The Honorable Pat Toomey
502 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington DC, 20510

Dear Senator Toomey,

In a recent interview on MSNBC, you said

“We Republicans need to be willing to tolerate a temporary, partial government shutdown which is what that could mean. And we have to get off the road to Greece, because that is a road that we’re on right now. We can only solve this problem by getting spending under control and restructuring the entitlement programs. This president doesn’t want to go there. We have to force it, and we’re going to have to force it over the debt ceiling.”

This appears to be a rather strong statement, which I would like to make sure that I am not misunderstanding. Are you saying that it is the intent of you and your fellow Republicans to force the government to default on its debt unless the president agrees to cut Social Security and Medicare, which together account for the vast majority of entitlements?

My guess is that threatening default of the debt as a way to force cuts to Social Security and Medicare is not popular with the country as a whole or your constituents in Pennsylvania, but of course that is your prerogative as an elected official. It would be helpful to everyone if you could clarify your position on this issue.

Dean Baker, Co-Director, Center for Economic and Policy Research