Discuss: What Do You Think Of the Debt Ceiling Deal?

Add your thoughts to the discussion.

The House of Representatives passed legislation Monday night to raise the nation's debt ceiling while cutting federal spending by $2.1 trillion. The action came a day before the deadline to raise the ceiling and avoid defaulting on the national debt. The U.S. Senate is expected to pass the legislation Tuesday with President Obama signing the bill into law on Tuesday.

Patch wants to hear from you. What do you think of the deal to raise the debt ceiling? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

To read more on the debt ceiling deal, click here.

Monk August 10, 2011 at 04:32 PM
Seriously, Bill? Wasn't the U.S. Constitution "drafted chiefly by James Madison", then hammered out by representatives to the Constitutional Convention before being ratified by representatives to the Congress of the Confederation? So, our wonderful Constitution is the fruit of the labors of just a few hundred men. Like it or not the U.S.A. is a constitutional republic with representative government, not a democracy blowing in the wind of public opinion. And the phrase is "promote the general Welfare", not provide it! It's a huge difference. Promoting general welfare leaves people the liberty to make as much or as little of themselves as they like. It doesn't entitle them to take as much or as little from their fellow citizen as they like.
derek August 10, 2011 at 05:15 PM
I'm diggin this Pete dude..lol. The moral of the country will not change until those 1% pay exactly what the rest of us do. Here's one for you: two gay men friends of mine are married. If they were ''allowed'' to file as a married couple on a federal level, because of one of the guys business losses, would have gotten over 14k back on his spouses federal income tax. Since we're talkin fair. How is that fair? But back to the main subject. Not until the top 1% start paying the same as every body else will the country's moral be boost. Tea baggers, please, I have listened to them rewrite history live, get facts wrong, then blame the press for ''pressing'' them too much..gimme a break. People need to 'get a grip' as my father used to say. As we say, people need a bitch slap. WAKE UP. The power is yours and mine, not theirs. It's only theirs because we let them. I'm willing to say more of the male population in America know who won Super Bowl games when and where, and have stats of athletes burned in their brains,,,yet haven't a clue who's on their kids school board, where the teachers were educated, who creates the curriculum etx...just sayin. Get Involved.
Jim Lefkowitz August 10, 2011 at 05:46 PM
"Times are tough, and American families have had to make many sacrifices over the last few years," Hensarling said in a statement. "While they didn't cause this debt crisis, they've learned how to make do by tightening their belts and living within their means. It's time Washington did the same."
derek August 10, 2011 at 05:49 PM
Word. And time everybody PAYS their fair share. No more, no less.
Monk August 10, 2011 at 06:28 PM
Derek, Pete, anybody, what precisely is a person's "fair share"? How is it calculated or determined? Visit www.usdebtclock.org/, and it tells you the debt per taxpayer among other rates. It's rather sobering. How is a person's "fair share" established?
derek August 10, 2011 at 06:51 PM
There's also one of those for the wars....fair? Let's start with Corporations and Billionairs paying the same % as the middle class. Then maybe, just maybe a tad more. Then we can take it from there.
Monk August 10, 2011 at 07:50 PM
So, bring on the flat tax, and make EVERYONE pay something, not just themillionairesandbillionairesandoilcompaniesandcorporatejetowners and middle income earners. And while we're at it, how about some entitlement reform?
Bill August 10, 2011 at 08:17 PM
Yes, seriously. The Constitutional Convention was comprised of democratically elected delegates, who decided on the final language of the document and was then ratified by state legislatures, whose members were also democratically elected. IT's democracy all the way down.
