Reed defends debt ceiling ‘no’ vote


Special to the OBSERVER

Although Washington, D.C. elected officials passed a law late Wednesday night to reopen the government and avert a fiscal calamity, many Republicans, including New York Congressman Tom Reed, are not satisfied with the outcome.

In a media call, Reed defended his vote against H.R. 2775, the Senate-proposed bill that Congress passed and President Obama signed into law on Thursday morning, temporarily reopening the federal government until Jan. 15 and extending the debt limit until Feb.7.

“What happened (Wednesday night) was nothing but a short-term kicking of the can down the road for 60 to 90 days,” Reed said. “I didn’t go to Washington, D.C. to kick the can down the road.”

The law, according to Reed, failed to address any pertinent fiscal issues such as the debt, entitlements, spending cuts and tax reform.

“There was nothing in the proposal that dealt with those issues,” Reed said. “I wanted to set a position (Wednesday night) to tell the American people and the people of our district that we are standing firm to go to Washington, D.C. to solve this problem, and that is our national debt crisis, our currency crisis, our fiscal crisis and our job crisis.”

The 16-day shutdown, which began after Republicans refused to pass a continuing resolution without changes to the Affordable Care Act was seen as a tactical mistake by Reed.

“The initial strategy of defunding ‘Obamacare,’ which started us down this path, was to me, clearly unachievable,” Reed said. “It was a poor strategy and I question that strategy.”

Reed is optimistic, however, that reforms to the Affordable Care Act, such as ensuring members of Congress are refused any special treatment under the law, are still attainable.

“As we continue to move forward the implementation of ‘Obamacare’ will be put out there front and center,” Reed said. “(I think) the American people will join us and see that it is a bad policy.”

Reed’s Democratic opponent, Martha Robertson, issued a statement in response to his dissenting vote.

“Congressman Tom Reed’s refusal to support the bipartisan resolution to reopen the government and avoid a default shows that he is willing to tow the Tea Party line at all costs, even when the well-being of Veterans, senior citizens, and the entire economy is at risk,” Robertson said.

Reed rejected the suggestion that his vote was influenced by the Tea Party.

“(I came to Washington, D.C.) to fix this crisis facing our children and grandchildren,” Reed said. “If my opponent wants to continue the status quo and protect Washington, D.C., then let her take that message to her people. I think people want the status quo to change.”

Reed, further avoiding any association with the Tea Party, claimed that he does not stereotype or put labels on himself.

Reed said he will continue to reach out to both Democrats and Republicans – including President Obama – to find common ground, touting his “Honest Proposal,” a three-year plan that puts in place spending reductions and calls for the adoption of a budget resolution by Dec. 31.

“Let’s have an honest conversation,” Reed said. “I’m going to take (President Obama) on his word. He said the status quo needs to change, and I’m all in.”