For Immediate Release: August 01, 2011

CLASP Statement on Debt Ceiling Compromise

Following is a statement by Alan W. Houseman, executive director of CLASP, the Center for Law and Social Policy, regarding the compromise agreement to raise the nation's debt ceiling and cut the deficit. The deal cuts the deficit by about $2.1 trillion over 10 years.

"After weeks of political posturing and brinksmanship, the nation can exhale now that leaders have finally agreed upon a deal to raise the nation's debt ceiling. Like others, we believe it is essential that Congress and the White House reach a compromise to avert a potential financial collapse, but we cannot pretend that this deal is reason to cheer.

"Two critical pieces are absent from the compromise--an understanding and empathy for what ordinary Americans need during this time of high unemployment and increasing poverty, and a principle of shared sacrifice in which corporations and the wealthy are not exempt from their role in alleviating the nation's deficits by ending corporate tax loopholes and tax breaks for the richest among us. Specifics of the deal as they relate to discretionary spending cuts are unknown, but we do know that the under employed parent who needs to gain new skills or access job training to earn what he needs to keep a roof over his family's head, put food on the table, and keep them out of bankruptcy and foreclosure is likely to be among the first to feel the impact of this agreement.

"While entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicaid may be protected, the deal requires at least $1.2 trillion in cuts to discretionary programs over ten years. This means that, among other things, programs that provide early education for young children, improvements to K-12 education, access to higher education, job training for low-skill workers, and a range of other key program supports that help families thrive, will be on the chopping block. Disproportionate cuts to programs that provide education, job training and other opportunity for low- and moderate-income people and their families are neither a proper nor a fair remedy for reining in the nation's deficits.

"Cutting trillions from the deficit will be discussed a lot in the coming weeks and months. As lawmakers begin to hammer out details for the plan, they should take time to consider and  explain to the public at what cost this compromise comes to struggling families who can least afford to shoulder the burden."

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