GOP’s Fischer takes tough line on debt hike

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Count freshman Sen. Deb Fischer as one more Republican lawmaker determined to use the looming deadline to raise the federal borrowing limit to force through major cuts in government spending.

Tapped to give the official weekly Republican address, the Nebraska senator said Saturday it was time for “tough choices” when President Obama formally requests that Congress raise the federal debt ceiling of $16.4 trillion in the coming weeks.

“The president will soon ask Congress to raise the nation’s debt limit — again,” Mrs. Fischer said. “I believe we cannot agree to increase the borrowing limit without addressing our out-of-control spending.”

“That’s why Nebraskans sent me here. That’s what the American people demand. And that what our children and grandchildren deserve.”

Mrs. Fischer’s comments come as the looming clash over executive and legislative prerogatives appears to be gathering force in Washington.

Mr. Obama has repeatedly insisted that he will not tolerate a repeat of the 2011 showdown with Congress over the debt ceiling increase, when the prospect that the federal government might default on its bills cost the country its top rating with credit rating agencies. The White House says the president will not “bargain” with Congress over the debt ceiling increase this time.

Four top Senate Democrats, including Majority Leader Harry Reid, on Friday wrote to the president urging him to do an end-run around Congress if lawmakers balk at raising the debt ceiling, arguing that Mr. Obama already has the authority as president under the Constitution to make sure the country pays its bills.

That letter sparked a harsh response from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, who said talk of bypassing Congress on the debt ceiling increase would only make the coming political battle that much nastier.

“The Democrat leadership hiding under their desks and hoping the president will find a way around the law on the nation’s maxed-out credit card is not only the height of irresponsibility, but also a guarantee that our national debt crisis will only get worse,” Mr. McConnell said.

“Avoiding this problem will only make it worse,” he added, “which is why many of us view the upcoming debt-limit debate as a perfect opportunity to face up to Washington’s spending.”

Mrs. Fischer in her address said it was time for “serious action” on budget and spending issues that she said have been ignored or put off too long in Washington.

“No more kicking the can down the road. Nor more using the threat of middle-class tax hikes to force last-minute dealmaking,” she said. “… The problem is not that the American people are taxed too little; it’s that the federal government spends too much.”

Mrs. Fischer, the first woman to represent Nebraska in the Senate in nearly 60 years, easily defeated former Sen. Bob Kerrey in November to take the seat of retiring Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson.

“While I may be new to Washington, I’m no stranger to making tough choices,” she said Saturday. “I’m honored to serve the people of Nebraska, and I stand ready to work with the president and any of my colleagues — Republican or Democrat — to tighten Washington’s belt and cut the spending. Our economy and our nation’s future depend on it.”

The GOP address can be heard here.

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

About the Author
David R. Sands

David R. Sands

Raised in Northern Virginia, David R. Sands received an undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia and a master’s degree from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He worked as a reporter for several Washington-area business publications before joining The Washington Times.

At The Times, Mr. Sands has covered numerous beats, including international trade, banking, politics ...

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