Bill August 10, 2011 at 08:24 PM
This has plenty of rhetorical appeal, but economically speaking, it's about as wrong as you can get. During a recession, private actors (households and firms) cut back spending. It's a vicious cycle - people lose their jobs, so spending goes down, so firms invest less and lay workers off, starting the cycle again. The only actor who's still free to act is the government, which can borrow money to create jobs and thus increase aggregate demand in the economy. The debt is not "a burden to our grandchildren" - instead, it will be rapidly paid off through economic growth. Even $1 trillion now is just a small, small fraction of how big the economy will be in fifteen years. If it's temporary and if it gets demand going, it's really nothing to stress about. Government action is the only way we ever get out of a recession. In a garden-variety recession, the Fed lowers interest rates to spur aggregate demand. In a post-financial crisis recession (like the Great Depression or the current recession), the Fed runs out of ammunition when it hits 0% and we need fiscal stimulus. Most people know that World War II got us out of the Depression (because of massive deficit-financed government spending that drove up aggregate demand and got the economy going again), yet they don't believe that spending on roads or schools can have the same effect. If firms are cutting back and households are cutting back, and you get your way and the government cuts back - who breaks the cycle?
Bill August 10, 2011 at 08:32 PM
What you need to develop is an ability to think about the consequences of your ideas. In a flat-tax world, the government would not be able to provide much social insurance - if the tax rate has to be low enough that working class people can afford it, then it won't raise enough money from the middle and upper classes. Without student financial aid, nutrition programs for low-income children, Medicaid, Social Security, many people would simply be unable to get by. Maybe you don't see these people much, but they're out there. The result of this (or of "entitlement reform") would be a) tremendous social unrest and/or b) a pretty disgusting society where the rich can afford to go to the hospital or get an education but the poor and the elderly are trapped in poverty. Many wealthy people don't have the same selfish outlook that you do. In fact, last year, I was in the second-highest tax bracket, but I didn't go whining and complaining about my crushing tax rates on Internet forums. My money goes to senior citizens who have no other income, to poor families who need health insurance, to student loans, to roads, to the FDA, to industrial regulation, etc. and I'm actually very happy about that. Civilization costs money. We know what happens in a flat-tax, small-government world. Look at countries like Pakistan, where the poor have nothing at all and the wealthy live in barbed-wire compounds with private generators, private water supplies, private schools.
Bill August 10, 2011 at 08:35 PM
It should be clearer to people that the welfare state was set up because things were awful before it existed. Elderly people either lived in abject poverty or strained the incomes of their children. And they were considered "uninsurable" on the private health insurance market. Before student loans, it was very difficult to get an education and rise out of poverty. Before childhood nutrition programs, low-income children often suffered malnutrition and slower intellectual development. These programs have helped fight truly gruesome situations. In fact, they've been so successful that people like you now think we can do without them. But again, these were created to solve real, pressing problems - not just because politicians were trying to "get votes" (in fact, in typical conservative fashion, you've inverted reality - the people who have the easiest time getting things done from politicians are the _wealthy_, not the poor).
Bill August 10, 2011 at 08:47 PM
Charity doesn't help much. Sorry. But if you give money to a charity, that may help a few people in a cause that happens to be eye-catching, but only the government can create new rights - the right to health care (currently only if you're over 65, but presumably that will change), the right to an affordable education, the right to free elementary and high school education, etc. The fickle ups-and-downs of charity cannot do these things. Donating money to the government is nothing at all like creating a reliably-financed program. Imagine if the only way to get student aid was to ask for charity. How high do you think our college graduation rates would be?
Bill August 10, 2011 at 08:50 PM
And fair is absolutely a subjective term. Consider someone earning $1 million, who's paying 33% of that in federal taxes and someone who doesn't get health insurance through their job, can't afford to put their kids through college and has been through a few layoffs and is also paying 33%. You say "that's fair because the percentages are the same." I say bullshit, because the millionaire has more than satisfied the basic needs of life. Not only does he/she have health insurance, a home, a secure retirement, a steady income - but their next priorities are things like buying a boat, buying a second home, angling for a NetShares jet, whatever. I say it's unfair that in the richest society on earth, that Person 1 should pay just a small fraction of his wealth and be confident he can buy the next sports car or second home or whatever while Person 2 struggles with daily needs and can be forced to declare bankruptcy if a sudden illness arises or if they get caught by an unexpected layoff or stock market crash. So yeah, subjective.
capitan america August 10, 2011 at 10:02 PM
If you are in 'tax pain', best you join my party, which is that of the 'nonothings'. This party decides most elections.
