U.S. Rep. Warren Davidson described the federal debt Monday as if the U.S. were floating in a calm portion of the Niagara River before it inevitably spilled over the massive falls.
Davidson argued the U.S. could be headed toward a structured bankruptcy years from now unless significant spending reforms are enacted to curb the debt. Davidson, a Republican who represents the 8th District of Ohio that includes Clark County, said about 70 percent of federal spending is “on autopilot” for programs like Social Security, Medicaid and paying down interest on the debt.
“The easy course corrections have long since passed,” Davidson said.
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He was the keynote speaker during Clark County’s 36th annual Armed Forces Day luncheon on Monday in downtown Springfield.
The annual luncheon began in 1982 and honored military members from each branch Monday. In his speech, Davidson mentioned members of the 371st Sustainment Brigade, who deployed this past weekend for training and an eventual mission in Southwest Asia.
That brigade is made up of members from Springfield, as well as across Ohio. It will be responsible for supporting other military personnel in the region.
Organizers of Monday’s event noted the military plays an important role in the region, including Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, as well as the Ohio Air National Guard Base in Springfield.
“We’re sending units out that are actively protecting us,” Davidson said. “That’s top of mind here in Springfield because of our connection to Wright-Patt, because of our connection to the National Guard Base right here in our community and because of so many families that have continued to serve whether they’re serving close to home or deployed all over the world. This is a place that has been vital to serving our country and remains that way.”
Because both political parties are so polarized, Davidson said neither side can agree to more substantive changes that would curb long-term deficit spending. He cited a last-minute budget compromise to avoid a government shutdown this week as an example. Details of the agreement weren’t fully available Monday, but Davidson said it includes funding for priorities for both parties.
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“I haven’t seen all the details of the deal but there are some good wins in it,” Davidson said. “The downside is that status quo politics in Washington are carrying the day. The best way to get a deal is give lots of money to this side and lots of money to that side, and forget that we’re $20 trillion in debt. That looks like the rough framework of this deal. That looks like the framework that’s always out there.”
Reforms like raising the Social Security retirement age aren’t popular, he said.
“The politics of it make it hard to touch,” Davidson said.
Davidson also said Monday he will continue to attend town halls and other events in the region when asked. Last month, Davidson argued back and forth with constituents at a town hall sponsored by a local chapter of the group Indivisible, a group opposed to many of President Donald Trump’s policies.
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Some protesters were asked to leave a similar event in Troy earlier last month.
Davidson admitted the give-and-take with constituents isn’t one of his strengths but said he will continue to attend similar events in the district to answer questions.
“Frankly, we’re not a monolithic district,” Davidson said. “There are people that have differences of opinion. I’m getting better at it.”
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