Local representative opposes debt ceiling deal

Though the recently passed Budget Control Act of 2011 raises the nation’s debt ceiling and will reduce deficits by trillions of dollars over the next decade, Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, expressed her strong opposition to the last-minute deal on Monday.

Lee, whose congressional district includes Berkeley, said in a statement that while she does not want to see the nation in debt default, she does not support the deal for a number of reasons, stating that it does not address the lack of jobs and economic growth in the country and that it does not achieve a necessary balance.

“The hard reality is that cuts of this size will likely result in massive cuts to vital human needs and safety net programs and will cripple our ability to help our must vulnerable communities, including seniors, the poor, and low income people who are struggling every day to just get by,” Lee said in the statement.

Federal law requires Congress to authorize the government to borrow any money that is needed to pay for the programs passed by Congress. As the national debt has grown, the U.S. Department of the Treasury has periodically bumped against this limit.

In May, the department said that the debt limit of $14.29 trillion had been reached but said it could keep the government functioning normally by “extraordinary measures” that would run their course by Aug. 2, according to The New York Times.

President Barack Obama signed the deal — which is composed of across-the-board cuts in military spending, education, transportation and Medicare payments to health care providers — immediately following a 74-26 vote in the U.S. Senate, raising the nation’s borrowing limit to avoid a debt default and reducing deficits by at least $2.1 trillion over a decade.

“At a time when investments are needed to jump start our economy and put people back to work, I believe this deal and its cuts-only approach is the wrong approach,” Lee said in the statement. “Clearly, allowing the false link between the debt ceiling and the deficit to gain any credibility was a mistake. And it is an outrage that we stand here today.”

Allie Bidwell is the news editor.