Stearns, Brown both oppose raising debt ceiling
Published: Wednesday, June 1, 2011 at 5:46 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, June 1, 2011 at 5:46 p.m.
In an uncommon display of unity, both of Alachua County’s congressional representatives voted against raising the ceiling on the national debt.
The opposition expressed by U.S. Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Ocala, — was expected. GOP leaders have been steadfast in demanding spending cuts approaching $2 trillion over the next decade in exchange for upping the debt limit.
But on Tuesday Rep. Corrine Brown was among the 82 Democrats who also balked at increasing the amount the national debt can go up. Overall, the measure failed 318-97.
Meanwhile, senior Republicans in the House met with President Obama on Wednesday to discuss reductions in spending, while Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner was expected to meet with opponents to persuade them of the need for supporting the increase.
The measure considered on Tuesday would have raised the amount the government could borrow from $14.3 trillion to $16.7 trillion.
Republicans had introduced the measure, which did not contain spending cuts, even though they knew it was destined to fail. They reportedly wanted to signal Obama that the proposal would go nowhere without reductions sought by the GOP majority in the House.
Democrats countered that the vote was a political ruse that detracted from the serious issue that the federal government could be in default of its obligations as of Aug. 2, if the limit is not increased.
Stearns said in a statement that raising the ceiling without cutting future spending would exacerbate an already untenable situation regarding the nation’s finances.
“When a family is mired in debt, they don’t need an increase in their credit limit, they need a budget that reduces their debt — the federal government should do the same,” Stearns said.
“The president is asking for the authority to add more than $2 trillion to the debt without any provisions to restrict excessive federal spending and borrowing,” Stearns added.
“The American people are demanding accountability, real spending reforms, and an end to business as usual — we cannot authorize this measure to add more debt and to put us farther down the road toward bankruptcy.”
Stearns noted that he supports the Spending Reduction Act, introduced by Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, that would slash federal spending by $2.5 trillion over 10 years.
The proposal would do so by capping current discretionary spending unrelated to national security to 2008 levels, and return those non-defense programs — which do not include things like Social Security and Medicare — to 2006 levels over the rest of the 10-year budget window.
The bill also calls for trimming or eliminating funding for more than 100 government programs.
Brown’s office did not immediately respond to a request seeking comment. The Jacksonville Democrat, however, told the Florida Times-Union that while she supports raising the debt ceiling, she voted with the Republicans to protest their handling of the measure.
“I am not for playing games with the full faith and credit of the United States,” Brown, whose district includes part of northeast Marion, told the Times-Union. “I mean, they put it up with no debate.”
“Republicans are supposed to be business people, and they want to jeopardize the full faith and credit of the United States government,” she said.
Contact Bill Thompson at 867-4117 or at firstname.lastname@example.org