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Sep 21st
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Town Hall With Congressman Sam Farr

sam_farr2What did you make of the strategic announcements for troop withdrawal from Afghanistan in the president’s Wednesday, June 22 speech? Had you hoped he would announce a different plan—such as a full drawdown of U.S. troops?

Our service members are now going on 10 years of fighting in Afghanistan, with the heaviest price being paid with the lives of thousands of men and women. After nearly a decade of war, at a cost of almost half a trillion dollars, it is time for our involvement in this unsustainable war to come to an end.

I applaud President Barack Obama for taking the first steps to withdrawal of troops, but more needs to be done sooner and quicker. Modest gains have been won, but the reality is we cannot afford to keep pouring resources into Afghanistan with no clear end in sight.

In the aftermath of the senseless acts of violence of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, we came together as a nation with a strong resolve to eliminate the terrorist camps in Afghanistan and bring to justice those that seek to harm innocent Americans. But following the death of Osama bin Laden and the fall of the Taliban government, our initial objectives have been accomplished.

It is clear that we have reached a point, that a sustained American presence will only further put our national security at risk and take more of the lives of our brave men and women in uniform. Instead of continuing to spend billions of dollars a month to build schools, roads, and bridges halfway around the world, we should be using that money to make the critical investments we need to rebuild our own infrastructure. Because, as the President said, “It is time to focus on nation building here at home”.

It will ultimately be the will and responsibility of the Afghan people to determine their own future. Long-term peace and stability will not be achieved by continued U.S. military involvement, but by Afghanistan being able to govern itself.

I hope President Obama will heed the calls of Congress and the American people and bring our troops home as soon as possible.

Do you think the debt ceiling must be raised only if it is attached to more cuts, as some Republicans have proposed?

We all agree that getting our fiscal house in order is not a question of if we do it, but how we do it. We have a responsibility to control spending in a way that does not slow job creation and further weaken a struggling economic recovery.

Secondly, and separate, we have an obligation to pay our bills. Defaulting on our debt would send the wrong signal to the rest of the world that America is not good for its debt, that we're not good for our word. This is as much a threat to our recovery as anything.

With the world watching and the stability of our economy hanging in the balance, it is absolutely wrong to play political games while our nation continues to move toward the brink of default. Furthermore, holding the nation’s full faith and credit hostage for political gain could imperil a fragile economic recovery and sow the seeds of a global economic meltdown.

Contrary to Republican rhetoric, the reality is that raising the debt ceiling is not agreeing to future spending. It is simply honoring our commitments, and confirming to our partners the United States is true to its word.

Democrats can neither control nor predict whether Republicans are really willing to play chicken with the American economy. But I want to state clearly and unequivocally that I take the nation’s full faith and credit seriously.

For that reason, I will continue to urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to get behind a clean bill to raise the debt ceiling. Many Republicans are tempted to use this debate to score political points. But with so much on the line, it is neither the time nor the place to play political games.

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