Sep 22, 2021
Senate GOP Debt Ceiling Press Conference Transcript September 22
Senate Republicans Mitch McConnell, John Thune, and Joni Ernst held a press conference on September 22 to address the national debt limit. They said they will not help Democrats raise the debt ceiling. Read the transcript of the news briefing here.
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Mitch McConnell: (00:03)
Well, good afternoon, everyone. With regard to the reckless toxic spending bill, I think we have pretty well analyzed how to describe this in a few words. It hurts American families and helps China, but that’s just the beginning of the challenges that we’re faced with in trying to defeat this terrible, terrible bill.
Mitch McConnell: (00:29)
But I’m going to focus for a minute on the debt ceiling. Look, we all agree. America must never default. The debt ceiling will need to be raised. We have a Democratic president, Democratic house, a Democratic Senate. They have decided to with the possible exception of infrastructure all year long to operate on a partisan basis, a $1.9 trillion bill earlier this year, that all of us opposed for darn good reason, and this reckless toxic spending measure, which could range from $3.5 trillion to $5 trillion. So my advice to this Democratic government, the president, the House, and the Senate, don’t play Russian roulette with our economy. Step up and raise the debt ceiling to cover all that you’ve been engaged in all year long. So no effort on their part to describe our position as irresponsible makes any sense because the facts are indisputable. This is a totally democratic government. They have an obligation to raise the debt ceiling and they will do it.
Speaker 2: (01:57)
Well, first of I completely agree with the leader that we should never default on our debt. That’s number one. Number two, the Democrats can deal with this all by themselves because they have the House, the White House, and the Senate. So this is their responsibility, but let’s look at where we are today. We are seeing unbelievable inflation that’s hurting our poorest families. You saw the CPI numbers come out for August, 5.3%. You saw the PPI numbers come out, over 8%. If you talk to businesses all across this country, they’re all seeing inflation and they’re seeing significant supply disruptions. This is hurting our poorest families. Anybody has to watch when they put food on their table, they’re seeing their prices go up on food. Anybody has to drive to work, they’re seeing their gas prices up. If you’re rich, it’s not going to have an impact on you, but if you’re struggling to make ends meet, this reckless government spending is causing inflation.
Speaker 2: (02:51)
And we’ve got to figure out how to get our House in order. We can’t just do exactly what this… Do here. It’s called a blank check. The Democrats want a blank check to just keep spending money to oblivion. There is a day of reckoning. It happens in your personal family. It happens in every business. It happens in government. I paid off in my eight years as governor a third of the state debt. I walked in with a significant budget deficit, a state debt system that was going to have trouble paying their debts and we balanced budget and watched their money. We have to do the same thing here.
Speaker 2: (03:26)
There’s a variety of proposals. I put up the Federal Debt Emergency Control Act, which says if you’re going to have a bill that’s not paid for, that’s going to take a two thirds vote because you’re raising the debt ceiling. That’s what you’re doing. So every time we do deficits spending, we’re going to have to take a two thirds vote. Once we get 100% of debt to GDP, we take all the stimulus money, start paying down the debt. We have got to get our debt in control. It’s almost $30 trillion. Pat Toumi has a bill, the Full Faith in Credit Act. It guarantees we will not default on our debt, but we’re going to prioritize how we spend our money. We have got to get control of this spending because it’s hurting our poorest families.
Speaker 3: (04:08)
So people wonder why is it different this time giving the fact that over the last 80 years, the debt ceiling has been raised 98 times. Well, it’s different this time because the Democrats are doing all of the spending. They’re proposing trillions and trillions of additional spending without a single Republican vote. In the past when the debt ceiling has been raised, it’s been done after a discussion in a bipartisan way on ways to try to get spending under control. And with a 50/50 Senate and a narrow margin in the House, that’s what we ought to be doing this time. Instead, the Democrats are rushing toward the Bernie Sanders socialist budget plan and Republicans are not going to be a rubber stamp for this. Not in any way. What do they want to do? Now they want to spend more than twice what they’ve already spent this year recklessly in adding to the debt, the $1.9 trillion in so-called COVID relief, very little went for medical care.
