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GOP Wheel of Fortune

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. DEUTCH. Mr. Speaker, yesterday I was overcome with disbelief to hear my Republican colleagues, the same colleagues who are leading America head first into its first default of its obligations, call on President Obama to start picking and choosing who wins when we run out of money.

Now, pay our seniors first, Mr. President. When we force a default, pay our bondholders first, Mr. President. Pay our soldiers first, Mr. President.

The GOP is shockingly silent, however, remarkably quiet when it comes to naming who the Treasury should stop paying when they force us into a default.

Now, in case you weren't aware, let me clue you in on the definition of a "default.'' It means the inability, the failure, to meet our financial obligations. And we have many financial obligations we cannot afford thanks to the possibility of this default that our friends on the other side of the aisle are leading us toward. This is a crisis that they manufactured: two wars unpaid for; tax cuts for millionaires that were unpaid for; policies that ignited a fiscal crisis and sunk us into a sea of red ink.

Now their refusal to accept responsibility for this debt that they created means that someone who the Treasury owes money to will not get paid. Someone will not get paid, and the full faith and credit of the United States of America will be broken.

Now, they're playing a game with our economy to try to force through an extremist agenda. That's what we have been battling against. That's what you've been watching. That's what people around the country are so incredibly frustrated with. It is a game that I have right beside me. It is, in fact, the GOP Wheel of Misfortune, except in this game there are no winners; there are only losers. But, why don't we give it a spin.

As we approach the defaults and we spin the wheel, the first one that comes up, I see, is 2 million Federal workers. Come August 2, the GOP default forces the Treasury to send every Federal employee home without a paycheck. From the personal care attendant who works for the Department of Veterans Affairs to the park rangers who lead families through our national parks, a GOP default will send 2 million workers home without pay.

During this time of high unemployment, our economy will suffer even more with the ripple effects of suspending pay for 2 million American workers and their families. So pay the Federal workers, we might be told.

Let's figure out who else we might choose not to pay. What other obligations of the Federal Government will be broken? What will we choose to avoid if there is a default?

Well, if we go back to the wheel, we spin the wheel again, and we see foreign creditors. Come August 2, the GOP will force the Treasury to stop paying interest to our foreign creditors who currently buy U.S. credit with total confidence. When you default on a credit card--everyone knows this. When you default on a credit card, you don't save money. Your interest rates go up. The bank lowers your credit rating. And if the U.S. stops paying its creditors, then the U.S. credit will be downgraded, interest rates will skyrocket, and our economy will freeze. The damage amounting to a tax increase on every American family will be thanks to the Republican majority that will force this default.

But perhaps we should pay the credit holders. Maybe that's who we should pay. Clearly, there is someone else that we will not then, so let's go back to the wheel.

When we spin the wheel this time, we get to bondholders. Well, come August 2, again, someone won't get paid. The GOP default will force the Treasury to deny U.S. bondholders the money that they entrusted to our Nation. The college student cashing in a bond their parents bought on their first birthday; the retirees who steer their 401(k)s to the most secure, safest investments in the world, at least until the Republican majority forced a default.

But perhaps we will pay the bondholders. We've been told we can pick and choose who we're going to pay when there's a default. Then we should find out perhaps who we might see next.

If you spin the wheel again, it might turn out that we come up on Medicare. Now, on August 2, again, the GOP default will force the Treasury to stop paying for the trusted Medicare benefits that 54 million seniors rely upon. Perhaps my friends on the other side of the aisle may finally have their opportunity to dismantle the system that keeps so many retirees from bankruptcy due to private insurance bills. The doctors who treat our Medicare patients, from the primary care physician who takes seniors' blood pressure during yearly checkups to the oncologist who treats our grandmothers and grandfathers when they struggle with cancer, won't get paid as a result of this default.

But again, we've been told that we can simply pick and choose, that perhaps it is important for us to make sure that Medicare benefits are paid. What to do?

We can go back to the wheel. We can spin the wheel again. It may turn up on veterans. Perhaps we have made a decision to make these others payments, but it comes up on veterans.

So, again, on August 2, if we do not come to an agreement, which is completely doable, and if we do not avoid this GOP-caused default, then the Treasury may stop caring for our veterans. In representing Florida's 19th District, I am privileged to serve thousands of veterans, many of them veterans of World War II--members of our Greatest Generation, the very people who built this Nation into what it is today.

Now, Americans believe that we have to honor the sacrifices of those who serve, but by forcing America into default, the GOP will deny care to the men and women who embody patriotism and deserve every benefit that they earned while serving this country. This game, this unfortunate game that they wish to play, could go on and on and on. Maybe we choose to pay our veterans, but we stop paying our troops. Maybe we will, as the President pointed out, have no choice but to stop paying Social Security in the event of default. Come August 2, the potential of a GOP default would force the Treasury to deny seniors the Social Security benefits that they earned over a lifetime. In my district and around the country, going without Social Security for any period of time will mean destitution and extreme financial hardship. The Republicans have long fed the American people the lie that the bonds held by Social Security are junk. Well, they've never been junk, at least so long as America has never defaulted on its obligations. This is the wheel of misfortune that we have to avoid getting to. It's not a game anyone wants to play.

This hardship thrust upon the American people in the event of a default is completely avoidable. The GOP could make history--make history--by working with President Obama to reduce the deficit in a meaningful, in a responsible and in a fair way. Instead, Republicans seem hell-bent on making history by tarnishing the full faith and credit of the United States of America for the very first time. The reason they won't come to the table, the reason we may be forced to spin the wheel of misfortune: preserving tax cuts for millionaires, preserving tax breaks for corporate jets, preserving tax loopholes and payments to oil companies.

They seem more intent on subjecting the American people to the wheel of misfortune than standing up to the special interests that Americans want us to stand up to in the name of fiscal responsibility and fairness. In this game of partisan politics, a game that people all around the country are tiring of, no one wins--and the American people, unfortunately, always lose out.

Mr. Speaker, I would be delighted to yield to the gentlelady from Texas.


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