Sen. Carper Statement on Vote to Increase Debt Ceiling

WASHINGTON – Today, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) released the following reaction to S.365, the debt limit compromise:

“While I’m relieved that Congressional leaders and President Obama reached an agreement that will raise our debt ceiling and avoid default, the truth is that this process took too long and the deal that was struck doesn’t take us where we need to go. Our nation needs a long-term plan – one that is thoughtful and balanced – that begins to rein in our massive federal deficit, reinforces our economic recovery and avoids abandoning those who need help the most.

“We need a plan like the one put forth by President Obama’s bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform – co-chaired by former Republican Senator Alan Simpson of Wyoming and President Clinton’s former Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles – or the plan devised by a bipartisan group of Senators known as the ‘Gang of Six.’

“Those plans called for reducing our deficit by $4 trillion over 10 years by putting everything on the table: discretionary spending, entitlement programs and revenues. This would not have meant massive tax increases on Delawareans and on the American people. In fact, it would have lowered rates for most families and businesses by eliminating or modifying some of the trillions of dollars of tax loopholes, credits and deductions. Unfortunately, Congress and the President did not follow that lead.

“Instead, we’re settling for a bill that reins in discretionary spending but does little to tackle our long-term financial challenges such as entitlement programs or the 800-pound gorilla in the room – rapidly increasing health care costs. In short, it’s a deal; it’s not a solution. It only addresses the symptoms of our nation’s fiscal ailments, specifically the debt ceiling, but fails to cure our serious disease of debt and deficits. It puts off until tomorrow what we should be doing today.

“Despite those reservations, I have decided to support this compromise, primarily because defaulting is unacceptable. It would result in a financial crisis at a time when our economic recovery is already weak.

“Our nation’s fiscal woes cannot be solved with one silver bullet. In addition to cutting spending and tackling our revenue problems, we also must change the culture in which our federal government operates. We need to move from a culture of spendthrift to a culture of thrift throughout the federal government — examining every nook and cranny and asking, ‘Is it possible to get a better result for less money, or a better result for the same amount of money, in almost everything we do?’ Enacting that change in culture has been, and remains, the central focus of my efforts in the Senate.

“The process to get to this deal was messy and misguided. Delawareans and all Americans expect that their elected officials in Washington will do what’s right – work together, compromise, and govern effectively to make the best decisions for our nation. They want us to govern, not bicker, and I couldn’t agree more. Unfortunately, the way officials in Washington approached this most-recent crisis did not live up to those expectations. I will continue to encourage my colleagues to rise above process and focus on sound policy. The American people are counting on us.”