GOP 'playing with fire,' Schumer says
January 30th, 2011
02:02 PM ET
7 years ago

GOP 'playing with fire,' Schumer says

Washington (CNN) - Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle recognize the importance of fixing the country's fiscal house, but deep divides remain over the two major economic issues currently before Congress, a new budget and the debt ceiling.

Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York, said Republicans are "playing with fire" by threatening to shut down the government and warned of dangerous consequences if Congress allows the spending bill that is currently funding the government to expire.

"To just stay in your corner and say it's my way or I'm shutting down the government, that could lead to terrible, terrible problems," Schumer said Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union."

But Republicans argue that immediate and significant budget cuts are necessary, and that they will push hard to make that happen as soon as possible. Their first chance will be the March 4 expiration of the current appropriations resolution that provides money to keep the government operating.

Speaking on "Fox News Sunday," House Speaker John Boehner said Americans "are not going to allow us to move ahead if we don't put real budget controls in place."

"It's time for us to get serious," said Boehner, R-Ohio. "The American people on Election Day made it clear, they want us to cut spending and they want us to create jobs."

On the issue of the debt ceiling, Schumer said credit markets will lose confidence in the U.S. Treasury if Congress does not raise the ceiling.

"It is playing with fire to risk the shutting down of the government, just as it is playing with fire to not raise the debt ceiling," Schumer said.

Boehner agreed that the possibility of the United States defaulting on its debt could mean "financial disaster," but that he would only "tolerate" an increase in the debt limit if the Obama administration made cuts in spending.

"You can't create jobs if you default on the federal debt," Boehner said. "The American people will not tolerate our increasing the debt limit without serious reductions in spending."

A vote on raising the debt ceiling – the legal amount the U.S. government is allowed to borrow to finance its debt – looms in Congress to avoid defaulting on the loans. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has said the U.S. could hit its current ceiling of $14.3 trillion, set last year, by the end of March.

President Barack Obama and his administration have expressed concern if Congress does not raise the debt limit, and Republicans have demanded spending cuts before they will agree to a vote on the debt.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Virginia, said the House will take up the issue of spending levels during the week of February 14, a date Boehner reiterated Sunday.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, did not take the possibility of a government shut-down off the table, but he tried to cast the upcoming fiscal battles in Congress as "opportunities."

"We have two opportunities to do something important for this country on the issue of spending and debt," McConnell said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "We ought not to lose that opportunity. The president ought to work with us on both those occasions to address that important issue."

- CNN's Tom Cohen contributed to this report

Watch State of the Union with Candy Crowley Sundays at 9am ET. For the latest from State of the Union click here.

Filed under: Budget • Charles Schumer • Debt • TV-State of the Union
soundoff (28 Responses)
  1. John G

    There's no use in having a debt limit if it's never actually used. Just let the printing presses roll.

    January 30, 2011 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  2. BILL, WI

    When did the Repubs say they were planning to shut down the government.

    January 30, 2011 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  3. a in austin

    Of course they are playing with fire – while Eric Cantor is in CA with the Koch Brothers getting his marching orders....the American people want and need jobs. Where are the jobs?

    January 30, 2011 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  4. anthony

    Well.. theyve (the GOP) have proven they are not moving away from their Obstruction platform, so what greater way to live up to that, than to just cause the government to shut down all together. Aim high fellas, aim high...

    January 30, 2011 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  5. Steve Spradlin

    NO RAISING THE DEBT LIMIT. Have the US go bankrupt if need be. Let the welfare queens and unemployed and illegal aliens and goverment retirees have to wait in line at the bankruptcy court to get 10 cents on the dollar. We need to shake this govenment to the bones, and I can't think of nothing better, Boener is a sell out...there is no reform...just more tax and spend. I would not be suprised to see an uprising with volence. They were warned and DID NOT LISTEN TO US.

    January 30, 2011 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  6. Jennifer

    When I owe too much money on a credit card, with no record or means of paying off the debt, the credit company will LOWER the amount of my line of credit. It's a shame the government doesn't get the same kind of treatment.

    January 30, 2011 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  7. Former Republican - Now Independent

    Yawn! Democrats are mostly wusses when it comes to confronting Republicans.

    Dems usually back down, give the Republicans what they want, claim it's a compromise, and then speak of bi-partisenship.

    January 30, 2011 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  8. Jim Riggins

    It really is odd how tea-baggers didn't have a problem with the first eighty raises to the debt ceiling, or until their was a presidence they were intent upon hobbling.

    January 30, 2011 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  9. Renee

    This is not the Tea Party I want to go to.

    January 30, 2011 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  10. 1silentmajority

    I for one could careless if some federal employees get a few days off without pay. At least is would lower the payouts for this year by a small fraction of a %, but hay... that is a start.

    January 30, 2011 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  11. mark Hohn

    "To just stay in your corner and say it's my way or I'm shutting down the government, that could lead to terrible, terrible problems," Schumer said Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union."

    I take that as a good sign from Schumer. Sounds like he is agreeing to spending cuts instead of demanding it goes the Dems way or they will shut down the goverment. Good for you Mr. Schummer for finally understanding the current level of government spending has to slow down.

