FSRN: President Obama siged the debt ceiling compromise bill but critics say it sacrifices the working poor


Story Transcript

DANNY WOOD, FREE SPEECH RADIO NEWS: Late Monday night, the House of Representatives passed The Budget Control Act, the 11th hour deal struck by leaders from both parties to raise the debt ceiling. Then, on Tuesday afternoon, just hours before the default deadline, the Senate passed the bill. Alice Ollstein reports from Capitol Hill.

ALICE OLLSTEIN, FSRN: The Senate passed the Budget Control Act 74 to 26, and President Obama signed the bill into law. But now that the political theater has died down, even those who voted in favor of the bill shared serious concerns about its effects on US families. Illinois Democrat Dick Durbin warned his colleagues that the deal would hurt those already struggling.

SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL): We have to be honest about it. Fewer children from poor families will be enrolled in early childhood education. Working families and their children will face even more debt to pay for college education. Medical research will likely be cut. And the list goes on.

OLLSTEIN: He voted for the bill, but said Congress was moving the country in a dangerous direction.

DURBIN: If we continue to move toward more and more spending cuts, we will literally disadvantage the poor and working families of America to the advantage of those who are well off.

OLLSTEIN: Analysts say the compromise will hit families in many ways. Ethan Pollock, from the Economic Policy Institute, says the debt deal will cut important social programs and exacerbate the unemployment crisis. The EPI estimates an additional loss of 1.8 million jobs.

ETHAN POLLOCK, SENIOR POLICY ANALYST, EPI: This actually puts us in a deeper hole. So it is possible that then there’s some job legislation that comes out that partially digs us out of the whole, but on net we will be worse off than before we had started.

OLLSTEIN: Yet just after the vote, Vermont Democrat Patrick Leahy said–as many did–that it could have been worse.

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D-VT): It is not the best by any means. But a lot of the things that we rely on–nutrition programs, Social Security, Medicare [incompr.] they are protected. They weren’t protected under the original Republican plan. It is the best of a bad deal.

OLLSTEIN: Sen. Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey was one of just six Democrats to vote no. As someone who grew up in poverty, he says he couldn’t support cutting the programs that keep families afloat.

SEN. FRANK LAUTENBERG (D-NJ): I saw what happened when people are without the means to carry on, and it’s destructive in so many ways, morally as well as financially. So I think this was the wrong way to go, with some fairly onerous possibilities in front of us.

OLLSTEIN: With the deal passed, Congress has just 14 days to choose the members of the powerful new committee that will decide where and how much to cut the budget. Alice Ollstein, FSRN, Washington, DC.

End of Transcript

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