Republicans Will Raise The Debt Ceiling For One Year ...
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As the nation moves dangerously close to a government shutdown on Oct. 1, House leaders are shifting their focus to the next big fiscal fight: raising the nation’s $16.7 trillion borrowing limit by one year before Oct. 17. On Wednesday night, Republicans circulated an outline of demands, threatening to push the nation into default unless President Obama and the Democrats in the Senate agree to enact a wish list of Republican priorities.
Though Obama has repeatedly insisted that he would not negotiate over the must-pass legislation, leadership is hoping to satisfy conservative members by including every “major piece of the Republican agenda” save a “ban on late-term abortions — and some lawmakers who oppose abortion were arguing to add that,” the Washington Post reports. Below is a look at some of their demands:
1. Approve of the Keystone XL oil pipeline. The pipeline would link Alberta’s tar sands to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast and is currently under review at the State Department. The project would create 3,900 temporary construction jobsper year and would would only support 35 permanent and 15 temporary jobs, with “negligible socioeconomic impacts,” after construction is complete. The Environmental Protection Agency estimated that constructing the pipeline would increase annual carbon emissions by “up to 27.6 million metric tons, or the equivalent of nearly 6 million cars on the road.” Without completing Keystone, tar sands production is estimated to fall flat by 2020. At least three Democratic senators who support the pipeline — Mark Begich of Alaska, Max Baucus of Montana and Joe Manchin of West Virginia — said in interviews that language for the project should not be included in the debt-ceiling measure. “I’ve supported Keystone, but we should have a clean debt-limit bill,” Begich said. “That’s been the traditional way, and it’s been very successful.”
2. Weaken the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Republicans have repeatedly tried to weaken the CFPB, which was created in the aftermath of the 2008 economic crisis to protect consumers from the predatory lending practices of large banks and financial institutions. The agency has increasedsupervision over mortgage lenders, brokers, consumer reporting agencies, and large banks, cracked down on debt collectors, set up programs to help consumers better understand loan agreements and recoup refunds from deceptive and illegal practices, and wrote new rules to prevent wrongful foreclosures.
3. Delay implementation of Obamacare for one year. The demand comes just days before millions of uninsured Americans begin signing up for health care coverage in the new law’s state-based marketplaces, and could actually increase the deficit. A Congressional Budget Office report from July 2012 found that repealing the ACA in its entirety would increase the federal deficit by $109 billion over 10 years and $24 billion in FY 2014. Undoing certain coverage provisions but maintaining the revenues and cuts in the law — a tactic Republicans have used in the past, most prominently in Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) budget — would decrease the deficit anywhere between $35 billion and almost $50 billion. Doing so, however, would maintain billions of dollars in cuts to the Medicare program and taxes on various sectors of the health care system, which Republicans say they oppose.
4. Cut $120 billion from federal health programs over the next decade. The savings would come from expanding means testing in the Medicare program, instituting more tort reform, and repealing the Affordable Care Act’s Prevention and Public Health Fund, which is designed to support states and communities in fighting chronic diseases like heart disease, stroke and diabetes (conditions which disproportionately afflict Americans living in states represented by Republican members.) The GOP would also force so-called “high-income” Medicare beneficiaries, defined as those making $85,000 and above for individuals, or $170,000 for families, to pay more for health care coverage. Under their proposal, the definition of “high income” would actually expand over time until it includes one-fourth of all beneficieries.