Editor, Index-Tribune:

Two months ago, we saw Congress at its worst: a 16-day government shutdown that never should have happened, which caused an estimated $24 billion in costs to our economy and eroded faith in our government. We now have an opportunity to show that Congress can do better. I am reviewing a tentative budget deal that may prevent a government shutdown early next year.

This is certainly not a perfect agreement. As I prepare to vote on this budget deal, I want to know what the public thinks. I believe our focus should be on economic growth, preventing disruptive government shutdowns and replacing the arbitrary cuts, known as the sequester, that went into effect earlier this year. Last week, I endorsed a letter to the budget negotiators urging them to replace the sequester and protect the social safety net. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office has told us that if these automatic spending cuts continue, it will result in the loss of 900,000 American jobs by the end of next year, while also undermining key investments in education, scientific research, and national security. That means we have some choices to make and I want to know what the public thinks we should do.

The sequester is an across-the-board cut to defense and non-defense spending. How do you think Congress should replace it?

• Cut defense only: Pentagon spending is still bloated and it’s time we trimmed the fat

• Cut defense and non-defense spending equally: enact a balanced deal that cuts all priorities equally.

• Leave defense spending alone: we need to maintain a strong national defense and should only cut non-defense spending.

• Replace all of the sequester cuts – defense and domestic alike – by finding targeted savings that minimize job losses and don’t harm economic growth.

What are your priorities? To express your opinion, call my Petaluma district office at 981-8967.

Rep. Jared Huffman

California 2nd District