Somehow, U.S. Sen. Dean Heller was unmoved by the compelling words of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who urged his colleagues today to raise the nation’s debt-ceiling:
Every reputable economist acknowledges that defaulting on our bills would devastate the economy and erase the past five years of recovery. According to a report by the nonpartisan Peterson Institute for International Economics, when Republicans forced us to the brink of default two years ago it cost our economy $150 billion in productivity and 750,000 jobs. And financial industry leaders have warned Congress again and again that even the threat of default ripples quickly through the economy.
So it’s too bad that a few Republicans would threaten a filibuster of this crucial legislation. However, I am hopeful that Senate Republicans won’t force the economy to wait weeks or even days for a resolution, but will instead allow us to vote on this issue today. I believe many of my Republican colleagues would like to be reasonable if they weren’t so beholden to their Tea Party overlords.
And I am hopeful that a more bipartisan, common-sense approach – one that favors collaboration over hostage taking – will prevail this year. Congress should be striding from accomplishment to accomplishment, not staggering from crisis to crisis. If we spent more time working together and less time running out the clock on procedural hurdles and Republican filibusters we might actually get things done around here. I hope we can continue to cooperate and collaborate this year, and to deliver results for Americans looking for action instead of gridlock.
Alas, Heller was one of 43 Republicans to cast a “no” vote. His explanation:
“Our nation is facing $17 trillion in debt with nothing but more spending in our future. Yet again, Congress is raising the limit on our nation’s credit card without making any attempt to prevent doing so again in the near future. Congress cannot continue to consistently increase our nation’s debt without any conditions or any effort to become fiscally responsible.
“Washington D.C. must not turn a blind eye to the consequences that runaway debt poses for our nation. Moving forward, Congress must enact a long-term solution that addresses our nation’s spending problem and places our country on the path to economic stability.”
I get Heller’s point here: If there’s no move to impose fiscal restraint, there’s little chance we won’t just keep overspending in the future. But that’s not what this debate is about, and every Republican in Washington knows it. Raising the debt ceiling is about paying the bills we’ve already run up, not authorizing future spending. (That comes when debating budget, continuing resolution and appropriations bills.) Voting against the debt ceiling because you object to the lack of a spending control plan is like tossing your Nordstrom bill just after a massive shopping spree, because you don’t think you’ll have to willpower to avoid the upcoming half-yearly sale!
Or something. I don’t really shop at Nordstrom too much.