Have you been paying attention to the U.S. debt limit crisis? What’s all the fuss about? According to the U.S. Treasury: “The debt limit does not authorize new spending commitments. It simply allows the government to finance existing legal obligations that Congresses and presidents of both parties have made in the past.
As it now stands, the U.S. House of Representatives, led by the Republican majority, refuses to authorize an increase to the debt limit in order to push forward an agenda of devastating cuts to future government spending. They insist they will not permit raising the debt limit until they are satisfied that a tremendous number of cuts will be achieved in the next budget. The hypocrisy of this is stunning; during the Trump administration, the debt limit was raised three times, and the debt amount grew $7.8 trillion dollars. President Biden has made it clear that the debt limit must be raised, America must pay its bills, and in a separate process, the future budget can be negotiated. The two must be handled separately
On May 1, Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellin, informed Congress that the government will be unable to pay its bills (default on our obligations) possibly as early as June 1, if Congress does not raise or suspend the debt limit before then. The U.S. Treasury website states that failing to increase the debt limit would have catastrophic economic consequences which would precipitate another financial crisis and threaten the jobs and savings of everyday Americans, putting the United States right back in a deep economic hole, just as the country is recovering from the recent recession.
Everyone, regardless of how you identify politically, whether you are a proponent of cuts or similar or more spending in future national budgets, needs our government to honor our financial obligations now so that the economy does not tank. If we wind up back in the hole, we will all suffer. We will lose in wages, jobs, retirement savings, benefits and more. Additionally, if the Republican-led cuts happen in exchange for paying our current bills, according to Indivisible; Vermont is likely to experience the following:
- Elimination of 700 preschool and child care slots.
- Cut mental health support for students by about $1.5 million.
- Cut approximately $10 million in funding for schools serving low-income children, and reduction in supports to as many as 15,000 children with disabilities.
- Loss of rental assistance to 2,100
- Worsening of Social Security and Medicare assistance wait times for 168,000 Vermont Seniors.
- Jeopardize health coverage and access to care for 65,000 Vermonters.
- 24,300 veterans could lose access outpatient visits.
- Cuts to Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), leading to loss of service to 4,000 women, infants, and children.
- Jeopardize food assistance for 1,000 older adults in Vermont by implementing harsh eligibility requirements.
- Elimination of student debt relief and making college more expensive for 9,200 Vermonters by reducing Pell Grants.
- Cut 2,100 Vermonters’ access to workforce development services, depriving businesses of the skilled workforce they need to thrive, cutting off worker pathways to good jobs.
- Cut nearly $16 million in funding for transit and highway infrastructure projects all across the state and lose 10 rail safety inspections.
This is why I believe that Vermonters owe a thank you to Representative Becca Balint. She is a champion for a clean vote to avoid a default on our debts, separate from budget negotiations. She opposes cuts to Social Security, Medicare and other programs Vermonters rely on. When our representatives stand up for the people, rather than corporate interests or their own pockets, we prosper. Thank you, Representative Balint, for standing up for us! We have your back because you have ours!
Indivisible Mad River Valley plans to make a large thank you card for Balint on Thursday, May 25, from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Moretown Library (in Town Hall) please join us. We will supply all the material; you just show up. No artistic ability required, just a desire to lend your hand in thanking Representative Balint.
Judi Daly lives in Moretown.