Statement on Debt Ceiling Negotiations

Jul 28, 2011

I want to thank everyone who has taken the time recently to e-mail, call or post on my official Facebook page about the debt ceiling.  The ongoing debate is a very serious issue that, rightly, has many Americans extremely concerned.  President Obama and House and Senate leaders continue negotiations in Washington but because some Republicans on the far right, including many Tea Party members, have refused to consider any reasonable compromise, time is now growing short.  If we do not reach a deal by August 2nd, our nation would no longer have enough money to pay all of its bills.  A U.S. default on its debt obligations would result in a downgrading of our nation's credit rating and increase the cost of all future government borrowing.

Since many countries around the globe have purchased U.S. treasuries as a safe investment, a default on those bonds could also disrupt the global economy and world markets. 

If we do not come to an agreement on raising the debt limit, a debt obligation suspension period would ensue and the U.S. Treasury Department would have to make tough choices on which of our debt obligations would be paid and those that would remain outstanding.

Throughout this debate, I have supported a balanced approach to deficit reduction. For example, I have voted to reduce non-combat related funding for the defense department by over $300 billion.  I have also supported reinstating the tax rates which were in place during the Clinton administration, which would have allowed a small increase in taxes for individuals earning more than $250,000 and couples making over $500,000.

There is no doubt that difficult decisions need to be made regarding our country’s spending.  However, these decisions should be made with an eye towards shared sacrifice and basic fairness.  We cannot balance our budget on the backs of our seniors and children alone. 

Several weeks ago, I voted to increase the debt limit in order to gain additional time to structure a balanced schedule of spending reductions and revenue increases in a way that does not jeopardize basic benefits such as Social Security and Medicare.  However, in spite of the support of 97 Democrats, that measure failed, with 236 Republicans and all Tea Party members opposed.

The House of Representatives is now scheduled to vote on Speaker Boehner’s plan later tonight.  I cannot support this plan for three reasons. First, Speaker Boehner’s plan places enormous burdens on senior citizens and requires massive cuts to Social Security and Medicare.  We cannot ask our senior citizens to bear all of the burden.

Secondly, Speaker Boehner’s plan would allow millionaires, oil companies and hedge fund managers to escape all responsibility and avoid any sacrifice. This is not right. This is a national problem and we should face it as nation with shared sacrifice.

Thirdly, the Boehner plan would not prevent a downgrading of our credit rating, which is the most damaging aspect of this crisis. The Boehner plan would continue the current turmoil and uncertainty in domestic and global markets and require us to revisit this very same issue in a few months, essentially kicking the can down the road once again. 

In order to stabilize our economy and prevent a downgrade of our country’s credit rating, we need a long-term solution. 

Going forward, I will continue to push for serious, balanced approaches to our deficit and debt ceiling problems.  It is my sincere hope that together, President Obama and the House and Senate will be able to reach a compromise solution in time to avoid defaulting on our debt.

I know that many of you may be concerned about the debt ceiling debate and may have questions about how this may affect you and your family.  Please do not hesitate to call my Boston Office at 617-428-2000, my Brockton Office at 508-586-5555 or my Washington D.C. Office at 202-225-8273.

On a personal note, it remains a tremendous honor and privilege for me to serve the families of the Ninth Congressional District.

Thank you.