Category Archives: Austerity

Why America has a debt ceiling: 5 questions answered

The sky’s not always the limit.
AP Photo/Susan Walsh

 

Steven Pressman, The New School

Republicans and Democrats are again preparing to play a game of chicken over the U.S. debt ceiling – with the nation’s financial stability at stake.

The Treasury Department on Jan. 13, 2023, said it expects the U.S. to hit the current debt limit of US$31.38 trillion on Jan. 19. After that, the government will take “extraordinary measures” – which could extend the deadline until May or June – to avoid default.

But it’s not clear whether Republicans in the House will agree to lifting the debt ceiling without strings attached – strings that President Joe Biden and Senate Democrats have vowed to reject. Right-wing Republicans demanded that, in exchange for voting for Kevin McCarthy as speaker of the House, he would seek steep government spending cuts as a condition of raising the borrowing limit. Continue reading

Share Button

Nobody loved you, 2022

From devastating floods in Pakistan to Italy’s far-right PM to overturning Roe v Wade, this was a year of extremes

By Adam Ramsay  Published 12-30-2022 by openDemocracy

A flooded village in Matiari, in the Sindh province of Pakistan. Photo: Asad Zaidi/UNICEF

How do you turn 365 days experienced by eight billion people – and billions more other beings – into some kind of story?

Maybe you start with some events?

In which case, 2022 was the year that Covid vaccines kicked in. Daily global deaths hit 77,000 on 7 February, and have declined fairly steadily ever since. It was the year Russia invaded Ukraine, the first war between major European powers since 1945. Continue reading

Share Button

Congress Just Passed $858 Billion Military Budget, But GOP Is Blocking $12 Billion to Fight Child Poverty

“This isn’t using our taxpayer dollars wisely,” said one analyst. “It’s robbing programs that we need.”

By Jake Johnson  Published 12-17-2022 by Common Dreams

Sen. Mike Crapo, the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee. Photo: USDA/flickr/CC

Congressional Republicans happily teamed up with Democrats this month to authorize $858 billion in military spending for the next fiscal year, but the GOP is refusing to even consider proposals to revive the Child Tax Credit expansion that lifted millions of kids out of poverty last year—even though bringing the program back would cost a fraction of the Pentagon outlay.

A spokesperson for Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) told HuffPost earlier this week that Republicans have thus far been unwilling to negotiate over the Child Tax Credit (CTC) boost, which they unanimously opposed when it was enacted as part of the American Rescue Plan last year. Continue reading

Share Button

Lame-Duck Dems Must Lift Debt Limit, Advocates Say as GOP Doubles Down on Social Security Threats

“Democrats must do whatever it takes to defeat Republican attacks on our earned Social Security benefits,” said one advocate. “That means raising the debt ceiling this year, before Republicans take control of the House.”

By Julia Conley.  Published 11-30-2022 by Common Dreams

#StoptheShutdown Press Conference with Speaker Pelosi and Senator Schumer in 2019. Photo: AFGE/flickr/CC

Progressives on Wednesday warned that time is running out for Democratic leaders to take Republicans at their word regarding slashes to social safety net programs, as U.S. Sen. John Thune indicated the GOP will use a potential fight over the debt ceiling next year as leverage to push cuts—unless the Democrats act now to raise the debt limit while they still control the Senate and House.

Thune (R-S.D.), who is the number-two Republican in the Senate as the chamber’s minority whip, told Bloomberg Tuesday that the party has a “long list” of policy priorities for the next Congress, which will commence on January 3. The party plans to put forward budget reforms including to federal programs which they have long claimed, erroneously, are unsustainable. Continue reading

Share Button

US Unemployment System ‘Wholly Unprepared’ as Fed Risks Throwing Millions Out of Work

“If another wave of job losses does indeed hit, the unemployment safety net isn’t ready to cushion the blow without significant improvements,” warns the co-author of a new study.

