It’s official, the debt ceiling is back to once again rear its ugly and divisive head. President Barack Obama has put forth a formal request to have the debt ceiling raised by $16.4 trillion within the next two weeks. “I hereby certify that the debt subject to limit is within $100,000,000,000 of the limit in 31 U.S.C. 3101(b) and that further borrowing is required to meet existing commitments,” the president wrote in an official letter to Congress.
The request is mostly formality, thanks to the Budget Control Act, which was passed last year as part of the debt ceiling negotiations that occurred then. The president has one last hike he can do without Congressional approval, with the ability to veto if approval is denied. In essence, the request was formally made simply so the Republicans would have one more chance to discuss how much they hate debt, and how irresponsible the president is, which they jumped immediately into doing. “Washington’s mounting debt is a drag on our economic recovery, and this request is another reminder that the President has consistently punted on the tough choices needed to rein in the deficit and protect important programs for American seniors from going bankrupt,” stated Speaker of the House John Boehner in response to the letter.
Once the ceiling is raised again at the end of the month, all attention will turn to the other elephant in the room — extending the payroll tax break that expires at the end of February. It seems likely that the funding mechanism for that extension will be decided in shortly, as Boehner has made it clear that he would like the issue off the table before the State of the Union, where President Obama might be able to use it in his speech.
So how does the GOP plan to fund the extension, if they still won’t allow any sort of surtax on the rich? One proposed idea? Deny child tax credits to any immigrant working in the U.S. who cannot provide a social security number. The proposal, which Republicans say could save billions, is a unique way to cross the GOP zeal for asking those who aren’t rich to prop up those who are, as well as subtly use their dislike of immigration to their advantage. Currently, because the children of immigrants often are legal citizens, the parents are not required to have their own social security numbers in order to receive a child credit.
Should this proposal pass, the middle class can instead keep their payroll tax cut, while immigrant families struggle even further financially. The rich, of course, remain unaffected.
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