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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Monday, July 25, 2011

Dent Speaks Out on Debt Ceiling

LV Congressman Charlie Dent's latest newsletter, which focuses on the debt ceiling, pulls no punches. President Obama will address the nation at 9 PM.

As I write this column on Monday morning, Greece is being bailed out once again by its European neighbors. Italy is on the brink. Global markets are volatile and jittery. And our nation faces a fiscal challenge of enormous proportions. That's the bad news. The good news is that America is blessed and exceptional, and I still believe we have the fortitude and political capacity to meet this unprecedented challenge.

First and foremost, we must deal with the plain truth: Defaulting on America's obligations -- to our creditors, seniors, disabled veterans, active military personnel, college students and many others -- is not an option. Second, a ratings downgrade of the US government must be prevented.

Stopping a default will occur by simply raising the debt ceiling; preventing a ratings downgrade is a much more demanding, painful exercise that will impact us all. Only a sound, credible plan that places America on a sustainable fiscal trajectory will prevent the downgrade Standard & Poors warned of a few months ago and has recently foreshadowed. And just what does a downgrade mean? Higher interest rates for everyone. Interest rates for mortgages, small business financing, car loans, credit cards and yes, the federal government’s debt service payments will increase dramatically, which in turn will dig us into an even deeper hole.

I have spent an enormous amount of time working and meeting with financial experts, ratings agencies, Republicans of all ideological stripes, Gang of Six Senators, and Blue Dog Democrats to find an acceptable resolution.

Based on these discussions, it is clear that a resolution with broad bipartisan support and deep commitment is essential to restoring market confidence, and those same markets will respond much better to a Congressional act of commission rather than an act of omission. Prioritizing our debt obligations, attractive as it may sound, will be extremely disruptive and add more uncertainty to an already fragile situation. If you don't believe me, please read the Bipartisan Policy Center's sobering debt limit/cash flow analysis for the federal government beginning August 3.

So what should be done?

First, the White House needs to offer a serious, specific plan. No more back-of-the-envelope suggestions, leaked from closed door meetings. As the nonpartisan CBO Director Doug Elmendorf stated in a stinging rebuke of the President, "we don't estimate speeches." Carping about the House passed budget and the "Cut, Cap and Balance" legislation because it cuts spending is not a substitute for leadership.

To the Senate, do something. Anything. How about passing a bill? Under Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, it has been a staggering 800 days since a budget was passed in the chamber. Congress can't clap with one hand. In spite of Senator Reid, the Gang of Six has made an important contribution to the fiscal reform discussion.

To some of my more frustrated Republican colleagues in the House, for the good of the American people, I ask that you remain open to potential solutions beyond Cut, Cap and Balance. And please, focus less on what you will never do and more on what we must do. We have a sacred duty and solemn obligation to lead and act. We have an affirmative obligation to govern for the sake of our country.

The hourglass is nearly empty.

Let’s review the options: 1) Cut, Cap and Balance; 2) a short-term plan based on agreed to spending cuts in recent negotiations; 3) the so-called "Grand Bargain"; or 4) the last ditch plan offered by Senator McConnell.

Or how about an intermediate approach like this: Immediate spending cuts that exceed the amount needed to raise the debt ceiling through January, a binding commitment to: 1) enact comprehensive tax reform that eliminates tax breaks and loopholes in exchange for lower marginal rates that will spur economic growth and create jobs; 2) long term spending reforms, including caps; and 3) budget enforcement mechanisms.

If nothing else, we must bring the process into the open to restore confidence. The American people demand leadership and constructive action. The world is watching. It's time to lead and demonstrate our American exceptionalism.

-Congressman Charlie Dent


Anonymous said...

Do you pinheads realize that Greece is being bailout by Germany. Germany has more social systems than the US and somehow survives and thrives. Maybe it is the quality of our office holders.

Try Thinking!

Anonymous said...

We are taking your house, your car won't work and you have no job. But look on the bright side fellow Americans, your congressman says you are Blessed.

The talking points just get sillier as the ship sinks faster.

Bill Coker said...

If both Dems and Reps are against deficents, why is there one? Let's stop the crap, bite the bullet at the onset and make the changes where appropriate. If we weren't paying for two worthless wars (what will we "win"?), and sending aid to every outpost in the world, we would be golden. And we wouldn't even touch the the untouchable military with its $150 hammers and $500 toilets.

Anonymous said...

Congress Dent:

Why is it that every Republican uses the same spin about what is wrong with the Democrats?

