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Hostages, ceilings and safety nets

The debt-ceiling fight is blowing up inside the Beltway. Chicken Little has taken charge, and we’d better slash entitlement programs NOW! lest we all be consigned to debtor’s prison forthwith.

Sure, deficits and debts are a real concern, but the fixes that make sense and preserve a semblance of a safety net under seniors, the working poor (whose ranks continue to swell), children and spouses receiving survivor benefits, persons with disabilities, those needing long-term care, and everyone else that Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid keeps out of the abyss of poverty—the fixes that actually would share sacrifice reasonably and fairly—are not what we’re hearing about. Instead, it’s the sky-is-falling chorus 24/7.

The good news is that Ryancare is history after its proponents got clobbered at town halls all over the country. Americans don’t like cutting these already modest and critical benefits when millionaires and billionaires keep getting a pass on paying their fair share of taxes, and too many big corporations with billions in profits have become masters at paying zilch. Go figure!

Current estimates are that the government will run out of money the first week of August. Even most deficit hawks agree that default is not an option, since the consequences are dire, but Speaker Boehner is vowing to take us to the brink and beyond if deep spending cuts and no tax increases aren’t part of the deal. Since both parties are staking out their 2012 election narratives in this debt-ceiling battle, we’ll be buried under even more misinformation and disinformation than the usual daily blizzard.

As part of Action NC’s work with the Strengthen Social Security campaign and Health Care for America Now, we’ll be posting regularly on what sense we can make of the nonsense. It would all be amusing if tens of millions of Americans weren’t being dangled over a cliff as hostages in a cynical partisan game. Stay tuned.