Black Leads 76 Freshmen in Calling for Obama to Come Forward on Debt Talks and Submit a Plan

Jun 6, 2011 Issues: Spending Cuts and Debt

Washington, D.C.—Today, U.S. Representative Diane Black (R-TN) along with 76 of her freshman colleagues, sent a letter to President Obama asking him to join negotiations on reducing our nation’s debt in relation to his request that Congress raise the debt ceiling by August 2nd.

“After meeting with both President Obama and Treasury Secretary Geithner last week, I and my colleagues are not confident that the Administration has a credible plan to reduce our debt, so it’s time to demand one,” said Black.  “In light of now multiple credit ratings agencies threatening to downgrade American bonds without significant long-term steps toward deficit reduction, it is time for the president to stop sitting on the sidelines of this debate. The House overwhelmingly rejected the president’s request for a clean debt limit increase, so clearly a package of significant spending cuts and structural reforms are necessary.  The House has already passed a budget that addresses the drivers of our debt, but we have yet to get a similarly scorable plan from President Obama.  As the president, it is his obligation to present his plan to cut the debt and protect the credit rating of the United States.  It’s time for the president to come to the table.”

June 6, 2011

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

On May 16th, the United States reached the $14.294 trillion debt ceiling. According to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner’s May 2nd letter to Speaker John Boehner, the last possible date for Congress to raise the debt limit and still prevent default is August 2, 2011. As Members of Congress who are casting their first votes on the creditworthiness of the United States, we are writing to seek your support in addressing the unsustainable and historically high debt that our nation faces. In February, you stated that “We will not be adding more to the national debt.  To use a sort of an analogy that families are familiar with, we're not going to be running up the credit card anymore. That's important, and that's hard to do. But it's necessary to do.”

Despite this rhetoric, you and officials from your Administration have asked Congress to vote on a clean debt limit increase that would necessitate raising the statutory debt limit by $2.4 trillion dollars to prevent default through the end of 2012.  As recently as May 25th, Secretary Geithner said, "Our plan is for Congress to pass the debt limit.  Our fall-back plan is for Congress to pass the debt limit and our fall-back plan to the fall-back plan is for Congress to pass the debt limit.”

Yet, as evidenced by the overwhelming and bipartisan rejection of such a debt limit increase on May 31st, it is clear that a debt limit increase that does not include significant spending cuts and structural reforms has zero chance of passing the House of Representatives.

Republican Members of the House of Representatives have put forth a plan to address our nation’s deficit and debt problem, including policies to address the primary drivers of our debt our entitlement programs  and in particular, Medicare.  However, your Administration has yet to come forward with a detailed plan that reduces the national debt and addresses entitlement reform.  It is vital that for serious negotiations to take place your Administration must put forward a plan that addresses entitlement reform, including Medicare.  We cannot have honest and forthright negotiations without such a plan.

The current debate over what it will take for Congress to agree to raise the debt ceiling is one of the most vital debates the 112th Congress will engage in, yet the voice and leadership of the President of the United States is missing. Americans deserve to hear your plan.

We appreciate your consideration and look forward to your response within the next 30 days.