On Monday night, President Barack Obama and Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH8) both spoke about their debt ceiling plans and outlooks. President Obama and Speaker Boehner as well as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) have all put together plans. They are plans that have positives and negatives that have all involved choosing to focus more on the differences than their commonalties. There are disagreements between Obama and some Democrats. There are disagreements between Boehner and conservative members of his House caucus. The partisan bickering and political posturing has many rational Americans perturbed and confused at why all involved cannot put the country first.
If one has flipped through any news channel in the last week or last couple months, they have seen multiple members of Congress weighing in on the debt issue. Some New Jerseyans like state Senator Richard Codey (D-27) has been amongst those guests and commentators.
In the wake of Monday’s two speeches and the final week countdown to a possible default; a handful of New Jersey’s U.S. Congressmen are weighing in as well.
One of those offering their opinion is Congressman Bill Pascrell (D-NJ8). Pascrell backed much of what Obama outlined Monday night and views his plan consisting of the necessary steps that Boehner should consider. As Pascrell stated,
“The President tonight (Monday) made plainly clear that our nation faces an unprecedented financial crisis. 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.”
Going further, Pascrell observed that,
“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.”
Additionally, Pascrell felt that the Speaker was willowing to the pressure of his ultraconservative colleagues and is putting an allegiance to ideology before responsible compromise. Pascrell targeted and criticized Boehner when he lamented,
“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. 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.”
Finally Pascrell expressed,
“I believe that he (Boehner) can and will do this. 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.”
Congressman Pascrell was not the only Democrat in the U.S. House from New Jersey expressing disappointment in the leadership of Boehner and his actions along with his caucus over the debt ceiling. As Rothman exclaimed,
“I oppose the Boehner default bill because it will lead to drastic cuts in Medicare and Social Security, while unfairly protecting tax breaks for those who make millions and billions of dollars in income each year. The Boehner plan represents exactly the type of extreme legislation that keeps us from solving our nation’s fiscal crisis. I would be in favor of a balanced debt reduction effort to address the serious issues our country faces, but without compromise – from both sides – that solution is impossible.”
Pascrell and Rothman could likely see each other in a primary matchup next year after congressional redistricting takes place. Those two Democrats were not alone in commenting this week as Congressman Scott Garrett (R-NJ5) expressed hopes for Democrats to strongly consider a balanced budget amendment in exchange for raising the debt ceiling. Garrett represents a view that echoes some of the members of the Republican House caucus that do not exactly fall in line with Boehner and agree on much of his plan. According to Garrett’s office,
“What Congressman Garrett has focused on is the cut, cap and balance plan and he is still undecided at the moment on Speaker Boehner’s plan.”
Garrett represents part of the problem right now in Washington over the debt ceiling as he is putting his ideology first and not even accepting a plan put forth by his own leader.
Garrett’s colleague in the House as well as part of the New Jersey representation in Congress, Congressman Leonard Lance (R-NJ7), expresses a little more of a moderate approach and trusts Boehner’s plan more than Garrett. According to Lance’s office,
“Leonard understands there is passion on both sides of the issue but also frustration that Washington has yet to figure out a solution to this problem. But he is confident that leaders in Congress can agree to a plan that avoids default and puts our nation on a sustainable path toward fiscal responsibility.”
There is a slight chance that Garrett and Lance might be Republican primary opponents after congressional redistricting in January.
Just a sample of the opinions of these New Jersey congressman alone shows the divides that are evident in Washington right now. There is a desire to ensure the country does not default by some and a desire to ensure ideological stances win out by others at the expense of the country’s future. It is a serious battle that has less than a week to reach a solution before the United States as we know it begins to look a little different. That new image is starting to shift into place already with grim predictions by some and adjustments that are being made that could affect the country’s credit.
It is time for politicians to once again put the country before political agendas and elections. As the lame duck session this past December showed, two parties growing farther apart can at times come together when the pressure is greatest. The pressure when it comes to the nation’s debt is no greater than right now. And, the opinions being expressed each day show that.