By Jake Johnson  Published 11-1-2022 by Common Dreams

People’s Unemployment Line protest in Philadelphia, 2020. Photo: Joe Piette/flickr/CC

With the Federal Reserve poised to induce mass layoffs in its ongoing campaign to curb inflation, a study published Tuesday warns the notoriously fragmented U.S. unemployment system is nowhere near ready to handle another surge in jobless claims, potentially spelling disaster for the millions of people who could be thrown out of work next year.

Authored by Andrew Stettner and Laura Valle Gutierrez of The Century Foundation (TCF), the new analysis notes that “the share of jobless workers actually receiving UI benefits has shrunk dramatically” since federal benefit increases expired last year. According to TCF, just 26.8% of jobless workers were receiving state unemployment benefits in the 12 months that ended in August 2022, a sharp decline from the 76% rate through early 2021. Continue reading

Share Button

GOP Threatens to Hold Economy Hostage to Slash Climate Investments

“If Republicans take over Congress, they plan to hold the government hostage and ransom our future,” said one climate advocate.

By Jake Johnson  Published 10-25-2022 by Common Dreams

Screenshot: CNN

In addition to threatening cuts to Social Security and Medicare, congressional Republicans are reportedly plotting to use the debt ceiling and an end-of-year clash over government funding to target popular climate investments approved in August as part of the Inflation Reduction Act.

The Washington Post reported Tuesday that “while some Republicans do favor brinkmanship over Medicare and Social Security… some aides and analysts think the GOP may be more likely to demand changes to other Democratic priorities.” Continue reading

Share Button

‘Believe Him,’ Say Critics, as McCarthy Signals GOP Plan to Attack Social Security, Medicare

“The future of Social Security and Medicare is on the ballot this November,” said one advocate. “Republicans, led by Kevin McCarthy, are united in a plot to reach into our pockets and steal our money.”

By Julia Conley  Published 10-18-2022 by Common Dreams

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). Photo: Gage Skidmore/flickr/CC

Progressives on Tuesday warned that U.S. voters should take House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and other Republicans at their word when they threaten to enact cuts to Social Security and Medicare despite the cost-of-living crisis that already has Americans struggling to afford healthcare and other essentials.

In an interview with Punchbowl News Tuesday, the California Republican outlined plans to use the expected fight over the raising of the debt ceiling next year as leverage to pass several austerity policies and block additional aid for Ukraine, as well as blocking pandemic-related spending. Continue reading

Share Button

1 in 3 of World’s Poorest Countries Spend More on Debt Repayments Than Education

“There is clearly a moral imperative for the world to act now to ensure that all children are in school and learning,” says a new report from Save the Children. “But there is also an economic imperative.”

By Brett Wilkins  Published 10-11-2022 by Common Dreams

School kids in northern Zimbabwe, Africa. Photo: Trey Ratcliff/flickr/CC

A report published this week by Save the Children revealed that 1 in 3 of the world’s poorest nations spend more on paying off debt to wealthy countries and investors than on educating its own children.

The U.K.-based charity’s report—entitled Fixing a Broken System: Transforming Education Financing—shows that 21 out of 70 low- and lower-middle-income countries with available data spent more on external debt repayment than on education in 2020. According to the publication, interest payments are expected to account for an average of 10% of the annual budget in this category of countries by 2024, up from 7% in 2015. Continue reading

Share Button

‘A True Danger to the Public Post Office’: DeJoy Moves to Consolidate USPS Facilities

“How many post offices will be closed?” asked one union official. “How many clerks and drivers will lose jobs?”

By Jake Johnson  Published 8-27-2022 by Common Dreams

Screenshot: C-SPAN

Postal union officials are sounding the alarm about the potentially damaging impacts of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s effort to consolidate post offices across the U.S. as part of his widely condemned 10-year plan to reshape the public mail agency.

Government Executive reported Friday that “more than 200 post offices and other U.S. Postal Service facilities are set to shed some of their operations as soon as this year as the mailing agency seeks to consolidate those functions at larger buildings, according to documents shared by management.” Continue reading

Share Button