Americans to Blame for Debt Crisis?

Congressman lectures public on spending habits



REP. HANSEN CLARKE D-MICH.: You’ve to act, too. You’ve got to take responsibility. You want this government to get out of debt? Then you get out of debt personally.

Stop the spending. Stop the borrowing. Stop overconsumption, buying things that you don’t need with money that you don’t have. That’s robbing you and your family of a future. It’s robbing this country out of jobs.

So, I’m going to ask every American right now, get out your credit cards. Cut them up. Free yourselves. Free yourselves.


STUART VARNEY, GUEST HOST: Well, a dramatic plea to control spending from Democratic Congressman Hansen Clarke today. But it wasn’t directed to his colleagues in Congress. It was directed to the American people.

The congressman from Michigan joins me now.

Congressman, I watched that. Powerful stuff. You seem to be suggesting it is the American people responsible for our nation’s debt.

CLARKE: It’s Congress.

Congress needs right now to cut the real debt that’s burdening people. It’s not necessarily the federal debt, but its mortgages, its student loan, its credit card debt. That’s what’s crushing the American public.

And if we could cut that debt, help Americans become debt-free -- now, they’re also responsible. That’s why I asked all Americans to quit borrowing money. Quit spending money you don’t have. Cut up your credit cards, because that action, along with Congress forgiving certain student loans, cutting mortgages down to the value of our homes, that could free up money that Americans can invest, could support employers that would create jobs.


VARNEY: Well, that’s your plan.


VARNEY: But that confuses -- that confuses personal debt on credit cards, mortgages, car loans, that confuses that debt at the personal level and blames the individual for that debt. It confuses it with the national debt, which is essentially politically driven.


In order for our economy to turn around, if we want to create jobs, we’ve got to free people’s money up. And right now, people don’t have jobs. And if they have jobs, they are paying out all their money to creditors. And Congress is responsible and lacks regulation that allowed financial institutions to put people in a lot of this debt, especially with these adjustable rate mortgages.

So, I’m saying, Congress, you take action right now and help cut the most important debt, which is reducing mortgage debt. And, also, the student loans are being paid to the government. The government could cut student loans as a tax.


VARNEY: What you want is for Congress to say, right; you don’t have a mortgage any longer. It’s wiped out. Then banks take the loss? The government takes the loss?


CLARKE: No, no. I’m not saying that we wipe out the mortgages.

By my point is this. I’m trying to work something out with the members of Congress that, as we work to avoid government default, I also want us to work to make sure Americans don’t continue to default on their own debt.

You see, this country is only strong not because of the government, but because of the American people being strong.

VARNEY: Do you think we spend too much? But do you think we spend too much?

CLARKE: We’ve got to -- we have got to be responsible in how we spend our tax dollars. We have to make sure that the American people have money to invest in our economy. That’s how you make the country strong.


VARNEY: Are we irresponsible with our own personal money? Are we? Real fast, Congressman.

CLARKE: We have to do both. Stop borrowing. Only pay cash. Work -- spend within your means. And the government has to do the same. And the government should also help Americans get out of debt. That’s the main debt. That is how we liberate our economy.

VARNEY: That resonates.

Congressman Hansen Clarke, Democrat, Michigan, thanks for joining us, sir. Thank you very much.

CLARKE: Thank you. Take care.

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