As Ventura County’s representative in Congress, I view everything I do through the lens of how it will create jobs and grow our economy. From our ports, to our large and small businesses, to our naval base, to our agricultural community, I strive to advance federal policy that will support our diverse job creators.
However, it is with great disappointment that I find myself repeatedly bumping up against a dysfunctional Congress constantly giving in to the stubbornness of a small minority hijacking common-sense legislation designed to move our country forward.
Examples are all around us: Congress failed to avert the sequester, and now civilian workers at Naval Base Ventura County are being furloughed. Because of inadequate funding for dredging at Channel Islands Harbor, Hueneme Beach is literally being washed out to sea, threatening nearby homes and businesses.
Congress also failed to pass comprehensive immigration reform, as well as a farm bill that would support our specialty crop growers and farmworkers. What’s more, Congress still refuses to pass or even discuss legislation that would support economic growth and job creation.
This brings us to today. In a nod to the tea party wing of the Republican Party, House Speaker John Boehner is threatening both a government shutdown and a possible default by the federal government if the tea party doesn’t get what it wants.
Has Boehner already forgotten the disastrous effects this would have on our country? In 2011, Republican strategy and politicking on the debt ceiling cost our economy dearly. It resulted in the first U.S. credit downgrade in history, the Dow plummeted 17 percent and consumer confidence dropped to its lowest point since the financial crisis began in 2008.
A default now could mean higher interest rates for mortgages, auto loans, student loans and credit cards, which would put many American families in a stranglehold. Family retirement savings would drop as the stock market plummets.
Some 3.4 million veterans would not receive disability benefits. And in just the first week, 10 million Americans might not receive their Social Security checks on time.
Martin Regalia, chief economist with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said it best: “There is only one option and that is to do whatever is necessary to keep the U.S. government from defaulting.”
Everyone agrees that this kind of brinkmanship is bad policy, bad economics and threatens to throw the country back into recession. This is not the way to govern, and is certainly not the way to lead.
Boehner knows there are Democrats and Republicans who want to work together to pass legislation that will move our country forward.
We don’t agree on everything, but we’re willing to listen, to find common ground and to roll up our sleeves to grow our economy and serve our constituents.
One needs to look no further than the House Veterans Affairs Committee, which I serve on, where Democrats and Republicans work together regularly to find common ground and achieve common goals.
If we work together, we can end the sequester, pass a farm bill, pass comprehensive immigration reform and balance our budget in a way that protects and expands the middle class.
I came to Congress to create jobs, grow our economy and move our country forward. I’m ready to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and urge Speaker Boehner to reach out to both Democrats and Republicans alike and do the same.