Category Archives: debt ceiling

America Thanks The Tea Party? [video]

Actor, voice over artist and Tea Party gadfly, D.C. Douglas, released another video on Friday nght thanking the Tea Party for its contributions to the debt ceiling debate. Immediately upon it’s release, his video took on even greater meaning.

Though this video’s release occured at roughly the same time that Standard & Poor’s credit downgrade for the US became official – it was mere coincidence. Twitterverse, however, picked up on the video’s sentiment and began forwarding it to friends as way of expressing their less-than-warm-n-fuzzy feelings reagrding the Tea Party’s hand in the credit downgrade.

Apparently this was not without some merit. In S & P’s statement, they write “[T]he downgrade reflects our view that the effectiveness, stability, and predictability of American policymaking and political institutions have weakened at a time of ongoing fiscal and economic challenges to a degree more than we envisioned…”

In essence, Congressman John Boehner chose to move into the far right Tea Party’s territory rather than into the Republican mainstream. So, in effect, it seems even more fitting that America should Thank the Tea Party!

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Filed under credit rating agencies, D.C. Douglas, debt ceiling, downgrade of debt, economy, Republicans, Standard and Poors, Tea Party

Rush Holt; The Debt Ceiling Downer

For the moment we have put the debt crisis behind us. That is small comfort as the economy at large, the job situation, the housing market, and the financial markets continue to suffer. The Tea Party in Congress and its enablers should never have been allowed to threaten America’s good name in order to advance their view of a diminished government and trickle-down economics. They should never have been allowed to force a closed-door, hurried revision of our entire economy. And they certainly should never have been able to get away with a deal that increases inequities in our society and our economy. You, like most Americans, may have watched in dismay—or even in disgust—as Washington fumbled the self-imposed crisis.

Putting aside the distasteful process and the worrisome prospect that government by hostage-taking will continue, this week I had to face the immediate questions: Was the resulting deal going to help the economy? Would it create jobs? Would it reduce the crippling inequities in our economy and society? Would it bring down the deficit, as was the ostensible goal? On all counts my answer was “No,” and I voted against the resolution on the House floor.

I am pleased that we as a country are paying our debts, but I lament the damage done to the institutions of government and the good name of the United States as the most reliable, most creditworthy entity in the entire financial world. I lament especially the damage done to our view of ourselves. The negotiations were based on Tea Party premises: that our deficit is the principal concern facing us, that America is a pitiful debtor nation, that we must lower our sights, that we must end the quest to free our people from want and inequalities, that we cannot afford any longer to be the nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all are created equal. Are we no longer the America of the 1940’s that paid for millions of GI’s to go to college and buy homes, while rebuilding ourselves and Europe, when we were faced with a national debt much greater than today?

The deal this week may have the beneficial effect of showing that in the long run the United States intends to bring expenditures more in line with revenues. In the short term, though, the deal is a downer. It not only avoids dealing with today’s principal needs—job creation and economic growth—it actually will cost jobs and preclude any economic stimulation. At a time when clearly the economy is shaky, it is a mistake to declare, as the deal effectively does, that the federal government will have no direct hand in getting the economy moving. To meet next year’s target of spending reductions will require cuts equivalent to the budgets of all the following government operations combined: the EPA, the National Park Service, the Small Business Administration, FEMA emergency and firefighter grants, and the Women-Infants-and-Children food grants. In subsequent years, the cuts would be even ten times larger. Why should we rally to the cry, “No, We Can’t?” Have we forgotten that barely a decade ago we paid down the deficit with strong economic growth, job creation, and budgetary discipline without resorting to gimmicks, triggers, or Balanced Budget Amendments?

