WASHINGTON, DC – House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (MD) released the following statement today after Treasury Secretary John Snow announced on Thursday that the federal government had hit the debt ceiling set by Congress (now $7.384) and that he would have to borrow funds from federal employees’ pension systems to prevent the government from defaulting on its debt:
“The Republicans’ failure to increase the debt limit before leaving Washington not only demonstrates their sheer irresponsibility but also their sheer hypocrisy.
“When Republicans refused to increase the debt limit in 1995 and 1996 and then-Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin responded by doing the same thing John Snow is doing now, many of them called for Secretary Rubin’s impeachment.
“In December 1995, Senator Don Nickles (R-OK) said: ‘The Clinton Administration’s Treasury Department is manipulating Federal retirement funds in a way, if done in the private sector, that would produce civil and/or criminal penalties.’
“And the late Rep. Gerald Solomon (R-NY), then the Chairman of the House Rules Committee said: ‘Those of us who are concerned with the constitutionality of Secretary Rubin’s behavior will be watching him closely and will support impeachment proceedings should he continue to bypass the Constitution.’
“Where is the Republican outrage today? The fact is, the Republican Party’s silence on Secretary Snow’s actions is absolute hypocrisy. They refused to raise the debt limit before they left Washington last week because the last thing they want to do is draw attention to their disastrous fiscal policies.
“Shortly after the Nov. 2 elections, Republicans in Congress will likely raise the debt limit by another $690 billion – the third increase in three years. George W. Bush and Republicans in Congress promised the American people that they would pay down the debt. Instead, they have increased the national debt by 40 percent – or $2.1 trillion – over the last four years.
“I urge the American people to hold Congressional Republicans accountable for their failed economic policies and this raw hypocrisy. It is not only irresponsible but immoral for this generation to force our children to pay our bills.”