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The Debt Ceiling: Governing by Crisis

Oct 27, 2015

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Representative Mike Quigley (IL-05) urged his colleagues on the House floor to consider bipartisanship compromise over politics in the wake of the debt ceiling crisis.

Below is a video and transcript of the speech.

Mr. Speaker,

In 1983, the hero of the Republican Party, President Reagan, wrote to then Senate Majority Leader Howard Baker urging him to raise the debt ceiling.

In his letter he said: “The risks, the costs, the disruptions and the incalculable damage lead me to but one conclusion:  The Senate must pass this legislation before the Congress adjourns.”

23 years later, we now find ourselves one week away from defaulting on our debt for the first time in our nation’s history.

But instead of making sure we preserve the full faith and credit of the United States, as President Reagan had done 18 times throughout his presidency, some want to hold our economy hostage to extract ideological wins.

This is not the time for partisan bickering and political gamemenship.

Not when it means delaying Social Security benefits for seniors and those with disabilities,

Withholding paychecks from our brave active-duty service members,

And postponing interest payments on government issued bonds.

We have a responsibility to live up to our obligations no matter what.

That’s not politics. It’s basic governing.

But the longer we wait to meet our obligations and raise the debt ceiling; the closer we get to another credit rating downgrade, a spike in interest rates, and a severe slowdown in economic growth.

This is not an overstatement.

Let’s look back at what happened in 2013 during the last debt-ceiling standoff.

Just the possibility of default caused rates on Treasuries to rise by almost half a percentage point—costing taxpayers as much as $70 million.  

This time around, if we actually default, market forecasters estimate that interest payments on treasuries would increase federal deficits by $10 billion over the short-term, and by $75 billion a year after that.

That’s money that wouldn’t be going to critical investments in research and development, education, and infrastructure.

On top of that, higher interest rates on Treasuries could lead to a one percentage reduction in GDP.

That would mean the loss of almost 700,000 jobs; and that’s just a conservative estimate.

Make no mistake, every American would be impacted.

Middle class families looking to buy a home would face higher mortgage rates.

A half a percentage point increase in mortgage rates would increase the lifetime cost of an average home loan by almost $19,000.

Small business owners would face difficulties trying to secure new loans as lending tightens up.

And students will have an even harder time trying to pay for college as student loan rates skyrocket.

We owe it to our constituents to move towards responsible governing and away from governing by crisis, which has become all too common around here.

The bipartisan budget package unveiled last night affirms the full faith and credit of the United States and represents real progress for hard working American families who are tired of threats of default and partisan gridlock.

Now is not the time for politics, now is the time for thoughtful consideration, bipartisan compromise and, most importantly, finding a path forward for the American people.

Thank you, and I yield back.