I would have liked to vote on a plan that protected the major functions granted to Congress under the Constitution rather than turning them over to an undemocratic, isolated committee of twelve. I would have liked to vote on a plan that would have accelerated withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan, saving lives and dollars, and that would have produced savings in our healthcare costs and dealt with the looming loss of 30 percent of doctors’ reimbursement under Medicare. Instead, the plan that was presented was negotiated on the turf of the Tea Party, which seems to think that it is anti-capitalist to ask those individuals and companies doing well in this economy to bear some of the load, even though the one or two percent of people with the highest income have seen their income grow by about 25 percent while everyone else has seen an effective decline and America’s largest corporations have reaped immense profits by using loopholes and offshore tax havens to avoid paying taxes.

Nevertheless, I am making it my job to beat back the pessimistic view in Washington that gave rise to this deal. We must not let this deal be the chart of our country’s future course. It is based on false premises that fail to recognize the inherent fairness that is characteristic of our people, the ingenuity and entrepreneurial energy that have sparked our economy for generations, and the unshakable American meliorism that says we can and must make life better for each succeeding generation. I think that now, more than ever, we must have a realistic view of our situation so that we can strongly defend equality and build a community that reinforces the opportunities for each individual.

Sincerely,

RUSH HOLT
Member of Congress

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Filed under Afghanistan, Congress, Congressman Rush Holt, debt ceiling, economy, EPA, Iraq, Medicare, National Park Service, Tea Party

Senator Menendez Votes Against Debt Deal

August 2, 2011

WASHINGTON – US Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) today voted against the debt deal because it lowers the deficit on the backs of working class Americans, demands no sacrifices from those who can best afford it, and could jeopardize our economy’s fragile recovery.

“I cannot in good conscience support a plan where soldiers, seniors, students, and working families must endure trillions in cuts, but oil companies, billionaires, and corporate jet owners are not asked to pay their fair share” said Senator Menendez. “I supported the Reid plan and previous efforts to reduce the deficit because I believe it’s important to stem our nation’s rising debt, but I believe that we must do so in a balanced way that calls for shared sacrifice, just as the American people have demanded. Such an unbalanced approach is not only unfair, but it could also jeopardize our already fragile economy.”

Senator Menendez took to the Senate floor yesterday to explain his opposition to the plan.

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Filed under Budget Control Act, debt ceiling, debt limit, George Bush, Ronald Reagan, shared sacrifice, spending cuts, Tea Party, US. Sen. Robert Menendez

Lautenberg Stands Up for Everyday Families, Opposes Unfair Budget Deal

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) issued the following statement after voting against a deficit reduction deal that will cut trillions in funding for critical domestic programs:

“This legislation was a shakedown, not a compromise. Tea Party Republicans held our country hostage until their ideological demands were met, with little regard for what it will mean for the average American family. Our debt ceiling had to be raised – as was done 18 times under President Reagan and seven times under President George W. Bush – but it shouldn’t be done in a way that diminishes access to education and health care, a cleaner environment, or homeland security. Our country’s financial future must include a balanced approach of shared sacrifice; taking trillions from programs that help our children, seniors, and middle class, while asking for nothing more from the wealthy or corporations raking in record profits, is not the picture of a fair and democratic society. We must continue to work to reduce our deficits, but countries, like buildings, cannot be built from the top down without injuring the hope and morale of their people and destabilizing the strength of their foundations.”

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Filed under Budget Control Act, debt ceiling, President George W. Bush, Seniors, shared sacrifice, Social Security, spending cuts, Tea Party, US. Sen. Frank Lautenberg

Holt Statement Opposing Budget Control Act

Monday, 01 August 2011

(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Rep. Rush Holt (NJ-12) today voted against S. 365, the Budget Control Act of 2011. He released the following statement after his vote:

“The default debate is, at its heart, a debate between two visions for America. One side envisions rebuilding our country, investing in jobs and education and infrastructure, and rising from the Great Recession as a stronger and more resilient nation. The other side accepts a pessimistic vision of a weakened America with a shrunken government – a nation hampered by deep cuts to the safety net and hobbled by a refusal to invest in our future.

“I have no doubt that, in a fair debate, a hopeful vision for America would win out. But the default debate has not been held on fair terms. The Tea Party and their enablers have held America hostage. They have insisted that, unless Congress enacted their radical, ideological agenda, they would force an unprecedented default on America’s obligations and thus trigger an economic collapse.

