Yoho comment appalling

As citizens in his district, let your voice be heard

Published: Wednesday, October 9, 2013 at 1:20 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, October 9, 2013 at 1:20 p.m.

I was appalled, disappointed and embarrassed all at once to read U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho's comments spread across the front page of The Washington Post on Oct. 5 and The Gainesville Sun on Oct. 6. With great bravado and chest pounding, Rep. Yoho, R-Fla., remains steadfast in support of the government shutdown and looks forward to "not raising the debt ceiling."

Heartless. Shameful. Shortsighted.

The representative indicated he has not heard from people opposing his position.

Well, it is time for him to hear from the silent majority. As President Ronald Reagan said, "We might come closer to balancing the budget if all of us lived closer to the Commandments and the Golden rule."

I am most troubled by the impact of the government shutdown and the accompanying sequestration cuts on the following:

Foster Grandparents program: These are senior citizens who supplement their Social Security by serving as mentors to more than 200 children all across Alachua County. Actually, the Foster Grandparents program is a federal program offered in all of the school districts in Rep. Yoho's district. Is taking away the foster grandparents' small stipend and denying children the very help they need something to brag about?

Head Start: There are over 1,600 Head Start programs across the country that provide education, nutrition and parenting programs to more than 1 million low-income children and their families. Already suffering from sequestration budget cuts, services have been eliminated for more than 57,000 children this year alone. Head Start provides the foundation to make sure children enter school ready to learn. Is denying benefits to 600 Head Start children in Alachua County something to be defiant about?

Meals on Wheels: The Meals on Wheels program has struggled for years to continue to provide one meal a day to low-income seniors. They, too, fell under the scalpel of the sequester and suffered an 8 percent reduction in a program that was already underfunded. In Alachua County, there is a waiting list for seniors to participate in the program.

Social Security: As Rep. Yoho stated, "I'm not going to raise the debt ceiling." Let me translate that statement into real meaning for people. The first, biggest owner of U.S. debt is the Social Security fund.

Delivery of Social Security checks has not been impacted by the government shutdown. Recipients have received their funds as usual. In a government default, Social Security checks could be disrupted, delayed, or not automatically deposited because the funds would not be on hand.

It is without question that Rep. Yoho needs to hear from the silent majority — now! Call his Washington office, email him, let him hear from you. Here is the information: Washington office, call 202-225-5744; Gainesville office, call 352-505-0838; email yoho.house.gov.

Finally, to Rep. Yoho. I share the words of President Abraham Lincoln: "If once you forfeit the confidence of your fellow citizens, you can never regain their respect and esteem."

Cynthia Moore Chestnut is a former Gainesville city and Alachua County commissioner who also served in the Florida House. She lives in Gainesville.

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