Barr can't talk away his role in shutdown-default crisis

October 29, 2013 

Joe Palumbo, president of Palumbo Lumber in Lexington, was a Democratic candidate for Congress in Kentucky's 6th District.

As a small-business owner. I know that my word is my greatest commodity. When I sit down with a customer, a supplier or an employee, I have to be honest and shoot straight with them. I know that when you make a deal other people are depending on you to mean what you say and say what you mean.

This hard and fast rule of business is obviously lost on the financial radicals in Congress, like Andy Barr, who brought the American and international economies to the edge of disaster.

However, now they want to rewrite history as the American people continue to show they did not, and never will, want the United States government closing its doors and defaulting on our financial obligations.

Put frankly, as the fallout from the shutdown continues, the same group that got us into this mess is trying to pull a fast one and convince us that it's not their fault.

Recently, Barr has been working as hard as possible to try to convince Bluegrass families that his actions weren't what he says they were. Not only is he saying that he did not support shutting down the federal government in the first place but that he voted time and again to reopen it and that he cares about the horrendous consequences of a federal default.

Let's be very clear: Barr voted to keep the government shut down and voted to prevent the United States government from paying its bills and fulfilling its obligations. This is simply fact. He voted, along with 144 Republican colleagues in the House and 18 in the Senate, to reject the bipartisan solution that ultimately ended the government shutdown and prevented the first default on debt since our nation was founded.

He sided with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin — not with Bluegrass families And for this vote, Barr and his allies accomplished nothing except costing the American economy more than $24 billion in lost revenue.

But what does this mean for Kentucky? What would this mean for the families of the 6th District who work hard every day to pay the mortgage, put food on the table and hopefully put a little away to put the kids through a good college? At what risk did Barr put their economy by voting with a fringe group in Congress?

Consider what financial experts were saying in the lead-up to a possible default.

Warren Buffett, a man who knows a thing or two about markets, called a default a "pure act of idiocy" and "asinine."

Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase, the second-largest bank in the world, described default by saying, "As you get closer to it, the panic will set in and something will happen. ... It would ripple through the global economy in a way you couldn't possibly understand."

Anshu Jain, CEO of Deutsche Bank, claimed, "It would be utterly catastrophic. This would be a rapidly spreading, fatal disease."

These dire warnings fell on deaf ears as a small group in Congress gambled with our economy and the jobs of thousands of Kentuckians.

As the operator of a family-owned lumber yard, I know what it means to hire employees and make sure that their paychecks are there on payday — it is not a foreign concept or a talking point. Nor is providing health care for my employees. Or making sure my customers' orders are fulfilled.

No one who understands how businesses actually work, how companies are managed or what it means to have employees depend on you would ever take the risk that Barr took with our economy.

Actions have consequences, and votes matter. The working families of the 6th District will not have the wool pulled over our eyes as those who sought to continue to shutter our government and force our country into default attempt to whitewash their actions. We deserve better.

Joe Palumbo, president of Palumbo Lumber in Lexington, is a Democratic candidate for Congress in Kentucky's 6th District.

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