Frosh GOP Rep. Rokita: ‘Piggish,’ ‘Un-American’ to Worry About Economy, Gov. Programs in Debt Debate

Jul 18, 2011 2:40pm

ABC News’ Rick Klein (@rickklein) reports:

The August 2 deadline for action on the debt ceiling set by the Treasury Department doesn’t have everyone in Washington worried.

On ABC’s “Top Line” today, freshman Rep. Todd Rokita, R-Ind., said he’s not concerned about the prospect of defaulting on the debt, arguing that the federal government’s cash flow would be sufficient to pay creditors.

He’s equally unconcerned about ratings agencies downgrading the outlook on American debt. Such short-term issues are far less important than the long-term fiscal challenges he and other Republicans are hoping to tackle, Rokita said.

“I don't know anything more piggish — I don't know anything more un-American than saying, ‘Oh, I'm worried about my own little handout or my own little program or my own little economy and we'll kick this can down the road and let some future generation deal with it,” said Rokita, a former Indiana Secretary of State.

“It’s not what this country was built on. It’s not the attitude that we're supposed to have. I'm not sure where we got it. So no, I'm not as worried about Moody's or anyone else or even if this economy does get worse, when you compare it to what we're doing to our kids or our kids' kids.”

Rokita said he will oppose an increase in the debt limit unless Congress makes structural budgeting changes, including passing a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution – something that is highly unlikely to be approved in the coming weeks.

He said the concerns around August 2 – the date Treasury Department officials have warned that the U.S. will risk starting to default on debts – are overblown.

“Of course it’s an important date. But first of all, I don't take the premise that we're going to default on our obligations,” he said. “We have revenue coming in. We can pay our interest payments. And then we can prioritize what government programs that have been given to the American people that are unsustainable promises that have been made by reckless politicians that can't possibly be sustained. We can determine which one of those if any we need to keep.”

“What we're saying is that, no, we don't deserve to have our credit limit increased. But we'll still have revenue coming in to pay bills,” he added.

Rokita said he’s comfortable voting against a higher debt limit, even if that means the economy will suffer as a result.

“We'll learn to live within our means right now, in the here and now. And this might force that issue even if the economy does or the stock market does go down, the economy might get worse. The economy is terrible it's been terrible for years now, and the reason it's bad is not because of a debt-ceiling vote. The reason it's bad is because we have people who believe that by making government bigger by keeping people on unemployment checks and on welfare we're going to dig us out of this mess.”

Watch the full interview with Rep. Todd Rokita HERE.

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