“From the beginning of this debate, I rejected the notion that America’s creditworthiness should be used as a bargaining chip. Yet I was willing to support a balanced, fair deal if that was what was required to prevent a default. Unfortunately, today’s deal is not balanced. It is not fair. Most of all, it is not right.

“The House has voted for vast cuts in government services that ordinary Americans depend on: student loans, unemployment insurance, food safety inspections, highway safety programs, and more. These cuts will force layoffs among teachers, public safety officers, construction workers, and more. These laid-off workers will, in turn, be forced to pare back their spending at their local grocery stores, drug stores, and small businesses, forcing still more layoffs – a vicious circle that threatens to destabilize our fragile economy. We saw in last week’s economic reports that job growth has been choked back by cuts in state and local governments. This deal does not help the situation. It hurts the economy.

“The deal lays the groundwork for another $1.5 trillion in cuts to come, to be negotiated behind closed doors by an unelected super-committee. Given that the first round of cuts will have decimated discretionary programs, these later cuts will very likely focus on Social Security and Medicare. The citizens who will be hurt most are those who have the least voice in our democracy. After all, when a handful of politicians gather in the proverbial smoke-filled room, the interests of ordinary Americans are nearly always left out.

“Yet although most Americans will sacrifice greatly, the most privileged among us will be immune. Favored corporate interests, millionaires, and billionaires will continue to receive special tax breaks as far as the eye can see. That is not the sort of fair, balanced deal that Americans asked for and expected.

“As poor as this deal is on its merits, I am even more troubled by the precedent it sets. The Tea Party and their enablers have, by taking the American economy hostage, transformed a routine budgetary authorization into the most dramatic reshaping of government in decades. Today’s deal establishes that government-by-hostage-negotiation is a legitimate, effective way to achieve one’s political ends. I am frightened by what this means for the future of our democracy.”

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Filed under Budget Control Act, Congressman Rush Holt, debt ceiling, Social Security, spending cuts, Tea Party

APP Editorial: Obama’s stature compromised

The editorial below is from today’s Asbury Park Press, needless to say I am in full agreement!

President Barack Obama has revealed himself to be a man unwilling to fight for the principles in which he has said he believed.

The protracted debt ceiling/deficit reduction battle reveals, more starkly than ever, this president’s inability to stand firm. The United States may avoid a default, but the battle will end not with a bang, but with a whimper. Sadly, this is now the defining moment of Obama’s presidency.

How many times during the last six months has Obama capitulated to the 80 unreasoning Tea Party members of the House of Representatives and their right-wing echo chamber on talk radio and cable TV?

First, he allowed the debt ceiling talks to be linked to deficit reduction, then he abandoned even the idea of revenue increases. He gave away the store and alienated his base, and still the radical fringe frames the debate, now by demanding more cuts and an unnecessary constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget, which would hamstring the government in the wake of major events. He could have stood up at any time, holding the 14th Amendment option in his pocket as a last resort. Now he just waits like the rest of us to see what happens next.

The president gave in and gave in, and he has lost whatever good will the great middle had for his attempt to be the rational one in the argument. Americans cannot respect a president who runs up the white flag of surrender.

And this obscene sausage-making is only the latest in a long line of appeasements: on health care, on Guantanamo Bay, on civilian trials for terror suspects.

We teach our children the fine art of compromise, but if you compromise away your values, you’ve lost something you cannot get back by barter.

We don’t want to elect some “philosopher-king” out of Plato. We want a leader with fire in his belly, who at least puts up an honest struggle based on core principles, who, in the words of Theodore Roosevelt, “spends himself in a worthy cause … and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

So many thought that Barack Obama might be just that man. It looks as if we were wrong.

