A Lake Worth man is going to Washington with a simple message: Fix the debt.
Julio Fuentes, president of the Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, will appear at the national capital with other grassroots activists to plead with leaders to solve the so-called "fiscal cliff" and reduce the long-term U.S. federal debt.
He's part of the bipartisan Campaign to Fix the Debt. The nonprofit group was started by Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, chairmen of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform that proposed budget cuts and closing tax loopholes in 2010 to help cut the nation's ballooning deficit.
Uncle Sam now owes more than $16 trillion -- not counting the trillions of dollars more in unfunded pledges to future Medicare and Social Security recipients.
Fuentes on his way to Washington could not be immediately reached for comment.
But a Fix the Debt spokeswoman in Florida said Fuentes is concerned the debt will hurt the country's future growth.
"The time to fix it is now," said spokeswoman Robin Rorapaugh. "It's becoming increasingly important to small business owners."
Small businesses in South Florida can't grow if the debt is eating up money that could be invested in expanding companies, she said. In Florida, small businesses are a major source of job creation.
Floridians are becoming increasingly concerned about the federal budget and the so-called "fiscal cliff," according to a University of Florida survey.
Floridians' consumer confidence fell in November after rising to five-year highs during the previous two months, the UF survey found. Floridians are concerned that leaders -- for now -- are unable to agree how to avoid both sharp federal tax increases and government spending cuts that begin in January, said Chris McCarty, director of UF’s Survey Research Center in the Bureau of Economic and Business Research. The Bush tax breaks expire Dec. 31 and spending cuts under the Budget Control Act of 2011 take effect Jan. 1.
Economist Sean Snaith of the University of Central Florida is still projecting the South Florida economy – as well as the entire state – will grow in the first three months of 2013. But he said he might have to revise that if Washington doesn’t come to an agreement.
email@example.com or Twitter @donnagehrke