The Leader Board
May 21 2012
On the President's next request to raise the debt ceiling:
"What the Speaker and I both said last year was that if the President's going to ask us to raise the debt ceiling, we shouldn't treat it like a motherhood resolution that passes on a voice vote. We ought to try to engage and see if we can do something about deficit and debt and so we did. And even though the agreement ultimately reached was a lot less than I had hoped for and I know a lot less than the Speaker hoped for we reduced $2.1 trillion in discretionary spending over 10 years.
"Why do we need to use the request of any President to discuss deficit and debt? Look, we have a debt now bigger than our economy. That alone makes us look a lot like Greece. We've had the lowest labor participation rate in 30 years. We've had 39 straight months of unemployment above 8 percent. The country's in a lot of trouble. We have a President who just this weekend at Camp David was advocating a position to the left of the European Central Bank which has been resisting doing an American-type stimulus to solve their problems, and yet the President is arguing that the Europeans should replicate policies that clearly haven't worked here. What the Speaker was saying I entirely agree with. If the President is going to ask us to raise the debt ceiling and he will early next year, we do need to have another serious discussion about trying to do something significant about the deficit and the debt."
"You know how the Democrats raised the debt ceiling in the previous Congress? They airdropped it into Obamacare. Nobody got to vote on it. That's how seriously they take the debt ceiling. Our view is a request of any President to raise the debt ceiling is a serious matter because it underscores the way we have been engaged in excessive spending and borrowing. Particularly over the last three and a half years. It is the perfect time, Bob, the perfect time to engage in a discussion about doing something serious about deficit and debt. We could not get this President to do anything serious about entitlement reform, for example, the single biggest threat to future generations. Nothing of consequence. My three appointees to the Bowles-Simpson Commission voted for it. One of my appointees to the Joint Select Committee later in the year offered our friends on the other side new revenue. That's not something that we lightly offer. We got nothing in return about the long-term debt problem facing this country, and we all know that it's on the entitlement side. So at some point here, this President needs to become the adult because the Speaker and I have been the adults in the room arguing that we ought to do something about the nation's most serious long-term problem."
On the need to keep Congress' promise to the American people on reduced Washington spending:
"I don't think we ought to cut a penny less than we're pledged to cut. I'm perfectly open to a discussion about how we arrange that, those reductions. But we promised the American people we were going to get $2.1 trillion over 10 years in discretionary spending reductions, and we need to do that. We can have a discussion about how you allocate those. I happen to be among those who think it's much too tough on the Defense Department. Defense of the nation is our single biggest responsibility at the federal level of government in this country. But I don't think we ought to cut a penny less than we promised the American people last year we would."
***"What the House did was to reconfigure the spending reductions so that it was less impactful on the nation's defense, which is, of course, the most important responsibility of the federal government."