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On debt ceiling, lawmakers turn to Spanish-language radio

If you tuned into Spanish-language radio in Miami Thursday, you were bound to hear from federal lawmakers -- and wannabe lawmakers -- making their cases on the debt-ceiling battle in Washington D.C.

U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, a Miami Republican, speaking on WQBA-AM (1140), put the blame of the impasse squarely on a Senate controlled by Democrats and on President Barack Obama.

The House's proposal is imperfect, Diaz-Balart acknowledged. "But up to now, the only thing we have from the Senate or the President are speeches," he said.

"The one responsible if this doesn't get approved is one person, the president," Diaz-Balart said. "He's in another world. It's as if he were in his living room drinking martinis" and not paying attention, he added.

His appearance was followed on the same program, Prohibido Callarse (Silence Banned) by Sen. Bob Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat and Cuban-American who noted he is close to Diaz-Balart but disagrees with him on the debt fight.

"We have said yes to everything," Menendez said. "This is the first time in my public life in which I have said yes to everything in a negotiation and they still have not been able to accept...I have never seen a situation like the one I've seen in the last month, to tell you the truth."

Earlier in the day, Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson gave a similar line speaking on the same station's Pedaleando con Bernie (Pedaling with Bernie) show.

"They say it's my way or no way," said Nelson, who has a complicated history voting for raising the debt ceiling. He bashed the GOP for what he characterized as hurting Medicare and Social Security recipients. Republicans should consider selling drugs at discounted prices to Medicare, he suggested.

He was followed shortly thereafter by former Sen. George LeMieux, a Republican who is running to challenge Nelson.

"It's embarrassing, it's a mess," LeMieux said of the debt ceiling debacle. But he said the debate was necessary to have a discussion about how much the federal government is spending.

"It is necessary," he argued, "because the underlying problem is not the debt ceiling but the debt."

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