Rahall Wants Balanced Approach to End Debt Crisis

From a Rep. Nick Rahall Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – (HNN)  --  Opposed to cuts in Social Security and Medicare, U.S. Representative Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) voted against the House budget proposal to raise the debt ceiling, expressing the hope that all sides can move closer to compromise and achieve a workable, reasonable agreement expeditiously.

“We have to move beyond the typical partisan rhetoric in Washington.  It has gotten way out of hand, scaring seniors on fixed incomes who worry that their checks will not arrive in August,” said Rahall.  “Social Security did not cause this budget impasse and it does not belong on the chopping block.”

The debt increase bill would create a two-step process for raising the statutory debt ceiling:  allowing a $900 billion increase in the statutory debt ceiling by immediately slashing $917 billion from nondefense programs – cutting funds for transportation and infrastructure improvements, research and development, education, and workforce training programs that are vital to long-term economic growth.  It would then allow a second debt increase to occur after a proposed “Joint Select Committee” recommends, and the Congress adopts, at least $1.6 trillion in additional spending cuts before the end of the year.  The second debt increase would also be contingent on Congressional passage of a Balanced Budget Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The required $1.6 trillion in spending cuts would require damaging cuts in Social Security and Medicare.  The proposed cuts would be three times the net entitlement cuts suggested late last year by a bipartisan Presidential Commission – the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform Commission – convened to consider and recommend national budgetary policies.

“Asking seniors and working families to bear the burden of these spending cuts, while preserving tax breaks and loopholes for millionaires and lucrative multinational conglomerates that are shipping American jobs overseas, is not a balanced or sensible approach.   For the sake of our future, clear, cool heads must come together and hammer out a reasonable, passable deal,” said Rahall.

Rahall expressed his belief that an agreement was still possible before August 2, when the Treasury Department estimates that the Nation would be forced to default on its debt obligation without action by the Congress.

“We have already inflicted damage on ourselves by playing games with the debt ceiling, and looming out there on the horizon is a calamitous fiscal default.  We need to get past the political statements on bills that have no chance of being enacted into law and focus our attention on what is doable.  We need to recognize that the deficit problem does not have to be resolved, and likely cannot be resolved, in one fell swoop.  It will take a dedicated effort over a period of time.  What is important is that we keep moving forward and not take a wrong step that causes the economy to tumble into another financial crisis,” said Rahall.

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