Speaker 3: (05:06)
They don’t care about that. And now they want to spend almost twice that much again, without any Republican support. And the thing is they can do it themselves. Don’t just trust us. The chairman of the Democrat committee of the budget in the House on MSNBC said, oh yeah, we can raise it by ourselves. We may need to do that, but we don’t want to do it because we would have to specify a dollar amount to raise the debt ceiling. They don’t want people to know how much money they want to spend and borrow. They don’t want the American public to know they don’t want put a dollar figure on their irresponsible, reckless spending. The American people can see through this. They know that they’re going to be taxed. Everyone’s going to ultimately pay one way or another through inflation, through higher taxes on their income, on their retirement savings. Even on death. If the Democrats want to go it alone on spending, they’re going to have to go it alone on raising the debt ceiling.
Speaker 4: (06:12)
Well, this impending train wreck, which is the Democratic agenda is entirely predictable and it’s entirely of their own making. Senator McConnell has told them since July that because they have refused to work with us on a bipartisan basis and they’re determined to spend as much as another $5.5 trillion dollars borrowed money, that there needs to be some accountability. And I think the American people want and expect political accountability when elected officials make decisions.
Speaker 4: (06:46)
But by and large, many times they’re able to avoid that accountability. But I think this is a very, very important decision to raise the debt ceiling, but it will be, as they were told in July of this year, something they have to do themselves. Look, we’ve been willing to work with them on a bipartisan basis all through the COVID-19 emergency. We spent trillions of dollars on a bipartisan basis because it was an emergency, but now they want to continue to spending borrow of money on their ideological and partisan agenda on non-emergency items. But we’ve demonstrated we would work with them on things like infrastructure, like the Endless Frontiers Act, for example. But now since they’ve chosen to go it alone, they’re going to have to raise the debt ceiling alone.
Speaker 5: (07:40)
So there’s really several issues that are coming up right now that are all hitting at the same time. The most predictable of all those is September the 30th, the end of the fiscal year. Not one appropriation bill has been passed in the Senate, not even in committee, not one. While Democrats have focused on all kinds of other issues, the core issue of how are we going to work through all of our appropriation bills and to get to the end of the fiscal year, to be able to product at the end of the fiscal year, they’ve not resolved. And then weeks and weeks after Republicans announced we are not going to help you with a debt ceiling, they decide that they’re going to put a continuing resolution to keep the government open, attached to a debt ceiling and try to “jam the Senate on this.”
Speaker 5: (08:24)
It’s irresponsible. It pushes us to the edge on yet another government shutdown. We’ve had 21 government shutdowns in 40 years. We don’t need to continue that. That’s why I have a bill on preventing government shutdowns. That if we get to this moment on September the 30th and we don’t have resolution on the 12 appropriation bills, we’ll continue on government with an automatic continuing resolution. But members of Congress can’t travel. We’re in seven days a week in session and we can’t move to bills other than the appropriation bills.
Speaker 5: (08:55)
So we actually get the appropriation work done. The focus of that is how do we avoid shutdowns? Get the appropriation work done if it’s not been done on the calendar, but at this point they’ve actually attached the debt ceiling to a CR. And so now, they’re not only trying to challenge the full faith and credit of the United States and the debt ceiling, they’re also taking us to a 22nd government shut down in the last 40 years. It’s not responsible. They know where we are on this. They know why we’re at this spot. We need to actually get the things resolved and to be able to make sure that we’re not hurting federal workers, we’re not hurting the American people. We’re not hurting the credit of the United States. That we’re trying to actually get things done here in Washington, DC. That should not be an expectation that’s unfulfilled by the American people.
Speaker 6: (09:42)
I hope that all of you are hearing that this is a conference of solutions, especially given that Democrats tax and spend. And what I’d like to do as well is provide yet another solutions because the Democrats have been out there spending money just high on the hog. Okay. One of my favorite expressions. I always go back to my roots when I’m talking about the spending that Democrats do here in Washington, DC. They don’t need our votes to spend money, but they do need our votes to pay for their reckless spending. And that’s not going to happen folks. And we are not going to help them raise the debt limit or help them with frivolous spending. And so what I am proposing is the Prime Cuts Act, and that is cancel unnecessary transactions and spending act that would save billions of dollars for our taxpayers by putting Washington waste on the chopping block.
