U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell made the following remarks on the Senate floor today regarding Senate Democrats’ demand for a $1.1 trillion debt limit increase with no strings attached:
“I’d like to start this morning by quoting something my friend the Majority Leader said back in 2007 – back when Congress was weighing whether or not to raise the debt ceiling. Here’s what he said: ‘Until we change the policies that led down this path, we will be back year and year, digging the hole ever deeper.’
“And, of course, that’s essentially what so many Americans are saying today: If we’re going to address the debt ceiling, then let’s also address the root causes of our debt. It just makes sense.
“You’d think the Majority Leader would continue to agree with this logic too. But that’s not what he’s been saying lately.
“He’s basically saying it would be irresponsible for Congress to address the most pressing problem we face as a country, that it would be reckless to raise the debt ceiling if that also meant doing something about the debt.
“In other words, he now seems to think the best thing to do about our crushing federal debt is to do nothing at all.
“That’s why the Majority Leader introduced legislation this week to allow another trillion dollars to be added the debt with no strings attached. None. That’s the Majority Leader’s plan: just keep raising the credit card limit, and let someone else deal with it later on. We’ve now got a debt close to $17 trillion, nearly double what it was in 2007. We’re borrowing nearly $2 billion — a day. And, apparently, our friends on the other side are fine with that. He wants to give Washington a free pass to borrow and spend $1 trillion more. He’s so comfortable with all this that he rejected the President’s own proposal this week to do a short-term increase, followed by negotiations on reforms.
“Well, in my view, we were sent here to solve problems, not defer them. We were sent here to confront the challenges of the moment, not ignore them. And that’s why the Majority Leader’s proposal just won’t fly.
“Because it’s completely at odds with the wishes of most Americans. And that’s something the President and a lot of other Senate Democrats agreed with when a Republican President was asking for a debt limit increase. And the problem’s a lot more serious now than it was then.
“Here’s something else: Neither side wants to default on our debts. Neither side will allow it. I believe that. And people should know that. It’s irresponsible to do nothing about the debt, and it’s irresponsible to be stirring up anxiety about default.
“But that doesn’t mean the American people are wrong to ask that a debt-limit increase include reforms aimed at actually tackling the problems that got us here in the first place.
Especially since that’s what our country has routinely done in the past.
“Going back to the Eisenhower Administration, requests to raise the debt ceiling have often been tied to important fiscal reforms — nearly two dozen times. That’s how we got the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings reforms in the 80s. That’s how we achieved balanced budgets in the 90s. That’s how we secured significant spending reductions in President Obama’s first term — spending reductions he later campaigned on.
“Now, President Obama seems to think Congress should just increase the borrowing limit on his already maxed-out credit card. Without a single negotiation. He seems to think the representatives of the American people should just do what he says, when he says it, because he says it. No questions asked.
“That’s not just irresponsible – it’s not the way presidents of both parties have dealt with this problem in the past.
“Reagan negotiated. Clinton negotiated. And if President Obama wants America to increase his credit limit, he’ll negotiate too.
“I’d also like to address one of the President’s favorite talking points these days.
“He says he won’t negotiate over – and I’m quoting here – the ‘bills Congress has already racked up.’
“Look: if the President actually believed his own talking point, he wouldn’t threaten to veto virtually every Republican attempt to get spending under control. We’ve tried endlessly. The only times we can even get him to discuss sensible budget reforms is when he’s absolutely forced to – when Washington has to deal with things like the debt ceiling. So let’s drop that tired talking point and just get to negotiating.
“I know the President doesn’t like the fact that Americans elected a divided government. But they did.
“No matter how much he tries to divide us, at the end of the day he’s going to have to deal with a Congress he doesn’t entirely control.
“The American people can be persuaded to raise the debt ceiling, but they’re not in any mood to simply hand over a blank check. They’re looking for sensible reforms too.
“So if the President wants us to increase his credit limit, let’s get to the table and negotiate.
“He’s been inviting members of Congress to the White House this week. In fact, we were just told earlier today that Senate Republicans have been invited to meet with the President tomorrow morning. That’s a good start, but only if it means he’s decided to drop his refusal to negotiate on solutions. Because if this is a meeting where he simply reiterates that he won’t negotiate, then it won’t be productive.”