From Staff Reports

NASHVILLE, TN — Twenty Democrats elected to state and local offices in Middle Tennessee are asking Metro’s three congressmen to avoid a “devastating” default in payment of the federal debt.

A Republican counter-point comes from U.S. Rep. Andy Ogles of Culleoka. In a Bloomberg News interview, the former Maury County mayor said Republicans want “an automatic 2% cut” in spending attached to a continuing resolution to avoid default.

State Sen. Heidi Campbell — the former Oak Hill mayor who ran against Ogles last year — and 19 other Davidson County Democrats filed their request in a letter to Ogles and U.S. Reps. Mark Green of Ashland City and John Rose of Cookeville.

They represent parts of Davidson County because of redistricting.

“Please place the interest of the citizens you represent ahead of the desire to score political points and find a reasonable accommodation towards solving the debt ceiling crisis without imperiling our entire economy in the process,” the letter states. “As tempting as it may be to leverage the debt-ceiling vote to demand extreme budget concessions, the costs to the people you represent are too great.”

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, Bloomberg reports, wants discussions with President Biden. The Washington Post reports Biden met with Democratic congressional leaders Tuesday on issues including the debt ceiling. White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre says the deadlock should be resolved without conditions.

“What this administration wants is a blank check,” Ogles said. “We’ve got to work together to start cutting.”

GOP cuts, The Post reports, might include entitlement programs, Social Security, Medicare, education, science and labor programs.

But the debt exists, so Bloomberg asked Ogles: isn’t the purpose of raising the debt ceiling to pay for money that’s already been spent?

“Well, yes, but … we’re running the government on continuing resolutions, on omnibus bills, instead of having a seven, 10-15- year budget that normalizes spending over a period of time,” Ogles replied during Bloomberg’s “Balance of Power” podcast Jan. 18.

Tennessee Senate Democratic Caucus Press Secretary Brandon Puttbrese announced the Democrats’ letter saying “In 2011, political brinkmanship over the debt ceiling caused the first-ever downgrading of federal credit, even without the outright default that would have been caused by a failure to lift the debt limit.”

Lower bond ratings increase repayment rates.

“The U.S. reached its existing borrowing cap of $31.4 trillion on Jan. 19,” Puttbrese said. “Responsibility for lifting the cap, or suspending it altogether, falls to Congress” where simple majorities in the House and Senate are needed.

Ogles told Bloomberg if an automatic 2% cut requirement was imposed, but exceeded, then there should be another 2% cut.

Ogles is a former executive director of Americans for Prosperity in Tennessee and The Laffer Center, a supply-side economics advocate. Ogles supports term limits, school choice and lower business taxes for economic growth.

“We’re going to have to prioritize” spending, Ogles told Bloomberg. “But we’re going to take care of seniors, veterans and our bond holders.”

Republicans, Jean-Pierre said, “put wealthy bond holders over ordinary Americans who want safe food, safe skies, safe communities, and secure borders… [F]ailing to deal with the debt limit would cause economic catastrophe.”

Joining Campbell in the letter to Nashville’s three congressmen were state Reps. Bill Beck, John Ray Clemmons, Bob Freeman, Caleb Hemmer, Darren Jernigan, Justin Jones, Bo Mitchell, Jason Powell, state Sens. Charlane Oliver, Jeff Yarbro, and Metro Council-members Burkley Allen, Emily Benedict, Tom Cash, Angie Henderson, Bob Mendes, Bob Nash, John Rutherford, Zulfat Suara and Ginny Welsch.