Nashville elected officials to U.S. Reps: Debt ceiling ‘brinkmanship’ endangers us all
In a letter, local officials say defaulting on U.S. debt could devastate local governments, business and residents
NASHVILLE — In a letter from state Sen. Heidi Campbell, a group of 20 Nashville elected officials are urging the city’s three-member congressional delegation to support raising the nation’s debt ceiling to avoid a “devastating” default.
“Please place the interest of the citizens you represent ahead of the desire to score political points and find a reasonable accommodation towards solving the debt ceiling crisis without imperiling our entire economy in the process,” the letter states. “As tempting as it may be to leverage the debt-ceiling vote to demand extreme budget concessions, the costs to the people you represent are too great.”
The letter was sent to U.S. Reps. Mark Green, Andy Ogles and John Rose—the Republican trio that now represents Nashville in the U.S. House.
For months, Republicans said if they took control of the U.S. House they would block increasing the U.S. debt limit unless major cuts were made to critical services benefiting working families, including Social Security and Medicare.
Well, the United States reached its existing borrowing cap of $31.4 trillion on Jan. 19. Responsibility for lifting the cap—or suspending it altogether—falls to Congress, which must get a simple majority in the both the House and Senate to approve a change to the debt limit.
The U.S. Treasury Department has begun using “extraordinary measures” to continue paying the government’s obligations. Once officials exhaust these measures and run out of cash, it would be unable to issue new debt. That means it would not have money to pay its bills, including payments to bondholders, military salaries and benefits to retirees.
Economists warn that such a scenario would be economically devastating and could trigger a global financial crisis — and there’s precedent for concern.
“In 2011 political brinkmanship over the debt ceiling caused the first ever downgrading of federal credit, even without the outright default that would have been caused by a failure to lift the debt limit,” the letter states.
In addition to Sen. Campbell, the letter was signed by Rep. Bill Beck, Rep. John Ray Clemmons, Rep. Bob Freeman, Rep. Caleb Hemmer, Rep. Darren Jernigan, Rep. Justin Jones, Rep. Bo Mitchell, Sen. Charlane Oliver, Rep. Jason Powell, Sen. Jeff Yarbro, Councilmember Burkley Allen, Councilmember Emily Benedict, Councilmember Tom Cash, Councilmember Angie Henderson, Councilmember Bob Mendes, Councilmember Bob Nash, Councilmember John Rutherford, Councilmember Zulfat Suara and Councilmember Ginny Welsch.