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Detroit News: How to move past gridlock in Washington

October 15, 2013
Opinion Editorial

The federal government has now been shut down nearly two weeks and each day we get closer to reaching our debt limit. You're frustrated, and so am I. As your representative I believe one of the chief responsibilities of my job is to advance ideas that make our country stronger, while recognizing there are many different opinions on the issues before us.

Rather than moving from one crisis to the next, we need to instead focus on policies that encourage job creation and create more opportunities for small businesses. This Congress, I've helped pass legislation in the House to improve workforce training and education by empowering people in our local communities, expand American energy production, reduce the tax burden on families and businesses, open more world markets to Michigan goods and stop Washington bureaucrats from crushing job creation.

Unfortunately, the Senate and President Barack Obama have largely ignored these efforts. So today, the discussion is now all about the shutdown and debt limit instead of jobs and the economy and the reality is we need to find a negotiated way forward.

Prior to the shutdown deadline, the House passed legislation to delay Obamacare. President Obama has given over 1,000 Obamacare waivers, missed half the legally imposed implementation deadlines in the health care law and gave big businesses a one year Obamacare delay. I believe it's more than fair for individual taxpayers and small businesses to receive the same delay, but Obama rejected any changes to the health care law.

In the spirit of moving our country forward, the House then passed a bill requesting the Senate come to the table so we can talk and sort out our differences. Senate Democrats and President Obama responded by saying they will still not negotiate. Even though our national debt is reaching $17 trillion, our economy is weak, the rollout of Obamacare is a disaster and is creating skyrocketing health insurance premiums or canceled policies, Obama's position is still no spending cuts, no delay or changes to Obamacare, and no negotiations to work out our differences.

Since President Obama has made it clear that he refuses to negotiate, the House decided to pass individual pieces of legislation to fund critical parts of the government, including veterans funding, medical research, National Guard and reservist pay, and funding for low-income women and children. These individual funding bills have passed with bipartisan support. We just hope Senate Democrats and Obama can join us.

I recognize government shutdowns are not new to Washington. In fact President Jimmy Carter, with a strong Democratic congressional majority in both the House and Senate, had 5 shutdowns over the course of 4 years for a total of 57 days. In 1995, President Bill Clinton and House Speaker Newt Gingrich worked out their differences and found a bipartisan compromise.

Washington should be focused on jobs, not stuck in gridlock, and I join you in being frustrated. We have reached out to try to find solutions to open the government and protect taxpayers, but President Obama and Senate Democrats are demanding the status quo and refusing to negotiate.

Bottom line, this situation needs to be resolved and we need to get back to focusing on policies that will create an economy so more people will have opportunities to care for their family and help their community.

I remain open to ideas, but the people deserve far better than the status quo of trillion dollar deficits, a weak economy, and a health care law that is unfair and harmful to families and our economy.

Congressman Tim Walberg, R-Tipton, represents Michigan's 7th District.

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