Gretchen Starke queried Jaime Herrera Beutler on raising the debt ceiling and received the following response:
"July 22, 2011
Dear Ms. Starke,
Thank you for contacting me regarding the debt ceiling. It is an honor to represent the people of Southwest Washington, and I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts with me.
Every day I am asked where I stand on the fast approaching deadline to raise our nation's $14.294 trillion credit limit, or "debt ceiling." Here, I will give you the three most important items as I see it and let you know what I will and won't support
For decades Congress and Presidents – of both parties – have overspent using our national credit card. The bills have come due. Economic experts say the U.S. Treasury must raise the debt ceiling by August 2 or face potentially devastating effects to our economy. We also face economic devastation if the national debt is not reduced significantly. There is no painless answer to this problem.
I am not a DC veteran, but when I arrived in Congress six months ago I saw that the debt ceiling issue might provide a way to start to bring federal overspending under control. Watching the posturing on this issue by federal leaders is frustrating, but I know that a sensible deal is possible. I do not want August 2 to pass without a solution.
For our country's economic and financial well-being, we need a deal that meets three main goals. First, it can't raise tax rates. Any rise in general tax rates would harm Southwest Washington's families and small businesses at a time when our economy is so weak and so many people are struggling to make ends meet. I won't vote for a plan to raise the general taxes – period. I can support eliminating tax loopholes that allow big corporations to avoid paying their fair share, for example ethanol subsidies and tax breaks for private jets. To me, closing these kinds of loopholes is about fairness and making sure that everybody is contributing, but I don't pretend that these items will make more than a very small dent in a $14 trillion debt.
Second, the deal must protect Social Security from cuts. Social Security has not driven our debt, and I will not support a debt ceiling deal that makes cuts to Social Security in order to cover for overspending in other areas. Every month of our working lives our pay stubs show the dollar amount we hand to the government for Social Security, with a promise it will be there for us when we retire. I'll always vote to make sure the U.S. keeps this promise no matter what kind of mess politicians in DC are making. Social Security is not a spending account for politicians' whims.
Third, this deal must significantly address the overspending. I said that leaders of both parties for decades shared responsibility for the overspending that created this giant debt. It's also true that from 1957 to 2008 federal spending stayed around 20% of our gross domestic product. In just the past two years that number has shot up to 25%.
In May, I voted for a detailed budget bill that would gradually reduce federal deficits by $4.4 trillion over 10 years, close loopholes on big corporations and preserve safety net programs. That bill was not perfect – but it was a huge, serious start at looking for a solution to this crushing national debt. Now, we wait for serious proposals to reduce spending from the Senate and the President. I haven't seen one yet.
Politicians in DC talk about "kicking the can down the road," with the "can" representing the national debt. That's a poor analogy. This debt is like rolling a snowball further down the hill. As it rolls, it grows bigger. Now is the time to act to bring this monster under control. Our nation's future and the finances of every family is at stake. We are a debtor nation now. We are heading down the path of Greece. We can change course. I will vote to change course. I won't vote for a plan that pushes the snowball further down the hill.
During my first month in congress, I cosponsored a Constitutional Amendment that would require the government to not spend more than it brings in annually. Washington state's constitution requires the legislature makes sure it runs a balanced checkbook. This is a commonsense measure that would revolutionize spending at the federal level. In 1996, a similar "Balanced Budget Amendment" failed in Congress by one vote. Had it passed, there would be no debt ceiling debate today.
It's time for Congressional leadership and the president to move forward with a reasonable, timely and responsible solution to the debt ceiling issue.
Thank you again for contacting me on this important issue. I invite you to visit my website at www.HerreraBeutler.house.gov for additional information or to sign up to be kept up to date on these issues. Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of further assistance.
Jaime Herrera Beutler
Member of Congress"