Washington, D.C. – Nevada Senator Harry Reid made the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding the default crisis. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
There has been a lot of talk in the last 24 hours about so-called dueling plans to raise the debt limit and avert a dangerous default on this nation’s financial obligations.
As far as I can tell, the only dueling going on in Washington today is between the Republican Party’s multiple personalities.
Last night I introduced an amendment I thought was failsafe – it would prevent default using only proposals Republicans have already supported. Yet House Republicans had harsh words for Democrats’ plan yesterday – odd considering every bit of our proposal was taken from the Republican playbook.
Let me explain the plan.
It would avert default while cutting $2.7 trillion from the deficit in the next decade. It would cut more money more quickly than a competing proposal introduced by Republican leaders yesterday.
The proposal includes no revenues, as House Republicans insisted it must not. It holds harmless even the most wasteful of tax breaks and giveaways to Big Oil and billionaires, who Republicans have vowed to protect even if it costs our economy in the process.
It establishes a Joint Congressional Committee to find additional savings this year, and guarantees that committee’s recommendations will see an up-or-down vote on the Senate floor.
And every single spending cut in the proposal has already been endorsed by Republicans. The cuts have already been voted for by Republicans in both houses of Congress.
In short, it is everything Republicans have demanded wrapped up in a bow and delivered to their door.
But now Republicans say their demands, which have been met in full, are not enough.
They insist instead that we pass their plan – a very similar plan, save for several crucial details. Their plan also raises the debt ceiling, cuts spending and includes no revenue increases. These are the major differences:
- It does not cut as much from the deficit as the legislation I introduced last night,
- And it is a short-term fix that Republicans know is untenable to Democrats in the White House and Congress.
Not long ago, it was untenable to Republicans, too.
This is what Speaker Boehner said about short-term measures in May:
“I’m not really interested in a short term increase in the debt limit… Our economy won’t grow as long as we continue to trip it up with short-term gimmicks from Washington.”
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor echoed the sentiment in June:
“I’m not sure how if we’re not willing to make tough decisions now, we’ll be willing to later… It is my preference that we do this thing one time… Putting off tough decisions is not what people want.”
This is what the Washington Post said about Republicans’ bizarre about-face yesterday:
“It seems that perhaps the only meaningful difference between the two plans is that the Democratic one gets it done in one fell swoop, while the GOP proposal does a short-term deal followed by another one later – something that financial analysts say could lead to a downgrade of the U.S. credit rating and that Republicans themselves once opposed.”
But now Republicans are insisting we relive the endless negotiations and partisan wrangling of the last six weeks again six months from now, with no good outcome guaranteed.
As I’ve said, a short-term solution isn’t really a solution at all. And it puts us right back in this untenable position a few short months from now.
It gives the markets no stability. It gives the American people no certainty. And it gives the credit rating agencies no choice but to downgrade U.S. debt – a move that would cause interest rates to rise and effectively increase taxes for every American family.
Market analysts and credit rating agencies have said a short-term fix would risk many of the same effects as a default, and that’s a risk our economy can’t afford.
If Republicans continue to oppose the reasonable proposal I brought to the floor last night, and which we’ll vote on here in the Senate soon, it will be for political reasons driven by the ideological Tea Party. It will be crystal clear that House Republicans don’t care if we default on the debt.
After all, we’ve given them a plan that should, by all rights, be guaranteed to pass the House and Senate with bipartisan support. Yet they’ve trashed it right out the gate.
Yesterday the Washington Post called this debate over whether to default on the full faith and credit of the United States of America “surreal” and “bizarre.” And this commentary is valid.
Reasonable Republicans have been offered absolutely everything they’ve asked for. Still, they refuse to take yes for an answer, all because of a cadre of unreasonable Tea Party-driven House Republicans.