"Policymakers are risking a default on U.S. federal obligations because of a dispute over how to reduce budget deficits. The nation's long-term fiscal path is unsustainable, and policymakers should address it in a timely and responsible way. But policymakers should not hold the debt limit hostage to approval of deficit reduction measures that satisfy various idealogical or political concerns. Policymakers cannot let the government default." Separating the Debt Limit from the Deficit Problem, Kathy Ruffing and Chad Stone, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, July 21, 2011The deadline for reaching an agreement around raising the federal debt ceiling is rapidly approaching. Leadership in the U.S. Congress and White House have met daily, but with a lot of grandstanding, have failed to reach a conclusion. Now is not the time for our national elected officials to act irresponsibly!
As is well demonstrated by the state budget showdown in Minnesota between a Democratic Governor and a Republican State Legislature, the lack of a budget meant a prioritization of payments for services. Social service programs, such as CSBG, LIHEAP, and Head Start, would not receive their funding. Why do programs that assist the economically disadvantaged, including children, elders, and people with disabilities, always take the first hit?
If the debt ceiling is not raised, the federal government will not be able to pay its bills. This will mean a down grade in the government’s overall credit rating and produce an increase in interest rates. If this happens, everyone will suffer with higher payments on mortgages and loans. The economy will slow down even further and even more people will lose their jobs and homes.
Now is not the time to play politics with an economy that is in desparate straits. We need to bring back responsible government! And responsible government means responsible economic policy which includes the responsibility to care for our neighbors in need.
We need to ask our elected officials to make some difficult decisions and soon. Those must include taking care of our most vulnerable citizens and ensuring that more people go back to work. These populations should not pay the price for the inaction of a federal government not meeting its financial obligations.