Debt Ceiling Fight Worries Rep. Andy Harris’ Constituents

June 30, 2011

Rep. Andy Harris (R-1) has been using teleconferences to talk with constituents in the far-flung district, in what have often been love fests with like-minded voters. But his Wednesday 6/29/11 telechat prompted some sharp questioning from several constituents worried about the current political battle over raising the ceiling on the national debt.

Harris joined fellow Republicans in rejecting the Obama administration’s request to raise the ceiling on the national debt to $2.4 trillion in a 5/31/11 vote. Republicans are demanding major cuts in federal spending while Democrats have proposed closing tax loopholes for corporate jets, hedge funds and the wealthiest citizens.

Harris’ mid-afternoon telechat was on the same day as President Obama’s press conference on the showdown, at which he challenged Republicans to work through their scheduled July 4 recess and avoid a last-minute crisis before a projected August 2 deadline for resolution of the stalemate.

Unlike a telechat several weeks ago– during which Harris prefaced most of his answers to questioners with “You’re absolutely right”– this time the debt ceiling issue prompted some sharp questions and a few rebukes from constituents, reflecting concerns of many economists and business analysts that a default on US government bond payments could trigger a deeper recession.

“I’m terrified about the debt ceiling not being raised,” said Emsley from Baltimore. (Callers were only identified by first name and location.) He worried about the impact on the economy and criticized Harris for following the “House leadership dictates.”

Harris countered that he votes against the House GOP leadership more than 90 percent of his colleagues. He said his biggest worry was “that Democrats will raise taxes.”

“I think we can’t raise taxes in a recession,” Harris said, but “everything else is up for discussion.”

Dick, a small business owner from Annapolis, said that federal economic stimulus funds put out by the Obama administration “kept us alive.” He questioned whether Harris agreed with some conservative pundits that the “point” of the debt limit fight was to make Obama fail. “Are you locked in, at the risk of the country’s default,” Dick asked.

Harris disagreed about the stimulus package, saying it “didn’t do what it promised to do.” He said the federal government should not “print money to solve this problem” and must cut federal spending while also cutting regulatory burdens to “get government out of the way of business.”

“I am open to any way to solve this debt question” Harris said, except for raising taxes.

Then David in Fallston questioned why the Republicans were “harping on the national debt” when past Republican Presidents had raised the debt while President Clinton, a Democrat, had cut the national debt. “No Republican plan has…ever helped this country,” the constituent said.

Harris countered that the problem was past Democratic control of the House of Representatives, which originates spending bills in Congress. He did allow that former President Bush “should have contained spending” more.

Harris also met in person with constituents in Perryville later on Wednesday. Reporters were notified by email a day in advance of the event. In other parts of the district, local residents have complained in letters to local newspapers that there was no general advance notice of such town meetings and questioned whether only confirmed supporters of Harris had been invited in advance.

There was no advance notice of the telechat and Cecil Times was called to participate as the teleconference began.

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3 Responses to Debt Ceiling Fight Worries Rep. Andy Harris’ Constituents

  1. Joe on July 2, 2011 at 7:55 am

    One thing is for sure, we cannot continue along the current path of spending more than we take in. It does not work at home and it does not work in Washington, whether you are Republican or Democrat.

  2. wescrewedup on July 4, 2011 at 9:09 am

    We HAD a good congressman who made sense…

  3. Virginia Nickle on July 8, 2011 at 7:11 pm

    Look how far this country has lowered its standards and will take money not just from the poor and needy but now they want to take it from the war veterans. As we all grow older, shame on anyone taking from those of us less fortunate.

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