DesJarlais: Why I Voted Against Raising The Debt Limit - And Response (4)

Monday, August 8, 2011 - by Rep. Scott DesJarlais
Rep. Scott DesJarlais
Rep. Scott DesJarlais

For too long, the federal government has been allowed to engage in an irresponsible spending spree that has resulted in the accumulation of a $14 trillion, job-crushing debt. On Nov. 2, 2010 the American people sent a clear message that they will not tolerate any more of this behavior from Washington and they fully expect the federal government to learn to live within its means.

Throughout the 112th Congress, nearly every single bill that House Republicans have introduced has had one common theme: cutting spending to create jobs. Unfortunately, Senate Democrats have blocked many of our attempts to enact common sense spending reductions, while offering no solutions of their own.

The debt limit debate provided us with a real opportunity to put our nation back on a fiscally sustainable path by forcing Senate Democrats and President Obama to finally make difficult spending decisions. From the beginning, I made it clear I would not support a $2.4 trillion debt limit increase without a plan that contained both significant and immediate spending cuts and reforms.

There were several debt limit proposals that were voted on before the final deal was ultimately reached. After careful consideration and numerous conversations with my constituents, I came to the conclusion that while some of these proposals contained worthwhile measures, they all ultimately fell short of the spending cuts needed to justify giving President Obama another $2.4 trillion blank check.

Upon reviewing the final bill, entitled the Budget Control Act of 2011, I was disappointed to find that this deal would only save American taxpayers a projected $900 billion over the course of ten years, while granting the president the largest debt limit increase in United States history. If Washington has taught us anything, it is to be wary of granting immediate spending increases in exchange for the promise of future cuts. Further, even if the projected level of cuts did occur, our national debt would still increase to close to $17 trillion by the end of next year. In my opinion the math just does not add up to a good deal, and therefore I did not vote in favor of it.

While I could not support this legislation, I think it is important to recognize that Republicans achieved significant victory by fundamentally changing the debate in Washington from how much we can spend to how much we can cut. Also, despite this legislation’s flaws, I want to commend Speaker Boehner for his hard work in preventing any job-crushing tax hikes from making their way into the final deal.

This fight is far from over. It is critical that we build upon this momentum and continue to work tirelessly in solving our debt crisis. Everyday families in Tennessee’s Fourth Congressional District sit down at the kitchen table and make tough budget decisions and it is time for the federal government to do the same. The generation that ran up this debt needs to be responsible for paying it off – not our children and grandchildren.

* * *

It is encouraging to see an elected official communicating with his constituents in a public setting and for that I commend Rep. DesJarlais. But there are a couple of topics of concern that should be addressed.

Why is it that you say "they blocked our attempts" when what you should have written was, "we couldn't get any of our bills passed because we are unwilling compromise and unwilling to work with our Democratic counterparts." You and Bob Corker are starting to sound like the guy at work who always has an excuse for why his numbers are off or why he just can't seem to get there in time. There is always reason you can't get something done. Here's an idea, be successful in your endeavors and the need for excuses stop.

In a divided government, if everyone stands on principal the legislative branch of government basically stops working. You have to be able to find common ground in order to find solutions to problems. The majority of Americans understand this, your fringe element uber-conservative constituents maybe advising you differently but rest assured they do not speak for all of the U.S. - nor do they speak for all Republicans.

The majority of Americans are sick of partisan politics. Since we have a divided government, I'm not so sure it's really going to work out for Republicans in 2012 if you're telling the American people that you are more than willing to gamble with their 401ks, mutual funds and IRAs with something as simple as raising the debt ceiling.

The debt ceiling debacle was no victory, Representative DesJarlais, it did nothing to curb spending and anyone who can read knows all the posturing accomplished nothing except for getting reelection ammo. The Republicans sloppy work on this caused the market to fall by creating uncertainty and for what it's worth, they are also the reason why we lost our AAA under S&P. The S&P downgraded us, not because of our debt or failure to pay our debt but because of a gridlocked government that couldn't get something necessary done without a monumental amount of time and energy being wasted.

And the worst part about it, you, Rep. DesJarlais and the rest of the Republicans knew it had to be raised. That's why you pulled your little stunt. You knew also that if it hadn't been passed the Republican party would have incurred the blame. Instead of raising it without a fuss, which is what should have happened, you and every other obstinate Representative caused the market to lose value.

If people like you hadn't been there, this would have been business as usual in Washington and the market would have been fine. I completely understand that is what needs to be changed but you have to choose your battles wisely or else we end up with four more years of Obama starting in 2012.

Jason Jackson

* * *

Now let me get this straight, Mr. DesJarlais. You tried to get our government to renege on money that we have already borrowed, all ready promised to pay back because we are spending too much money.

Compared to our government being run like a household, it would be like the head of the house refusing to pay the mortgage, the car note and the credit card bill because the family spends too much money.

I can understand a lot of your constituents not knowing the difference between the debt and the deficit, I've recently just learned it myself and once I found out I am appalled at our countries elected leaders for acting like they don't know the difference. You guys are congressmen. Surely you know what you're doing don't you?

There are only two possibilities here: gross ignorance or sedition, which is it?

F. Doug Craig

* * *

I appreciate what Congressman DesJarlais stands for in Washington. I believe the Congressman is doing the best he knows to do in addressing the serious issues that confront our nation. In many way, Congressman DesJarlais and the rest of Congress, have a really tough job ahead of them in getting the financial house in order in the United States.