Monk August 10, 2011 at 10:10 PM
Bill, don't get snarky and call me selfish. I wonder if you took advantage of the available deductions when filing your "second-highest tax bracket" return. Derek wants you to pay your fair share, you know. There are pretty costly downsides to expansive welfare programs, fraud being an obvious one. Worse, there are probably millions who have had their incentive to better themselves squelched by the welfare culture. Basic welfare programs for the truly needy are fine. But it offends my sense of justice when an individual or group is villified and their property is considered up for grabs. If I could be either humble or affluent, but not both, I'd take humble. Affluence isn't a virtue.
Bill August 10, 2011 at 10:22 PM
Changing your tune a bit, huh? Just a few hours ago you were defending the rights of "millionairebillionairecorporatejetowners" against citizens who were "trying to take what belonged to another citizen." But now "affluence isn't a virtue"? And no one is vilifying people who understand that we live in a society - the only people getting vilified are the selfish people (yes, selfish) who say that what you earn is yours and they don't depend on the government at all (they never hire people educated by student loans, they never sell products to people who only have disposable income because of Social Security and Medicare or because financial aid helped them earn a better living), they never use roads, etc. We're all in this together - you can't stand aside and say "everything that has happened to me is due only to myself - not to chance or to government programs." Because it's not true - and that point of view deserves vilification. Notice how even though Warren Buffett is phenomenally wealthy, he seems to understand that he shouldn't be paying less in taxes than his receptionist - and thus he is not vilified. Every human endeavor is subject to fraud. There's a lot of auto insurance fraud and homeowner's insurance fraud, yet I doubt you'd tell me that those kinds of insurance shouldn't exist or that they promote "an insurance culture." It's perfectly consistent to want a decent social safety net and also to want to fight fraud within that safety net.
Bill August 10, 2011 at 10:27 PM
"Basic welfare programs for the truly needy are fine." What do you think we have? SS recipients live on $14k a year. Medicaid is only available for families that are in dire poverty (you need to make less than 133% of the poverty line, which is $17,600 for a family of three - mull that number over for a bit). Welfare and food assistance are also for the truly needy. Where do you think our money is going if not to the truly needy? I don't think there are many liberals who'd disagree with you that a welfare program that destroys incentives to work is bad. But, to go down the list: SS and Medicare apply to people who are far too old to work, Medicaid helps poor families get health insurance (would having health insurance stop you from going to work in the morning?) and student aid gives you four years of loans that you still need to pay back and that still require you to get a job after your four years are up. I'm all for finding ways of helping people get onto their feet and off welfare programs (excluding the elderly and disabled) but that doesn't mean we should just wipe out these programs. As I've tried to emphasize, they serve an important purpose and we should try to improve them, not increase their cruelty.
Bill August 10, 2011 at 10:32 PM
Great ways to help people find jobs: - subsidized training or college education - strong minimum wage laws that ensure that employed people aren't still too poor to meet basic needs (Wal-Mart pays its employees very little and, as a result, many of them need to get Medicaid and they thus cost taxpayers millions and millions of dollars a year) - very large health insurance pools (large pools spread the risks out and make premiums lower and thus help people acquire some certainty about their health care costs) and regulations that ensure that health insurance will actually cover you when you need it - good, free public education for kids, to break the cycle of poverty - courses and mentoring for people who have an inclination to start a small business - etc Maybe you have some other ideas - I'd be glad to discuss them. But I won't say that because people are having a hard time _and_ having a hard time finding work that we should simply cut them off.
Bill August 10, 2011 at 10:40 PM
Also, I'm not saying that you yourself are a selfish person. I said your perspective is selfish, and we live in a society in which that perspective is considered perfectly fine - we have an entire political party dedicated to telling us that that perspective is the height of reason and decency. I don't accept that.
