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October 11, 2013

Local officials optimistic over shutdown talks

By Mark Boshnack Staff Writer
The Daily Star

---- — Rep. Chris Gibson, R-Kinderhook, said Wednesday he is encouraged by recent developments in Washington. He said he was hopeful that talks that began Thursday between Republican congressional leaders and President Barack Obama could lead to a short-term increase in federal spending and a short-term reopening of government.

Earlier in the day, local people in business and nonprofits expressed optimism about increasing the debt ceiling, when that seemed to be the focus of the talks.

“I’m encouraged that our leaders are now talking,” Gibson said. “This should have been the case all along.” In this country, “our leaders have a responsibility to sit down at the table and talk.”

He appreciated what Obama said about how a short-term extension of both the debt ceiling and a continuing resolution would lead to his willingness to talk about tax reform, the health care law and tightening spending.

“Let’s get that in writing and let’s do it,” Gibson said.

He was part of a bipartisan discussion Thursday called “No Labels” that called for an end to government shutdown, according to his media release. The group is calling for a temporary spending measure that includes a repeal of the medical device tax included in the Affordable Care Act. This provision has attracted bipartisan support in both the House and Senate. To ensure that it doesn’t increase the deficit, the proposal includes an offset in pension reform.

Earlier in the day, it appeared that the two sides would be reaching an agreement on a temporary extension to the debt ceiling.

NBT Bank Senior Vice President Jamie Reynolds said having it resolved, even in the short run, is better than the current situation.

“It would take some of the uncertainty off the table,” which makes it more likely for consumers and business to spend

Delaware County Chamber of Commerce Director Mary Beth Silano said a short-term solution is just a “Band-Aid.” Things have to change in Washington, she said. She wasn’t taking sides on the issues, “but when you start putting party politics before your constituents — that’s wrong,” she said.

“I would rather see them working together than the blame game,” she said.

Country Club Automotive Group owner/partner Tom Armao said getting through a potential budget crisis “isn’t a bad idea.” He said he doesn’t know how much impact it will have on the region but he was concerned that raising the debt ceiling would lead to more federal spending.

“I’m hoping for responsible adults to show up some day, there are some tough decisions someone has to make,” he said.

Opportunities for Otsego Executive Director Daniel Maskin said if the debt ceiling is raised but the government is still closed, “it remains a problem for us.” The organization provides such programs as Head Start and Women, Infants and Children food and nutrition services.

With a shutdown, “at some point we will have a problem because we can’t access the money needed to provide services,” she said. However “if it is resolved in a couple of weeks we will be fine,” she said.

Maskin said the shutdown also prevents the agency from accessing government websites for certain information.

Otsego County Chamber of Commerce President and Chief Executive Officer Barbara Ann Heegan said not raising the debt ceiling would make it more difficult for small business to get credit and take out loans, and could lead to higher interest rates.