PARMA. Ohio - The grand opening for the new Parma branch of the Cuyahoga County Public Library was a huge hit Saturday. The library was buzzing with people, including Ohio representatives Marcy Kaptur (D-9) and Jim Renacci (R-16).
Renacci and Kaptur are back from Washington D.C. after the 16-day-long stand-off that began in the beginning of the month, better known as the partial Government Shutdown.
“Well quite frankly I never believed that we should shut down the government,” said Renacci expressing some of the frustration felt in Washington, “… I never wanted us to ever get close to default. I said that long before we got near that but I was also never in favor of status quo. I mean one of the problems is we have to start looking at our debts and our deficits and figuring out ways to change the debt curve, really for our children and grandchildren. ”
Kaptur commenting on the Shutdown told NewsChannel5, “That is not the result that I wanted, that kind of a shutdown increased unemployment, it caused a lot of harm across this country, it put over 800,000 people on furlough which doesn’t help economic growth in our country. I hope that’s over but we’ll see if the Tea Party learned its lesson, I can’t predict, I don’t know. ”
Kaptur’s words spoke to the criticism now facing the Republican Party. That criticism is focused on the party using a must-pass spending bill to leverage against Affordable Healthcare.
To this Renacci said, “At the same time you have to look back at what we did. We actually made a pretty reasonable offer to the President and the Senate at the end. Now we didn’t start out that way but at the end, it was a really reasonable offer saying let’s just extend the individual mandate for a year because people – look the President’s already extended the business mandate. He should be willing to extend the individual mandate now that we’re seeing problems in the website where people can’t even get a signed number or get involved. It shows that we probably should have extended the individual mandate and allowed people to have more time to get involved. ”
Over a week ago, President Obama signed a bill to end the partial Government Shutdown and raise the debt limit. The legislation would permit the Treasury to borrow normally through Feb. 7 or perhaps a month longer, and fund the government through Jan. 15. More than 2 million federal workers would be paid -- those who had remained on the job and those who had been furloughed.
Both politicians say that means its time for lawmakers to work even harder because that leaves only a few months to work out budge issues. Kaptur told NewsChannel5 the impact of another stand-off would be felt in more ways than one, especially in our area.
The most visible impacts of the Government Shutdown included hundreds of thousands of furloughs and national parks, or in our area, the Cuyahoga Valley National Park closed.
Behind the scenes, Kaptur said, “What’s happening is because people are uncertain of the future, take procurement contracts for example for the Department of Transportation, for next Spring’s road construction, bridge construction, they hold back on letting those because they’re not sure what their budget will be.”
“The City of Cleveland, for instance the Innerbelt Project or any road repairs that are Federal in nature, all that funding is restrained. It’s millions. It’s millions and millions of dollars a year to a big county like Cuyahoga County and across the state of Ohio, you’re talking about tens of millions of dollars. In some cases, over a five year period, billions,” said Kaptur.
"We need to look at the drivers of the debt," said Renacci, "Entitlement programs are drivers of the debt. Now that doesn't mean we should eliminate entitlement programs. Quite frankly, we need to make sure they're around for our children and our grandchildren. If we do nothing, which is one of the problems, we've let this government just allow some of these programs to continue without change and if we don't change them, they're not going to be around in the future."
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