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Murray to Republicans: Stop Playing Political Games with Economic Future

Jul 20 2011

Murray: Republicans’ “Cut, Cap, and Balance” a colossal waste of time, American people are looking for results, not more rhetoric



(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray gave a speech on the Senate Floor about the Republicans’ so-called “Cut, Cap, and Balance” legislation that the House of Representatives sent over to the Senate . Murray laid out the drastic consequences this bill would have on middle-class families and communities across America, and called on Republicans to stop playing politics and work with Democrats to tackle the debt and deficit and raise the debt ceiling.  Senator Murray highlighted the fact that we are less than two weeks away from the August 2nd deadline—and she laid out the consequences of default if Republicans continue refusing to come to the table for serious negotiations.

Key excerpts from the speech below:

Cut, Cap, and Balance is bad policy—it’s the kind of silly politics that Americans are sick of— and it’s a waste of time that we as a country simply can’t afford right now. If all it took were slogans and gimmicks to solve this crisis, House Republicans would have this covered. But we know that’s not the case. And the clock is ticking for families across America. Democrats are going to keep working to solve this crisis. We are ready to compromise. And we need a partner at the table that is just as serious about this as we and the American people are.”

“This bill is not just a waste of time—it’s truly terrible policy. Cut, Cap, and Balance would enshrine into our Constitution the failed Republican policies that got us into this crisis in the first place.”

“We don’t need a so-called Cut, Cap, and Balance bill to put in place sensible policies that work for the American people. My Republican colleagues may choose to ignore this fact these days— but we did some responsible cutting and balancing of our own here in America not too long ago— and we didn’t need a constitutional amendment to do our jobs, either.”

“Potentially at risk are: the benefits and health care we owe our veterans, loans for struggling small businesses, food stamps for those struggling to buy groceries, Social Security checks for our seniors, unemployment benefits for the millions of workers desperately seeking jobs, and even active duty pay for our military. Madam President, these risks are unacceptable.”  

Read the full text of the speech below:

“Madam President, our nation is less than two weeks away from potentially facing what Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has called a ‘calamitous outcome.’

“Unless we act, the United States of America, for the first time in our history, may face the prospect of defaulting on our loans and not making good on the promises we have made to millions of our citizens.

“Madam President—this outcome is unthinkable—and we should be doing everything we can to avoid it.

“Which is why I am so disappointed that instead of working with us to tackle this issue seriously, the Republican-led House of Representatives has chosen to put politics ahead of everything else and has sent us a bill they call ‘Cut, Cap, and Balance.’

“First of all, Madam President, this is a colossal waste of time.

“The Republican House has sent us a bill that may appeal to their extreme base— but right now the American people are looking for results, not more rhetoric.

“The Washington Post reports this bill as being QUOTE—‘a doomed plan.’

“Even conservative columnist David Brooks said in his column yesterday that this bill has QUOTE- ‘zero chance of becoming law.’ And that it’s QUOTE ‘likely that Republicans will come to regret this missed opportunity.’

“But second of all, Madam President—this bill is not just a waste of time—it’s truly terrible policy.

“Cut, Cap, and Balance would enshrine into our Constitution the failed Republican policies that got us into this crisis in the first place.

“It could bind our hands from responding to national emergencies that require quick and decisive action.  Like another terrorist attack or Hurricane Katrina, payments for families who have lost their homes in tornadoes, or an infrastructure breach in states across the country—like the Howard Hanson Dam in my home state of Washington.

“And Madam President—it would force us to say ‘no’ to families across the country who need some temporary support to help them get back on their feet – and at the same time help them contribute back to our economic strength.

“This bill would have prevented us from taking any real actions after Wall Street brought us to the precipice of financial collapse in 2008, which would have led to thousands more job losses across the country at a time when we could afford it least.

“And it would not allow Congress, as representatives of the American people, to make the investments we need to continue innovating, educating, and leading in the 21st century economy.

“Madam President—Republicans may be talking about the virtues of cutting, capping and balancing now— but their actions and votes speak much louder than these three words.

