July 21, 2011

Congress must not solve deficit crisis on the backs of working families

Source: NYSUT Legislation Department

As Congress gets ready to head out of town for summer recess, things are also heating up. This year all eyes are on how the House and Senate will respond to the current deficit crisis and how things will shake out when it comes to raising the debt ceiling.

Several ideas have been proposed since leadership and the President began talking about a plan to reign in spending while not doing so on the backs of working families, children, the poor and elderly. Only in the last few days have these discussions ramped up to some sort of agreement between the White House and congressional leadership.

Yesterday the House voted on the "Cut, Cap and Balance Act of 2011 (HR 2065)" that would make it out of order in both chambers to consider any bill, resolution, amendment or conference report that would cause the discretionary spending limits to be exceeded. It would also cut spending by $111 billion in 2012, cap spending over the next decade, and keep the cap on spending until a constitutional balanced budget amendment were established. The Senate is unlikely to pass such a bill and the President has already said he would veto any bill that includes a constitutional amendment. The following members of the New York congressional delegation voted for the Cut, Cap and Balance Act: Buerkle, Gibson, Grimm, Hanna, Hayworth, King and Reed.

NYSUT, AFT, NEA and AFL-CIO's message on this issue has remained that making major changes to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security in order to reign in spending is not the way to get our fiscal house in order. In fact, most recently - today - a group of members of Congress and the President began the framework for a compromise that would reduce the nation's deficit while strengthening Medicare and Medicaid and maintaining the basic structure of these critical programs. The frameworks also ensure 75-year solvency of Social Security and would make sure that Social Security is reformed on a separate track, isolated from deficit reduction. It remains to be seen whether House Republicans will accept this framework.

Please visit the House Democrat Energy and Commerce committee website to see how cuts to Medicare and Medicaid would affect each congressional district: http://democrats.energycommerce.house.gov/index.php?q=page/district-by-district-impact-of-republican-medicare-plan-and-medicaid-cuts .