Cynthia Chestnut: Yoho's position is heartless, shameful and shortsighted

Published: Thursday, October 10, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, October 8, 2013 at 10:08 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 Sun on Oct. 6.

With great bravado and chest pounding, Rep. Yoho remains steadfast in support of the government shutdown and looks forward to “not raising the debt ceiling.” His position is heartless, shameful and 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 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 accompanying sequestration cuts on:

Foster Grandparents: Seniors who supplement their social security by serving as mentors to over 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 at-risk children the very help they need, something to brag about?

Head Start: There are over 1,600 Head Start programs across the country providing education, nutrition and parenting programs to over 1 million low-income children and their families. Already suffering from sequestration budget cuts, services have been eliminated for over 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. Is denying low-income seniors one meal a day something to strut about?

And now to the government default issue. 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, no automatic deposit because the funds would not be on hand, in other words, your check would not be in the mail.

It is without question 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: 202-225-5744; Gainesville office: 352-505-0838; or email him by visiting his website at

Finally to Rep. Yoho, I share the words of President 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 state representative, Alachua County commissioner and Gainesville city commissioner. She lives in Gainesville.

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