Following President Barack Obama’s Monday night address to the nation, U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., (D-8), applauded Obama’s alternative to the Republicans’ on how to lower the national debt, and urged Speaker John Boehner to compromise.
“The President tonight made plainly clear that our nation faces an unprecedented financial crisis,” said Pascrell. “Our debt is a direct result of two unfunded wars and tax cuts that benefit the wealthiest Americans and corporations that ship American jobs overseas. By 2019, just these three policies will account for over 40 percent of our total debt.”
In his speech, Obama described the Republican approach to the debt crisis as unreasonable and political, contrasting it with what he said was his compromise proposal.
In the president’s words, the Republicans say “Let’s cut domestic spending to the lowest level it’s been since Dwight Eisenhower was president. Let’s cut defense spending at the Pentagon by hundreds of billions of dollars. Let’s cut out the waste and fraud in health care programs like Medicare – and at the same time, let’s make modest adjustments so that Medicare is still there for future generations. Finally, let’s ask the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations to give up some of their tax breaks and special deductions.”
The president “asks everyone to give a little without requiring anyone to sacrifice too much. It would reduce the deficit by around $4 trillion and put us on a path to pay down our debt. And the cuts wouldn’t happen so abruptly that they’d be a drag on our economy, or prevent us from helping small business and middle-class families get back on their feet right now.”
Boehner, in his own address, said Obama is standing in the way of dramatically changing the country’s doomed fiscal trajectory.
“Last week, the (Republican) House passed such a (dramatic) plan, and with bipartisan support,” said the Speaker. “It’s called the ‘Cut, Cap, and Balance’ Act. It CUTS and CAPS government spending and paves the way for a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution, which we believe is the best way to stop Washington from spending money it doesn’t have. Before we even passed the bill in the House, the president said he would veto it. I want you to know I made a sincere effort to work with the president to identify a path forward that would implement the principles of Cut, Cap, & Balance in a manner that could secure bipartisan support and be signed into law. I gave it my all.
“Unfortunately, the president would not take yes for an answer,” Boehner added. “Even when we thought we might be close on an agreement, the president’s demands changed. The president has often said we need a “balanced” approach – which in Washington means: we spend more. . .you pay more. Having run a small business, I know those tax increases will destroy jobs.”
Pascrell blamed Boehner’s allegiance to ideologues within the Republican Caucus for why the speaker couldn’t join the president in agreeing to a course of shared sacrifice in order to lower the deficit and spur economic growth.
“What the speaker and majority leader unveiled today puts the burden of the nation’s debt squarely on the middle class, and sets the nation toward having this exact same, arduous debate in a matter of a few short months,” said the 8th District congressman. “Taking an ax to Medicare, Social Security and investments in everything from infrastructure to children’s education is not a compromise. Just as we saw with the GOP budget, Cut Cap and Balance and the Balanced Budget Amendment, the speaker and other House leaders have shown they are more interested in scoring points with their political base and kowtowing to big oil and other special interests than tackling serious problems and governing for middle-class America.”
Pascrell urged Boehner to show leadershop over his caucus in order to find compromise.
“I believe that he can and will do this,” said the congressman. “As a former Mayor of Paterson, N.J., I understand politics is about ideology, while governing is about bridge building and compromise. We must take the steps to find common grounds and do the job the American people sent us here to do: create jobs and grow the economy.”