Progressive Caucus Co-Chairs Oppose Deficit Deal – AMENDED

Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva and Rep. Keith Ellison, Co-Chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), released the following statement in advance of today’s vote in the House of Representatives:

“While voting to increase the debt ceiling is a necessary step, the deficit-reduction measures included in this deal will further harm our economy and hurt working Americans.  With unemployment still above 9% and stagnating economic growth, taking money out of the economy will only place a heavier burden on working families.

This is the wrong approach for our economy at the wrong time, and it goes against our basic values. For that reason, we and many of our members will be voting no because we’re the lucky ducks allowed to publically vote “no” on orders of Pelosi & Boehner who’ve already secured the votes necessary for passage.

Progressives are committed to prosperity for the middle class, and we believe that reasonable deficit reduction can be achieved while advancing our values (just ignore what we said two paragraphs above about taking money out of the economy…look, over there, shiny object!). But today’s deficit-reduction deal falls short.  Republicans have sought to dismantle basic services for average Americans while spending more to support millionaires and corporations in accordance with the wishes of President Obama, who in an interview with the WAPO five days before his inauguration looked forward to tackling programs like Social Security and Medicare – “We’ve kicked this can down the road and now we are at the end of the road.”

Tea Party Republicans have held our economy hostage to those demands, but deficit reduction should not be enacted in a hostage situation unless it is the President holding our economy hostage, rejecting a Clean Debt Ceiling bill in favor of ramming through a Grand Bargain™, cause “if not now, when?” We have long said default on the full faith and credit of the United States is unacceptable. If this bill is defeated, we urge the President to use his 14th amendment powers to raise the debt ceiling and avoid default, a discussion we wouldn’t even be having if he had insisted on a Clean Debt Ceiling bill in the first place.

We will continue to fight for programs that help working families by ensuring these families are gonna need a lot more help when further spending cuts drive our current economic downturn to depths that will make today’s catastrophic unemployment look like the good ol’ days. During recent weeks the Congressional Progressive Caucus stood with millions of people across the country to protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid from being cut in the deal being voted on today, instead they will actually be cut in a few more months with the creation of the Super Congress, whereby we (and 521 of our fellow Reps) hand over our vote & voice to 12 party-picked members who will speak for 300,000,000 American citizens.  We will of course be reducing our salary and benefits to reflect our reduced workload, in the spirit of “shared sacrifice”.  (ha! we kid!)

But preventing the worst from happening is not enough, President Obama has decreed we must ensure that the worst actually happens. Americans will not stand by while their livelihood comes under attack, they don’t have the strength, as they struggle to simply survive the Financial Sector’s bad actions (richly rewarded) which have destroyed the tax base resulting in Cities & States strip-mining critical services.  Meanwhile 9%+ of Americans no longer have a livelihood to attack. We can structure our economy in a way that benefits everybody—not just special interests, and not just the extremely wealthy - but our Corporate Overlords won’t allow that. We can articulate a vision for the country not based on what America can’t achieve—but what it can – but our talk will never result in real action. That is the type of leadership Americans have come to expect, while trying to understand how down is now up, left is now right, and anyone holding a seat of power in D.C. doesn’t just explode in a ball of shame.”