Guest column: Finding a solution to the sequester

By Congressman Scott Peters

I’ve been in Congress for two months now and something that still surprises me is how out of touch and political Washington is. I ran for office because I believed I could make a difference, and I still do. I am as tired as you are of partisan posturing, and a perfect example is the sequester.

Congressman Scott Peters

The sequester was crafted in 2011 to force legislators from both sides of the aisle to come to an agreement on a bipartisan budget. It was intentionally nonsensical, so that Congress would do everything in its power to avoid it. But Congress proved once again how broken it truly is.

Two weeks before the sequester took effect, House leadership called a recess and sent us home. As a former port commissioner and San Diego City Council president, that was foreign to me. I could not believe, with the amount of work still to be done, that we were sent home. Even more frustrating was that we were sent home without being allowed to vote on a single alternative to the sequester, because leadership didn’t agree with the legislation. This is not the democratic process that the United States is regarded for.

The belief that the indiscriminate cuts from the sequester are minimal and won’t affect everyday people is unique to Washington. This is why I spent my time at home sending a message back to Congress. I enlisted the help of our port commissioners, scientific research community and maritime workers to tell Congress that San Diego will feel the negative effects of the sequester through layoffs, furloughs, stifled research and decreased GDP.

Two weeks ago, I spent every day on the House floor bringing attention to the sequester and urging Congress to work together. On Thursday, our last legislative day to avoid the sequester, I asked leadership to stay in session to find a solution.

Leadership decided to adjourn the House but my appeals did not fall completely on deaf ears. Since returning to Washington, I have heard from both Democrats and Republicans who want to find a responsible alternative to the sequester, and who believe these solutions can be accomplished in our upcoming budget negotiations.

On March 27, the stopgap bill that Congress passed last year in lieu of a budget, called the “continuing resolution,” will expire. My colleagues on both sides of the aisle see an opportunity for us to stop the politics enough to address our serious fiscal problems — including the sequester — with a responsible budget that raises revenues by closing tax loopholes and reins in our spending.

I’m determined to do my part to get Congress working again. Since day one I’ve looked for partners on both sides of the aisle who have a similar mindset and determination to put aside political agendas and problem solve. I’ve found a group of lawmakers in my freshman class, known as the United Solutions Caucus, which I am proud to be a part of and look forward to working with. I have also joined a group of lawmakers who are not only freshmen or members of the House. In February I joined No Labels, a bipartisan group of lawmakers from both the House and the Senate who have been in office for a variety of years but who haven’t forgotten that they were sent to Congress to serve and get things done.

This is just the beginning of a trying journey, but if we remember our purpose, this journey will also be rewarding. I thank you for the opportunity that you have given me to represent you in Congress, and I am working hard every day to make you proud.

Peters, D, San Diego, represents  inland and coastal portions of North County.

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Posted by Staff on Mar 14 2013. Filed under Editorial, Opinion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

5 Comments for “Guest column: Finding a solution to the sequester”

  1. Amy Roost

    It's too soon to tell if the sky will actually fall due to the sequester cuts. However, I've come around to the position that if the sky doesn't fall maybe the sequester will teach a lesson to both parties–that actually agreeing, no matter how nonsensical the agreement, can be of some benefit to the country!

    • Tom Yarnall

      Right on Amy. What a great speech writer/advisor you could be for Obama. He is coming around to your position, but could have saved a lot of time if, six months ago, he followed you reasoning. Of course, his scare tactics did bring in votes.

    • Joe St. Lucas

      YES! Perhaps they can do something like on Cyprus and attempt to take 10% of people's savings accounts to pay down the national debt, causing a run on the banks.

      There are no repercussions to the government no matter what the long term effects of the sequestration wind up being. The Congress and Senate will still get their full pay and pensions and the people will forget who voted for the sequestration. Actually you'd actually have to know who voted for it to be able to "forget" it, and probably 99% of the citizens don't have any idea on how their representatives voted, google is not their friend.

  2. Terry Daniels

    The sky is not going to fall with the sequester. It's a very little chicken little deal. The sky never falls. It didn't fall with the Cold War, The Oil Crisis of 1973 ( oh we wish we had those gas prices now!), Y2K, Swine Flu, HIV, the Ozone layer, solar flairs, cholesterol in eggs, alien cattle mutilations, or any other gloom and doom hysterics that cause us weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. We haven't even come close even with housing market crash of 2008 and that little asteroid that hit Russia recently – both real, but nobody really knew those were coming so we didn't have to suffer through the hysterical doomsday anticipation of them.

    If the sky does fall we're not likely to know where from or when it's coming – like the Big One on the San Andreas Fault. So far, we've survived everything, even the big disasters we can't control. I trust we can survive the man-made financial disasters created by and then 'fixed' by politicians at the last minute. Politics today is like boxing, the opponents try to beat each other to a pulp the whole fight right up until the end of the last round, then when times up they then throw their arms around each other and kiss and hug each other and point to what a great crisis they all saved us from. Indeed, there is that great lesson to be learned, Amy, but it looks like we've got to put up with a few more fights coming up before that sinks in. Nobody's going to let the game bring the sky down.

    • Amy Roost

      I might argue that the battle over credit limit that led Standard & Poors to lower the U.S. government's credit rating was a pretty low ceiling–as they say in Seattle.

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