Sanders Statement on the Crisis of Imminent Default

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) issued the following statement today as Congress faced an Aug. 2 deadline for raising the debt limit:

"Vermonters are deeply concerned about the possibility of the United States defaulting on its debt for the first time in our nation's history. My office has received hundreds of calls about this.

"Vermonters want to continue receiving their Social Security checks and payments for Medicare and Medicaid services. They also want our veterans to continue to receive the benefits they have earned, and they want our soldiers on the battlefield to get paid.

"Because of Republican Tea Party intransigence, the options that are currently before Congress run the gamut from bad to worse.

"A default would be a disaster for the American people and for the future of our economy.  It would mean that people who receive federal benefits or payments -- whether it is Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid, veterans' benefits or soldiers on the battlefield -- might not get what they are entitled to receive.

"Republican House Speaker John Boehner's proposal would likewise be extremely harmful because of the very significant, immediate cuts in programs that working families desperately need - especially in the midst of this terrible recession. The Boehner proposal, for obvious political reasons, also would continue the debt-ceiling circus for at least another six months, continuing to paralyze the ability of Congress to address the serious economic problems we face. 

"The proposal by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is somewhat less onerous, but also would impose significant cuts in many important programs for working families. Importantly, because of Republican desire to defend the interests of the wealthy and powerful, neither proposal asks the wealthy or large corporations to contribute one nickel toward deficit reduction. 

"That's where we are and it surely is a sad state of affairs.

"Given these dismal options, it appears that the least damaging approach might just be (as former President Bill Clinton has suggested) for President Obama to rely upon the 14th Amendment, which says the debts of the United States ‘shall not be questioned.' The president is responsible under the Constitution for protecting and defending the nation and the general welfare of its citizens. I think that is just what he should do if he is left with no other way to protect the full faith and credit of the United States. What makes this preferable is that we would prevent default while also preventing the devastating cuts proposed under the other options."