Coble Backs Debt Ceiling Compromise
BY FLORENCE GILKESON
U.S. Rep. Howard Coble joined 173 fellow Republicans Monday in voting for a compromise bill to raise the debt ceiling.
The bill passed the U.S. House 269-161. Neither Republicans nor Democrats were enthusiastic about the measure, with 66 Republicans voting against and Democrats split down the middle 95-95.
"I voted for the bill because it cuts government spending at a greater amount than it increases the debt ceiling," Coble said. "We did that without raising taxes, without harming Social Security and Medicare, while at the same time, putting us on the path to enact a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution."
In a statement released Monday, Coble said the bill was not as strong as the Cut, Cap and Balance Act that he co-sponsored, but he called it the best deal obtainable on the brink of the deadline when the government's borrowing authority expires. Coble said it was the best deal available when one considers the divisions within Congress at this time.
"I think in many instances the deadline of Aug. 2 was overblown," Coble said. "For argument's sake, let's assume if we had done nothing prior to Aug. 2, the end of the world would not have occurred on Aug. 3.
"I don't mean to dismiss the importance of getting this thing resolved, and that is why I voted for this bill. I think the time has come to resolve the issue because we don't want to tempt fate that America's credit rating could be diminished."
Coble said the constitutional amendment feature was an important factor in his vote.
"I think this bill is going to streamline the process for us to get a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution," he said. "I think the steps we took today will put us on the glide path toward a balanced budget amendment. I hope that we will be sending a constitutional amendment to the various states soon. It is the only sure-fire way to make the federal government spend no more than it collects."
Both of North Carolina's senators also support the bill, although they too were not fully satisfied.
"While the agreement reached by the bipartisan congressional leaders and the White House might not be my first choice for a solution, there is no doubt that we need to get our fiscal house in order and avoid default," said Sen. Kay Hagan, a Democrat. "This agreement averts a default crisis without relying on a short-term patch that would leave the markets in turmoil and harm our seniors, our veterans or our military in the field."
Hagan said she would have preferred a bigger deal - such as the recommendation of the bipartisan deficit reduction commission chaired by North Carolina's Erskine Bowles, a Democrat, and former Sen. Alan Simpson, a Wyoming Republican.
"With our economy recovering too slowly, it is clear that we have spent too much time in Washington posturing and bickering when what we need to do is come together to get our economy back on track," Hagan continued. "I am hopeful that we can now focus relentlessly on putting Americans back to work. Jobs are priorities number one, two and three."
Sen. Richard Burr, a Republican, said the U.S. House of Representatives made history Monday by passing the bill.
"This common-sense, but long-overdue, action was absolutely vital to stop the practice of 'spend and borrow' that has been commonplace for so long in Washington," Burr said in his blog. "By passing this proposal, a strong precedent was set that any increase in the debt must be accompanied by equal cuts in spending, and through this debate we have shifted the focus from spending to actual cuts in spending."
Burr said the top priorities are avoiding default and reining in federal spending.
"This proposal, while not perfect, does achieve those goals," Burr said in his blog. "This debate has changed the way Washington and all Americans view our national debt and our out-of-control spending problem, and while it does not go far enough to address the issue of our budget process, it takes a big step toward putting our nation on track to fiscal responsibility."
The bill, which went to the Senate and then to the president on Tuesday, cuts federal spending by $2.1 trillion within the next 10 years and allows the nation's debt limit to rise $2.l trillion above the present $14.3 trillion limit. It includes no changes in the tax code.
Contact Florence Gilkeson at email@example.com.
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