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Filed under Asbury Park Press, debt ceiling, debt deal, editorial, President Obama, Tea Party

Jon Stewart: Dealageddon! – A Compromise Without Revenues

The debt ceiling debate ends in a budget deal that raises the debt limit and includes trillions in spending cuts but has no revenue increases.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Dealageddon! – A Compromise Without Revenues
www.thedailyshow.com
http://media.mtvnservices.com/mgid:cms:item:comedycentral.com:393592
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog The Daily Show on Facebook

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Filed under compromise, Dealageddon, debt ceiling, Jon Stewart, President Obama, tax revenues, The Daily Show

Local Residents To Protest Outside Of Runyon’s Office Tuesday; Debt Deal Fails To Protect Middle Class

Emergency Protest Tuesday, 12 noon at
600 Mule Rd #6,
Toms River, NJ 08757

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

– As Washington moves to pass a bill that will raise the nation’s debt ceiling but fails to protect the middle class, local residents will gather Tuesday at12 noon at Representative Jon Runyon’s office to protest the Republican Party’s attempt to squeeze the majority of Americans—and the American Dream—to maintain billions in tax giveaways for millionaires, billionaires, and our nation’s most profitable corporations.

The debt deal, currently moving in Washington, will force deep cuts to important programs that protect the middle class, but asks nothing of big corporations and millionaires. And though it does not require cuts to Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid benefits, it opens the door for these down the road via an unaccountable congressional committee.

“What we have seen the last few days in Washington is exactly why people in our community, and all over the nation, are saying enough is enough,” said Marilyn Michaels, a local MoveOn member. Representative Runyon and the other Republicans in Washington held our whole economy hostage simply to advance their ideological agenda. We are now stuck with a deal that protects millionaires and billionaires but fails to help everyday Americans like us. It is time for Congressman Runyon to stand up for the American Dream and protect the middle class.”

The protest will take part on Tuesday at 12 noon at 600 Mule Rd #6, Toms River, NJ.

The rallies this week are being organized by the new American Dream Movement. Last Tuesday, 800 similar rallies were held across the country. The American Dream Movement is a growing movement inspired by protests in Wisconsin and fueled by the brutal right-wing attacks on the middle class and the poor. MoveOn.org, along with countless organizations, have joined the American Dream Movement to fight to ensure that Americans have the opportunity to find a decent job, afford to go to college, and secure a future for our children and our communities.

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Filed under debt ceiling, MoveOn.org, political protests, press release, shared sacrifice, Toms River NJ, US. Rep. John Runyan

Get the Facts on the Debt Deal

I personally don’t like this debt limit compromise and I commend both Middletown area Congressmen Rush Holt and Frank Pallone for having the conviction to vote against it. This deal will do little to restore fiscal sanity back in Washington while hurting many in the middle-class.

The principals of “shared sacrifice” do not exist in this deal and it will be the average joe that suffers in the coming months and years because of it.

The facts sheet below is posted over at Whitehouse.gov:

Bipartisan Debt Deal: A Win for the Economy and Budget Discipline

  • Removes the cloud of uncertainty over our economy at this critical time, by ensuring that no one will be able to use the threat of the nation’s first default now, or in only a few months, for political gain;
  • Locks in a down payment on significant deficit reduction, with savings from both domestic and Pentagon spending, and is designed to protect crucial investments like aid for college students;
  • Establishes a bipartisan process to seek a balanced approach to larger deficit reduction through entitlement and tax reform;
  • Deploys an enforcement mechanism that gives all sides an incentive to reach bipartisan compromise on historic deficit reduction, while protecting Social Security, Medicare beneficiaries and low-income programs;
  • Stays true to the President’s commitment to shared sacrifice by preventing the middle class, seniors and those who are most vulnerable from shouldering the burden of deficit reduction. The President did not agree to any entitlement reforms outside of the context of a bipartisan committee process where tax reform will be on the table and the President will insist on shared sacrifice from the most well-off and those with the most indefensible tax breaks.
Mechanics of the Debt Deal

