In April 2011, there was a great deal of speculation that Congress would fail to provide funding for the federal government's operations, resulting in a government shutdown. In 1995, a government shutdown cost the American taxpayers $1.5 billion, and resulted in cancellations and delays in the delivery of important services for seniors, veterans, and unemployed workers. I am glad that Congress worked together as adults and prevented a government shutdown.
I am a moderate and believe both sides, Republicans and Democrats, have good ideas. As a moderate member of the House of Representatives, I am pleased that the two parties were finally able to come together to find a bipartisan compromise to keep the government open, to ensure that our seniors have access to critical programs, and to guarantee that our men and women in uniform were paid on time.
While shutting down the government is not the answer to our fiscal problems, Congress cannot continue to allow the out-of-control federal spending that is sending our nation into deep, endless debt.
As Congress continues to debate how to best bring our debt under control, I refuse to support plans like the new Republican proposal which break the social promise of Medicare we have with our seniors.
Currently, the proposed Republican budget makes radical and harmful cuts to Medicare and Medicaid to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy and for corporations that ship jobs overseas. It would end Medicare as we know it, turning it into a voucher system and sending seniors to find coverage on the private market. I do not believe we should end the guaranteed benefits of Medicare that seniors have earned through a lifetime of hard work. I fought a similar Republican proposal to privatize Social Security in 2005, and I pledge to all of my constituents to fight against this new attack on our seniors as well. I voted against this budget on April 15, 2011.
I have supported legislation to cut the debt, including voting against every pay raise for members of Congress, supporting offsetting federal spending through statutory PAY-GO, and eliminating improper payments. I also voted against the Wall Street Bailout. We have to do what we can now with policies like the ones I just mentioned, but the real answer to slashing the national debt is fixing the economy and putting our people back to work.
As a moderate, I will continue to work to find common ground between the two parties and to come to a solution for a budget that benefits Kentuckians and helps bring our deficit back under control, while also protecting the long-term health of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.