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Expert: Debt Ceiling Confused with Budget Deficit



August 2, 2011

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - As Congress and President Obama are on the verge of a deal on the federal debt ceiling, an organization that analyzes the impact of federal budget priorities says it's a bad deal, for Nutmeggers and other Americans.

Jo Commerford, executive director of the National Priorities Project, says that, if the deal agreed to Sunday night by the President and legislative leaders passes, it will change the face of government as we've known it for more than 50 years.

"The way we think about government services - for example, government spending on national parks, on health research, Government payments, for example - the ones we receive from Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare - you know, they're all hanging in the balance."

The deal doesn't cut those three big government programs right away, but opens the door to such cuts as part of any agreement by a "super panel" of Democratic and Republican lawmakers going forward.

Commerford likens the deal to sending a one-armed boxer into the ring, because, she says, it contains no new taxes.

"This quote-unquote 'compromise' really only looks at spending cuts as part of the package. We're not looking at all at corporate or individual revenue, especially revenue gained from tax cuts for the wealthiest two percent of Americans."

She points out that the debt ceiling has no economic or legislative connection with the federal budget deficit, but says Republicans in Congress successfully made that link in the minds of many Americans and fellow lawmakers.

"The Right, if you will, was very successful in making us believe that the only way to raise the debt ceiling was to enact commensurate spending cuts. And now, we'll get a deal that is very close to where they wanted to be."

Melinda Tuhus, Public News Service - CT
 

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