  • Immediately enacted 10-year discretionary spending caps generating nearly $1 trillion in deficit reduction; balanced between defense and non-defense spending.
  • President authorized to increase the debt limit by at least $2.1 trillion, eliminating the need for further increases until 2013.
  • Bipartisan committee process tasked with identifying an additional $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction, including from entitlement and tax reform. Committee is required to report legislation by November 23, 2011, which receives fast-track protections. Congress is required to vote on Committee recommendations by December 23, 2011.
  • Enforcement mechanism established to force all parties – Republican and Democrat – to agree to balanced deficit reduction. If Committee fails, enforcement mechanism will trigger spending reductions beginning in 2013 – split 50/50 between domestic and defense spending. Enforcement protects Social Security, Medicare beneficiaries, and low-income programs from any cuts.

1. REMOVING UNCERTAINTY TO SUPPORT THE AMERICAN ECONOMY

  • Deal Removes Cloud of Uncertainty Until 2013, Eliminating Key Headwind on the Economy: Independent analysts, economists, and ratings agencies have all made clear that a short-term debt limit increase would create unacceptable economic uncertainty by risking default again within only a matter of months and as S&P stated, increase the chance of a downgrade. By ensuring a debt limit increase of at least $2.1 trillion, this deal removes the specter of default, providing important certainty to our economy at a fragile moment.
  • Mechanism to Ensure Further Deficit Reduction is Designed to Phase-In Beginning in 2013 to Avoid Harming the Recovery: The deal includes a mechanism to ensure additional deficit reduction, consistent with the economic recovery. The enforcement mechanism would not be made effective until 2013, avoiding any immediate contraction that could harm the recovery. And savings from the down payment will be enacted over 10 years, consistent with supporting the economic recovery.

2. A DOWNPAYMENT ON DEFICIT REDUCTION BY LOCKING IN HISTORIC SPENDING DISCIPLINE – BALANCED BETWEEN DOMESTIC AND PENTAGON SPENDING

  • More than $900 Billion in Savings over 10 Years By Capping Discretionary Spending: The deal includes caps on discretionary spending that will produce more than $900 billion in savings over the next 10 years compared to the CBO March baseline, even as it protects core investments from deep and economically damaging cuts.
  • Includes Savings of $350 Billion from the Base Defense Budget – the First Defense Cut Since the 1990s: The deal puts us on track to cut $350 billion from the defense budget over 10 years. These reductions will be implemented based on the outcome of a review of our missions, roles, and capabilities that will reflect the President’s commitment to protecting our national security.
  • Reduces Domestic Discretionary Spending to the Lowest Level Since Eisenhower: These discretionary caps will put us on track to reduce non-defense discretionary spending to its lowest level since Dwight Eisenhower was President.
  • Includes Funding to Protect the President’s Historic Investment in Pell Grants: Since taking office, the President has increased the maximum Pell award by $819 to a maximum award $5,550, helping over 9 million students pay for college tuition bills. The deal provides specific protection in the discretionary budget to ensure that the there will be sufficient funding for the President’s historic investment in Pell Grants without undermining other critical investments.

3. ESTABLISHING A BIPARTISAN PROCESS TO ACHIEVE $1.5 TRILLION IN ADDITIONAL BALANCED DEFICIT REDUCTION BY THE END OF 2011

  • The Deal Locks in a Process to Enact $1.5 Trillion in Additional Deficit Reduction Through a Bipartisan, Bicameral Congressional Committee: The deal creates a bipartisan, bicameral Congressional Committee that is charged with enacting $1.5 trillion in additional deficit reduction by the end of the year. This Committee will work without the looming specter of default, ensuring time to carefully consider essential reforms without the disruption and brinksmanship of the past few months.
  • This Committee is Empowered Beyond Previous Bipartisan Attempts at Deficit Reduction: Any recommendation of the Committee would be given fast-track privilege in the House and Senate, assuring it of an up or down vote and preventing some from using procedural gimmicks to block action.
  • To Meet This Target, the Committee Will Consider Responsible Entitlement and Tax Reform. This means putting all the priorities of both parties on the table – including both entitlement reform and revenue-raising tax reform.

