WASHINGTON, DC – House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (MD) released the following statement today regarding the Bush Administration’s request that Congress increase the statutory debt limit by $984 billion before May 28th to prevent the government from defaulting on its obligations:
“Impeach the Treasury Secretary for maneuvering to avoid America defaulting? Believe it or not, that is precisely what some Republicans suggested in 1995 and 1996 when they refused to increase the statutory debt limit, forcing then-Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin to temporarily shift funds from government retirement accounts to prevent the Federal government from defaulting on its obligations.
“‘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,” said Senator Don Nickles (R-OK) in December 1995.
“Said Rep. Gerald Solomon (R-NY), then the Chairman of the House Rules Committee: ‘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 of the matter is, Treasury Secretary John Snow and his predecessor, Paul O’Neill, have employed the same tactics Bob Rubin used to prevent a government default. The Republican Party’s silence now is deafening, but its hypocrisy speaks volumes.
“When it comes to economic policy, the GOP has shown time and again that it has virtually no credibility. President Bush promised just two years ago 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, Treasury Secretary Snow is demanding that Congress increase the statutory debt limit by $984 billion by May 28 – at the very time the GOP is poised to enact another huge tax cut that overwhelmingly benefits the most affluent. And if we fail to increase the debt limit, Secretary Snow warns that we will be unable to make the $78 billion in payments to Social Security recipients, defense contractors and taxpayers awaiting income tax refunds.
“The GOP’s continuing mismanagement of the economy is bad enough for Americans’ wallets. Its rank hypocrisy, and willingness to contort its positions in whatever way is politically expedient, has all but shredded its credibility.”