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Disapproval Resolution Relating to Debt Limit Increase

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. PASCRELL. I thank the gentleman from Michigan.

Listening to this debate, you're not hearing the same thing you heard 7 months ago I'm told. But when you look away, then you say: Gee, didn't I hear this before. Maybe that is true on both sides.

Bruce Bartlett, who was a former adviser to President Reagan and a Treasury official in George Bush's administration, wrote about the five myths of not paying the debt or not increasing the debt. One of them I think bears witness today of what I have heard, the myth that it is worth risking default on the debt to prevent a tax increase given the weak economy. This is a Republican saying this. I'm just repeating the words.

He says while Republicans' concerns about higher taxes are not unreasonable--and they are not--most economists believe that any fiscal contraction at this time would be dangerous. In fact, they note that a large cut in spending in 1937 brought in another sharp recession.

It's very easy to say that the President is the reason why we had the plague and the tremendous deficit, but if the private sector wasn't spending money, then we would have had 5 million more people out of work.

The government has a responsibility when folks can't do for themselves what we expect. That undermines the recovery of the country, and that's what happened in the Great Depression. Republicans respond that tax increases are especially harmful to growth; however, they made the same argument in 1982 when President Reagan requested the largest peacetime tax increase in American history, and again in 1993 when President Bill Clinton asked for a large tax boost for deficit reduction. In both cases, conservative economists' predictions of economic disaster were completely wrong and strong economic growth followed.

I wasn't here in '93. Many of you were here in '93. You remember what the dire consequences of the Clinton plan were and what happened. We had the greatest boom in 50 years. Just like the economists who told us we were heading toward nirvana since 2001; and I don't want any part of nirvana if that's it, and none of us do.

We're not talking here about helping the middle class; that's for sure. We've got bailouts for them, for the other side. We know what the results are. All of us know that. It's not a partisan issue, really.

So you're trying to say that you want to protect people's taxes, and we want to say we've got to pay our debts. Well, we're really not 180 degrees apart. I think we need to do both. And if we don't sit down together, we're not going to do both.


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