Why I voted no on the debt ceiling

August 01 2011 by Chris Murphy

Share your thoughts on the debt ceiling vote


As I am sure you know, the House just voted to increase the debt limit. I voted against the bill.

I heard from many of you throughout this debate. The phones were ringing off the hook and emails flooded my inbox. In the end, what I heard from people across the state was that we needed to raise the debt ceiling, while making sure that any related deficit reduction was done in a way that shared the pain, protected our social safety net, and helped put people back to work.

Abby from Middlebury sent these thoughts:

"Please focus on extending the debt so we do not default AND protect Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security not only for the elderly today but for future generations. Don't let the Republicans eviscerate the social safety net!!!"

Tonight, I wanted to take a moment and share why I voted the way I did, and to ask for your thoughts.

First, there is no question that the debt limit needs to be increased. And there is no question that we need to make hard choices to dramatically bring down our deficit. But this crisis was totally manufactured by a small group of extreme right wingers who are intent not on simply reducing government spending, but on destroying government altogether. And the bill that resulted was rightly described by most political commentators as a victory for their cause.

I was willing to vote for a compromise. But this was not a compromise, it was a near complete capitulation.

Look, I work hard to promote bi-partisanship and cooperation across the aisle. I lead a group in the House called the Center-Aisle Caucus designed to bring Members - Republicans and Democrats - together to get to know each other and to start building the bonds that might make this place work better. In my work on the Buy American agenda, almost every effort I put forward is done with bipartisan support. If I believed this was a true compromise where both sides were giving up significant concessions, I would have voted for it.

But this bill didn't ask one corporation to give back a single tax break. This bill didn't ask one billionaire to pay a dime more in taxes. And all the spending on the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars were exempt from the spending caps in the bill. Without putting revenue on the table, and mandating the end to these wars, we can't be serious about real shared sacrifice.

And while I have long been willing to speak out on the need for spending cuts, the cuts in this bill - including major, arbitrary cuts to Medicare - fall disproportionately on the backs of seniors and the middle class.

I was hoping that I would have some time back home in Connecticut before voting on this bill to hear from even more of my neighbors and constituents (it's especially ironic that the party that complained that the health care bill was "jammed through" after one year of debate, didn't even allow for 24 hours of sunlight on this $2 trillion piece of legislation). But this false crisis meant that I had to make the call based on what I thought was right.

In the end, I could not support a bill that fed the extremist drive to kill off government one piece at a time. And I could not endorse a process that rewards legislative hostage-taking, resulting in hasty, under-informed decision making. That's what I think. But just as importantly, I want to know what you think. Please let me know by clicking here:

http://www.chrismurphy.com/debt-ceiling

While I certainly respect those who voted for this bill, I firmly believe this was not the right product or process for this great and compassionate nation.

Thank you for reading this. Now that we are past this manufactured crisis, I will continue to focus on what people tell me they care about most: creating jobs and opportunities for people across Connecticut and around the nation.

Sincerely,

Chris