I have a habit of writing to my elected representatives. These days, it’s made much easier by the fact that all of them have handy little “contact us” email fields on their websites. Back in the day, I used to handwrite my letters — my first were a pair of communiques to Senators Fritz Hollings and (the late) Strom Thurmond, both of South Carolina, regarding reduced funding for the National Endowment for the Arts. During the same period, I also wrote several to President Clinton. My mother was not particularly thrilled when reply envelopes from the White House arrived in the mail. She was certain I was accumulating a Secret Service file.
Anyway, I took a moment today to write the following note to my state’s senior senator, Dick Lugar. I’ve emailed his office a few times over the years, and I expect a polite form reply, as I’ve received every previous time. But I still feel a civic duty to contact my country’s law-makers when circumstances require —
I’ve read your office’s press release of July 25, and my thoughts are this: it is all well and good for you to support prioritizing Social Security and veterans payments, as well as other certain obligations, in the event of a government default. But it is your duty as a United States Senator to make sure a default never even becomes a possibility.
On that subject, it is ludicrous to suggest, as your release does, that passage of the Cut, Cap, and Balance Act would itself prevent default, as the act makes clear that a debt-ceiling increase is contingent on PASSAGE of a Balanced Budget Amendment. We can certainly agree that passage is quite improbable. I would also hope that we can agree that, while an easily-sellable gimmick, requiring the federal government to balance its budget denies it the flexibility needed to respond adequately to extraordinary circumstances, such as war and economic downturns.
As I’ve stressed each time I’ve contacted your office, I want to be able to support your re-election despite my Democratic association. I value your experience, and certainly don’t wish Indiana to lose the advantages derived from your seniority. But to see you vote on so reckless a bill as the CCBA — I would almost presume to think such a vote is meant to defend against your Tea Party challenger — it makes it increasingly difficult to do so. I hope you will take that seriously as you chart your course over the coming year.
With the greatest respect,
Eric Anderson, Jr