By Erik Wasson - 07/14/11 03:34 PM EDT
Senate Democrats were out in force Thursday outlining to the public the consequences of failing to raise the debt limit before Aug. 2 and trying to pin the blame on House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.)
“There is really only one person who has not made any concessions of all the eight, nine in that room,” Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) told reporters at one press conference. “He is basically standing in the way and it is a shame.”
Schumer said that Cantor is actively trying to ensure that no compromise deficit deal can pass the House. He said it is not up to him to determine whether Cantor should be excluded from the White House debt talks.
“I haven’t seen Congressman Cantor be a constructive force thus far,” he said. “He is trying to make the reality that packages can’t pass the House.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner are to hold an afternoon press conference as well where they are expected to make similar points about the debt limit and GOP responsibility for it.
Schumer said that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) realizes that default will be put “on the backs” of the GOP, which is why he offered a fallback plan that would raise the debt ceiling and put the onus on President Obama.
He said that Senate Democrats are negotiating with McConnell for a change that could leave some of the responsibility in the hands of the GOP. He said the compromise package could also contain immediate cuts in the interest of winning votes by House Republicans.
Schumer and other senators used charts sourced to a recent Bipartisan Policy Center study to show that U.S. monthly expenditures amount to $307 billion while monthly revenue is only $172 billion
“A default would pull the rug out from each and every family in this country for no good reason,” Schumer said.
He pointed out that if Treasury chooses to pay Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, military troops and interest on the debt, there would be no money for anything else.
“We don’t have a dime for student loans. We don’t have money for the FBI,” he said. “You don’t have anyone at the border. No one inspecting food.”
Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) said moderates are frustrated because they have reached out to Republicans without seeing any sign of compromise, especially from Cantor and the House GOP. He urged Cantor to reach out to House Democrats to find a bipartisan compromise that will pass the House.
Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) also said Cantor needs to take the “temperature” of House Democrats and find a compromise.
He noted a default would threaten the position of the dollar as global currency and could cause the average American to pay an average $250 per year in interest. He said it would have a “dramatic” impact on the stock market and “may very well turn this nation’s course from growth to another recession.”
Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) said the impact on the dollar could mean high gas prices, utility bills and food prices.
He said U.S. global leadership is threatened by becoming a “junk bond nation.”