Local political leaders sound off on budget dispute

U.S. Capitol building

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For the second time, Washington, D.C. is looking at potentially shutting down the government and cutting programs across the board if Republicans and Democrats cannot agree on how to fix the debt ceiling.

Local leaders talked Thursday about what some of the issues are in trying to pay the nation’s bills.

The Affordable Care Act is the centerpiece of the disagreement. It’s supposed to go into full effect Oct. 1, which is the same date that the federal government will reach the current debt ceiling.

“You cannot start saying we will not raise the debt ceiling if we do not get our political way. The Affordable Care Act has been in effect for three years. They did not like it, they voted against it. The public is using it. A quarter of a million Ohioans are already benefitting from it,” said U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio.

“I think the Obamacare legislation is bad for our country in two ways. One, it is bad for health care. You have seen the cost increases and you have seen some of the concerns of the implementation,” said U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio.

In the House, Republicans, led by speaker John Boehner, are backing a resolution to extend government funding for three months, but only if funding is cut to the health care overhaul.

“We have not seen this in the past, that a budget is contingent on us eliminating a program that was voted on, passed by both chambers of Congress, ruled constitutional by the Supreme Court, two weeks from being implemented and helps 30 million people finally get health care coverage,” President Obama said in a recent speech.

“Run the government the way it should be run, do the work we were elected to do and let’s focus on job creation. We know what the auto rescue did in the Mahoning Valley. We know what enforcing trade law did in the Mahoning Valley,” Brown said.

A vote on the Republican plan is expected in the House on Friday.

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