Rep. Fortney "Pete" Stark (D-Fremont) released a statement Tuesday afternoon explaining in detail why he voted against the debt ceiling legislation signed today by President Obama.
Stark represents the 13th Congressional District, which includes Alameda.
Following is the full text of Stark's "floor statement" to fellow members of the U.S. House of Representatives.
I rise in opposition to this so-called debt limit compromise, S. 365. A compromise is when the two sides each make concessions. This bill fails to meet that definition because all concessions come from Democrats. This debt ceiling legislation protects special interests at the expense of America’s working families, children, senior citizens, people who've lost their jobs, and people with disabilities.
It punts the difficult decisions to a “super committee” of 12 members of Congress who will be tasked with finding another $1.5 trillion in savings. Those 12 people will have the power to cut Social Security benefits, turn Medicare into a voucher, and gut the Medicaid program into oblivion. The rest of Congress will have only the right to vote yes or no on the entire proposal. Unlike the vast majority of legislation, no amendments will be allowed.
If the super committee fails, there will be automatic cuts to Medicare and additional draconian cuts on top of the draconian cuts that will be made when this bill is signed into law.
Default is a dangerous proposition. But there is only one reason that our country has been pushed to the brink of default: the Republican Tea Party fringe. We are in the midst of a completely manufactured crisis that was orchestrated by this extreme faction of the Republican Party. They are a minority in Congress and in our nation, yet they are holding our nation’s economy hostage because Republican leadership continues to pander to them at the detriment of our country and its future.
Democrats and Republicans alike have lifted the debt ceiling some 75 times in our history. Paying our bills is a necessary part of responsible governing.
This year, I’ve voted twice to raise the debt limit ceiling. I first did so on May 31, 2011 when Republicans brought a clean debt ceiling bill to the floor. Because of uniform Republican opposition, that vote failed.
I next voted this past Saturday to raise the debt ceiling in conjunction with significant spending cuts when the House considered Senator Reid’s compromise package. It was far from perfect, but it was much more balanced than the package before us today.
Today, the radical wing of the Republican Party has forced a no-win situation. Vote yes on today's "debt-limit compromise," and we limit our ability to grow our economy, create jobs, and protect the most vulnerable members of our society. Vote no and we risk an unprecedented default that would further deteriorate our sputtering economy.
We should never have gotten to this point and it is up to those to who got us into this mess to get the votes to end this crisis. However, I will not allow my vehement opposition to this deal to put our country into default. If my vote is needed to prevent default, I will hold my nose and change my vote to yes. I will do that because governing requires tough choices. If Tea Party Republicans refuse to govern, it is up to the rest of us to do so for them."