Since Congress reached an agreement to extend the debt ceiling, U.S. Rep. Jeff Denham (R – Atwater) has been inundated with constituents’ letters and calls.
So Denham’s come back to his district, intent on speaking with the people face-to-face about their concerns.
Denham has met with the Turlock Noon Rotary, the Modesto Lyons Club, and the Stanislaus County Fair Board. He’s held tele-town hall meetings, calling constituents with concerns who were unable to attend meetings. Last week, a Modesto town hall drew nearly 200 attendees, and ran hours over schedule as Denham stayed to answer every question.
“I think people are frustrated, and it’s good to get out and hear their concerns,” Denham said, at an open breakfast with Turlockers at Latif’s Restaurant on Wednesday.
While unemployment remains a chief concern locally, Denham said the vast majority of questions are all about the debt ceiling – and, particularly, why Denham voted in favor of the Budget Control Act which raised that ceiling in exchange for spending cuts.
The Budget Control Act of 2011 caps discretionary spending through 2021 and cuts at least $2.1 trillion from the government budget through that period, in exchange for an initial $400 billion debt ceiling increase which will grow to between $2.1 and $2.4 trillion over time. About $900 billion of cuts have been identified, while a bipartisan committee will be tasked with identifying a further $1.5 trillion in cuts. Should they fail, $1.2 trillion in automatic cuts would occur instead.
Denham explained that, though he voted for the act, he did so begrudgingly.
“It wasn’t bold enough,” Denham said. “It doesn’t solve the problem.”
Denham wanted more from the agreement, especially in terms of government budget cuts. But what was approved served as a good first step, he said.
“While the numbers are smaller than I would like, today we made real progress towards mandating fiscal discipline in Washington and instilling confidence in America’s job creators,” Denham said in an Aug. 1 press release, when the Budget Control Act was passed. “... With this legislation we have the opportunity to hold Washington accountable for the money it spends by voting on a Balanced Budget Amendment and sending it to the states for ratification.”
That Balanced Budget Amendment was the key to Denham’s vote, he said.
As part of the Budget Control Act, the legislature must vote on an amendment which would require the U.S. Government to operate with a balanced budget. The act does not require the House or the Senate to pass the amendment.
Denham will be fully supporting the amendment’s passage, however, as he believes it would prevent the U.S. from continuing to run up hazardous deficits.
“It makes sure our kids and our grandkids will not see this situation again,” Denham said.
To contact Alex Cantatore, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 634-9141 ext. 2005.