Statement on GOP Debt Ceiling Bill

Jan 23, 2013


Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Sander Levin (D-MI) today made the following statement on the House floor in opposition to the GOP’s debt ceiling bill:

This Republican bill is not a change in policy. It is a change in tactics.  House Republicans continue to play with economic fire. They are playing political games and that undermines certainty. Economist Simon Johnson of MIT testified yesterday before the Ways and Means Committee, saying a short-term increase would only extend uncertainty. He said: “You will continue to undermine the private sector. You will continue to delay investment and to reduce employment relative to what it would be otherwise.”

Let’s for a second remember history. The last time the House Republicans played games with the debt ceiling:

  • In August 2011, our economy produced the lowest job growth in three years.
  • During that two-month period the Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeted 2,000 points, including one of its worst single-day drops in history (635 points on Aug. 8).
  • S&P downgraded the U.S. credit rating for the first time in history.

Leading House Republicans in June 2011 criticized the notion of a short-term debt ceiling increase as providing a lack of certainty.

Majority Leader Eric Cantor said this in mid-June 2011: “We feel very strongly that one of the reasons why we continue to see an ailing economy is that people have very little confidence, have very little certainty in terms of where we are headed.”

Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp echoed that feeling only days later, saying about the prospect of a short-term debt ceiling increase: “It doesn’t give you certainty."

This bill does not give certainty, but rather uncertainty.

The action we took New Year’s Day to avoid the fiscal cliff brought our total deficit reduction over the past two years to $2.5 trillion. What’s more, it set the stage for future further balanced agreements that include both spending cuts and new revenue.

We should proceed with that effort, not plunge into further uncertainty.