June 30, 2011
Washington, D.C. – Nevada Senator Harry Reid made the following remarks today on the Senate floor announcing that the Senate will be in session next week. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
This weekend we will celebrate Independence Day, and 235 years of this country’s proud history.
This nation was founded on the notion of liberty and justice for all. As we celebrate, we should remember that the pursuit of liberty is not a journey with a destination, but rather a quest to which we must recommit ourselves every day.
And as we commit fully and firmly to “liberty and justice,” we must commit just as fully and firmly to the idea that that liberty and justice should truly be “for all.”
It is often said that with liberty comes responsibility. We should take that responsibility seriously. I know do.
That is why the Senate will reconvene on Tuesday, the day after the Fourth of July. We will be in session next week, with our first vote on July 5th. There is still so much to do to put Americans back to work, cut our deficit and get our economy back on track.
And that work is too important, the obstacles too steep and the time too short to waste even a moment.
I hope my Republican colleagues will, for once, put politics aside and help Democrats to fulfill Congress’ sacred responsibility to the American people.
There are some Republicans in Congress who say the U.S. government has less responsibility to pay its bills than struggling families across the country. As a default crisis approaches, Republicans are saying we should simply stop cutting checks for the national equivalent of the mortgage, the credit card bill and the car payment.
Republicans say this crisis is about spending more or growing government. They are wrong. This crisis is about paying the bills for things we’ve already bought. For example, a decade of tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires, which came from borrowed money.
And what they aren’t saying is what the consequences would be of such an irresponsible decision to not pay our accrued bills.
It would plunge the United States not into recession but into full-blown depression, without a doubt. Without exception, the respected financial voices of our time have said the effects of a default crisis would be would be felt across the globe. I repeat: this would create a world-wide depression.
These respected voices could not have spoken in clearer terms.
The CEO of JP Morgan Chase, Jamie Dimon, said default would be “catastrophic.” He went on to say that raising the debt limit is our “moral obligation.”
What does that mean? It means the world should “know that the United States is good for its money. Period.” That’s what he said. I agree.
And he’s not the only one saying this. Business leaders have said it. Economists, banks and Republican advisors to Presidents Reagan and H.W. Bush have said it. And, perhaps most importantly, credit rating agencies have said it. Credit rating agencies Standard & Poor's and Moody’s have said that if the United States misses even one payment, the nation will immediately lose its high credit rating. Interest rates would increase. Every 1 percent increase in interest rates would cost the nation $1.3 trillion.
That’s one more reason why defaulting on our debt to make a point about fiscal responsibility makes so little sense. If we default, it will actually cost the nation more to meet our financial obligations in the future.
Democrats believe we must create jobs and get our economy moving again. We must cut spending and live within our means. And we must eliminate tax loopholes for millionaires, billionaires and oil companies. Republicans must not put the economy of this country and the world at risk for the sake of protecting special interests and big donors.
It’s time we return to the type of fiscal discipline Democrats brought to Washington in the 90’s, when Democrats in Congress and the White House balanced the budget and used the surplus to pay down the debt.
But a default crisis would do nothing to get our fiscal house in order. Instead, default would derail our fragile economic recovery and plunge this nation – and the world – back into not just a recession, but a full blown depression.
It would also risk millions of American jobs, tax refunds, Social Security checks, Medicare payments and paychecks for our troops. And those risks are simply not worth taking.
Today, middle-class families in America are struggling to economically survive. They are living paycheck to paycheck. Meanwhile, Republicans walked away from negotiations that would have cut the deficit and averted a catastrophic default in order to protect tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires.
Republicans are willing to risk our economy to protect tax breaks for corporations that ship jobs overseas. Meanwhile, average Americans are struggling to find work here at home.
Republicans are willing to risk our economy to protect tax breaks for owners of corporate jets, yachts and oil companies. Average Americans are struggling to afford gas for their cars.
Republicans are willing to risk our economy to protect tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires. Average Americans are struggling to make their mortgage payments.
I’ve said it before: Republicans simply have the wrong priorities. They have made it their mission to stand up and shout for the richest few. But Democrats consider it our responsibility to stand up and shout for all Americans.