently pays for about half of all public mental health services in the U.S. but Congress is threatening to slash funding by billions." That statement alone drove me to contact US senators and Representatives to vent my frustrations. Budget cuts continue to caused so many programs to suffer. In a world where talk is cheap, I couldn't sit back and get angry. I did something. Below is a letter I received from NY Congressman Chris Gibson. Make your voice heard!

July 20, 2011

Dear Mrs. Osterhout,

Thank you for contacting me regarding the debt limit and its impact on entitlement spending. It is good to hear from you.

The President has asked Congress to increase the statutory debt limit from $14.294 trillion to $16.7 trillion. Simply put, this will give the federal government the authority to borrow more. It is important to note that an increase in the debt ceiling is not an increase in new spending. We have already spent this money, and now it is our responsibility to pay for the debt we have accrued. Just as individuals make mortgage payments to pay off the debt on their homes, the government must make payments to pay off its debt. I believe all Americans have an obligation to contribute funds to cover the federal government's expenses, which is why I voted for a budget proposal that would close tax loopholes and ensure individuals and corporations alike are paying their fair share.

One of the reasons I came to Washington was to combat wasteful spending and the idea that taxpayers' pockets can be treated as endless coffers. That being said, failure to eventually raise the debt ceiling will result in the default of the federal government due to the inability of the Department of Treasury to service our debt payments. In addition, defaulting would likely lead to an increase in interest on our debt, which would, in turn, further increase our massive debt and deficit. Despite my extreme disappointment with the state of our nation's fiscal status, I recognize the need to eventually increase the debt ceiling. However, I am unwilling to vote for such an increase unless it is coupled with significant spending reductions and structural reforms that prove to the American people that Congress is ready to be a responsible caretaker of their tax dollars.

While I am eager to find ways to reduce federal spending, I do not believe Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid cuts to current beneficiaries should be a part of negotiations regarding the debt ceiling increase. I am, and always have been, a strong proponent of these programs. My family, friends and neighbors are recipients, and I understand fully how many folks rely on these benefits to subsist. Those currently receiving benefits have paid into these programs their whole lives with the promise of future benefits. If the government fails to provide those benefits in full, it would be reneging on its promise.

Thus, I was please to support H.R. 2560, the Cut, Cap, and Balance Act, which raised the nation's debt limit when combined with $111 billion in immediate spending cuts, mandatory caps on spending over the next decade tied to gross domestic product (GDP) levels, and the passage of a balanced budget amendment. Our nation is at a crossroads and so far the President and Congress have failed to come to an agreement on how we can increase our debt limit while ensuring we make responsible choices for our future. It became necessary for the House to act and the Cut, Cap, and Balance Act passed the House by a vote of 234-190 on July 19, 2011. Importantly, it makes absolutely no changes to Medicare, Social Security, or Veterans Benefits, and leave open the option of significant cuts in defense spending in future years to bring our budget into balance.

Moving forward, our nation's entitlement programs are facing a severe funding crisis. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to reform these programs and ensure their long-term solvency. Medicare and Social Security, along with Medicaid, made up almost 50 percent of all mandatory spending in Fiscal Year 2010, and this share is projected to continue to rise until 2037, when the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) expects complete insolvency not only in these three programs, but also in the whole federal government due to their complete takeover of all spending.

Although we face significant challenges, if we make the right choices, our best days are still in front of us. We need pro-growth, fiscally responsible policies that facilitate job creation and balanced budgets while protecting Medicare and Social Security. As your representative, I will continue to fight for these priorities in Congress.

Thank you again for contacting me with your thoughts, it is always good to hear from my constituents. Your input helps me make informed policy decisions. Please do not hesitate to inform me of your concerns in the future through my website or over the phone at (202) 225-5614.

Chris Gibson
Member of Congress