Entries in National Debt (13)


Three Lawmakers Use Little-known Law to Chip Away at National Debt

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- On his first day in the House of Representatives in 2007, Rep. Timothy Walz, D-Minn., decided to return a portion of his congressional salary to the United States in an effort to reduce the public debt.

Walz, of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor party, is among a handful of congressmen who have chosen to freeze their salaries and donate the rest to the deficit. Walz donated approximately $6,588 to the deficit between January and September 2010, according to the House's Statement of Disbursement, a quarterly public report containing all official receipts and expenditures for members of the House of Representatives.

Reps. Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., and Frank Lobiondo, R-N.Y., also disclosed that they'd donated their congressional pay increases to the debt.

"When a pay increase is approved, he personally writes a check to return the money and specifically directs the U.S. Treasury Department to use it to pay down the public debt," Bachus spokesman Tim Johnson said. Bachus also requests that his unspent office funds go toward the national debt rather than to other congressional spending. In the fiscal year 2009, Bachus' office expenses came in about $200 under budget, money he turned over to the U.S. Treasury Department for debt reduction.

Bachus, Lobiondo and Walz are the only members who disclosed their contributions to Congress in 2010. Other members may have privately donated money to the debt and other charities but chose not to disclose it in the disbursement books.

Congress passed the law in 1961 that allows citizens to donate funds to the U.S. to reduce the country's deficit. In 2010, more than $2.8 million has been donated to the fund to help ease the $1.3 trillion deficit.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Tea Party Senator’s Hard Line on Debt: Utah’s Mike Lee says 'No Way'

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Senator-elect Mike Lee (R-Utah) is taking a no-compromise, hard-line stand on the national debt that may soon put him at odds with his own party leadership.

Lee told ABC News that when Congress is asked to vote early next year on raising the national debt limit -- a usually routine vote that allows the government to borrow the money needed to finance annual budget deficits -- he will vote "no."

"I'm as serious as they come," Lee said.  "I could not be more serious when I say I'm not going to vote to increase the national debt limit."

The U.S. government is expected to hit its current debt limit -- $14.3 trillion -- sometime next spring.  Economists warn that failure to raise the limit could trigger a crisis in the U.S. bond market, raising the specter that the U.S. would default on its bond obligations.

Lee doesn't see it that way.  A failure to raise the debt limit, Lee says, "will force a discussion on a balanced budget amendment, and a discussion about the need to balance the budget every year."

But incoming Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) says it would be irresponsible for Congress to vote against raising the debt limit.

For Lee, not even the prospect of a federal default on debt or a government shutdown would convince him to raise the debt limit.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Debt Commission Plan 'Dead on Arrival'?

Photo Courtesy of Getty Images(WASHINGTON) – President Obama’s debt commission has announced a proposal to not only stabilize but cut the soaring national debt by $4 trillion over the next 10 years.

The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform has proposed a plan that would impose strict budget rules including $2 trillion in spending cuts, $1 trillion in tax increases, means-testing Social Security and increasing the retirement age to 69 by 2075. The proposal would also force lawmakers to set long-term borrowing goals that could be met with further tax increases and spending cuts if gone unmet.

A congressional aide close to the commission called the proposal "dead on arrival."

"For members that have to get re-elected there are some things in here that are tough to swallow, such as raising the gas tax, upping the retirement age for Social Security, and cutting the mortgage interest deduction," the aide said. "It just goes to show how difficult deficit reduction really is."

And he may be right. Released Wednesday, the plan has already drawn staunch opposition. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi quickly released a statement to show her disapproval.

"This proposal is simply unacceptable," Pelosi said. "Any final proposal from the Commission should do what is right for our children and grandchildren’s economic security as well as for our nation’s fiscal security, and it must do what is right for our seniors, who are counting on the bedrock promises of Social Security and Medicare."

Others, like Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, have hailed the plan as "remarkable."

"This plan does it all - allows time for the economy to strengthen, brings down future deficits and debt, protects the most disadvantaged, makes government more effective and efficient, and promotes economic growth and competiveness," MacGuineas said.

David Walker, the former Comptroller General of the United States, called the proposal a "commendable, comprehensive, aggressive and good faith effort" that "puts ‘everything on the table.’"

White House Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton has said President Obama will hold his comments on the plan until after the commission finishes work on the proposal.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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