July 22, 2011, 07:46 pm
By Joan Kuriansky, Wider Opportunities for Women, and Paul Nathanson, National Senior Citizens Law Center
Behind closed doors in Washington, the budget negotiations continue. And no matter which deal gets made, it appears the outcome will significantly threaten the economic security of America’s middle class families and seniors.
As always in Washington, the devil is in the details.
One proposal buried in the fine print of the drafts circulating around Capitol Hill involves shifting how inflation is measured, an approach that would result in Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) cuts for today’s beneficiaries and future generations.
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) made the following remarks on the Senate Floor July 22, 2011:
Mr. President, the American people deserve an accounting of what happened on the floor this morning. The citizens of Utah — who I am honored to represent — and citizens all over this country thought that the Senate would be voting on the Cut, Cap, Balance bill later this week.
I was an original cosponsor of this bill in the Senate. I have signed the Cut, Cap, Balance pledge. And I have always supported a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution.
“Tax cuts for job creators!” It is a rallying cry echoing these days from both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue. For Republicans in Congress it means never raising taxes on the wealthiest 2 percent of the population. The White House, meanwhile, is considering a general reduction in payroll taxes for all.
Both scenarios, however, miss the real job creators: new businesses under one year old and typically unincorporated, which have added an average of 3 million net new jobs a year to the American economy. That’s more than all other categories of business combined, according to recent studies by the National Bureau of Economic Research and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.
There is a huge gulf between Washington, D.C. and the American people. They are dealing with tough times. They’re struggling to pay their bills. And they look to Washington, they see politicians who can’t stop spending money – their money.
Listen, we’re broke. We need to stop the out-of-control spending spree that’s going on in Washington, D.C. The House has acted. We passed a bill that raised the debt limit, cuts spending, puts in place real reforms in place, and requires Congress send to the states a Balanced Budget Amendment. It’s called "cut, cap, and balance."
We’ve done our job. The Democrats who run Washington have done nothing. They can’t stop spending the American people’s money. They won’t and they refuse.
The Senate Majority Leader says they still won’t offer a plan to cut spending. Or a plan to raise the debt limit. Frankly, that’s irresponsible.
Where is their plan?
President Obama talks about being "the adult in the room." But where is his plan to cut spending and raise the debt limit?
We’re in the fourth quarter – and we’re fighting for jobs, we’re fighting for the future, we’re fighting for the American people.
The high temperatures in Washington shouldn’t be the only heat the White House and Democratic leaders in Congress should be feeling when it comes to the debt crisis. It’s been a record breaking 813 days since the Senate, led by Harry Reid, has done their job and passed a budget.
By failing to legislate and enact spending cuts, Democrats are jeopardizing our national security. The credit rating agency Moody’s has indicated that if budget cuts associated with a debt limit increase are not credible and lead to a balance in the ratio of debt to GDP, then our country will likely face a downgrade on our bond rating. How will this affect you and me? This will mean higher interest rates that will increase the cost of borrowing for credit cards and loans (home and car). If higher interest rates lead to inflation, we’ll all lose purchasing power as costs rise.
The public debate on the debt limit with respect to the House has been most peculiar. It violates historic norms and basic political sense.
Normally, passing increases to the debt ceiling is primarily the duty of the President's own party. Nancy Pelosi's Democrats hold 193 seats in the House, so in theory Congress only needs 25 Republicans to sign onto a deal. The math starts to change if Pelosi grants the 26 members of the Blue Dog Coalition a pass on the vote, given the unpopularity of raising the debt ceiling. Partisans of any stripe have been known to place more consideration on political calculus than on policy.
The problem is not the debt ceiling. Much time has been spent on successfully framed the debate as a fiscal Armageddon that is looming on August 2 if the Federal Government doesn’t increase their borrowing limits. While there is much room for honest debate, the truth is a little less ominous and possibly more sinuous.
The current debt ceiling is still on track to take in about $2.2 trillion in this fiscal year. Interest for the year would amount to about $205 billion. The only possible way default could occur is if the President and Treasury Secretary mis-appropriated the funds and allowed this to happen. With current interest on the debt being only a tenth of the revenue it is an unlikely scenario that the US would go into default on August 2.
While no business wants unnecessary regulation, hundreds of thousands of small businesses support needed standards to protect people and the environment. Many of these businesses are represented by the rapidly growing American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC). These businesses follow a “Triple Bottom Line” operating philosophy where running a profitable business includes accepting social and environmental responsibility.
They do not believe in taking shortcuts to increase short-term profits at the expense of the environment, their employees or their neighbors. These businesses want to follow good, common sense rules that protect their workers and enhance the quality of life in the communities in which they work.
House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) made the following remarks on the House floor July 21, 2011:
Mr. Speaker, ladies and gentlemen of this House, I am pleased to rise with my colleague and dear friend, Barbara Lee, to focus on an issue that all too frequently is ignored. I rise to speak as we are engaged in an extraordinarily important discussion, debate, and responsibility. That responsibility is to ensure that America pays its bills; that America's creditworthiness is not put at risk; that America, which has incurred obligations, meets those obligations, to individuals and to others. As we have made policies which have cost money, it is now necessary to pay the bills that we have already incurred.
Sen. Charles Schumer made the following remarks on U.S. Senate Floor on July 21, 2011:
Mr. President, as we spend the day debating the Republicans’ plan to “Cut, Cap and Kill Medicare,” a plan that is dead on arrival in the Senate, it has become obvious what the true question of the day is.
That question, Mr. President, is this: will we, as a nation, allow ourselves to be driven into default and financial calamity by a small group of extreme right-wing ideologues in the House GOP? It is becoming increasingly clear that this group of ideologues have grabbed the reins, and are refusing to let go, no matter who tries to pry their fingers off. It is clear this small group of narrow ideologically driven congressmen is the one thing standing in the way of raising the debt ceiling.