(House of Representatives - July 20, 2011)

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[Pages H5241-H5242]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []

                             THE DEBT LIMIT

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair recognizes the gentlewoman from 
California (Ms. Chu) for 5 minutes.
  Ms. CHU. In less than 2 weeks, on August 2, we must raise the debt 
limit or the American Government will go into financial default. If we 
don't, it will be a disaster for the economy, and real American 
families will pay the price.

[[Page H5242]]

  That's why for almost 95 years we have kept our promises and paid our 
bills. Congress has voted to avoid economic default nearly 100 times 
since 1917 because it was the right thing to do. The debt limit was 
raised 17 times under Ronald Reagan, four times under Bill Clinton and 
seven times under George W. Bush; but now Republicans are shying away 
from their duty, spreading misinformation about the serious threat we 
are facing, saying there will be no impact on the average American and 
that it will not hurt our economy.
  But that's not true. Let me tell you why.
  If we default on our bills, the interest on all our loans would 
skyrocket just as your interest rate would go up if you missed a credit 
card payment. This means disaster for all American families. The median 
30-year home loan would increase by almost $20,000, or 10 percent. This 
would hurt an already struggling housing market, pushing home sale 
prices down and potentially leaving more borrowers underwater.
  If we default on our bills, the stock market could plunge, and 
Americans in their fifties would lose almost $9,000 immediately from 
the typical 401(k). The S 500 could lose 6.3 percent in value in just 
3 short months. These losses would affect millions of Americans, who 
would have fewer savings for their retirements, their supposed golden 
  If we default on our bills, prices for gas, electronics, clothes, and 
other imported goods could dramatically increase. A U.S. default would 
create economic chaos, forcing the value of our dollar to decrease, 
making many products we use every day more expensive at a time when our 
household dollars are already stretched thin.
  We cannot let this happen, but Republican leaders in Washington are 
playing political games with our economic security. With 2 weeks left 
and the clock ticking, the time for playing childish political games 
should be over. Republicans should come back to the table and work with 
Democrats on a compromise that will avert economic catastrophe, and 
they should work on a compromise that doesn't hurt the most vulnerable 
amongst us.
  Seniors earn an average of only $19,000 a year. Contrast that to 
millionaires, who, because of the Bush-era votes, are getting almost 
$140,000 in tax breaks from the government every year. There is no 
reason that our seniors and the neediest amongst us should struggle to 
pay their hospital and electric bills just so we can subsidize a 
millionaire's yacht.
  Yet Republicans want to gut the programs that benefit seniors most--
Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare--in exchange for their votes on 
the debt limit. They actually want to hold your senior years hostage 
just so they can make a political statement on the debt limit. We 
cannot balance the budget on the backs of seniors.
  For those who believe that the potential for default is not real, let 
me quote a famous President who said 25 years ago: ``Congress 
consistently brings the government on the edge of default before facing 
its responsibility. This brinkmanship threatens the holders of 
government bonds and those who rely on Social Security and veteran 
benefits. Interest rates would skyrocket; instability would incur in 
financial markets, and the Federal deficit would soar.'' That President 
was Ronald Reagan, making his plea to Congress.
  Today, the American people are calling again on this body to do 
what's right.
  I know that, if we can move past all the political posturing, we can 
reach a bipartisan agreement that protects Social Security, Medicaid 
and Medicare, that reduces the debt, and that saves our economy from 
the disaster of default. We must do it now.