Mon, Oct. 21

Letter: The debt ceiling deal’s deadly price


Yes, we heaved a sign of relief the economy won’t collapse, yet. The debt ceiling deal averts the disaster of default but exacts a painful and unfair price: devastating cuts to programs that are vital to women and their families.

Here are some details:

The deal would cut discretionary programs by nearly $1 trillion over 10 years and more than half from non-defense discretionary programs. Programs such as Head Start, K-12 education, Title X family planning, job training, domestic violence prevention, Meals-on-Wheels, Pell Grants and other services for vulnerable people will be cut by hundreds of billions of dollars. All this without touching a penny of the tax breaks enjoyed by millionaires and corporations.

In addition to the nearly $1 trillion cuts to defense and non-defense programs over the next 10 years, the deal would create a new congressional committee to propose an additional $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction by this November. That committee would have the authority to consider cuts to all spending programs, including Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and SNAP (food stamps), programs touted as “safe for now.” This super committee’s proposals will be put to an “up or down” vote thus relieving elected officials from doing their job of crafting legislation through a deliberative, committee based process. So-called “triggers” in the super committee’s charter are designed to make it more likely than not that the ultimate product will include cuts in Medicare, Medicaid and possibly Social Security, but not in meaningful taxes on the wealthiest or corporations. House Speaker John Boehner has already said he will not appoint anyone to the committee who would agree to any tax increases.

This deal is sure to further depress the economy, lead to higher unemployment and further limit consumer spending, which is the reason the economy is not growing. This phony crisis robs middle and lower income families in order to give a free pass to multi-millionaires and big corps. It is a right-wing tea party, anti-government solution that will lead to even more serious economic problems for the U.S. and disproportionately impact women and especially women of color. And for what? Not for a balanced budget. Sadly, this punishing “deal” will not actually solve our deficit problem, which was caused by Bush-era tax cuts for the top 1 percent income earners, unfunded and ill-conceived wars, and reduced federal income tax revenue due to high unemployment. Those are the root causes that must be addressed.

We must call on Congress to reject any deal that fails to require the wealthiest to pay their fair share in taxes, cut wasteful military spending, and protect programs that women rely upon in these tough economic times. The Obama administration and its allies in Congress must stand up to the conservative and Tea Party activists who are threatening the economic well-being of this country and apparently do not care if millions suffers thanks to their called-for cuts in vital government programs.

Lee Cali


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