Posted by: Schuyler R. Thorpe | July 23, 2011

Democrats May Deny Ceiling If GOP Won’t Talk Over Tax Breaks

(The GOP just doesn’t want this deal to go through because the rich must be protected at ALL COSTS.)

House Democrats May Deny Debt Ceiling Vote If GOP Won’t Talk Tax Breaks

The debt ceiling talks that have consumed Washington for the past several weeks might see problems of passage coming from the Left, whereas most of the problems seem to have previously been attributed to the intransigence of the Right. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), House Minority Whip, believes that Democratic cooperation with the House vote to raise the debt ceiling may not be as certain as some might think.

Hoyer told reporters Tuesday: “I think if what the Republicans do is to try to hold hostage the creditworthiness of the United States of America so that they can slash programs that are critically important to the American people and to stabilizing and growing the economy, the answer to that is, they ought not to expect us to support that.”

Hoyer is one of the “gang of six” that have been meeting regularly with Vice President Joe Biden and President Obama. According to Politico, it is Hoyer and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) who are doing most of the talking in the negotiations on the debt ceiling.

Hoyer also slammed Republicans for walking out of the negotiations, which they have done twice — once when Cantor walked out on negotiations a couple weeks ago and again when Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) walked out last week on President Obama.

“Walking away every time when confronted with a difficult fiscal challenge will not be in the best interest of our country,” Hoyer observed.

But Republicans have flat-out refused to talk about increases in taxes or eliminating tax breaks, two factors that have deprived the treasury of funds since first enacted by Congress under the Bush administration nearly a decade ago. They refuse to discuss them even if those
increases or eliminations were to come in 2013.

They have agreed, or so Cantor signaled last week, to discussing tax loopholes.

But President Obama announced in a press conference Monday that he expected Congress to hammer out a deal on the debt ceiling, one that would encompass more time than the limited debt ceiling increase ideas being floated by Speaker Boehner. He said that going into default was “unacceptable.” He said both sides would have to make sacrifices for it to work, and he expected Democrats to give a little in their defense of entitlement programs just as he expected Republicans to compromise on tax breaks for the wealthy.

Hoyer noted that Boehner and Cantor had both agreed to debt ceiling increases in the past and said that he found few who did not agree that not raising the debt ceiling would be irresponsible and possibly catastrophic.

The debt ceiling has to be raised by an act of Congress. It is an artificial limit set to call attention to deficit spending, but the same law that sets the limit also insists that the federal government cannot borrow money — for any reason — once the debt ceiling has been attained. The debt ceiling does not stop increases in the national debt (the future amount of which becomes the debt ceiling), an amount that accrues due to current as well as past expenditures and the additional interest on loans secured to operate the government and pay for its programs.

The U.S. Treasury has been juggling programs and deferring payments in nonessential areas since the debt ceiling was reached. Secretary Timothy Geithner warned that the nation would go into default and have to shut down if the government’s ability to borrow money to operate was not returned by August 2.

The current debt ceiling is set at $14.294 trillion. The amount was reached (and surpassed) in mid-May. The current national debt is $14.343 trillion.

Hoyer believes Republicans, who control the House of Representatives, will need Democratic cooperation to get enough votes to pass any deal made to raise the debt ceiling. But if the deal remains weighted in the Republicans’ favor, where the Democrats compromise but Republicans simply agree to talk about raising the limit as long as Democrats bow to their demands, it might be Democrats who refuse to raise the debt ceiling.

And if a “grand compromise” is reached where Social Security and Medicare and social assistance programs are impacted, especially if they are sacrificed without any major concessions in revenue building or tax restructuring, Hoyer’s prediction of Democrats abandoning a deal could very well be realized.

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