Commentary: Another 113 days to deal with debt
October 20, 2013 2:00 AM

Last week, I voted to end the dysfunction in Washington and prevent the U.S. government from going into default. This 113-day extension of the debt ceiling averts a major economic crisis while providing a framework to continue the conversation of spending reform.

Defaulting on the government’s debt would be a reckless action and was simply not an option. The economic cost would have been astounding. A default would cost $1 trillion to the U.S. economy, and the trickle-down impact on hardworking Americans, including my constituents, would have been devastating.

This vote was about doing the right thing for the people of the 9th District and the nation. My constituents’ life savings, retirement accounts, college savings and 401(k)s were all at risk if the government defaulted, and I could not let that happen. Instead, I took action to end that threat while extending the conversation to bring real reform to the U.S. economy.

I share the frustration of many of my constituents, which is why I voted to keep the fight alive. This was not a perfect bill, but we needed to prevent default in order to continue the fight and make real reforms. We can’t do that under default. This bill was necessary to set up a stable battlefield for the tough negotiations that lie ahead. This fight has brought Democrats to the table, and we now have 113 days to make real progress on entitlement and spending reform.

For weeks, House Republicans have given Democrats multiple opportunities to focus on the real challenges before us — a ballooning debt and a weak economy, along with the opening of the Obamacare exchanges, which has been the most disastrous rollout of any government program in history.

This deal is a first step — we got an agreement in place to talk about how we solve these problems. It took Democrats two weeks of a government shutdown and a run-up to the debt ceiling in order to agree to talk about doing their job. Now we can move forward and address these key issues.

We have 113 days to work out some major changes to the way our government and economy is functioning. This extension is temporary.

Now it’s time for Congress and the president to get to work to deal with these very serious problems. This is our opportunity to get the president and Democrats to come to the table and commit to paying down the debt, providing relief for families and growing the economy.

Democrats have until Feb. 7 to work with us to put our country back on the right fiscal track and rebuild our economy.

U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster,
R-Hollidaysburg, represents the 9th Congressional  District, which includes  Indiana County.

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