Now that the debt deal has been approved, what’s next? Last week religious leaders, on the left and right, were running ads in key radio markets, calling the federal budget a “moral document.” They formed a “circle of protection” to prevent cuts in programs that aid the poor – Medicaid, aid to poor women with children, food stamps. Their slogan, “What would Jesus Cut?” While the bi-partisan agreement passed appears to protect entitlement programs like medicaid and social security as well as military salaries from the initial round of 900 billion in cuts, Medicare is exempt, according to House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH). It is almost certain that entitlement programs will be impacted in the larger scale cuts of 1.5 trillion. This Spring, the Congressional Budget Office released a study showing that Social Security is already paying out more in benefits than it is taking in in payroll taxes. That wasn’t suppose to happen until 2016. (See Newsweek article below) With 3 Republicans and 3 Democrats on the super committee charged with identifying cuts and considering tax reform, it’s going to take a Republican to agree to raise taxes for any new taxes to be levied. Given that the wealthy are already going to be paying more once the Bush tax cuts expire in 2013, that is unlikely to happen.
Both sides are clearly gearing up for next year’s Presidential election. Obama has alienated the political left by agreeing to a plan that won’t lead to immediate cuts in entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicaid but does make them vulnerable if mandated cuts kick in. He also backed down on raising taxes on corporations and wealthy individuals. And 23% of Tea Party Republicans didn’t vote for the Boehner plan because it didn’t go far enough.
It isn’t a surprise that the deal that emerged on debt reduction was a compromise. Obama knows voter anger over the economy was behind the Republican onslaught last November. Republicans know they have to keep the economy moving – and credit, in the form of car loans and mortgages, flowing, markets that could have tightened in the event of a default. McCain was right when he warned Tea Party Republicans that blame for a default wouldn’t be aimed at Obama exclusively but at the whole lot of lawmakers for failing to work together. The question today is does this Debt Deal really SAVE any money? We’re cutting essentially the same amount that we’re borrowing. How is this a deficit reduction plan?
We think the following articles are worth reading.
Voters View of the Debt Debacle
Entitlement Programs running out of money
Do Black Voters have the Obama Blues?
Religous leaders say Washington politicians are not “heeding the Bible.”