Reid scolds Republicans for walking out on debt limit talks & refusing to address taxes
Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) criticized House Speaker John Boehner and Republican leaders for repeatedly walking out of debt limit negotiations and refusing to address the need to increase tax revenues.
“Walking away from reality is a weakness we cannot afford. It’s a weakness that our economy and our middle-class cannot afford. So I hope Republicans will wake up to that reality and start leading instead of just walking away,” Reid said.
Responding to House Speaker John Boehner’s earlier remarks that the debt limit is the president’s problem, Reid pointed out that Obama and the Democrats inherited a $1.3 trillion deficit from the Bush administration and the Republican-controlled Congress. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and other Bush-era policies, including tax cuts for the wealthy, have continued to add trillions of dollars to the national debt.
“Speaker Boehner seems to have forgotten about the eight years when Republicans turned a surplus into huge deficits with unpaid for taxes from millionaires, unpaid wars, unpaid for drug benefits,” said Reid. “The reality that we have to face is that we have to have shared sacrifices in whatever we do, whatever arrangement we make, to raise the debt ceiling.”
Transcript of Sen. Harry Reid’s statement on the continuing debt limit talks (7/12/11):
I think I, like most everyone in Washington, was stunned to hear the speaker say today the debt ceiling is President Obama’s problem. This is a reversal from just a few months ago when the Speaker said we have to deal with the debt ceiling “as adults.” He also said in another quote “Whether we like it or not, the federal government has obligations and we have obligations on our part.”
Speaker Boehner was right then; he’s wrong now. The deficit is not just one party’s problem.
Speaker Boehner seems to have forgotten about the eight years when Republicans turned a surplus into huge deficits with unpaid for taxes from millionaires, unpaid wars, unpaid for drug benefits.
Raising the debt ceiling was not just Ronald Reagan’s problem when he raised it 18 times. Ronald Reagan raised the debt ceiling 18 times. That’s why the Speaker, John Boehner, has voted for increasing the debt ceiling on many occasions.
But most importantly, failing to raise the debt ceiling would be a major problem for the millions of Americans who would not receive Social Security checks and for our troops who wouldn’t get paid. It would cause the stock market to crash, draining American savings and retirement funds.
I watched Secretary Geithner during the course of these discussions become more concerned, more solemn each time we meet. He understands more than anyone else the issues facing our country.
But I do agree with Speaker Boehner on what he said before: “Whether we like it or not, this is everyone’s problem, not just a problem that a few deal with, it’s a problem we have to deal with like adults.”
Acting like adults does not mean walking out the room every time talks get serious. Republicans have done it time and time again in the last few years.
The first time was the Conrad-Gregg legislation, where seven Republican Senators who sponsored the legislation walked away from it. That’s number one.
Number two: the Gang of Six, which met in every hallway and room in the whole Capitol complex over months, they walked out of that. The Biden talks… Cantor and Kyl walked out on those.
We then had the Obama-Boehner talks, remember those? The ones where the Speaker said, “I wasn’t elected to do small things. I was elected to do big things.” I guess he changed overnight. He said he didn’t want any part of that. Those talks are still going on, but in effect, Boehner walked out of those talks also.
The reality that we have to face is that we have to have shared sacrifices in whatever we do, whatever arrangement we make, to raise the debt ceiling.
Walking away from reality is a weakness we cannot afford. It’s a weakness that our economy and our middle-class cannot afford. So I hope Republicans will wake up to that reality and start leading instead of just walking away.
I received a call from my counterpart, Senator McConnell, at 12:30 p.m. today. He has a proposal that some of you, I think, have already looked over? Is that right? Have some of you seen his proposal? Well, it’s out anyway. He’ll explain that to you; he’ll be out here shortly. I’m not about to trash his proposal. It’s something that I will look at. I will look at it intently, and I think any new ideas I’m willing to look at. So I’m not here to trash Sen. McConnell’s new proposal. I’ll be happy to take a look at it. I look forward to our meeting that convenes at 3:45 p.m. today, and I will do the utmost to take that into consideration.
Question: Senator, should the President consider invoking the 14th Amendment?
Reid: No. Here’s what’s happened. This is a question that I think we should get to. Whether the President should invoke the 14th Amendment, the answer, in my opinion, is no. Until 1939, in this country, we never had a debt ceiling. It started in 1939. We’ve raised it 89 times since 1939. Fifty-five times has been with Republican presidents, 34 times with Democratic presidents. So whatever that math is that’s how many times we’ve raised it. So most of the debt ceilings have been increased with the Republicans. Now we have a Democratic president and I think we should play by the rules that we’ve established since 1939 and raise the debt ceiling.
Question: Can you expand on your views of Sen. McConnell’s proposal?
Reid: Well, I really can’t expand on too much because I don’t really know much about them. He talked to me for just a few minutes. As some of you know, I’m not long on the telephone and neither is he. So it didn’t take very long. But he gave me the outline of that and I’m happy to take a look at it. His chief of staff has briefed my chief of staff. I haven’t had time to talk to David Krone at all, but I’m willing to look at this and I don’t in any way disparage what Sen. McConnell has come up with. He and I have had a number of meetings over the last few weeks talking about the concerns that we both have. I will be happy to give his suggestion every consideration.
Question: The President has said that he wants a debt deal that addresses entitlement program. You’ve made a very strong stance against [cuts] to Medicare and Social Security. Are you ready to support a deal that change those programs?
Reid: I’m only willing to take a look at Medicare and Medicaid if there is a “Grand Bargain” of more than $4 trillion that has significant revenue raises. I will not touch Medicare and Medicaid for some simple little deal that we get nothing that’s beneficial for the country. Medicare and Medicaid should not be tampered with unless there’s the “Grand Bargain.”
Question: [Muffled and uncomprehensible]
Reid: Well, the Grand Bargain – obviously we don’t need to start talking about the Grand Bargain – because that’s been trashed by Cantor and Kyle, and I haven’t heard any wild applause from anyone else of the Republicans. Boehner walked out on us and said he couldn’t. So let’s not spend a lot of our time on the ground bargaining.
Question: Will the Democratic caucus agree to a smaller deal than the President wants?
Reid: Well, my caucus is anxious to find out where we are, and to find out where we are is extremely difficult. It changes from day-to-day. I’m going back, as indicated, at 3:45 p.m. My caucus has always been reasonable. We’re team players, and we’ll continue being that way. But until there’s something to team up with, there’s nothing to even hold a huddle on.
Question: Would you anticipate, in addition to a proposal from Sen. McConnell, that the House Republicans be it Leader Cantor or Speaker Boehner would bring their own proposals to the White House?
Reid: I had no conversation with Sen. McConnell about that.
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