WASHINGTON – House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (MD) released the following statement today in response to a letter from the Treasury Department to Speaker Hastert warning that the United States will be unable to make $78 billion in payments to Social Security recipients, defense contractors and taxpayers awaiting refunds if Congress does not raise the debt limit by May 28:
“It should be increasingly clear to the American people that the Bush Administration and Congressional Republicans have virtually no credibility when it comes to policies to boost our sagging economy. The fact of the matter is, the GOP has shown a predisposition to say whatever is politically expedient, and now it must answer for its words which are coming back to haunt it. The GOP’s slogan really ought to be ‘Promises Made, Promises Broken.’
“Two years ago, President Bush promised that his budget ‘will retire nearly $1 trillion in debt over the next four years. This will be the largest debt reduction ever achieved by any nation at any time.’ Now we are poised to increase the debt by almost a $1 trillion.
“And in March 2001, President Bush said: ‘We can proceed with tax relief without fear of budget deficits, even if the economy softens.’ Now, the Congressional Budget Office projects a record budget deficit this year of more than $300 billion.
“The President’s first budget promised that ‘none of the Social Security surplus will be used to fund other spending initiatives or tax relief.’ Now, Republicans are spending every dime of the Social Security surplus.
“The President’s words and Secretary Snow’s warning are doubly ironic given that it comes at the precise time the GOP is stampeding an unaffordable tax plan through Congress that is tilted toward the most affluent and will drive us further into debt.
“The Administration was clearly wrong in its past policies and it is clearly wrong today. But the Republican Party isn’t even willing to take responsibility for its actions, let alone tell the truth about the consequences. The House Republicans are crossing their fingers that they will be able to skip town without having to vote on a debt limit increase. The Republican Senate will surely hold out until the last moment and dare Senate Democrats to force a House vote and risk a default. This trickery might prevent a vote by House members but it doesn’t make the Republican Party any less responsible for increasing the debt by almost $1 trillion.”