WASHINGTON -- Toward the end of his recent "debt ceiling address" to the nation, President Obama acknowledged the severity of the current budget imbalance and the importance of taking strong steps toward its reversal.
The president outlined two opposing directions put forth in Congress -- a strict debt-reduction approach, favored by Republicans, which allows for no tax revenue increases from any source, and the Democratic approach, relying on a mixture of spending cuts and new revenues.
The president has resisted plans which insist on cuts with no revenue increase, saying that such plans would severely harm social security, Medicare, and other social programs. He's urged Americans to contact their representatives in Congress to make their feelings known.
In a phone call from Washington, U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Albany, described the response to the president's request as "overwhelming," especially from older citizens.
"The switchboards at the Capitol have crashed several times," Bishop said, referring to overall calls to lawmakers.
According to Bishop, citizens in his district are worried about the future of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, as well as benefits to veterans. He claims to be unaware of any respondents who are in favor of cutting those benefits.
Bishop insists that in order to save those popular programs, any budget solution must include some new revenue increases. He cited his recent Concord Coalition, deficit-reduction workshop in Albany, where nearly 100 individuals formed into teams of five or ten to work together as their own "budget committee."
"Every single team used new revenues as a part of their solution," Bishop said. "They all said that it (the project) was an informative and enlightening experience for them."
Bishop is concerned that if the nation's debt ceiling is not raised quickly, the AAA credit rating will be downgraded. Raising the debt ceiling is necessary for the country to pay its current obligations, he said.
Bishop favors allowing the George W. Bush era tax reductions to end, closing corporate tax loopholes and investing more in America.
"If we don't invest in our infrastructure, we can no longer be competitive as a nation," he said.
Requests were made earlier this week to the offices of Republican senators Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson to discuss responses they have received from Georgia citizens. There has been no response from the senators or their representatives.