July 26, 2011

Enough Already: A Letter to My Legislators

I'm going to start off this post with a BIG disclaimer. Hi! I'm a left-leaning liberal and registered Democrat (shocker). I try not to write about politics too much but I can't help it. I'm a political person. If politics make you uncomfortable, stick around anyway because maybe you'll learn something neat.

Cool? Cool. Here we go.

I listen to NPR every morning. Is it liberal media? Totally. But since we don't have cable or network TV at home, it's also my daily dose of broadcast news. For the last umpteen weeks, I have heard nothing but "debt ceiling crisis." Every. Single. Morning. I hear about pointless meetings in Washington as legislators spin their wheels. I have heard Republicans referred to as children and I'm a little weirded out by Obama coming across like a frustrated Mr. Brady on national television.

Blah blah blah debt ceiling blah blah blah Republicans refusing to budge blah blah blah Democrats want revenue generation blah blah blah John Boehner blah blah blah President Obama...

My radio is a depressing drone of economic bullshit and I've had enough already.

Last night, President Obama had this to say in the middle of his debt ceiling speech:
The American people may have voted for divided government, but they didn't vote for a dysfunctional government. So I'm asking you all to make your voice heard. If you want a balanced approach to reducing the deficit, let your Member of Congress know. If you believe we can solve this problem through compromise, send that message.

So here you go, Mr. President. Here's the email I'm sending to Rep. John Tierney (D-MA), and Senators Scott Brown (R-MA) and John Kerry (D-MA).


To the Honorable Rep. Tierney, Sen. Brown, and Sen. Kerry,

I've written letters to your offices before; I'm no stranger to taking advantage of my rights as a voting citizen in this country. My votes - or choice not to vote - puts or keeps you in office. At our President's urging last night, I'm reaching out to you again.

This debt crisis must come to a resolution. I'm so tired of hearing about what amounts to weeks of stubborn bickering - by both parties - on Capitol Hill. I didn't cast my vote to watch Washington spin its wheels; I expect that my legislators get their work done already.

I can very personally relate to the nation's debt crisis. While my own debts don't even come close to our nation's trillion-dollar debt, I owed just over $10,000 in credit card debt a year out of college. Like many college kids my age, I signed up for credit cards without realizing the responsibility of what using credit meant. A year after graduation making barely more than minimum wage, the bills and collection notices started piling up and I knew it was time to take charge of my finances before I ruined my credit history further.

When I called my credit card companies to increase my limits, they all but laughed in my face while happily throwing on more late fees and finance charges, pushing me over my credit limits for each card. I enrolled in a debt management plan. In two years, I paid off my debt in full. Paying off my debt was only possible through meticulous budgeting and a lot of self-restraint. 

My husband and I spent only the cash we had. Sometimes when the paycheck money ran out for the week, we ate macaroni and ramen noodles. We didn't go out to the movies. We didn't buy a new car. in fact, we delayed getting minor maintenance performed on our cars if it meant saving some money in the short term.

We cut. We capped. We balanced.

To that end, I can understand from where the Republican party is coming. But there's another piece to my debt recovery story that I think the Republican party, particularly those in the Tea Party, fail to see when looking at our nation's debt crisis.

We generated revenue, too. Even though I was working full time and my husband was a full-time graduate student with a measly stipend, I took on extra part-time work. He took on whatever paid freelance work he could get despite a grueling graduate school schedule. We sacrificed our time and took on the burden of bringing in a few extra dollars each week so that I could still make my payments on time.

The Democrats have a valid point. Raising the debt ceiling, cutting, capping and balancing aren't the only things we need to do: we need to find a way to generate revenue; from what I understand, this would be in the form of tax increases. Like how I took on extra work and sacrificed my time, it's asking Americans to make sacrifices too. I am genuinely concerned by the Tea Party's resistance to take on that extra work - the work we expect them to do when they were voted into office - and make that sacrifice with the rest of our nation. Yet, the Tea Party is willing to sacrifice the future financial stability of this nation if we default on our debt in the name of this ridiculous "No Tax Hike" pledge.

I understand that our nation's debt crisis is perhaps a bit more complicated than the $10,000 I owed to Visa, but when I see virtually the same exact scenario playing out in Washington with just a lot more dollars, I'm simply baffled that my government - the people I elected - can't figure out what they need to make this work.

The squabbling must end. A compromise must be reached. Both parties need to stop shouting at each other and actually listen to what the other side has to say and find a way to meet in the middle.

I most certainly did not elect my legislators to plunge my country into further financial instability with widespread global implications. And I certainly didn't elect them to hem and haw about our nation's future economy as the clock ticks down to the wire. I expect action. I expect something to be done and for you as my elected officials to do something about it already.

I say this with the utmost respect but as the same time with extreme frustration as a voting American:

Get it done already, gentlemen. Make it happen. We are running out of time.

Keiko Zoll


TeamBabyCEO said...

I couldn't agree with you more. I love that you were brazen enough to post this and share your opinion! I think I'll do the same with my reps. It is ridiculous, and the impact that this can have on the already fragile world economy seems to be lost on some of these representatives of the people, for the people, by the people.

Amy said...

I think there is a point though that tax increases on companies is just going to be past along to consumers. Government spending is OUT OF CONTROL. What happened to Obama's pledge to go through the budget line by line to find cuts? The government's form of generating new revenue isn't for them to go out and work harder...it's for them to bill us more.
I agree there has to be compromise. But I'm just disgusted in how wasteful and irresponsible the gov't has been with our money.

NancyPants said...

Keiko, I feel the exact same way. I held down 2 jobs from the time I was 16 until I was 32 and finally at a place in my life where I was financially comfortable. I have no qualms with cutbacks and paying more in taxes. I do want to see this happen fairly - those that make more need to step up and pay more as well. I find it appalling that a member of congress is guaranteed a pension for serving just one term. Even when they go to jail, they still have their pensions. That is pathetic.

Rebecca said...

I have to agree with you. I'm tired of hearing about what they want to do on both sides. Maybe we should stop their pay until they get to the table and sign an agreement?

Linda said...

Well said Keiko, I do believe that none of them should be re-elected if they can't figure this out. I believe all their pensions and benefits should be cut as well. I have retired on what I saved over my working years in the medical field where I did not have a pension or a matching 401k plan. No what I saved and what I contributed to social security is what I live on, as I know millions of other do.

Sushigirl said...

I was just watching the news over here and wondering whether the Tea Party are certifiably bonkers - they seem to think they're still living in the 19th century. Anyway, I hope your letter has the desired effect, for all our sakes.

Natalie said...

Very well said! My letters were more of the "Do your effing jobs or I'll vote you out!" variety. :)