My Vote on the Debt Limit
Over the past few months, Congress has been in a state of paralysis over raising the debt limit - the cap on what we borrow to pay the money we've already spent.
Although we've been talking about this for months, negotiations came down to the wire this week, nearly triggering an economic disaster that would have compounded the impact of the deep recession we're still struggling to recover from.
Instead of passing a clean extension and getting our economy back on track, it took a last minute deal to prevent a catastrophe - the first ever default on our national debt. I voted for the legislation that's now been signed into law, but there's a lot in it I don't like.
In fact, this morning I went to the Senate floor to explain just how much I think this deal stinks. Watch my speech at the top of this page.
It's a package that falls woefully short. While we managed to protect important programs like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and nutrition assistance programs, many others will be put on the chopping block. Initiatives like housing assistance, help for small businesses, and rural economic development programs, just to name a few. This, all while tax cuts for the wealthiest two percent of Americans and large corporate loopholes remain untouched.
But as bad as I think this deal is, the alternative - defaulting on our national debt - would have been even worse. For New Mexico, the consequences would have been widespread, and included jeopardizing Social Security checks for New Mexico's 360,000 beneficiaries, bringing down our state and national credit ratings, and increasing interest rates on everything from mortgages to the family car.
The commission created by this deal gives us an opportunity to reform our budget and seriously confront our national debt. But it will take guts, leadership and hard choices. It's time for us to step up and do the right thing for our country.
The crisis we narrowly averted needs to be a wake-up call for Congress to solve the challenges we face, not through brinksmanship, but through cooperation and compromise.
I'm very grateful for all the messages I received from New Mexico throughout this debate. There was a common theme throughout - something I've also been saying for a long time now: Washington is broken and we must do better.
I wholeheartedly agree.