Mr. WELCH. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman.
Mr. Speaker, let's be clear. Raising the debt ceiling has absolutely nothing to do at all with increasing government spending. It only has to do with whether America will pay its bills for obligations already incurred.
Many of those obligations, by the way, are for expenditures that I vigorously opposed: trillions of dollars on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, unpaid for, and trillions of dollars in tax cuts for the very wealthy that are unpaid for.
But the United States of America, in good times and bad, through Republican Presidents and Democratic Presidents, in Republican-led and Democratic-led Congresses, has always paid its bills--always. We have done it for two reasons.
First, it is the right thing to do. A promise made is a promise kept. An obligation incurred is an obligation honored. Mr. Speaker, a confident nation keeps its word. A confident nation pays its bills, not some of them. It pays all of them.
Second, running from our creditors, stiffing them, picking and choosing whom to pay among them is as fiscally reckless as it is dishonorable. This new theory that America can actually consider it feasible as an option to default is extremely dangerous and very costly.
Mr. Speaker, in 2011, when this tactic was first seriously considered and we came on the brink of default, it cost U.S. taxpayers $19 billion in unnecessary interest charges. That is $19 billion that could have been used to fix our highways or invest in scientific research, or it is $19 billion that your side might have preferred for tax cuts, or we could have split it. But that would have been half for tax cuts and half for investment. Yet we squandered that at the expense of the American taxpayer.
The use of the debt ceiling as a tactic to get your way on another issue is playing financial Russian roulette with America's credibility, with the well-being of the American taxpayer and the full faith and credit of the United States of America to meet all its obligations. We have maintained that bond with ourselves and our creditors for over 200 years, and this bill asks us to abandon it now.
How can it be that the party of Ronald Reagan can propose this legislation? It was Ronald Reagan who said that denigration of the full faith and credit of the United States would have substantial effects on the domestic financial markets and the value of the dollar. He is right.
How can it be the party of Paul Ryan? The chair of our Ways and Means Committee said that just refusing to vote for the debt ceiling, I don't think that is a strategy.
Will the debt ceiling be raised? Does it have to be raised? Yes. Reagan was right then, and Paul Ryan is right now.
Mr. Speaker, I want to point out something that the proponents of this legislation would prefer to keep in the dark. The entire reason the debt ceiling must be raised now is to accommodate the budget that they passed over my strong objection on March 25, 2015. The Price budget, supported by 228 Republicans and opposed by 182 Democrats, projected an increase of our debt limit of nearly $2 trillion. Today that bill has become due, and the folks who supported that budget are running for the hills on acting on the debt ceiling that is required to accommodate the budget that they passed.
Mr. Speaker, this House now, as a result of the will of the American people, is led by a Republican majority. It is a majority that we in the minority have an obligation to do our best to work with. However, it is a majority that is raising questions that have never been raised before.
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Mr. WELCH. Mr. Speaker, they are using debt default and government shutdown as a tactic to get their way on an issue of concern to some of them. I admire Speaker Boehner that he put the country first and he put the House first in not letting this government be shut down over a real dispute on Planned Parenthood funding. But we have got to get past this, and the Republican majority has to make a decision whether it is going to govern or it is going to empower those who believe that default and shutdown are legitimate tactics to resolve legitimate debates that we have among us.
Mr. Speaker, we cannot now--we cannot ever--default on our obligations and our commitment to the American taxpayer to be fiscally responsible by paying our bills.