By Ami Bera
Over the past few years, the recession has hit Elk Grove hard.
Housing prices have dropped dramatically, storefronts and offices are vacant, and people are out of work. We're still recovering from the worst economic disaster in generations, and we should be moving forward. Instead, a dysfunctional Congress threatens to take us further back. Rather than working together, getting our budget under control, and investing in our future, career politicians are wasting their time and our money playing political games.
Congress hasn't passed a budget in more than 1,300 days, and they've missed deadline after deadline on other bills necessary for a functional economy. Politicians' unwillingness to compromise has threatened to shutdown the government and leave members of the military serving their country overseas without a paycheck. That is a travesty.
Political dysfunction even squandered our nation's AAA credit rating. And more calamities are on the way if Congress doesn't prevent the fiscal cliff and the brutal tax hikes and devastating spending cuts to Medicare, job training, and defense that go along with it.
If Congress can't work together and come up with a sensible compromise, we won't just have another credit downgrade; we'll have another recession.
Members of Congress aren't doing their jobs. Most Americans work hard and play by the rules. We pay the bills, we make tough choices, and we hold up our end of the deal. It may be hard sometimes, but it's what we always do. It's time for Congress to play by the same rules as everyone else. We need leaders who will put the people first to break through the gridlock and move forward.
That's why if I'm elected to Congress I will sponsor the bipartisan "No Budget, No Pay" bill. This commonsense reform has been sponsored by 91 Republicans and Democrats and would ensure that if members of Congress don't do their jobs and pass a responsible budget, they don't get paid.
Business owners withhold payments if their suppliers don't deliver. Parents show their kids tough love by withholding their allowance if they don't do their chores. And employers don't pay their staff when they don't do their jobs.
Congress is the only job in the world where people get paid for not doing their jobs.
Unfortunately, Congressman Dan Lungren, a 30-plus year career politician, is stalling "No Budget, No Pay" in his committee and refuses to even give it a hearing.
Instead of doing what's best for Sacramento County, he's blocked any legislation that would move us forward, and focused on a radical agenda, voting to privatize Medicare, de-fund Planned Parenthood, and raise taxes on the middle class while giving breaks to millionaires and billionaires.
Lungren hasn't worked for a bipartisan solution on jobs or education, but he's voted to raise his pay six times while accumulating two taxpayer-funded pensions. He clearly has the wrong priorities.
We need new leaders who will put the people first. We have hard choices to make as a nation, but that is at the core of leadership.
It's time to roll up our sleeves and get to work finding the best solutions from both parties to move our country forward. And that's what I plan to do.
Congress must be a place for service. Our representatives work for us, the American people, and if they can't do their jobs, they don't deserve their pay.
This isn't about Republicans and Democrats. It's about common sense. That's why I'll fight for "No Budget, No Pay" in Congress.
Ami Bera is the Democratic candidate for California's 7th Congressional District.