More than six in 10 Americans say Congress should require spending cuts before raising the debt ceiling, even if that puts the nation at risk of default, according to a Bloomberg poll released Thursday.
President Obama and congressional Democrats are demanding a debt-ceiling increase with no conditions, with the president repeatedly admonishing Congress to “pay the bills that they’ve already racked up.” The business community — wary of the economic consequences of default — is calling on Congress to raise the limit as well.
But those arguments appear to have failed to win over a majority of the public thus far, with only 28 percent of respondents telling Bloomberg they favor an unconditional increase. Eleven percent said they were unsure.
Raising the debt ceiling does not authorize any new congressional spending. Instead, it authorizes the Treasury Department to borrow more to pay the country’s existing obligations.
By withholding an increase, however, Republicans see a window to force spending cuts, a maneuver they successfully employed in 2011, when they agreed to raise the debt ceiling only after Democrats agreed to put in place a spending-reduction plan that eventually produced the current across-the-board discretionary spending cuts known as the sequester.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says the deficit is falling sharply when measured as a percentage of the country’s total economic output, but the majority of Americans see it differently. Fifty-nine percent of poll respondents said the deficit is growing, 26 percent said it was holding steady, and only 10 percent said it is getting smaller.
Bloomberg’s poll was done via interviews of 1,000 U.S. adults conducted between Sept. 20 and Sept. 23.
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The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has released its score of the House-passed American Health Care Act, which would replace Obamacare. According to the CBO, the bill would reduce the deficit by $119 billion by 2026, while leaving 14 million more Americans uninsured in 2018 than under current law, a number swelling to 23 million by 2026. Further, insurance premiums would balloon 20 percent in 2018 and five percent in 2019 before the waiver provision in the legislation would kick in. The provision allows states to apply for waivers and permit insurers to offer skimpier plans, which would likely entice younger and healthier individuals to buy health insurance while potentially pricing older and less healthy Americans out of insurance plans. House Republicans approved this bill in late April without waiting for the CBO score.
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said Wednesday during a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing that President Donald Trump's budget is little more than recycling bin material. "The budget proposed by the president doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell of passing," Graham said. Graham had previously opposed the budget over its nearly 30 percent cut to the budget of the State Department. The budget slashes spending on domestic priorities while increasing military spending.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Wednesday that he doesn't yet know the formula towards gaining passage of an Obamacare replacement in the Senate. "I don't know how we get to 50 (votes) at the moment. But that's the goal," McConnell said. The House passed an Obamacare replacement bill which has been widely seen as dead on arrival in the Senate, and McConnell has put together a working group of Republican Senators working towards creating health care legislation which could gain the support of at least 50 Senators.
"Former FBI Director Robert Mueller has been cleared by U.S. Department of Justice ethics experts to oversee an investigation into possible collusion between then-candidate Donald Trump's 2016 election campaign and Russia." Some had speculated that the White House would use "an ethics rule limiting government attorneys from investigating people their former law firm represented" to trip up Mueller's appointment. Jared Kushner is a client of Mueller's firm, WilmerHale. "Although Mueller has now been cleared by the Justice Department, the White House may still use his former law firm's connection to Manafort and Kushner to undermine the findings of his investigation, according to two sources close to the White House."