Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Speech Obama Should Have Given in May

"Republicans are now saying they will not vote to raise the debt ceiling unless Congress and I agree to drastic cuts, including to Medicare. This is unconscionable and must stop.

"First of all, what does it mean to refuse to raise the debt ceiling? Does it mean we will spend less? No. What we spend is determined by what Congress appropriates. All it means is that when we get the bills, we won't have enough cash to pay them. It means that we will become, for the first time in our history, a nation of deadbeats.

"The consequences for our struggling economy are likely to be disastrous. It's not hard to imagine what the effect on our creditworthiness would be. People simply are not going to be willing to lend to us at the low rates we currently get.

"But the more serious point is what it would do to our standing in the world. We would be saying to everyone that we are a nation that doesn't keep its promises. We would be demonstrating to all, including ourselves, that our political system is completely dysfunctional.

"Everyone in Congress either understands this or is too uninformed to be in Congress. That's why we have never failed to raise the debt ceiling, including doing it seven times in the last administration. The debt is the responsibility of both parties--sixty percent of our current debt was incurred in the previous three Republican administrations.

"Now a small group of extremists have decided to use this means to blackmail the entire country. They say we must make drastic cuts to important programs, or they will, indeed, allow us to become a nation of deadbeats. It's not cutting up the credit card--it's using the credit card and then refusing to pay the bill.

"I understand that these people are motivated, at least in part, by concern about the deficit. I'm concerned about the deficit too, and it is urgent that we sit down together and discuss ways of closing it.

"But I will not be a party to any attempt to force down the throats of the American people cuts to crucial government services, including not only Medicare but air traffic control, food inspection, Pell grants, and many more, cuts that Americans don't want, by threatening to make us an object of pity and scorn for the rest of the world.

"The debt ceiling is one thing. The budget is another. Let's keep them separate."

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