derek August 10, 2011 at 10:57 PM
YAY BILL. I have finally read someone SAY HOW. You people, and I say you people to you selfish, greedy people that see building a high speed train (and keep up with the rest of the world, wake up) would have created so many jobs throughout the entire country. But you people who profited off these wars and have now buried my generation in debt, god knows what my kids will get....besides Chinese lessons...You people knocked it down. Why is it we vote on school tax, and yeah, that's about it. Why do we vote for a person, whom I'll never know, who's supposed to speak for me? No, there's ways every day Americans who have more common sense than the bullies on the Capital Hill Floor Playground, the kids who stand firm and NO NO NO stamping their feet..it's called technology. Why can't I vote for the budget..the laws were written when people actually met in town, there weren't that many people so chances are they did know their constituents, but now we can...And NOW we can't spend any more at advancing our society? Really? You people killed THOUSANDS of people, on LIES. And pummeled a nation, to get rid of the Red Threat Du Jour. Plz..now we get to rebuild it...is that benefiting any of the people that are paying for it? There's so many types of wealth, all we ever hear about it the one about personal, selfish, needy people...Hard to believe, they truly would rather kill for the profit of the few, than support it's own people. Sad.
Pete August 10, 2011 at 11:59 PM
Really. That's what's bothering you? $250k is an arbitrary number, but hardly an unfair one - believe less than 2% of the country earns above this level. You'd support higher marginal tax increases at a higher level? That's all we're talking about in letting the Bush Tax Cuts expire. Could we call it a semi-millionaire tax and add a few percent tax if it started at income over $350? or $500? Pardon my skepticism as most anti tax folks act like they're allergic to any attempts to restore some sort of progressivity to the income tax code. Property and Sales taxes are completely regressive as you should know, income tax needs to be progessive to cancel out. If the bottom were doing so well by the tax code, they'd be accumulating wealth ... but they're not. The redistribution of wealth is all upward. Again, this is not opinion, it's a fact. Irresponsible is spending like a profligate and then refusing to pay for it. We just chopped spending, if balancing the budget is suddenly so important why is increasing revenue off the table? Again, I'm speaking in the context of a) lowest tax rate exists than it has for decades b) lower tax rate than other democracies. In fact, Paul Krugman of the NYTimes has argued convincingly and persuasively for years now that in a recession the Federal govt should be spending more. It's classic Keynesian economics, which we should have learned to use following the great depression. Now is not the time to cut spending!
Pete August 11, 2011 at 12:19 AM
Look, NJ as a State is required to have a balanced budget. It's kind of rediculous, because at the time when the states needs to step up and pay for more for their citizens - more unemployment coverage, more education and retraining initiatives, more childcare so people can work, more public works projects, more business incubators, more economic incentives ... all of these are needed now, at this point in the business cycle, and sure enough the states can't afford to pay for it. That's why the federal government should be stepping up and supplying the stimulus needed to keep us from dropping into a re-recession. The fact that we wasted all this time and focused on balancing the federal budget instead is almost criminal, and will subject the country to economic doldrums for quite a while. The Tea party are a bunch of ignoramuses if they don't know this - it's econ 101. Alternately, they'd rather see Obama fail even if it ruins the country ... I hope the unemployed and people who truly want to help them, and our country will and vote with the party that has historically stood with the little guy, the Democrats.
Pete August 11, 2011 at 12:48 AM
Are you one of those nutjobs who believe all taxation and redistribution of wealth is theft (while simultaneously enjoying all the fruits of government)? If not, and you agree we need taxes to pay for government we have democratically selected and own, then decisions have to be made. Right now the pendulum has swung so far to the right that billionnaires pay a far lower percentage of their income in taxes than you and I. Is that fair? I dont think so. Some Corporations pay no taxes because of loopholes. Is that fair? Again, no. Bush cut taxes and left the country in a gigantic financial rut, but somehow the positive effects of the cuts accrued mostly to the wealthy. You and I "saved" a few hundred, they saved millions! Again, not fair. So, one can bury one's head in the sand, throw up your hands, as you apparently are willing to do, or one can accept that tax policy has consequences, and adjust to make things more equitable. And by equitable I mean adjust the rates so that all the wealth is not transferred to the top 1%, AS IS HAPPENING NOW. It's not tyranny to stick up for one's interests as long as it's not abusive, and all I'm asking for is to restore balance and move the pendulum back just a bit. This is a far from the "socalism" the Teaparty crybabies shout at the slightest attempt to bring things back.
Monk August 11, 2011 at 01:39 AM
Bill, you got a little carried away, inferring things I did not say or intend. But you sure impressed Derek!
