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Leaving Washington


Friday, September 21, 2012

Republicans and Democrats in Congress need to govern, not take a two-month break.

For two years, we have been hearing about how the partisanship and gridlock in Washington is making it impossible to get anything done. Republicans attack Democrats and Democrats attack Republicans. All the while, it’s the American people who pay the price. Well, that price, the price of inaction, is about to cost us a whole lot unless the politicians in Washington get their act together.

In Washington, they call it “sequestration” but in the real world it means cutting $11 billion from Medicare, cutting the number of food inspectors or air-traffic controllers on the job. It means reducing the readiness of our non-deployed military units, delaying investments in new equipment and facilities for our armed forces and downsizing base services for military families.

That means the Central Coast families who live and work at Vandenberg Air Force Base or Point Mugu Naval Air Station are caught in the middle, unsure if they’ll be able to keep their jobs and their homes.

Last year, Washington reached its credit card limit and instead of making tough decisions they did what they always do: kicked the can down the road and blamed one another on TV, leaving the rest of us to deal with the fallout.

You would think that in the face of this potentially devastating course of action, Republicans and Democrats would get their act together and start getting things done. Instead, they are planning to leave Washington at the end of the week and won’t go back to work until after the November election.

Imagine what would happen if you went to your boss tomorrow and said you were taking two months off while the work just piles up on your desk? That’s what the politicians in Washington are about to do.

In the real world, that two-month break will mean two more months of uncertainty for people who live and work at Vandenberg AFB or Point Mugu. For farmers in the Central Coast, that’s two more months of waiting for a Farm Bill to be passed. For every American taxpayer, that’s two more months of uncertainty as we wait to see if our taxes go up in January. For seniors, that’s two months of worrying if the system they paid into all their life will still be there tomorrow.

The American people don’t expect much, but they do expect their elected representatives to do their jobs. Until the people’s work is complete, the so-called “people’s house” should stay in Washington and do what they were all sent there to do: Govern.

The architects of our country believed in honest disagreements and compromise that brought out the best in both sides and ultimately the best policies for our nation. Public servants in Washington were supposed to be statesmen, driven by a common commitment to steer the future course of our country towards a path of prosperity.

No matter where you fall on the ideological spectrum, when Washington doesn’t work, we all pay the price. Whether you’re a grandparent or a college graduate, a small business owner or a teacher, when Washington doesn’t work, everyone pays the price.

We all acknowledge that there are very real and tough challenges confronting our country right now. There are no easy answers. There is no silver-bullet. But the first step on the path of progress is putting aside the cloak of partisanship to embrace a spirit that places more value on solutions and less value on blame.

The reason why things are getting worse in America is because the Republicans and Democrats in Washington lack the will to look beyond the political calculations and keep taking the easy and expedient way out. That has to change. This is a moment for Republicans and Democrats in Washington to turn the page on the mistakes of the past and in one, unified voice actually do the unthinkable and put people before politics. I have always believed that decisions are made by those who show up. For our elected representatives in Washington, they can make the choice to show-up every day to do the people’s work or they can keep doing what they have been doing, go home and point blame.

Of course, they are making a pretty big assumption - after all, if they chose to leave Washington right now, is there really any rationale to send them back?

Abel Maldonado is running for Congress in the 24th Congressional District of California

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