Civics · Social Justice

Letter to Representative Johnson

Dear Representative Johnson,

I am contacting you to express my serious concerns regarding the current budget talks.  I think it is critical that any debt reductions be done carefully to assure that a circle of protection be placed over programs serving those most hurt by the economic downturn and by past and present oppressions.  There are many reasonable ways in which this can be accomplished and it is good to have strong public discourse between conservatives, progressives, and those in the middle.  Indeed, it was in recognition of your past efforts to meet regularly with diverse groups of politicians behind the scenes to build consensus that my wife and I chose to not only vote for you but with yard placards and through our own public discourse support your candidacies for the House.  More recently it seems you have become part of a core of Republicans that are taking a hard line, uncompromising stance.  We find this unacceptable.  No side has a full grasp of the truth; discourse and true compromise must be at the core of the political process.

The value of debt is well recognized within business circles; businesses maintain a credit line to assure they can effectively run their businesses.  This principle should and has always applied to government as well.  That being said, debt should be taken on strategically.  It is quite appropriate to debate what constitutes strategic debt by government.  Likewise, debating when debt reduction should become a priority and the extent to which debt reduction should occur through decreased expenditures or increased revenue is also healthy.  I now believe it is this healthy and much needed debate which is being intentionally blocked by a core of Republicans within the house.  I recognize both sides of the aisle regularly participate in a variety of political maneuverings and that this is part of the system that for centuries has worked so well.  But the current divisiveness is something more and that threatens to harm everyone in our country, but especially those most economically disadvantaged, and those most in need of support to live healthy lives and receive critical educational services so that they can participate in the many opportunities that our country is known and admired for. This divisiveness for pure political gain is unacceptable.

If debt reduction can occur without revenue increases while keeping a circle of protection for services for the economically distressed citizens, job programs for the unemployed, educational and health services for the low and middle classes, social security and Medicare services for the seniors, and critical news and informational services such as the corporation for public broadcasting for all, then my wife and I are certainly onboard.  I appreciate and defend also the ARRA programs that are now coming to fruition as we see projects improving our roads, technology and other infrastructures even as these programs foster many other positive job creating results.  This is not to say that certain of the existing social programs don’t need to be eliminated or reformed because they are no longer effective.  At the same time, it also recognizes that even now, during this economic struggle, new programs need to be formed to strategically support our citizenry so that all can better participate in our civic, social, and economic communities.  Government should certainly not replace that which individuals and communities should themselves be doing.  But government must put in place programs that provide the scaffolding so that individuals and communities have an opportunity to participate.

Ultimately, I do not see a way that a circle of protection can be placed upon these services without a revenue increase.  Indeed, Bruce Bartlett wrote in a July 26th New York Times Business Day blog that past recessions have experienced more robust growth precisely because of tax increases.  Bartlett goes on to argue that the slow growth of our economy following this most recent recession reasonably could be seen as a result of the Bush tax cuts and our exceptionally low revenue as percent of G.D.P.

Compromise is needed if we are to continue to see the United States represent a land of opportunity for all.   My wife and I welcome a healthy debate regarding an appropriate size for debt, the best ways to manage the spiraling imbalance between expenditures and revenues, and the most effective ways to assure that support is provided to the least among us so that everyone can fully have opportunities to achieve their individual and community goals.


Martin and Angie Wolske

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