Monday, August 1, 2011

Gerry Connolly's Statement on Passage of Debt Ceiling Bill

The following is a statement put out by Rep. Gerry Connolly regarding the debt ceiling vote tonight in the House of Representatives. The heart of the statement was that the bill was not perfect, he was "disappointed" that a balanced approach that included revenue wasn't initially taken for instance, and we still have a lot of work to do. At the same time, there were some silver linings such as no immediate cuts to federal workers pay and benefits. Most importantly, we saved the country from going into default, which would have had an extremely negative impact on our country's economy.

I agree with Gerry's take on the bill. It's not something that we should be thrilled about, but it did avoid a default. In my opinion, that could have lead to economic disaster which could have completely reversed any recovery that we've made. For all of those on the left who have decided to attack Dems who voted yes, it's important to remember that these cuts might take away resources that are desperately needed, but the cuts are still a lot less harmful than what would have happened if we went into default. With that being said, however, it is important that we hold our elected officials accountable and ensure that they move forward with responsible legislation in the future. The good news is that progressives like Gerry appear to understand that they must stand up to the Tea Party as we move forward.

And with all that in mind, here's the statement that Gerry released.
Tonight’s vote for the debt ceiling agreement averted a catastrophic collapse of the economy. After months of an overly-partisan process, and a dangerous game of chicken played by House Republicans, the House passed the debt ceiling bill by a vote of 269 to 161.

The choice we faced was not a choice between this proposal and the perfect. But rather, it was a choice between this proposal and default by the United States tomorrow. All of us in Congress have a responsibility to do what’s in the best interest of the country and protecting the credit-worthiness of the United States is most certainly in the best interest of the country. The United States has been a creditworthy nation since Alexander Hamilton was Secretary of the Treasury in George Washington’s first cabinet, and I was not willing to vote to reverse that.

I am disappointed that revenue is not included initially, but under this agreement it will be on the table moving forward and we can live to fight another day. It is absurd to propose that we can solve our long-term debt problem only on the spending side of the ledger. Right now we’re spending 25% of GDP, which is too high, and we are bringing in revenue of just 15% of GDP which is too low. Moving forward, we must address both.

The agreement includes no immediate cuts to federal workers’ pay and benefits, although the spending cuts imposed on civilian agencies will certainly have an impact. Moving forward, I will be working to make sure that federal workers are not forced to bear an inordinate share of the burden of deficit reduction.

They have already sacrificed and further reductions will threaten their ability to provide the vital services we all count on every day. Medicare and Social Security benefits are protected, but again, it is important that we protect the interests of those who have earned these benefits in the coming months. We cannot forget that House Republicans want to cut these important programs, as evidenced by the Ryan budget plan approved by the House majority this year that would dismantle Medicare as we know it and replace it with a voucher plan to help pay for private insurance.

Unlike the cynical legislation this chamber passed on a party line vote last week, this bill commits America to meeting its obligation for the longer term, it leaves all options on the table, including revenue, for bipartisan committee consideration this fall. It also has triggers, painful to both parties, which add real accountability and strict enforcement to this process.

I commend President Obama and other leadership for leading the adult conversation to bring about this compromise.

The American people understand we need balance to restore fiscal responsibility and grow our economy. I join them in working to reach this important goal.


  1. Weak response. The deficit should have been handle months ago when the Bowles Simpson commission submitted their proposal to the president. Of course there must be mutual sacrifice to balance the budget - social security was intended as an insurance policy from living beyond one's actuarial life expectancy not a retirement pension package. And of course the rich should be taxed. The question is, who is rich? Answer: look to the 1960 tax tables and adjust for inflation and you'll get a good answer with a reasonable and workable solution. Good luck.

  2. I agree with the previous post. All we do by adopting a philosophy of "it could have been worse, we live to fight another day, we'll get 'em next time" simply makes us weak and ineffectual. When a handful of nut jobs holds an entire nation, nee the world, hostage, we've left reality and are living out the fantasy/nightmare of the few. The Dems forgot that negotiation doesn't mean utter surrender on everything we hold dear and true. One more example of how a weak pack with a weak leader gets picked off time and time again, no matter how wrong or bad the opposition is.