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Debt ceiling divide: Democrats call Republicans' actions 'poison'
WASHINGTON, D.C. (09/18/2013) – Another day on Capitol Hill, another display of brutal partisan divide in Congress. This time, the issue at stake is the debt ceiling – and there is no plan in sight to resolve the problem.
“What the heck is going on here?” asked Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to a crowd of reporters Wednesday during a press conference.
Schumer, along with Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Bob Casey (D-PA), and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) gathered to highlight findings of Klobuchar’s latest Joint Economic Committee report. The findings, according to the Democratic senators, show that a prolonged political battle over the debt ceiling could do serious damage to the U.S. economy.
The senators warned that interest rates could rise on everything from credit cards and home mortgages, to borrowing costs for businesses.
“This is a totally manufactured crisis,” said Casey, referring to the many Republicans who are using the debt ceiling debate as a bargaining chip to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
President Obama is calling it irresponsible politics, and said he wants a bipartisan approach to solve the debt crisis.
“I am prepared to work with Democrats and Republicans to deal with our long term entitlement issues,” Obama said.
And Schumer agrees.
“We believe, at least we hope, that the mainstream reasonable Republicans, as they get closer and closer to the deadline, will come to their senses,” he said. “But if they think we’re going to back off, they’re wrong. They’re on a different planet.”
The debt ceiling allows the government to borrow money so that it can pay bills it has already racked up. The Treasury Department is expected to exceed the $16.7 trillion debt ceiling in October.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Republicans are saying that the debt crisis can be resolved if the government makes more cuts to federal spending – to programs including Obamacare.
“This debt limit vote is a time to restrain spending,” said Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH). “The time for talk is over.”
If this all sounds familiar – that’s because it is – members of Congress had a similar debate back in 2011, when the scare of a debt ceiling default led a lower stock market and a downgrade in the nation’s credit.
Salim Furth, a senior policy analyst with the Heritage Foundation, said that cannot happen again.
“It’s unfortunate we need an alarm clock this loud to convince our politicians to do the right thing,” Furth said. “But, my hope is they’ll do the right thing before we get there and we won’t have to deal with short-term measures.”
However, the debt ceiling is not the only deadline approaching. The fiscal year ends September 30th, and the White House and Congress must agree to a new spending plan, or else they face a government shutdown.