Debt Ceiling

Floor Speech

By:  Mitch McConnell
Date: July 28, 2011
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, the clock is ticking. In just a few days, the U.S. Government will no longer have the ability to borrow money to pay its bills--a situation the President and his advisers said would trigger an economic Armageddon.

I was shocked last night when 53 Senate Democrats issued a letter saying they intend to vote against the only piece of legislation that has any chance of preventing all this from happening. Even more shocking is the fact that Democratic leaders and the President himself have endorsed every feature of this legislation except one, and that is the fact that it doesn't allow the President to avoid another national debate about spending and debt until after the next Presidential election. Every other feature of the House bill was essentially agreed to earlier except for one--the President wants to avoid having another discussion about deficit and debt before the election. This assurance is the only thing the President and Senate Democrats are holding out for right now.

The Democrats can try to justify their opposition to the House bill any way they want. They can claim they are worried about a stalemate 6 months from now. They can ignore the fact that of the 31 times Congress and the President have raised the debt limit over the past 25 years, 22 of those debt limit increases lasted less than a year. President Reagan, in 1984, signed three bills in the course of his election year that raised the debt ceiling. It was not unusual. In fact, what is unusual is to ask for $2.7 trillion in debt limit increase. That is unusual. That is unprecedented.

So what is worse, a default now or a potential default 6 months down the road? Because if those 53 Senate Democrats follow through on their threat to filibuster the House bill, that is what they will be doing--ensuring default now rather than working with us to prevent it later. Why would you want to do that? The answer is, to make the President's reelection campaign a little bit easier.

It is inconceivable to me that the President would actually follow through on this threat. After all, the President's first responsibility is to do what is best for the country, not his reelection campaign. The same goes for our friends on the other side of the aisle. It is inconceivable to me that they would actually block the only bill that would get through the House of Representatives and prevent a default right now. Inconceivable. It is inconceivable to me that they would do this for no other reason than to help the President avoid having another debate before the election about the need for Washington to get its fiscal house in order. But that is precisely what we may be headed for this weekend--guaranteed default or a bill that takes the specter of a default off the table, while giving us another opportunity to address the very deficits and debts that caused this crisis in the first place.

Senate Democrats are playing with fire, and it is hard to conclude they are doing it for any other reason than politics. So I urge our friends on the other side of the aisle this morning to rethink their position and join Republicans in preventing default.