“And the Republican budget this same House of Representatives just passed—a budget that slashes and burns away at the fabric at our society— that cuts off millions of middle class and working families from the health care, nutrition, education, and housing support they need.

“Even this Republican budget wouldn’t be allowed under Cut, Cap, and Balance.

“Madam President—you know who else’s budgets would be considered unconstitutional under this law? Ronald Reagan’s and George W. Bush’s.

“It is truly unbelievable that they are playing these games with the clock ticking down to another financial crisis.

“Madam President, we don’t need a so-called Cut, Cap, and Balance bill to put in place sensible policies that work for the American people.

“My Republican colleagues may choose to ignore this fact these days— but we did some responsible cutting and balancing of our own here in America not too long ago— and we didn’t need a constitutional amendment to do our jobs, either.

“Like many of them, I was here in 2000.

“I remember that when President Clinton left office we were on a course to completely pay down the 5.6 trillion dollar debt by 2012. 

“I remember the projections of surpluses. I remember some of my colleagues actually being worried that the large surpluses in years ahead could be a problem!

“And I remember the efforts by many of us to safeguard that funding for our seniors, for our future, and to pay down the debt.

“But I also remember what Republicans chose to do with that surplus. They couldn’t wait to get their hands on the nation’s credit card.

“And when they did – after President Bush took office – they spent lavishly.

“Throughout the Bush years—and particularly in the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003—trillions of dollars in tax breaks went to the very wealthiest Americans.

“There were capital gains tax roll-backs. Tax breaks designed to benefit corporate giants. And a new tax bracket that provided the very wealthiest Americans the lowest tax rates they have enjoyed since World War II.

“These taxes breaks were all unpaid for, all handed out to those who could most afford to pay, and all put on the nation’s credit card.

“Our country was also led into two wars—and neither of them were paid for.

“But Madam President—now that the credit card bill has come due. Now that all those tax cuts and spending need to be reckoned with and just as our nation is starting to recover from the Wall St. crisis that has devastated so many families….

“Republicans are playing political games with our future.

“Madam President—this is serious. If we can’t come to an agreement by August 2nd, the consequences will be dire.

“A few weeks ago the Bipartisan Policy Center put out a report authored by a former Bush Treasury official about what would happen if Congress failed to act and the Administration was forced to make desperate spending decisions in August.

“And the scenarios were worse than grim.

“Potentially at risk are: the benefits and health care we owe our veterans, loans for struggling small businesses, food stamps for those struggling to buy groceries, Social Security checks for our seniors, unemployment benefits for the millions of workers desperately seeking jobs, and even active duty pay for our military.

“Madam President, these risks are unacceptable.

“Seniors citizens in this great country are worried that the Social Security checks they depend on—and that they have been promised—may not be coming in the mail in 2 weeks.

“And then they read the news, and hear that Republicans are still playing games.

“Mothers and fathers are sitting around their kitchen table, trying to figure out what they would do if the food stamps they count on to feed their kids got cut off.

“And then they turn on the television and see reports of the House of Representatives sending us a bill that cannot pass.

“Madam President—this is an embarrassment. And the American people deserve better.

“Democrats have come to the table again and again with reasonable proposals for coming to an agreement. 

“We have come to the middle—we have offered up serious and deep cuts in federal spending.

“But again and again, Republicans have said no.

“So far, they have refused to make any deal that doesn’t protect tax cuts and loopholes for oil companies, private jets, and millionaires and billionaires.

“And as we see today, they seem to be more focused on offering up red meat to their base than actual solutions for the American people.

“And more focused on negotiating tensions within the Republican party, than working with us to get results.

“So Madam President—with 13 days to go, I urge House Republicans to get serious about this.

“Cut, Cap, and Balance is bad policy—it’s the kind of silly politics that Americans are sick of— and it’s a waste of time that we as a country simply can’t afford right now.

“If all it took were slogans and gimmicks to solve this crisis—House Republicans would have this covered.

“But we know that’s not the case. And the clock is ticking for families across America.

“Democrats are going to keep working to solve this crisis. We are ready to compromise. And we need a partner at the table that is just as serious about this as we and the American people are.

“Thank you. I yield the floor.”