San Mateo County Times - Eshoo, Speier decry debt-limit negotiations

July 8, 2011
In The News

Rep. Eshoo recently spoke with Aaron Kinney of the San Mateo County Times about the ongoing negotiations on raising the debt ceiling and avoiding a national default.  

As negotiations to raise the nation's debt limit heated up this week in Washington, Reps. Anna Eshoo and Jackie Speier were among congressional Democrats who found themselves on the outside looking in, concerned about the direction in which the talks were headed.

San Mateo County's two congresswomen said Friday they were dismayed by reports that cuts to Social Security and Medicare are being discussed by the White House and Republican leaders as part of a deal to raise the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling, and they lamented the fact that a routine vote has turned into a wide-ranging debate in which Republicans appear to have the leverage.

Eshoo and Speier would both prefer a simple up-or-down vote on raising the debt limit, which in years past has been treated as a perfunctory matter. But that prospect now seems remote, barring a complete breakdown in negotiations between the Obama administration and Republicans, who have vowed to oppose raising the limit without an agreement to enact major spending cuts.

"This debt was created by the very people that now do not want to pay the bills that they created," said Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, noting that the debt ballooned under President George W. Bush due to tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. "The longer that the Republicans have used the debt ceiling to obstruct, the closer they bring us to the brink of national and international disaster."

The Peninsula lawmakers said Social Security, though it will require tweaks to ensure its long-term viability, has nothing to do with the national debt. Eshoo said she's willing to discuss Medicare cost-savings, but in a separate debate.

"There has to be a bending of the curve of the costs, especially in Medicare," said Eshoo, who supports allowing the federal government to negotiate Medicare drug prices with pharmaceutical companies and returning the savings, which Democrats have estimated at $156 billion over 10 years, to the program's trust fund.

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