Transcript: Senate hearing Q&A with Sen. Michael Bennet & Treasury Secretary Jack Lew on the debt ceiling – Oct. 10, 2013

Partial transcript of Q&A between Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colorado) and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew on the potential impacts of the failure to raise the debt ceiling. The Senate Finance Committee hearing was held on Oct. 10, 2013:

Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colorado):
…Would failing to raise the debt ceiling make our debt situation better or worse?

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew:
Well, it doesn’t do anything good. I mean, if the cost of borrowing goes up, it raises our expenditures. It doesn’t reduce them.

Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colorado):
And if the cost of borrowing just went up 1%? Or 2%? We’re at historically low interest rates. What would that cost?

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew:
You know, I’d have to go back and do the numbers exactly to give you an answer. You know, we’re talking billions of dollars. We’re not talking about small numbers.

Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colorado):
No, I think it’s very clear and Ronald Reagan shared this view and you quoted him earlier that this would just make matters worse.

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew:
Unless we were to do something unthinkable and say we will never pay those bills, you’ve got to pay the bills and you’ve got to be borrowing money at a higher interest rate. So it only costs.

Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colorado):
Which means our interest costs are just going to continue to go up and our ability to do things like respond to the floods in Colorado or be able to educate our kids will be diminished…

I’ve heard a lot of people on both sides of the aisle today talk about their willingness, their desire to meet in the middle and I think that’s important. And I think we need to do that because I can tell you this, people in Colorado, they’re sick and tired of a lot of things about Washington. But what they’re most sick and tired is our managing by crisis and therefore our inability to manage the affairs of this country in a way – in this case, that threatens the full faith and credit of the United States and our ability to have the reserve currency for the world be the American dollar.

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