Press Release
Monday, June 24, 2002

WASHINGTON --  The Concord Coalition today urged the House of Representatives to join the Senate in approving an increase in the statutory debt limit. According to Treasury officials, the current $5.95 trillion debt limit will be reached by the end of the week. Without additional borrowing authority, or further extraordinary accounting maneuvers, the government will not be able to fully meet its obligations.

“It is clear that the debt limit must be increased. The Senate has acted and now it is up to the House. Republicans and Democrats alike should put the nation's creditworthiness ahead of political considerations. Forcing a damaging and totally unnecessary debt crisis by failing to act would be a complete abdication of responsibility,” said Robert Bixby, Executive Director of The Concord Coalition.

“The Concord Coalition shares the concerns of those who are reluctant to approve a large debt limit increase without a broader balanced budget plan. It should be noted, however, that fiscal policy decisions --  including last year's tax bill --  had much less to do with the recent surge in borrowing needs than did a slumping economy. The unique circumstances of the past year justify a modest immediate debt limit increase, even as politicians engage in a needed debate over the future of fiscal policy. In the meantime, fiscal responsibility does not require forcing the Treasury Secretary to choose between default and accounting gimmicks,” Bixby said.

“Some in the House have insisted that the debt limit increase must be added to the FY2002 supplemental spending bill to make it politically palatable. Even if this proposition is true, the time is fast approaching when the House must act regardless of perceived political ramifications. It is conceivable that a fiscally responsible agreement can be reached this week to combine the debt limit increase with the supplemental spending bill, a set of discretionary spending caps for FY2003-04, and renewal of expiring budget enforcement mechanisms. But if no agreement is reached, or if it becomes clear that no agreement will be reached, the House must be prepared to act on a stand alone debt limit increase in time to avoid a crisis,” Bixby said.

The Concord Coalition is a nonpartisan, grass roots organization dedicated to balanced federal budgets and generationally responsible fiscal policy. Former U.S. Senators Warren Rudman (R-NH) and Bob Kerrey (D-NE) serve as Concord's co-chairs and former Secretary of Commerce Peter Peterson serves as president.