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

Partial transcript of Q&A between Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kansas) 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. Pat Roberts (R-Kansas):
… I don’t think we have a blindfold walking toward a cliff. I think we’re walking toward the cliff with our eyes wide open and that’s the problem. All this talk about self-inflicted wounds – it was not a self-inflicted wound when we raised the debt limit and we also achieved [incomprehensible audio] the Social Security amendments, the Balanced Budget Act, the Budget Control Act. I could go and on…

I think it gets down to a willingness to really negotiate.

[Microphone feedback]

It’s the NSA again, Mr. Chairman. I better be careful. [Laughter]

The President has said over and over and over again that he will not negotiate, but I don’t think that’s true. There’s a meeting as we speak with Republican leadership; yesterday, he met with Democrats. My question to you is have you been briefed on the agenda of this meeting with regards to the time that the President would prefer with regards to the extension of the debt limit and the agenda? More specifically, I’m talking about the sequester, more flexibility with appropriations committee oversight, the repeal of the Medical Device Tax, the restoration of 40 hour work week to the ACA as opposed to the 30 hour work week causing all the problems, and perhaps even a decision or at least a time frame on a decision on the Keystone Pipeline…

And I would opine to you, sir, that the reason this is so tough: The American people get this. Maybe not on the shutdown, although there’s been a lot of debate back and forth but they sure get this on the debt limit. 52% don’t want any increase in the debt limit. They get it! They look at this as their own family budget and they understand this. 70% to 80% say no increase without any spending reform and yet all we heard is “I will not negotiate.”

…I’ve been to the dinner…at the White House. It was a privilege. But when we talked about how we achieve the grand bargain on tax reform, the President said he needed $800 billion. Now that price’s been raised by the distinguished Majority Leader to $1 trillion. I don’t think you’ll find much support on this side of the aisle for that. Then when we talked about reform, he said, “Why can’t we take mortgage interest, charitable giving [deductions] and just means test those?” and gave some specific examples…We’re not going to do that. We’re not going to means test everything in the tax code and we’re not going to raise taxes $800 billion or a $1 trillion. That’s a non-starter. So I hope we could do that.

Have you been briefed or what is the up-to-date agenda this meeting as to the time, amount, and as to what could be on the table?

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew:
Senator, the President’s been very clear. Congress needs to open the government. Congress needs to make it possible to pay our bills, and then he’s open to talking about anything. And it’s not a question of the shape of the table or the size of the table; it’s a question of whether there is give and take.

Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kansas):
So you indicate that the President is willing to negotiate but he’s not willing to tell us what specific part of the agenda he might be interested in or not or the time frame?

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew:
Senator, he’s made clear. Congress has to open the government. Congress has to make it possible for us to pay our bills and he’s happy to talk about anything. He’s made it clear what he would like to get done. And we’ve made it clear on our budget. We’ve made it clear in numerous communications.

Give and take means everyone coming and doing hard things. He demonstrated his willingness to do hard things. If others are willing to do hard things, maybe we can do something important.

Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kansas):
…I think is if the government shutdown can be dis-continued – everybody wants that, nobody wants a government shutdown…but he’s willing to negotiate only if we end the shutdown and agree to an extension on the debt limit, then he may negotiate with an agenda that’s just hidden – amorphous.

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew:
He’s always been willing to negotiate, just not with the threat of destroying our economy.

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

  1. Pingback: Debt Ceiling: Treasury Secretary Jack Lew says government default will hurt seniors the most | What The Folly?!

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