FRESNO BEE/MERCED SUN-STAR: Stop the 'I' of this hurricane

For too long your government has been unnecessarily shutdown due to Congress’s inability to face simple facts and act like grownups. When we should be working to reopen your government and protect the full faith and credit of this nation, a lot of my colleagues have let “I’s” dominate the dialogue in Washington: inaction, irresponsible choices, and irrational logic.

You expect and deserve better.

For the last few years, we have jumped from one congressionally-created crisis to the next with no end in sight. Our economy and our families cannot afford for this cycle of uncertainty to continue. In my opinion, it’s the primary factor slowing our economic recovery.

Yes, we have our political differences and divided government. If we are ever going to get things done, bipartisan political compromises must be the order of the day.

We have had opportunities to get our fiscal house in order, but many of my friends in Congress have refused to make the hard choices necessary to do so. When it comes to solving all of our challenges, we must deal with the facts.  And when considering our fiscal challenges, the fact is that the main driver of the debt is entitlement spending.  It must be dealt with in a fiscally responsible way to keep the promise of this country for future generations, while still preserving the promises made to previous generations.

Last March, we had the opportunity to vote on a balanced, bipartisan plan that would have restored long-term fiscal sanity to our federal budget. Only 37 of my colleagues in the House joined me in supporting this plan.

This vote would have put in place the Simpson-Bowles Plan that was the result of almost 9 months of bipartisan talks about stabilizing our debt. Specifically, it would have cut the deficit by $4 trillion over 10 years and reformed the tax code to make it simpler and fairer for all Americans while also ensuring the solvency of Medicare and Social Security.

I did not like every portion of this proposal, but it was a good faith compromise that directly addressed our long-term spending challenges. We had the opportunity to put our nation on the road to fiscal health, but yet again politics got in the way of common sense.

So now we are once again watching uncertainty swirl around the Capitol and spread through our capital markets while our government remains closed and we approach the day when the government can no longer pay its obligations. This is simply unacceptable.

Let me be clear, there is no question that failing to raise the debt ceiling would send our economy in a tailspin and cause our markets to come crashing down culminating in a recession or a possible world-wide depression.

Anyone who says we should negotiate or gamble with the full faith and credit of our government is disconnected from reality.

It is long past time for us to come together and break this cycle of uncertainty. Our economy is recovering, the housing market is coming back, and we are finally seeing jobs begin to return.

We cannot afford to continue this game of high-stakes poker. These games hurt every American family in some way.

We need to stop talking over each other and start talking to each other. There is common ground. But my Republican friends need to stop their tireless drumbeat to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which I agree could and should be improved. My Democratic friends also need to make clear that we are willing to negotiate these difficult issues.

The path forward is not a Democratic or Republican solution; it is an American solution. I stand ready to take another tough vote that puts us on the road to fiscal stability. It is my hope that my colleagues are prepared to put their constituents first and do the same.

This shutdown was senseless and avoidable. The idea of breaching the debt limit is pure insanity. It’s time for a moment of clarity that puts this nation first. It’s time to vote.