Public anxiety rising over debt talks

The StateJuly 22, 2011 

Furman student Michael Crawford has watched the ongoing debate over the federal budget with increasing aggravation.

The intern at the 5th Circuit Solicitors Office in Columbia said he thinks both Republicans and Democrats are engaging in petty brinkmanship that could endanger the country.

“Both sides realize that it is fiscally impossible not to raise the debt ceiling,” he said as he strolled down Main Street this week. “I think they are playing politics.”

Many experts believe that Congress and the White House will come to some sort of a deal to boost the country’s debt limit before the Aug. 2 deadline. But if an agreement is not reached, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner predicts the country will not be able to pay some off its bills. Currently, the debt cap is $14.3 trillion.

Tea Party Republicans are demanding deep spending cuts and measures to permanently cap the debt before they agree to any compromise, as well as seeking a constitutional amendment to require a balanced budget. It’s called “cap, cut and balance.”

The measure has passed the Republican-controlled House. The Senate took up the legislation Thursday, but Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said it has “no chance” of passing.

USC economist Bill Hauk said that raising the debt ceiling has been a common thing in years past. But a combination of the dreadful economy and the rise of the Tea Party for the first time have made it a political football.

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