    January 30, 2011 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  12. Adam

    "The president ought to work with us on both those occasions to address that important issue."
    So last year when they said no to everything because there weren't opportunities to discuss these issues. The GOP is passing blame after they have continually stalled the government for the last 2 years. They are still the minority so I guess it's only a smaller part of the population that is complaining. We hated life under G-dub Jr. So guess what, too bad. Nowstop playing with our lives and do the Jobs that we pay you for.

    January 30, 2011 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  13. Sagebrush Shorty

    Schumer helped create most of the problems and now he is afraid to face up to the results of his,and his party's, stupidity.

    January 30, 2011 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  14. BD70

    Shut down the government? Come on boys...figure it out. Not sure about raising the debt limit. Don't fully understand the impact. After the debt is paid down will the debt limit be lowered again? Sounds like creeping debt to me. In regards to cuts...whatever they cut there will be quite a bit of screaming. No matter what the cut is. But all is not lost...we can adjust back to some semblance of sanity I suppose. Obama needs to go through the budget line by line and start determining what can be cut. Small cuts together can equal a big cut.

    January 30, 2011 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  15. Annie, Atlanta

    Shumer, and the rest of the Democratic coalition, please stop giving in to the bullying tactics of the Republican party. Call their bluff. That's how you treat bullies. What are they trying to now – permanent bonus tax cuts for the rich – repeal of some measley health care reforms that actually help people in desperate need – taking the rights away from some of our fellow citizens who happen to be part of the LGBT community – overturning Roe v. Wade? Look, I'm not a proponent of abortion, but who the heck am I to tell a woman forced with such a decision that she has to do this my way, or else. This is unconscionable. Who in the heck do they think they are? They need to keep to politics and keep the social issues where they belong, up to each and every one of us individually.

    January 30, 2011 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  16. Mike Mc

    How can you refuse to raise the debt ceiling when you are the party that lowered the wealthiest 2% of the populations tax burden to a fraction of what it was in the 1960's? You cannot have your cake and eat it too, it may get you temporary electoral gains but it is NOT a way to lead long term. I know it is sacrilegious to say this, but the answer is higher taxes AND spending cuts.

    January 30, 2011 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  17. Tam

    They don't care. They didn't care while Bush ran the country, and they don't care now. Just want to score points with empty rhetoric. Scary.

    January 30, 2011 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  18. Rick McDaniel

    There are hard choices to be made, after 2 yrs. of runaway spending.

    Playing with fire, may the only way to rein in the runaway spending, and get the budget under control. It is obvious that the Administration, has no intent, of cutting back, willingly.

    January 30, 2011 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  19. kmp

    Mark my words if they allow us to default on our loans and shut the government down then they will be gone by 2012. The American people as stupid as they are put you in power because you promised to provide jobs, so far we have seen nothing but political grandstanding.

    January 30, 2011 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  20. Spending our Way to the Scrap Heap of History

    More of the Democrats scare tactics about "shutting down the government". THEY are the only ones talking about it!

    Their solution is to continue to BORROW ENDLESSLY and SPEND ENDLESSLY on more and more government entitlment programs until the country is bankrupt. They want to give more and more to peoplle who don't work or pay taxes while taxing fewer and fewer to pay for it. It is a totally insane plan. Their "Great Society" has turned the country into a "Great Financial Disaster". It appears they won't be happy until the entire country and all the states are in financial default. When that happens WE WILL ALL BE IN BREAD LINES. We will then arrive at the real Democrat solution, complete and total government dependence by every citizen.

    January 30, 2011 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  21. RG

    Very simple, bring home all our troops immediately.

    January 30, 2011 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  22. Seattle Sue

    Shutting the government down in the mid-90's sure worked well for them. Not.

    January 30, 2011 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  23. Stu

    These people–the Republicans–are scumbags. They ask no sacrifice from the rich, or the multi-national corporations who have outsourced tens-of-millions of US jobs, or the greedy, corrupt Wall Street bankers who continue to operate as they did before the current economic collapse began. The multi-nationals get tax exemptions and credits for taking US jobs to foreign economies where children and slave-labor make products of inferior quality and, in the case of China, with poisonous materials. They are allowed to bank in off-shore countries who are known to provide safe haven for international criminal elements, terrorists and US citizens who hide their assets. China steals our intellectual property, manufactures counterfeit goods and represses their people with a brutal dictatorship that is supported by Wall Street and the likes of corrupt US groups like the Chamber of Commerce whose only goal is that of greed. Their contention that they support small business in the US is a complete falsehood since their primary function is shown to be that of supporting giant multi-nationals by bribing members of Congress with millions of dollars in donations. The claims by members of Congress that there is no connection between these bribes and their votes, or legislation they introduce to benefit specific industries, is nothing short of a criminal conspiracy to defraud the American people.

    January 30, 2011 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  24. Jane

    Yea and the democrats did such a great job. When the shoe is on the other foot they play games.

    January 30, 2011 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  25. Brownie2

    Looks like a stand-off t me. Let's see who has the best "poker face."

    January 30, 2011 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
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