4. A STRONG ENFORCEMENT MECHANISM TO MAKE ALL SIDES COME TOGETHER

  • The Deal Includes An Automatic Sequester to Ensure That At Least $1.2 Trillion in Deficit Reduction Is Achieved By 2013 Beyond the Discretionary Caps: The deal includes an automatic sequester on certain spending programs to ensure that—between the Committee and the trigger—we at least put in place an additional $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction by 2013.
  • Consistent With Past Practice, Sequester Would Be Divided Equally Between Defense and Non-Defense Programs and Exempt Social Security, Medicaid, and Low-Income Programs: Consistent with the bipartisan precedents established in the 1980s and 1990s, the sequester would be divided equally between defense and non-defense program, and it would exempt Social Security, Medicaid, unemployment insurance, programs for low-income families, and civilian and military retirement. Likewise, any cuts to Medicare would be capped and limited to the provider side.
  • Sequester Would Provide a Strong Incentive for Both Sides to Come to the Table: If the fiscal committee took no action, the deal would automatically add nearly $500 billion in defense cuts on top of cuts already made, and, at the same time, it would cut critical programs like infrastructure or education. That outcome would be unacceptable to many Republicans and Democrats alike – creating pressure for a bipartisan agreement without requiring the threat of a default with unthinkable consequences for our economy.

5. A BALANCED DEAL CONSISTENT WITH THE PRESIDENT’S COMMITMENT TO SHARED SACRIFICE

  • The Deal Sets the Stage for Balanced Deficit Reduction, Consistent with the President’s Values: The deal is designed to achieve balanced deficit reduction, consistent with the values the President articulated in his April Fiscal Framework. The discretionary savings are spread between both domestic and defense spending. And the President will demand that the Committee pursue a balanced deficit reduction package, where any entitlement reforms are coupled with revenue-raising tax reform that asks for the most fortunate Americans to sacrifice.
  • The Enforcement Mechanism Complements the Forcing Event Already In Law – the Expiration of the Bush Tax Cuts – To Create Pressure for a Balanced Deal: The Bush tax cuts expire as of 1/1/2013, the same date that the spending sequester would go into effect. These two events together will force balanced deficit reduction. Absent a balanced deal, it would enable the President to use his veto pen to ensure nearly $1 trillion in additional deficit reduction by not extending the high-income tax cuts.
  • In Securing this Bipartisan Deal, the President Rejected Proposals that Would Have Placed the Sole Burden of Deficit Reduction on Low-Income or Middle-Class Families: The President stood firmly against proposals that would have placed the sole burden of deficit reduction on lower-income and middle-class families. This includes not only proposals in the House Republican Budget that would have undermined the core commitments of Medicare to our seniors and forced tens of millions of low-income Americans to go without health insurance, but also enforcement mechanisms that would have forced automatic cuts to low-income programs. The enforcement mechanism in the deal exempts Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare benefits, unemployment insurance, programs for low-income families, and civilian and military retirement.

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Filed under bipartisanship, budget deal, debt ceiling, debt deal, debt limit, deficit reduction, economy, fiscal crisis, Frank Pallone, President Obama, Rush Holt, shared sacrifice, Tea Party, the White House

President Obama’s Weekly Address 7/30/11: Acting Responsibly on Behalf of the American People

WASHINGTON—In this week’s address, President Obama urged both Republicans and Democrats to take action to avoid defaulting for the first time in our nation’s history. While the two parties are not far apart in their goals, they must resolve their differences quickly so that the United States can continue paying its Social Security checks, veterans’ benefits, and contracts with thousands of American businesses. The time has come to stop endangering the Triple A bond rating of the United States, put aside partisan politics, and behave responsibly to ensure a balanced approach to reducing our nation’s deficit.

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Filed under benefit checks, compromise, Congress, debt ceiling, default, economy, higher interest rates, Medicare, national debt, President Obama, Social Security, Triple A bond rating, Verterans, weekly address