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Like most Montanans I’m frustrated with Washington, D.C. It’s time for Congress to stop worrying about the 2012 election so we can focus on the problems facing our country. Fear mongering may make for good campaign ads, but it doesn’t move the country forward.

Washington hasn’t been straight with you, and even though it might hurt my chances in the next election, I’m going to tell it like it is. You deserve a civil and respectful conversation that’s honest about the challenges we face.

In the recent editorial, the Billings Gazette urged Congress to pass an increase to the debt limit first and try to address the spending crisis that got us here later. Unfortunately, that’s not likely to happen. Already this year, the House has passed 153 bills that are stuck in the Senate. According to the Washington Times, the Senate is on pace to be the laziest in history. The only time the Senate works is when they have no choice.

In the Gazette editorial, I was curiously singled out for “holding the nation’s credit rating hostage.” Strange, since the House is the only body that’s actually drafted, debated and passed legislation that addresses the debt ceiling increase. Even with the approaching deadline, the president still won’t put a plan on paper, and the Senate has more plans than you can count but refuses to bring one to a vote, let alone pass any of them.

The Gazette quotes Ronald Reagan and observes that history repeats itself. Indeed it does. President Reagan increased the debt limit to $2.8 trillion. Today it’s $14.3 trillion. The increase President Obama wants is almost as big alone as the entire debt in 1987. Unless we make real, meaningful changes we’ll find ourselves right back in the slop again and again.

Let’s be honest about that debt limit increase. It gives the federal government the authority to borrow another $2.7 trillion — or about $10,000 for every man, woman and child in America. Creating that kind of debt should never be routine or automatic. Montanans are sick of business as usual in Washington. It’s time to make the changes that will get us back to the business of the American people.

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