Rep. Nan Hayworth, M.D. (NY-19) and 60 Members of Congress sent a letter to President Obama urging him to clarify for the American people that even if a debt ceiling agreement is not reached, the United States will not default on its monthly interest payments, or be unable to pay our military and seniors.
During a press conference earlier today Hayworth stated, "As a physician, I was elected to Congress to solve problems. Like 234 of my House Republican colleagues, I pledged to our constituents that I would not raise taxes. At a time when 14 million Americans are desperate for the dignity of productive work, we must act responsibly to deal with our nation's debt, without adding to our economy's burdens. This is not the time for political threats or hostage-taking; it is time to work constructively and positively together. Please, Mr. President, spend your time on making sound long-term plans for a vibrant economy and opportunity for all Americans, not on frightening the seniors to whom I and my fellow House majority members are committed to protect."
Below is the text of the letter.
Dear Mr. President:
We remain hopeful that an agreement will be reached in the near future regarding spending levels and the debt ceiling. We write to you today, however, to express strong concern about recent comments by Treasury Secretary Geithner. We ask that you clarify for the American people that the Treasury will in fact continue making the monthly interest payments owed on our national debt, even if the debt ceiling is reached.
As you are aware, the revenue projection for FY11 by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is $2,230 billion. The total estimated interest payment for FY11 is $213 billion. For FY12, CBO estimates revenues of $2,558 billion and interest payments totaling $257 billion.
Statements by Secretary Geithner have led many Americans to believe that reaching the debt ceiling will cause the United States government to go into default on its interest payments August 2nd if the debt ceiling is reached.
Clearly, that is not the case, as the figures above indicate. Additionally, many Americans believe making Social Security payments (CBO estimates: FY11: $727 billion; FY12: $760 billion), Medicare payments (CBO estimates: FY11: $563 billion; FY12: $560 billion) and ensuring the pay of our military personnel (DOD estimates: FY11 $157 billion; FY12: $160 billion) should be the Administration's next priorities. Allowing statements to the contrary jeopardizes the good faith and credit of the United States.
We ask that you make an immediate, clear and unequivocal public commitment that your Administration will continue to make all interest payments on time, as well as ensuring the pay of our military personnel, and making Social Security and Medicare payments in full.
We look forward to your reply.
Members of Congress