I did not have to check the official record last week to confirm that when the House of Representatives passed the bipartisan compromise to raise the federal debt limit and avoid a default on federal debt, that Andy “Handgun” Harris voted no. I also did not need to hear his explanation for his vote. Donald Trump had already issued his order during the now-infamous CNN New Hampshire Republican Town Hall Meeting on May 10. At that event, Trump called for a default on the federal debt. Harris’ vote was consistent with Trump’s call.
On June 2, like other First District residents who subscribe to Harris’ newsletters, I received a particularly offensive email from Dr. Harris. Our congressman (and my hand shakes as I write that) had the audacity to boast about his irresponsible vote on the recently passed increase in the federal debt ceiling and to tell us that he was doing what we wanted him to do as our representative in Congress. Really?
I do not recall anyone asking Dr. Harris to precipitate a national economic crisis by defaulting on the federal debt.
Consider what Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on May 11 about the consequences of not increasing the debt ceiling, “A default would threaten the gains that we have worked so hard to make over the past few years in our pandemic recovery. And it would spark a global downturn that would set us back much further. It would also risk undermining US global economic leadership and raise questions about our ability to defend our national security interests.”
Does Harris, an anesthesiologist by trade, think Yellen is lying?
Don’t trust a Democratic Treasury Secretary who also served as Federal Reserve Chair? International Monetary Fund economist Filippo Gori told us, “It [a default] would be a spectacular debacle—weakening the U.S. economy and undermining the United States’ international standing.”
Harris’ vote suggests he and the defeated ex-president, who knows a thing or two about defaulting on debts, think they know better than Yellen and Gori. They do not.
What did Harris tell us in his email: “I voted No. [in Red].” He added, “Maryland families and the voters in my district didn’t send me to Washington to write blank checks for the federal government–they sent me to Congress to permanently change the way Washington does business and this includes getting our fiscal house in order.”
First District voters may be conservative, but they did not elect Harris with the intention of collapsing the U.S. economy. One might add that Harris is right that voters do not want Congress to “write blank checks.” Harris does not add that he always votes for tax cuts and against tax increases regardless of the current state of the national debt.
First District voters also did not elect Harris to jeopardize federal programs that many people in his district depend on, things like food assistance, healthcare, aid to schools, and support for improving our roads and bridges.
Harris also tells us, “I have always believed that if we raise the debt ceiling by a dollar, we should reduce spending by a dollar.” That sounds like simplistic nonsense to me.
Harris is okay supporting tax cuts for the wealthy regardless of whether they increase the federal debt. Following his logic, tax cuts will force additional cuts in federal spending. To him, that is a good thing, regardless of whether the programs which spending supports are needed in the First District.
Andy Harris’ vote reflects a willingness to risk a federal debt default and the interruption of benefits to his constituents. If asked, maybe Harris would tell us that he only voted “no” after realizing that the bipartisan compromise on the debt ceiling had the votes to pass. We will never know whether this is true. And I do not want to know. I just want Harris gone.
The First District did not send Harris to Washington to engage in extreme right-wing politics, including attending the infamous White House meeting to discuss overturning the 2020 presidential election results.
The Eastern Shore has real needs. Why not focus on those for a while and quit being a toady for Donald Trump? The First District deserves better representation in Congress. Andy “Handgun” Harris just proved that with his irresponsible debt ceiling vote.
J.E. Dean is a retired attorney and public affairs consultant writing on politics, government, and other subjects.