I listened to about thirty minutes of a town hall call that Congressman Reid Ribble held last evening. Caller after caller implored him to vote for the agreement. Many were emotional about how the shutdown impacted them. So, I wasn't surprised when Ribble voted yes. I disagree with the vote and it's not going to play well with the conservative base in the 8th. Ribble was the only Wisconsin Republican voting for it. Here's Ribble's explanation:
Tonight I voted for the bipartisan plan to reopen the government and avoid default. My vote was taken after hours of careful consideration and listening to the concerns and input of thousands of citizens in the district. While there were parts of the bill I opposed, I have chosen to give the Congress a 90 day opportunity to actually work within a framework to budget and appropriate funds in regular order and end the nonsense of continuing resolutions.
In my short time in Washington no process has been more contentious than the one we all have just gone through. The division in our country is great. People are divided on the implementation of the President’s healthcare law. We continue to have slow economic growth and spending still outstrips revenue.
The debate over the last few weeks was the result of a non-functioning budget and appropriations process. The bill tonight is intended to fix that. It calls for a conference on the budget and provides for a normal appropriations process. This is something I wholeheartedly support. In my three years in Congress this will be the first time this has happened.
However, the bill tonight also extends the debt limit. I have made my case regarding the national debt. I feel it is stifling economic progress and punishes the future. I have also made my case about the need to responsibly pay our bills and that defaulting on our bills could be devastating to an already fragile economy.
Our debt is a symptom of a much larger problem, however. Spending and revenue are not in alignment. The President, along with Senate and House Democrats has blocked every effort during this year to responsibly pay our bills and solve the underlying problems that bring us to this place. I am willing to give both sides this short extension so they have an opportunity to negotiate a broader financial resolution.
Revenues are at historic highs and yet deficits continue in the hundreds of billions of dollars. Long-term shortfalls, primarily in the parts of the budget that are mandatory—including Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid—continue to explode due to demographics. Yet the President has refused to deal with these realities thus far. If we fail to honestly evaluate the circumstances we will see severe and drastic cuts to these vital services in the years to come. The budget conference must address these topics in the coming 90 days in order to warrant a long-term extension of our debt ceiling.
For these reasons, as well as others, I have offered up my own plan to secure and preserve Social Security. I have taken steps to offer specific reforms, not through cuts, but by making modest changes to provide solvency for the next 75 years. That’s why I have been, for weeks, leading a bipartisan representation of the Congress to craft a long term debt reduction plan that addresses other areas of spending. Our talks have been frank, honest and productive. I will no longer wait for committee chairmen or leadership in either party to say when America is ready for a financially responsible government. I believe America is ready now and I will work with any willing member of Congress to fix the debt.
In 2011 President Obama and Congressional Democrats negotiated in good faith with Republicans and put in place reforms to begin the process of financial balance. We asked them again to do the same, to look to the future, to protect our seniors and protect our children. When they said no negotiations, they said no to tomorrow. The President claims he will negotiate again, separate from a debt limit agreement. Now it’s his turn to prove his sincerity. If he fails, this will be my last vote under this President to extend the debt limit.