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Mr. MERKLEY. The word's ``fiscal responsibility'' have echoed in this Chamber time after time and they have been put forward in defense of a series of strategies this year that can only be described as incredibly irresponsible.
Let's turn the clock back 6 months. We tried to convene a budget conference committee with the House and it was blocked. The budget conference committee was not blocked with the argument of fiscal responsibility. Yet there was a blockade of putting together a budget so we could have a smart plan to go forward and a foundation for the appropriations bills.
Then colleagues across the aisle blocked the appropriations process. They argued it was fiscally responsible to do so. But that meant keeping programs that are not working and continuing them rather than replacing them with better plans. So that, too, was irresponsible.
Then we had folks argue it would be fiscally responsible if we shut down the government. But this is costing America. This is decreasing revenue. This is increasing expenses and it is increasing the deficit. Therefore, we have imposed by this group who argues in the name of fiscal responsibility that we have a tax across America, the government shutdown tax imposed on families across the land. If that was not enough, not enough to block the budget process, not enough to block the appropriations process, not enough to shut down the government, now we have a group wanting to go even further. They have their grand default strategy. They want the United States to default and they argue this will do us well fiscally.
They could not be more wrong. In the Banking Committee we had a series of experts come in and we asked the question, What will happen if we default? Just simple examples were given. For example, the interest rate will go up on mortgages. A 1-percent increase on a mortgage means for a family buying a 200,000 house, about $120 more a month. That is the shutdown and the default tax that colleagues are imposing on families across America.
It doesn't stop there. Everything based on interest rates goes up. Everything based on income from economic activity goes down. Expenses of safety net programs go up; in other words, the deficit goes up and the debt goes up.
Let's stop this irresponsibility of blocking the budget process, blocking the appropriations process, shutting down the government, and imposing a default tax on families across this land. It is not only incredibly wrongheaded, it is doing great damage to families in every county, in every State across the United States of America. At this moment in this vote we are about to have, let's end this attack on the American families. Let's end this irresponsibility.
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