Monday, August 1, 2011

Congress and the White House Reach Debt Ceiling Deal with No Cuts to Social Security and Medicare

Congressional leaders have come to a compromise with the White House signing off the deal with all sides not getting what they want but at least  no longer threatening the United States Government with defaulting on its obligations until 2013.

The deal reached includes raising the U.S. debt limit by at least $2.1 trillion and slashes government spending by $2.4 trillion or more, without cutting Social Security and Medicare nor raising taxes on the wealthy and corporations.

It is not the best deal for Democrats but it is not the best deal for Republicans either. When you compromise, that is usually the case.

Summary Of The Deal:

1) The U.S. economy is no longer threatened by default until 2013

2) 10-year discretionary spending caps (defense and non-defense) generating nearly $1 trillion in deficit reduction

3) $350 Billion from the Base Defense Budget – the First Defense Cut Since the 1990s.

4) Protection in the discretionary budget for the Pell Grants that will award a maximum of $5,550 per student, helping over 9 million students pay for college tuition.

5) Increases the debt limit by $2.1 trillion to meet financial obligations

6) No debt ceiling increase drama until a year after the 2012 election.

7) Creates a bipartisan committee to identifying an additional $1.5 trillion (which is part of the $2.4 trillion package) in deficit reduction, including from entitlement and tax reform, on which Congress is to vote by December 23, 2011.

8) If the bipartisan committee fails, an enforcement mechanism will trigger spending reductions of $1.2 Trillion in Deficit Reduction beginning in 2013 that will include a 50/50 cut between domestic and defense spending.

9) Enforcement mechanisms protect Social Security, Medicare beneficiaries, and low-income programs from any cuts and these programs are off limits to any sequester.

10) About the sequester if the the bipartisan committee fails:

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.

Here is the bottom line. The President has negotiated a deal with all parties involved in this conflict and his willingness to compromise in the wee hours has paid off to ensure that the United States Governments' treasury won't be forced to default on its legal obligations which would have caused catastrophic damage to the economy. Moreover, it has resulted in

1)  No discontinuance of Medicaid payments payments to States,

2) No discontinuance of U.S. Military salaries and retirement benefits,

3) No discontinuance of Social Security payments and Medicare benefits,

4) No discontinuance of Veterans' benefits,

5) No discontinuance of Federal Civil Service Salaries and Retirement benefits,

6) No discontinuance of payments to Unemployment benefits to States,

7) No discontinuance of interest and principle payments on Treasury Bonds and other securities or Student Loan payments,

8) No increased interest rates on Government, Corporate and Consumer borrowing,

9) No potential decline in equity prices, home values and retirement accounts, and

10) No increase in loss of jobs,

11) No increase in the reluctance of businesses to continue to make new investments and spend to spur the economy.

Okay, this bill does not require the wealthy to pay their fair share, nor does it close any of the tax law loopholes that allow 75% of American corporations to pay no taxes at all while reaping billions in subsidies. This bill will wreak havoc on educational programs, cost over a million jobs at a time where more Americans are out of work than at any time since the Great Depression, and cuts benefits to those unemployed, but at least it leaves the Federal government solvent and we are now able to gear up to continue the fight. 

It is hard as it is to try to get anything through Congress with Republicans in power. However, what Democrats have accomplished with the cards they have been dealt, while some critics think President Obama has deceived us all year long, is that the United States Government is not in default status. The "full faith and credit of the United States of America" still means something good, solid, and true.

President Obama commented that "We have removed 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."

For a little dose of truth to those who think compromise is a dirty word, read the fact sheet below at your leisure instead of throwing a tantrum, whining, and complaining about how President Obama and his Administration threw us all under the bus.

Better yet, try to spend a fraction of your time pouncing on the Republicans you are technically aiding by throwing President Obama under the bus. That would be what I would call a progressive movement showing what they really stand for.

If you want to contribute to electing more and better Democrats, start by registering new voters for the next round of elections coming up soon. Become a Democratic District Leader to help pick better, stronger candidates. Participate in a "Get Out The Vote" campaign to make sure Democrats get off their butts and go the polls on election day.

Having the majority in both the House and Senate is the only way we can change the direction of our politics. Until then, rest assured that although the agenda will be framed by the current GOP majority and you will just be the same old you for the next 18 months, the opportunity for change comes up every November.

We have a lot of work to do, let's get to it.

Article from "The People's View" with italicized comments by Broadcast Union News.

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