If wishes were horses – the speech Barack Obama will never make, but should.
“In an act of reckless and unprecedented partisanship, Republican leaders in both houses of Congress have promised to block the needed increase in the debt ceiling unless an ever-shifting – and escalating – series of demands are met. At a time when this nation is fighting two wars and slowly emerging from its deepest economic downturn since the Great Depression, only now are Republicans demanding trillions in spending cuts which would slow our recovery, cost hundreds of thousands of jobs, and undermine our social safety net. Republicans insist that any new revenue from any source, even by closing tax loopholes for the wealthiest individuals and most profitable corporation in America, is “off the table.”
“If those demands are unmet, the same Republican Party which drove this economy into a ditch will drive it off a cliff. That is irresponsible and unacceptable. Congress should pass the $2 trillion increase in the debt limit right now and with no preconditions.
“…you don’t have to take my word for it. Instead, listen to President Ronald Reagan from 1983:
This country now possesses the strongest credit in the world. The full consequences of a default — or even the serious prospect of default — by the United States are impossible and awesome to contemplate. Denigration of the full faith and credit of the United States would have substantial effects on the domestic financial markets and on the value of the dollar in exchange markets. The Nation can ill afford to allow such a result. The risks, the costs, the disruptions, and the incalculable damage lead me to but one conclusion: the Senate must pass this legislation before the Congress adjourns.
“Ronald Reagan knew what he was talking about. After all, the national debt of the United States tripled during his tenure in the White House. And it would have been even worse had Reagan not raised taxes in seven of his eight years in office. As Alan Simpson, the co-chairman of my Commission on Fiscal Responsibility put it, “Ronald Reagan raised taxes 11 times in his administration — I was here.”
“Now, it is true that the party which doesn’t control the White House often votes against debt ceiling increases. After all, many of these requests are included as part other legislation. It’s not unusual for Senators and Congressmen to cast “no” votes to send a message without endangering the full faith and credit of the United States. I know this, because in 2006 I did it myself. But while I regret that mistaken symbolic vote, neither I nor my Democratic colleagues then in the minority could have blocked the debt ceiling increase. We never had the votes.
“But the Republican leadership in Congress now does. When President Bush sat in the Oval Office and presided over an almost doubling of the national debt, Republicans voted seven times to raise the debt limit. Just between June 2002 and September 2007, the current GOP leadership team of Senator McConnell, Senator Kyl, Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader Cantor voted a combined 19 times to boost the federal government’s borrowing authority by $4 trillion. As I assumed the presidency at the height of the economic crisis in January 2009, the projected deficit was already $1.2 trillion and the debt ceiling set at $11.3 trillion.
“Let me clear. The Republican Party which is now playing a dangerous game of chicken with Americans’ economic futures over the past decade was largely responsible for the deficits they now decry.
“…President Bush’s former Treasury Paul O’Neill warned us, another group threatens to wreak havoc on the American economy and standard of living. As he described his Republican colleagues:
“The people who are threatening not to pass the debt ceiling are our version of al Qaeda terrorists. Really. They’re really putting our whole society at risk by threatening to round up 50 percent of the members of the Congress, who are loony, who would put our credit at risk.”
“That cannot and must not happen.”