Washington, D.C. – Nevada Senator Harry Reid made the following remarks today on the Senate floor about averting a default crisis. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
We have 12 days left before our nation does the unthinkable: forever undermines the full faith and credit of our great country.
As members of Congress, we come from 50 states, but we serve one nation.
The American people deserve better than leaders who each stake out their own radical positions, forsaking the good of that nation. The American people expect us to find common ground no matter how difficult it may seem.
Every reasonable voice in America has warned us that defaulting on this nation’s financial obligations would not only be a blight on our reputation, but precipitate a global economic crisis.
Those warnings have come from the banking industry and the business community. They have come from our finest economists and shrewdest investors. They have come from former legislators and past policy makers from both sides of the aisle.
And they have come from reasonable people right here, in the United States Congress.
“It’s clear to me that we have to increase the debt ceiling.” That’s what John Boehner, the Republican Speaker of the House, said this spring.
He also said this:
“Not raising the debt limit would have serious, very serious, implications for the worldwide economy and jobs here in America.”
His deputy, Eric Cantor agrees. Last week he said this about the need to avert the impending crisis:
“We want to make sure that we avoid default. We want to make sure that we avoid going past August 2nd without raising the debt ceiling.”
And my Republican counterpart here in the Senate, the senior Senator from Kentucky, said he would support raising the debt limit as long as Congress used the opportunity to do “something really important” about the national deficit.
Democrats are willing to join together with our colleagues from the other side of the aisle to do, as my Republican counterpart said, “something really important.”
We have already shown our willingness to make tough decisions for the sake of finding common ground – even when it means drawing the ire of our own political party.
Unfortunately, the loudest voices from the Republican Party are not reasonable leaders, but Tea Party extremists.
Congress has days, not weeks, to reassure the markets that when this great nation issues an IOU we stand by it – that we don’t turn into deadbeats when the bills come due.
If you want to know how important this issue is, listen to the words of Ronald Reagan. This is why he said about the importance of averting this kind of default:
“The United States has a special responsibility to itself and the world to meet its obligations. It means we have a well-earned reputation for reliability and credibility – two things that set us apart from much of the world.”
President Reagan took the threat of default seriously. So do reasonable Republicans in Congress today.
Yet I fear the closer we get to disaster, the further we get from a deal.
Democrats have shown they are willing to work with Republicans on any serious, reasonable plan that averts default and cuts the deficit in a balanced way.
Now it’s time for House Republicans to show they are also willing to get serious, too.
A plan that would decimate Social Security, Medicare and every other federal benefit while protecting hundreds of billions of dollars in special interest tax breaks is not a serious plan. Republicans’ so-called Cut, Cap and Balance plan doesn’t have one chance in a million of passing the Senate.
The moment for partisan games is long since passed. It is time patriots on both sides of the aisle joined hands to actually govern.
I ask, will reasonable Republicans to join us in forging a compromise that is good for the county?