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The News-Star: Landrieu criticizes debt ceiling stance

Greg Hilburn

July 30, 2011

U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, who has been relatively quiet about the simmering debt ceiling crisis until now, lashed at House Republicans on Friday in a series of interviews with Louisiana media.

Landrieu, D-La., said Republicans in the House "are holding the U.S. economy hostage," and she would support President Barack Obama's raising of the debt ceiling without congressional approval as a last resort if a compromise can't be reached.

"The stakes are frighteningly high," Landrieu said in an interview with The News-Star. "The hostage isn't in the best of health, and it may not live" if the debt ceiling isn't raised.

If the ceiling isn't raised by Tuesday, the U.S. could default on its debt.

Landrieu said a default "would be catastrophic for families and businesses and send shock waves through the markets. It would raise interest rates on everybody," she said. "It would be like a tax."

Louisiana's senior senator emphasized "raising the debt doesn't give government permission to spend more, but only to meet previous obligations."

She believes the debt ceiling now should be a separate issue from other government spending.

"The debt ceiling shouldn't be used to stage this fight," she said. "It's reckless."

Landrieu said the debt ceiling has been raised 89 times previously, "and 55 of those times under a Republican president. It's been perfunctory."

She said Democrats have shown a willingness to compromise, "but Republicans in the House are moving farther and farther to the right."

"I believe there needs to be new revenue (taxes), but Democrats have conceded that we will support a plan at this time with no new revenue," Landrieu said. "That's a big win for Republicans, but they refuse any compromise. Their refusal to compromise is putting the economic recovery at great risk."

When ask if she would support Obama testing his constitutional powers by attempting to raise the debt ceiling without Congress, Landrieu said, "Absolutely, but hopefully it won't come to that."

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