An Open Letter to Senator Scott Brown, R-MA

On the night that President Obama addressed the nation and asked the American people to contact their congresspeople about finding a solution to the potential-debt-default and debt-ceiling crisis, Jim decided to exercise his right as a voting American and contact the senator he was most concerned about, Scott Brown R-MA. Once we were able to get to the contact webpage (the volume of traffic generated by the President’s request jammed the website’s servers!), Jim wrote a nice little email saying

  1. Don’t let our country default on its debt.
  2. We want you to support a plan that incorporates both spending reductions where possible, balanced by increased revenue from the richest individual Americans and businesses, including close the tax loopholes exploited by companies such as “Big Oil.”
  3. Don’t just vote the party line on this one, please actually think about what you are doing.
Of all the surprises in the world, today we received a canned response thanking us for contacting Senator Brown, with a bit of rhetoric. I copy and paste it here for your delectation. I will bold some especially noteworthy parts to draw your attention to.

Dear James,

Thank you for contacting me regarding federal spending and the bipartisan compromise that was reached to address our nation’s national debt.  As always, I value the input of my constituents and appreciate hearing from you.

As you may know, federal spending as a percentage of our GDP has exploded in recent years, to levels not seen since World War II.  Currently, the United States borrows nearly 40 cents of every dollar we spend.  Our country is in the middle of a historic fiscal crisis and we have accumulated more than $14.3 trillion in national debt.  Like you, I agree that Washington’s fiscal irresponsibility is simply passing the problem to future generations, mortgaging the future of Massachusetts children and grandchildren.  This reckless spending must stop.

Resolving our country’s debt and excessive spending habits will not be easy and it certainly won’t happen overnight.  It will require compromise from both parties, and a commitment to work together in the months and years ahead to find solutions to ensure that our long-term fiscal challenges do not weaken our country’s ability to grow, create jobs and promote investment.  This cannot happen without bipartisanship.

While the bipartisan compromise that President Obama signed into law [P.L. 112-25] on August 2, 2011 is not perfect, I believe it is an important step in putting our fiscal house in order.  The legislation avoids default, significantly cuts spending, and doesn’t raise taxes, creating a framework to force Congress to responsibly and reasonably tackle our budgetary challenges.  That is why I voted in support of the Budget Control Act of 2011 (S. 365) when it came before the full Senate.  As enacted, the compromise framework immediately reduces spending by $900 billion by imposing enforceable spending caps, while simultaneously raising the debt limit.  Thereafter, the framework provides that every $1 increase in the debt limit be matched by $1 in corresponding spending cuts.  It accomplishes this balance through the creation of a Joint Select Congressional Committee and subsequent spending mechanisms and triggers, all of which result in deficit savings of approximately $1.5 trillion over 10 years.  Likewise, the bipartisan compromise includes protections for beneficiaries of important social programs like Medicaid, Social Security and Veterans.

In the coming months, as the Joint Select Congressional Committee begins to tackle these tough issues, I will continue to push for solutions that correct our current fiscal imbalance and our long-term structural deficit.  This means Congress must consider proposals to overhaul the current budget process, including reducing and capping spending levels, establishing binding debt limits and imposing triggers if those limits are exceeded, and requiring Congress and the White House to establish budget priorities that clearly increase our economic growth and competitiveness.  These reforms are essential if we are truly serious about getting our fiscal house in order.

Like millions of Americans, I have been very disappointed in the political and often heated rhetoric on both sides regarding these issues.  The United States should never have reached the brink of a potential default.  I will be sure to keep your views in mind as Congress continues to find ways to reduce federal spending and reform our budget process.

Again, thank you for sharing your thoughts with me.  Should you have any additional comments or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me or visit my website at www.scottbrown.senate.gov.

Whoever sent out these responses clearly didn’t check to make sure that Brown’s sympathetic murmurings were actually appropriate to the original communication. In this response, Brown skirts the issue of raising revenues and closing tax loopholes, gracefully side-stepping the issue noncommittally by saying things such as for every $1 the debt ceiling is raised, there must be cuts equal to or greater than $1, which to me implies that any sort of revenue-raising is completely out of the question. In our email to his office, we explicitly stated that we wanted a plan that balanced spending decreases with revenue increases, and even a plan that had a 70/30 cuts-to-revenue ratio would be pleasing to us and ease the demands that would have been made on the country’s least wealthy if the plan approved by Congress and signed in to law by the President included only spending cuts and no increases in revenue. The so-called job creators have had three years to use their wealth to create more jobs, and failed. Their time is up.

So incensed was I that I wrote my own response to Senator Brown’s office, which I am posting here as an open letter. Not quite the 95 theses, but heartfelt nonetheless. I’m not going to field comments on political discussion or any partisan tirades. I’m an American and a voter, and I have the right to communicate with my politicians. So do you, all my dear readers. I highly doubt this will ever come to the senator’s attention, but at least I feel better articulating how I feel and getting it out there.

I’m sorry, but I don’t think we DO agree with you: We want a plan for America that balances both spending cuts (especially on overseas wars) and waste-reduction (in the entitlement programs) with increased revenue from the wealthiest American individuals and businesses that have profited from tax breaks and loopholes, preferably in a 50/50, 60/40, or even 70/30 reductions-to-revenue ratio. While realizing that we must decrease spending in some areas of the fiscal house, we also realize that raising taxes on those who have historically not been paying their fair share is a smart way to raise flagging revenue. If a household cannot cut all the expenses necessary to live within its means, members of that household must find a way to bring in more money, often by finding a second job or other source of income. The United States of America must do the same.

You are not keeping our views in mind. Thank you for realizing that defaulting on our nation’s debt was never an option, but as further discussions go forward please actually consider the words of your constituents instead of adhering to the agenda set forward by your party’s most extreme and angry members. We did not vote for you in the special election that sent you to Washington, and from what we are seeing this summer, we won’t be voting any differently if you decide to seek reelection.

All the best,
The Trousdales
Quincy, MA
a bipartisan household

This is why it is important to know how your representatives in Congress are voting on the issues that matter most to you: If you don’t like the way they’re representing you, you don’t just have to sit there and take it. You can vote in a way that they don’t like, either — by not voting them back in to office.

Find your senators at Senate.gov: senate.gov

Find your representatives at House.gov: house.gov

My senators:

My representative in the House:
William Keating, D-MA, Massachusetts 10th Congressional District

——————
Did you know? The White House is on Twitter: @whitehouse

Speaker John Boehner, R-OH, is on Twitter twice: @SpeakerBoehner @johnboehner

Minority leader in the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-CA, is also on Twitter: @NancyPelosi

Senate majority leader Harry Reid, D-NV, is also on Twitter: @SenatorReid

As is the press office for Sen. Mitch McConnell, the minority leader, R-KY: @McConnellPress
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