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October 17, 2013   |   Michael Bennet

Your Government Failed You, And You Deserve Better: A Letter Regarding the Shutdown


Yesterday, Congress passed a bill to reopen the government and allow the United States to avoid default and pay its bills.

This is not an accomplishment, and it's certainly not something to celebrate.

Your government failed you, and you deserve better.

While some in Congress may be patting themselves on the back for pulling us back from the brink of an economic shutdown, let's not forget the incredible damage this shameful shutdown has already inflicted on Colorado and our nation.

Standard and Poor's estimates this self-inflicted "crisis" took $24 billion dollars out of our economy and put 800,000 people out of work, including more than 40,000 workers in Colorado who temporarily lost their jobs and had their paychecks delayed. At a time when families are working their way back from the worst recession since the great depression, that is unacceptable.

Residents in Estes Park saw one of their main roads shut down making it more difficult for one of the hardest hit communities in Colorado to recover from last month's devastating flooding.

And, Rocky Mountain National Park, which draws over 3 million visitors every year who contribute close to $200 million in tourism revenue, was closed, further hurting our state's economy.

This list goes on and on.

As we close this sad chapter in our political history, please know my office is open and again ready to serve you.

For anyone who has tried to contact us during the shutdown, let me offer my apologies and assure you that we are working to get through the backlog of messages and cases that have come in over these last few weeks.

Just before the shutdown, I got on the office phones to field calls from Colorado and I've read many of the messages that have come in since then that rightly express frustration and anger at the dysfunction in Washington.

As Coloradans, as Americans, we need leaders that recognize that public service is about more than keeping the government open. Just ask any poor child or her teacher in a typical American school. The good news is that fear has never and will not now dictate the fate of our country.

History's dustbin is filled with failed demagogues.

Americans want us to move forward into the 21st century with the imagination, creativity, adaptability, and values that have made this country so great from its founding. The stakes are simply too high in our time to allow our institutions to be crippled by politicians who color far outside the lines of conventional American political thought and who react with angry and mock surprise when their policy objectives are not achieved.

It is time to close this sorry chapter in the history of the Congress. It is time for all of us to work together on the people's business. I suspect that is why many of our leaders wanted to serve to begin with.

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