Pete August 11, 2011 at 01:50 AM
Tom: Who said we didn't like the form of government? You're arguing with yourself. As for "promote the General Welfare", based on some experience and history since the constitution was written this phrase has come to mean much more than the framers may have originally envisioned. Because the public was sick of the cyclic depressions, monopolies, and cartels brought on by the dogma of laissez faire economics, we the people, through our elected representatives instituted many socially liberal laws - laws against child labor, laws requiring minimum standards of worker safety, laws establishing a minimum wage and old age pensions, and laws regulating banking for example. The end result is our current mixed economy: taming some of the larger inequalities of the free market means one needs to redistribute somewhat. And yes, someone needs to set the bar of how much. You keep sidestepping the question - who should pay for the government we the people have already indicated we want? And how much? Just saying that taking is immoral means you advocate a return to laissez faire, which I reiterate, has been proven to fail ...
Bill August 11, 2011 at 01:51 AM
Well, then what were you saying? Very few people will cop to wanting to eliminate entitlement programs - that's why people have to create manufactured crises like the debt ceiling debacle in order to get rid of them. Worrying about fraud or a culture of welfare or the cost of these programs - without offering or asking for specific policy changes that would fix those issues yet keep the program itself intact - is basically just a way of politely saying that you don't want them around. Especially in light of your comments about how taxation is theft or about how millionaires are being "vilified," I find it really hard to believe that you were actually saying that you wanted to preserve the basic structure of our safety net but just with more fraud investigations or more work training. If I say, "X is unsustainable," and then you say, "But we need X because of blah" and then I say, "I never wanted to get rid of it - that's putting words in my mouth," - well, that doesn't sound very believable.
Pete August 11, 2011 at 02:00 AM
The Democrats just agreed (albeit reluctantly) to entitlement reform in the debt agreement. Why is modestly raising the tax rate on the highest earners and closing tax loopholes off the table? According to all published reports the self styled Tea party portion of the RepubliCANTS has declared this VERBOTEN.
Pete August 11, 2011 at 02:05 AM
You sound like a Know Nothing all right, and totally ignorant of history, and really, have not added anything to this debate. Once again, let's go to the facts: "The Know Nothing movement was a nativist American political movement of the 1840s and 1850s. It was empowered by popular fears that the country was being overwhelmed by German and Irish Catholic immigrants, who were often regarded as hostile to Anglo-Saxon Protestant values and controlled by the Pope in Rome. Mainly active from 1854 to 1856, it strove to curb immigration and naturalization, though its efforts met with little success. Membership was limited to Protestant males of British lineage over the age of 21. There were few prominent leaders, and the largely middle-class and entirely Protestant membership fragmented over the issue of slavery. The movement originated in New York in 1843 as the American Republican Party. It spread to other states as the Native American Party and became a national party in 1845. In 1855 it renamed itself the American Party.[1] The origin of the "Know Nothing" term was in the semi-secret organization of the party. When a member was asked about its activities, he was supposed to reply, "I know nothing."[2]" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Know_Nothing
Pete August 11, 2011 at 02:48 AM
Tom: It offends my sense of justice that the current tax code is tilted so the rich pay a far lower percentage of their income than the poor. Again Buffet (legally) paid 17% that year - I'm guessing you paid a much higher percentage. Is that fair? It is not vilifing the rich to suggest rebalancing the scales a bit so that the gains that we make as a society are more evenly distributed to all its members. The rich are not villians to take advantage of all the legal deductions that exist; and it's equally not wrong for the rest of us to tinker with the rules and reduce inequality when we can. The only part I consider dishonest is that all this discussion of "overtaxing" is taking place in a context where the US tax rates are lower than they've been for 70 YEARS, and where we are among the lowest taxed of all modern democratic states. The uber rich have sold you a bill of goods in their determination to eliminate the social safety net and "starve the beast" of government. George W. Bush and Dick Cheney both declared that deficits don't matter. Why now, in the middle of a recession do they change their tune? Lying for political expediency is not a virtue either.
Pete August 11, 2011 at 02:51 AM
Well said, Bill.


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