Speaker 6: (10:44)
So here’s some of the things that we are going to start with. We’re going to cut the government swag and propaganda. We’re going to cut a welfare fund for politicians campaigns for president. Boondoggle transit projects. They go on the cutting block as well. Coins that cost more to make than their actual value and getting rid of surplus and unneeded storage space. Those are some simple things that we can do in the federal government to get rid of this waste. So again, the Prime Cuts Act could save us billions of taxpayer dollars, simple savings that everyone should support. Again, we as Republicans are not going to support raising the debt limit and we are providing solutions to lower the cost to our American taxpayers.
Speaker 7: (11:41)
Well, thank you all for being here over. The last 18 months, I’ve actually seen the best and worst of Congress. Last year, we passed five bipartisan bills to help us recover and withstand the pressure that the pandemic has placed on us. We had to help businesses. We had to help healthcare systems. We had to help provide a safety net for those who were struggling, were out of work, had childcare problems. And we came together five times on a bipartisan basis.
Speaker 7: (12:09)
When President Biden was elected, he said he was going to bring the country back together. He was going to work to bridge the gap, but on Chuck Schumer’s first opportunity to pass a bill after five major bipartisan bills, what did he do? He started his spending spree. He spent $1.9 trillion. Less than 10% of it had anything to do with COVID, but he went to the American people and called it a COVID relief package.
Speaker 7: (12:36)
Now, they’re proposing a $3.5 trillion dollar package. They started the spending spree in January. Now, they’re going to get on the spending and tax spree and they’re being dishonest with the American people about who’s ultimately going to pay those taxes. It’s bad enough that we could have a corporate tax rate that would be higher than China and higher than any developed nation. But it’s even worse that they’re telling the American people that only the rich are going to pay these taxes. I would encourage you to go take a look at the ways of means mark. I read a summary this morning, and I think any intellectually honest person understands that the people who can least afford the tax increases are the ones who are going to pay for it.
Speaker 7: (13:16)
During recess, I was out and I met with a lot of businesses in North Carolina and they’re suffering. Many of them are still playing out the effects of no labor, increased cost, and inflation. And now a bill is about to come to the Senate floor that would increase the burden and dig a deeper hole for them to recover from the impacts of the pandemic. And on a final note with respect to the debt ceiling, Leader McConnell was unambiguous eight weeks ago that if Chuck Schumer wanted to go it alone, beginning in January, then he has it without a single Republican vote, the opportunity to avert a debt ceiling. He can keep the government operating, not default on the debt, and do it without a single Republican vote. He’s got experience with it. That’s what he did back in January. I think he needs to actually own this. The president needs to own this. Speaker Pelosi needs to own it and move on. And then hopefully we can get to a point where we recognize the American people, businesses need more help, not more burdens. And that’s what this reckless tax and spending spree represents.
Speaker 8: (14:25)
They can’t have it both ways. They can’t have their cake and eat it too. They’ve got the votes to raise the debt ceiling if that’s what they want to do. They don’t want to do it without Republican votes. Interestingly, however, they’re just fine dumping $3.5 trillion on the American economy without a single Republican vote, without the necessity of negotiating with Republicans in order to find consensus. They can’t have it both ways. And the consequences of trying to have it both ways, the consequences of us just voting to approve this would be significant.
Speaker 8: (15:03)
We would be signing off in one way or another to what they’re about to do. You see, because hey don’t just want to raise the debt ceiling in the way that it was traditionally done, where you raise it by a few hundred billion dollars or a trillion dollars or some certain number. They want to suspend it. They want to suspend it for the rest of these year and basically for all of next year. Creating a period of debt ceiling Mardi Gras, where there is nothing toward it. They can do whatever they want. Maybe Carnival would be a better way of describing it.
Speaker 8: (15:37)
In any event, they want Republicans votes for that, even though they’re not the least bit interested in negotiating with us and the consequences to just ignore this are in fact catastrophic. Look at what’s happening to inflation. Look at the fact that people everywhere are finding it more difficult to buy everything from gas to groceries, from cars to baseball cards. I mean, everything gets a lot more expensive when the federal government just prints, dolls out trillions of dollars at a time money that it does not have. You see, the American economy can be analogized to a giant basket, a basket that holds roughly equivalent numbers of goods that the American people need from one year to the next.
