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Entries in National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform (1)

Wednesday
Dec012010

Can Politicians Cut the Nation's $1.3 Trillion Deficit?

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Though the U.S. staggers with a $1.3 trillion budget deficit and a $13.8 trillion national debt, there is little political will and public support to tackle the issue.

President Obama's National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform will release a report Wednesday that outlines bold and oft controversial steps to reduce the debt that currently amounts to more than $44,300 for each American man, woman or child.

Yet with all of the talk of deficit reduction and paying down the debt, Congress continues to pass legislation that will add to the total, and analysts say both parties are to blame.

The Medicare "doc fix," for example, which passed Congress Monday and postpones for a month a 23 percent pay cut to doctors who participate in the Medicare program, will cost U.S. taxpayers $1 billion over 10 years.

The food safety bill that sailed through the Senate Tuesday, mainly on Democratic votes, is estimated to cost about $1.4 billion over four years.

The Republicans' tax proposal, which would extend Bush-era tax cuts for all Americans, regardless of income, would add $4 trillion to the deficit in the next decade, or $2.65 trillion without counting the alternative minimum tax.  President Obama and Democrats' proposal to extend tax cuts for only lower and middle-class Americans would add to the deficit by $2.15 trillion.

"I think they (lawmakers) are taking away with one hand what they're talking about doing with the other.  In fact, they aren't doing anything at the moment to reduce the deficit," said Isabel V. Sawhill, a budget expert at the Brookings Institute.  "They're just talking about it and what they're actually doing is stuff that's going to make matters worse and dig the hole deeper."

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