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

Partial transcript of Q&A between Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyoming) 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. Mike Enzi (R-Wyoming):
…I think this is the 11th time I’ve been through this discussion about the sky is falling and the Earth will erupt. Wyoming families aren’t buying these arguments. They’re saying you can’t spend more than you take in and you definitely can’t keep doing it for ever and ever and ever.

I’ve got a person that interned for me several years ago who now is the owner of a major company in Wyoming and operates in four states, and he pays his people well. But every once in a while, somebody comes in and says, “I need a pay raise.” And he hands him a copy of Dave Ramsey’s Basic Book and says, “You don’t have a problem with income. You’ve got a problem with out-go.”

That’s what the Wyoming people think. We’ve got a problem with out-go, not income. They’re not interested in having their taxes raised so that we can put more people in the wagon. I used an example on the floor the other day about how the private sector, the people working in the private sector get a little upset because government keeps growing and growing and growing. And when it grows, that mean there are more people in the wagon and less people pulling the wagon. And they’re getting tired of it. In fact, it’s getting pretty hard to pull and we’re not doing anything about it. That’s their impression of they can’t increase their income, why should we be able to increase our income.

How do we solve this problem of out-go? We keep asking for this debt limit increase and it’s always asked for as though sometime down the road we’re going to negotiate and figure out a way to solve the problem.

You mentioned that you’d rather we didn’t have these manufactured crises. America would prefer that we don’t have these manufactured crises. I think this is a manufactured crises again because we didn’t work on it yesterday. The shutdown of the government. We haven’t done the budgets the way we’re supposed to. We’re supposed to start on April 15th, do one a week and not get to this continuing resolution situation on Oct. 1st. And everybody will know exactly how much they can spend. It doesn’t compress the sequester like it did last year…

…So why do you and the President feel we should not be discussing right now this dire financial situation and coming up with a solution that will put a little bit of room in there for something to be done right now? If these people are running up their credit card debt and they need to raise their limit, they’re expected to say what they will do in order to be able to take care of their debt although they’re not interested because the interest rate goes up, which is the same thing we’re facing here. You’ve already said that it’s tripled in the last week. So we’re running into that same problem. Why shouldn’t we present some kind of a solution? It could be a long-term solution – it doesn’t have to be a one-week solution. But we’re not even providing a long-term solution…Why do you think the President shouldn’t discuss right now and come up with solutions right now in conjunction with the extension of the debt limit?

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew:
Senator, those Wyoming families know that after they’ve run up their credit card, they don’t get to ignore it. They have to pay the bill. The debt limit is just paying our bills.

You and I have talked. You know that I would very much like to be in a conversation about long-term sensible entitlement tax reform to give the kind of stability going forward that this country needs. That can’t be done by saying we won’t pay our bills next week. That’s what’s wrong with engaging right now. The President wants to negotiate.

Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyoming):
We keep saying that this terrible thing is going to happen and that this is just paying our bills. How many times can we say just paying our bills? The public doesn’t get that same option.

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew:
The time to reduce what we need to borrow is when we make the decisions on what we’re spending, not after. And you know, if Congress appropriates money, if Congress puts laws in place where people are entitled to benefits, if Congress commits to military resources, once those commitments are made, you can’t tell a contractor who’s doing work, “I’m not going to pay you because we changed our mind.”

Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyoming):
Which takes me back to my comment that we should have been doing our budgets one at a time.

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One Comment on “Transcript: Senate hearing Q&A with Sen. Mike Enzi & Treasury Secretary Jack Lew on the debt ceiling – Oct. 10, 2013

  1. Pingback: Election 2014: Wyoming Sen. Mike Enzi's voting records & positions on issues  | What The Folly?!

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