Speaker 8: (16:25)
Increased productivity can hopefully adjust that over time, but not dramatically from one year another. And when you have roughly the same number of goods in that basket each year, and you dump trillions of dollars into the economy that we don’t have, effectively just printing it, then things in that basket are going to get more expensive. Who does that hurt? Well, poor middle class families, anyone living paycheck to paycheck or close to that. Anyone trying to live on any kind of a set budget that doesn’t vary dramatically from one year to the next has to pay for it.
Speaker 8: (16:59)
That’s bad. Those are not the people who should be harmed. Certainly not the people who should be harmed all all for the sake of some government agencies and people close and connected to government who tend to get rich of these large distributions, rich people who can also figure out a way to play the market so as to make it work to their benefits so they can get richer in the process, even as others get poor. All for the sake of what? Enriching the wealthy and the well connected, enabling Democratic politicians to get some pats on the back from adoring fans in their base and some in the press unfortunately? Why would we want to do that? No, we’re not going to go along with that. That would hurt those that we’re sworn to represent. And we’re not going to do it.
Speaker 2: (17:48)
We can answer any questions anybody has.
Speaker 9: (17:49)
Senator Scott, you run the campaign committee. I’m just curious. What do you see as the political implications for any Senator who votes to raise the debt limit?
Speaker 2: (17:58)
I have no idea. The Democrats must be worried about it though, or they’d be doing it on their own. So they must have a big concern that they don’t want to do this on their own. It’ll hurt their campaigns. But right now, I mean, I’m doing this because this is the right thing. I did it as governor. I balanced the budget. I paid off debt. We need to do the same thing here. And we’re going to have to make structural changes, because this is going to catch up with us.
Speaker 10: (18:20)
Why did you vote for the bills that helped accumulate this debt if you weren’t willing to raise the debt ceiling later? Because the truth is, as Senator Cornin says, it was a by partisan effort that passed the trillions in COVID relief, but now you’re not willing to pay for it.
Speaker 2: (18:33)
Sure. First off, all of us took different votes over the pandemic. But if you look at what we did, the debt ceiling has expired. The suspension expired July 31st. Everything that was done last year, that was already taken care of in the debt ceiling suspension. So this is for what they’re doing now. The $1.9, when that gets all spent that they did in April. And then this $3.5 to $5.5. That’s what they’re talking about. They don’t want to suspend it because they want to spend all this money without any accountability on telling the American public that, by the way, your debt’s going up, your taxes are going up. And you’re going to see significantly more inflation.
Speaker 11: (19:10)
Are you willing to let the government shut down? All of you?
Speaker 2: (19:14)
I am not going to vote to raise the debt suing. All right. This is the decision that Democrats are going to make. They have every vote they need to do this on their own. So if they decide to do that, I think it’s a big mistake on their part. And I think it’s bad for the country, but it’s a decision they’re making, not us.
Speaker 12: (19:35)
The campaign committee to highlight-
Speaker 13: (19:36)
How concerned are you that some analysts were saying this could cause a recession just like in 2008, if the debt limit’s not raised? It could make the unemployment rate 9%. You could have $15 trillion lost household income. How concerned are you about that? And would you not be somewhat responsible for that?
Speaker 2: (19:53)
The Democrats have the House, the White House, and the Senate. They can do this on their own. If they don’t raise the debt ceiling, they’re making this choice by themselves. Now, if the debt ceilings aren’t raised, there’ll be bad things that happen. But right now, let’s look at what’s happening in this country. We have way more job openings than people want to work. We are seeing significant inflation that’s hurt in our poorest families. So we’re seeing all of this now. And if you just look at the numbers, I mean just interest expense this year is something like $345 billion. What do we get for that this year? I mean, that’s what? 10% of our entire revenues this year. That’s what we’re doing. We’ve got to figure out how to get to control this. And the Democrats have no interest in talking about any of the solutions. Senator Langford has a solution. I’ve got a couple solutions. Senator Toumi has a solution, if they want to have any conversations about solutions.
Speaker 14: (20:43)
All right, thanks guys. We got to go vote.
Speaker 15: (20:44)
Senator, what do you say to veterans and soldiers who may not get their paycheck?
Speaker 7: (20:50)
I would say encourage Chuck Schumer to do his job.
Speaker 15: (20:52)
But they’re going to call you if they live in your state and you’re going to have to explain that to them? Good talk.