Rep. Bill Owens has a busy day ahead of him: Capital Tonight at 8 p.m. and WPTZ at 5 p.m., where he'll (likely) talk about the nation's debt ceiling.
All the while, after an appeal from President Obama last night asking Americans to contact their members of Congress, Mr. Owens' website has crashed and his office has been inundated with calls from constituents concerned about the debate that could have wide ramifications for an American economy on the mend. (The switchboard has been busy, the New York Times reports.
After weeks of fruitless negotiations between the White House and House Republicans, legislators are hashing out a deal themselves to avoid a default, which, economists warn, could lead to higher interest rates and soaring food prices.
There are two roads we can go down: Sen. Harry Reid's plan, which would allow the United States to continue borrowing money until after 2013 (read: after the elections), and House Speaker John Boehner's. Mr. Reid's plan doesn't raise taxes, and also leaves entitlements like Social Security and Medicare alone. Mr. Boehner's would require a two-step hike. Mr. Obama says he prefers Mr. Reid's plan, and the administration threatened to veto Mr. Boehner's.
"If you want a balanced approach to reducing the deficit, let your member of Congress know. If you believe we can solve this problem through compromise, send that message," Mr. Obama said in remarks to the nation last night.
The majority of those constituents, said Sean Magers, Mr. Owens' spokesman, urged "compromise," though a few asked Mr. Owens not to vote for a debt-ceiling hike at all.
Mr. Owens has said that he prefers a plan that taxes the wealthy, but that seems not to be in the offing. The best deal the Democrats now have on the table is Mr. Reid's, and that includes no new taxes.
Mr. Owens also voted against the cut, cap and balance plan, which would have slashed spending, capped it and required the U.S. to have a "balanced budget" — i.e., the United States couldn't be in the red. Mr. Owens argued that because the federal government must do things like wage expensive wars, a balanced budget amendment isn't practical.