Category Archives: debt limit

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

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

Congressman Rush Holt; "The Latest News On the Debt Ceiling"

Americans are rightly disgusted by the news from Washington. If Congress and the President fail to act within days, or maybe just hours, the United States could be in the unprecedented position of defaulting on our obligations. In essence, the President would be required by law to conduct programs – including Medicare, Social Security, and the national defense – that, by law, he could not pay for.

What would happen next? Interest rates would rise, sending shockwaves through the economy. Home loans, car loans, and student loans would become far more expensive. Businesses, already finding credit unavailable, would have a harder time meeting payroll. The dollar’s status as the world’s most trusted currency would be threatened. And our credibility in the world markets would vanish. Surely, more layoffs, lower pay, and reduced economic activity would result.

This is an unnecessary, artificial crisis. It is not the result of a natural disaster or terrorist attack. It is solely the result of Republicans in Congress holding America hostage. They are threatening a crisis unless Congress enacts their extreme, ideological agenda – an agenda that demands hundreds of billions of dollars in cuts to Medicare and Social Security, all while protecting tax loopholes for oil companies, corporate jet owners, and billionaires.

What is especially troubling is Congress has now wasted weeks in these hostage negotiations instead of doing the real, difficult work required in this economy: putting people back to work. Solving the jobs crisis would do far more to reduce our nation’s deficit than any plan now pending in Congress. In fact, the long-term deficit would improve dramatically if we simply ended the Bush tax cuts for the very wealthy and Big Oil. Removing the Bush tax cuts would do more to reduce the deficit than Speaker Boehner’s bill.

To those who insist that, by refusing to allow America to pay its bills, they can teach the nation a lesson, I ask this question: would you teach yourself a lesson by refusing to pay your credit card bill?

The moment has long since passed to end this self-induced crisis. Let’s raise the debt limit and move on to the real work of rebuilding the American economy.
Sincerely,

Rush Holt

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Filed under Congressional Republicans, Congressman Rush Holt, corporate tax breaks, debt limit, economy, Medicaid, Medicare, national debt, national defense

President Obama’s Weekly Address 7/23/11: A Bipartisan Approach to Strengthening the Economy

WASHINGTON– In this week’s address, President Obama discussed the urgency of Democrats and Republicans coming together to take a balanced approach to cutting the deficit to strengthen our economy and leave for our children a more secure future.

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Filed under bipartisanship, budget cuts, debt limit, economy, President Obama, weekly address

On income taxes and job creation, history debunks GOP views

By Star-Ledger Editorial Board
Sunday, July 17, 2011

We’re used to politicians stretching the truth, but this is getting ridiculous. For months now, congressional Republicans have refused to support any debt ceiling and budget deal that would raise taxes on the wealthy because, these economic wizards tell us, the rich are “job creators.”

Tax increases would discourage these job genies from expanding their businesses. Unemployment, already at 9.2 percent (which says something about the job-creation myth, doesn’t it?), would get even worse, they insist. The problem with this economic philosophy? It’s garbage.

Even Warren Buffett, one of the richest men in the world, knows that: “The rich are always going to say, ‘Just give us more money and we’ll go out and spend more and then it will all trickle down to the rest of you.’ But that has not worked the last 10 years, and I hope the American public is catching on.”

The American public, it seems, is catching on, even if Republicans want to twist the truth about that, too. Speaker of the House John Boehner keeps insisting, “The American people don’t want us to raise taxes.” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor says, “This economy is ailing and we don’t believe, nor do the American people believe, raising taxes is the answer.”

Think again. Americans believe Congress should raise taxes on the wealthy.

A new Quinnipiac survey asked voters if they support a budget deal with only budget cuts or a blend of cuts and taxes on corporations and the rich. Only 25 percent said cuts only. Sixty-seven percent want cuts and a tax increase on the wealthy.

Republican leaders are not only misrepresenting what the American people want, they’re covering up Republican numbers, too. In a recent Gallup poll, only 26 percent of Republicans favored lowering the debt with cuts alone. In just about every poll — ABC News, Washington Post, Bloomberg, Reuters — Americans want spending cuts and they want the wealthy to pay a larger share.

But maybe the American people are wrong. Let’s check the history. Did giving the wealthy a break with the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 help create jobs? Uh, no. From the end of the 2000-01 recession, just when the first Bush tax cuts took effect, until the beginning of the Great Recession, the economy grew at a slower pace than in any postrecession recovery period since World War II. Pay, adjusted for inflation, fell. And it took 39 months to get the number of jobs back to where it was before the 2000-01 recession.

Despite the same promises of jobs, the economy limped along. And the additional tax cut in 2003 didn’t rev it up, either.

President Bill Clinton faced vociferous opposition to his 1993 budget plan, which raised the top tax rates from 31 percent to 39.6 percent. Republicans called it the “Kevorkian Plan.”

So, what happened? Unparalleled economic growth. The nation’s unemployment dropped from 6.9 percent to 4 percent. The deficit shrank, and in 1998, the federal government boasted a surplus for the first time since 1969.

It seems the economy can survive a tax hike on the wealthy after all. And the tax hike did wonders to reduce the deficit as well, as designed.

More evidence: During the 1950s and early 1960s, when America experienced sustained growth, marginal tax rates on the rich were the highest they’ve ever been — 91 percent for the top bracket. (Even President Ronald Reagan, the Republican economic poster boy, raised taxes after he cut them.)

But Republicans keep chanting the same nonsense — without offering historical evidence to back it up. Instead, they want to bring the nation to the brink of default while protecting corporations (who are sitting on billions in profits) and fat cats — while everyday Americans are squeezed by high gas and food prices, plunging home prices and lower wages.

Let’s call the job-creator stuff what it is: a myth.

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Filed under Bill Clinton, Bush Tax Cuts, Congressional Republicans, Conservatives, debt limit, editorial, Eric Cantor, great recession, John Boehner, President Obama, tax cuts, the Star-Ledger, unemployment

President Obama’s Weekly Address 7/9/11: Working Together to Meet our Fiscal Challenges

WASHINGTON – In this week’s address, President Obama called on both parties to come together during this unique moment to find a significant, balanced approach to deficit reduction that lets us live within our means without hurting investments our economy needs to grow and create jobs. The President believes the American people deserve to have their leaders work in a bipartisan way to find common ground to tackle our fiscal challenges so we can be in a stronger position to focus on new job-creation measures to get the American people back to work.

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Filed under Congress, corporate taxes, debt limit, economic recovery, Education, Job creation, Medicare, Middle Class, President Obama, Social Security, tax breaks for the rich, weekly address