From what I can see, the moderates in the Democratic party are asking for two things beyond raising the debt ceiling, don't hurt the middle class and the poor; eliminate the tax loopholes and just maybe remove the Bush tax reductions. Meanwhile, they have been very clear about wanting to reduce the deficit.

I don't get it, and when I listen to the Speaker, I really do not get it.

Anonymous said...

And yes, I meant to type Congressman

Anonymous said...

Anon 1107pm, you hit on the problem - without significant spending cuts, the middle class is going to take it right in the shorts.

There simply is not enough tax revenue available by only hitting the rich. That's why the "millionaire's tax" starts at $250k and will necessarily have to drop in order to raise the cash necessary to pay for all that is going on in Washington.

Couple that with the garbage that was in the stimulus bill that was not stimulative at all and it's a recipe for disaster.

The President has said he doesn't want to 'kick the can' on this and wants a long term deal. I agree with him, which is why spending must be dealt with now, in real terms, and no fuzzy cuts that won't happen.

Anonymous said...

This is a situation that demands closing tax loopholes that have been milked long enough. it also means cutting spending.

It also means stop sending 70 cents out of every federal tax dollar to the sought and oh yeah, Alaska.

Anonymous said...

That was the South. For the region of the nation that pisses and moans the most, the old confederacy loves those federal dollars. Hypocritical assholes!

Harry O' Bern said...

Dent can perform his Christ-like miracles, I am sure. Merry Dentmas!

Anonymous said...

While in Music class when I was 7-10 years of age, I remember singing a popular American Verse....."the land of the free, the home of the brave"

It has morphed into the land of the incarcerated, the home of the poor.

USA is number 1 in the world for incarceration (including the incarceration of illegal aliens at a cost of at least 30K per year)

American poverty is on the rise. There are too many reasons to list here. If we dont watch out, we will be a third world country by the year 2030.

Americans want everything, but refuse to pay for it. Its time for a compromise, or a major tax hike. I hope our congress can get it done before its too late.


Anonymous said...

People argue the stimulus failed because job creation never hapenned. But lets look at what it did.

The banks were able to stay afloat, so that an even worse disaster was prevented.

Unemployment was and is propped up by extension after extension.

Some state and municipal jobs were preserved with the influx of stimulus cash to each state.

But, people continue to complain. Many blame Corbett for slashing spending, but he only restored spending to pre-stimulus levels. There were really no spending "cuts" in his budget.

As a nurse, I have had the benefit of learning all sorts of things from patients who lived through the 1929 depression. We have it good, and I am grateful that I did not have to walk up and down railroad tracks, searching for a piece of bread


Anonymous said...

Charlie - Enough with the rhetoric. Get off your hands and get something done. The President has been more than accommodating to your caucus.

GETI IT DONE, DENT or you will be replaced in the next election.

Anonymous said...

Love how the tea partiers driving the rusty buckets of bolts are the ones defending and covering for the Saucon Valley Country Club crowd. Newsflash: you will never be one of them. Ever.

Anonymous said...

CMon Charlie..The debt ceiling should have been raised cleanly and we wouldnt be facing this crisis..But it wasnt because of your republican wingnut buddies..The republican house caused this mess and last time I looked you were one of them..

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:08

You hit the nail right on the head.

Anonymous said...

Dent supported the increasingly disastrous TARP for banks that continue to tank and is now feigning indignation at the fiscally irresponsible? This is a Monty Python skit, right? It's hard to make this stuff up.

Bernie O'Hare said...

The TARP, like the debt ceiling increase,are both necessary. Without it, the economy would have collapsed. Yes, Dent voted for it. So did Obama. So if this makes Dent a terrible person, then so is Obama.

Zorn said...

harry obrian - sucking the dem rat once again

Anonymous said...

The only sucking sound here is bernie again kissing Dent's butt once again...

Anonymous said...

TARP is actually returning money to taxpayers. Look it up.

So there.

Anonymous said...

They won't look it up because Ann Coulter won't let them. The stimulus money has been paid back but some of these morons don't believe it because they are spoon fed their ideological hate.

Anonymous said...


"From what I can see, the moderates in the Democratic party are asking for two things beyond raising the debt ceiling, don't hurt the middle class and the poor; eliminate the tax loopholes and just maybe remove the Bush tax reductions. Meanwhile, they have been very clear about wanting to reduce the deficit."

The moderates in the Democratic party -- who exactly are these Democratic "moderates?" Define your terms.

They don't want to hurt the middle class or the poor -- are the middle class at $250,000 in income -- or are those folks millionaires?

They have been very clear about wanting to reduce the deficit -- ahh, yes, these Democratic moderates that are always in the news fighting for balanced budgets.

I'm sorry, but I don't agree with your comment.