Cindy Antonucci-Ameen: Righting a Congressional wrong
July 27, 2011
Steamboat Springs — After listening to President Obama and Speaker of the House John Boehner talk about the impasse Congress is at regarding raising the debt ceiling, it took several hours to log onto Rep. Scott Tipton's website to express my views. Apparently many in our fair state heeded the president's call to let our elected officials know how we feel about this stalemate in Washington. Hurray Colorado! Way to stand up and be heard.
And while I was waiting to vent to Rep. Tipton, I decided to dialogue with Steamboat Pilot & Today readers. There are reasonable, fair-minded, hard-working, voting Americans here, and I want to ask you, voters of Routt County, do you think this impasse has more to do with maintaining the debt ceiling or making sure that Obama, and in turn the rest of America, fails?
What is wrong with solving this with a balanced approach that cuts spending and tries to generate more revenue? Do you really think closing the tax loopholes for corporate jets will eliminate jobs? When will this argument go away that raising taxes on billionaires will eliminate jobs? Those jobs are gone. They're not coming back. We've let Halliburton, Ingersoll-Rand and some of the largest corporations receiving American government contracts move out of the country and in effect pay zero taxes. Halliburton, which is drilling here in Colorado and which the federal government says is responsible for some $2.7 billion in overcharging and waste in Iraq, is not paying U.S. taxes. American manufacturing has moved to countries that don't require health care or minimum wage benefits. We won't see those jobs again. The only chance we have to create jobs in our country is to utilize and fund our national brain trust, incentivize new economies like renewable energy and technology. And this requires investment capital.
The president has asked for a balanced approach to raising the debt ceiling. Boehner says the president wants a blank check. Therein lies the disconnect. I believe that asking the hardest hit Americans, the middle class, to pay more in the form of higher interest rates and declining Social Security benefits without asking the wealthiest Americans to help out is criminal. We did not hear the speaker say one thing Monday night about cutting tax loopholes for the wealthiest Americans. He repeatedly mentioned cutting our "entitlement programs" — those programs we decided long ago were best for the majority of Americans living past their working years.
Here's what I know: If circumstances changed and my husband and I were in dire straights, I'm certain we would look at every avenue to rectify our situation. We wouldn't just decide to sell the car, sell the house and cut off funding for our kids' education without also looking at how we could generate income. I know my mother and mother-in-law, like many Americans, live on Social Security. I know they both depend on Medicare to cover some of their medical costs. I know my daughters and sons-in-law, all part of "big government," are teachers and firemen living on tight budgets. I know my husband and I pay our 35 percent in taxes to live here and support our country. And I know that these freshmen Tea Partiers in Congress are on track to punish the most vulnerable — the middle class and America's financial systems — with their ignorance of how things work in Congress.
Listen again to what the president said Monday. President Ronald Reagan raised the debt ceiling 17 times in his tenure. President George W. Bush raised it seven times. Congress supported them each time. Our president is asking for this at a time of great need in our country's financial future, for reasons that cannot be laid entirely at his feet. The interests of a few who refuse to compromise, who are beholding to their corporate benefactors or are just simply tools, should not hijack the interests of the many, the middle class Americans who pay our share, who worked for our retirement, who do not hide behind tax shelters but willingly pay our fair share. We can cut our spending when it is expedient to cut our defense budget and draw down troops around the world, hopefully soon. We can generate revenue when more Americans are back at work, paying taxes. With time, our economy will revive.
Don't let Congress undercut the president and the country at this moment. Write or call Rep. Tipton today. Stand up, Routt County, and let your voice be heard. We may not have well-paid lobbyists fighting for our interests in Washington, but we can certainly clog those Congressional websites and phone lines with our righteous indignation.
Cindy Antonucci-Ameen is a Steamboat Springs resident.