For too many years the public has been lied to concerning government spending, especially military spending. While the "official" cost of our military is listed on the U.S. Treasury website, the figures are misleading, and in certain ways a blatant lie. Since the late 1960's, the service on the debt incurred by war/military expenditures has been lumped in with the service to the total U.S. debt. This is totally misleading, and it seems that neither the Democratic or Republican Party really wants the public to know just how much of our money is going to fight wars and fund our military. Considering this is a free and open society, any attempt to befuddle or mislead, is highly suspicious.

The Congressman in his statement, ignores the fact that his party proposed, championed, and passed a war funding measure against Iraq and Afghanistan that essential put the costs of those wars on a "credit card." His party also proposed, championed, and passed debt ceilings for the former President Bush often, and even deficit spent in a growing GDP. Yet they clamor about the debt. When any Republican speaks of passing the costs of government off to our children, they are speaking out of both sides of their mouth. To my knowledge, the Republican Party has not disavowed the policy of paying for our two wars without a corresponding increase in revenue. The Congressman signed a pledge to not seek any increases in revenue (taxes), and unless he has a crystal ball and can look into the future, I feel a pledge like this is irresponsible. If Congressman DesJarlais is proposing this approach, I would like to hear him come out publicly and state as much. If not, the Congressman should explain why it is okay to put a war on a credit card, but not okay to put social programs on a credit card. Considering the small group of companies that have benefited from our two wars, it seems important to me that the Congressman address this issue.

I understand that politicians make promises when they are campaigning that they have no intention of keeping once elected. There are a lot of reasons for this type of political rhetoric, but in the "old days" it was understood that partisanship wasn't something that was to be used to bring down the "full faith and credit" of the United States. Lately, a small group of US Representatives have insisted that their view of the "Rapture" be enforce, and that the rest of the country should kow-tow to their demands. Their demands are hateful, irresponsible, and borderline seditious given the fact that this country is involved in two wars against our very way of life. The Congressman has backed himself into a corner by playing up to a small constituency in his district. This small constituency holds to their beliefs as if they are holding on to Jesus, and most of their beliefs have no practical application, and very little common sense.

I wish the Congressman good luck in his endeavor. I don't know how he can believe that this country can get its financial house in order without increases, if only temporary, in revenue. When either party categorically dismisses looking at history to see how we got to this point, and holds to an ideology that is full of nothing but dogma, the safety and well being of our country are being sacrificed for political whims. Many people have benefited from government spending. There isn't a real estate agent with more than 10 years of service that hasn't benefited from Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. Employees of the Veterans Administration, employees of the military industrial complex, and almost every federal employee has benefited from "redistribution of wealth" policies the US government has enacted since 1940. It seems that the small group of constituents that are so vocal about spending cuts, are the ones who have benefited the most from government spending in the past. The state Sarah Palin hails from Alaska, for instance, has the highest level of federal government assistance per capita than any state in the union. Alaska is full of welfare babies, so why should those on welfare in the Tennessee foothills be treated any different? Make no mistake, Congressman; politics is about nothing more than who gets what and how. If Alaska gets it, I don't thinks its unfair for the people in the 4th Tennessee District to get it.

Personally, I would love to see the Congressman tackle the issues I have raised. I feel that nothing less will bring financial security to this country. There is no free ride in this country. Recently, the leaders of the Tea Party proposed cutting the VA by 25 percent across the board. They support the government reneging on their promise to veterans (which is owed to veterans, and not a hand out), but they preach being responsible. Of all the programs they could cut, the VA seems to be in their cross-hairs. I remind you, that this is the same group of people that pushed for paying for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan on a "credit card." If this is the best they can do, I think the country as a whole is being cheated.

Stephen Durham

* * *

None of our previous presidents have ever been turned down for a raise in the debt limit, none. Now along comes a half black man who wins the presidency of the U.S.A., voted in by voters to run our country and he has to jump through hoops, beg, plea, and go on T.V. to try and get this limit raised.

This time the Republicans decided to ruin his chances of a second term by adding every obstacle they could muster to keep Obama from getting this debt raised, you Mr. Desjarlais and plenty more like you almost succeeded in stopping this debt limit to be raised, knowing full well what was in store for the U.S.A. if it failed, but you didn't care for the U.S.A. you only care for the Republican party.

You and your kind in congress wanted to see the U.S.A. fail. If older and more mature heads in Washington hadn't prevailed, you would have gotten your wish, some damage has already been done by dropping our AAA credit rating to AA+ and it isn't over yet, the stock market is going down the toilet each day, people are losing their savings and it isn't over yet, all because Republicans didn't think or heed the advice of the people in the know, I hope you are happy, did you and the other republicans get together and have a back slapping and high fives to each other and say, we showed Obama.

How much are you going to lose in this stock market? My advice to you and the other Republicans in Washington is to get your head out of your behind and start working together to solve the problems of the U.S.A. instead of trying to ruin Obama for trying to hold this country together.

Tell Grover Norquist to take your name off his list, you were elected to work for the people of the U.S.A., not a nobody like him. You are young, green as a gourd, new to the policy making in Washington, try to do your best while you are there and think of the people of the U.S.A. instead of the Republican party, you just might survive to serve again.

Gary Dixon
South Pittsburg

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