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Most readers disapprove of debt-ceiling agreement

The U.S. Senate voted Tuesday to raise the government’s debt ceiling and President Barack Obama signed the legislation later that day, but the majority of respondents to this week’s RBJ Daily Report Snap Poll are not pleased with the 11th-hour compromise agreement.
By 63 percent to 37 percent, readers disapprove of the deal, which calls for a two-step increase in the debt ceiling-by up to $2.1 trillion-and $2.5 trillion in spending cuts over 10 years. The plan does not include new tax revenue.
When asked to rate the president and each party in Congress on their handling of the negotiations to raise the debt ceiling, all received low ratings, with congressional Democrats faring worst.
Obama had a 27 percent approval rating; 51 percent of respondents said they strongly disapprove of the president’s actions. Congressional Democrats had the lowest approval rating-18 percent-and congressional Republicans had 21 percent.
Forty percent of respondents identified themselves as Republicans and 19 percent as Democrats. Of the rest, 35 percent said they were not affiliated with a political party and 6 percent said they were affiliated with another party.
Roughly 550 readers participated in this week’s poll, which was conducted Aug. 2 and 3.

Do you approve or disapprove of the agreement to raise the federal debt ceiling?
Disapprove: 63%
Approve: 37%

How would you rate the president and each party in Congress on their handling of the negotiations to raise the federal debt ceiling?

President Barack Obama
Strongly approve: 7%
Approve: 22%
Disapprove: 20%
Strongly disapprove: 51%

Democrats in Congress
Strongly approve: 2%
Approve: 16%
Disapprove: 33%
Strongly disapprove: 49%

Republicans in Congress
Strongly approve: 2%
Approve: 19%
Disapprove: 29%
Strongly disapprove: 50%

What is your political affiliation?
Republican:    40%
Democrat:   19%
Non-affiliated:   35%
Other:    6%

This compromise was reached so that each group could campaign in 2012 and claim victory. It is interesting to note that Rep. Slaughter and Rep. Buerkle both voted “no.” Must be a great compromise, since it seems to have angered both ends of the political spectrum.
—Frank Muscato

For some members of Congress to bring this country to the edge of economic disaster is a disgrace to them and to the people who elected them. The people who are now crying “woe is me” and “my way or the highway” are the same people who pushed this country into two disastrous wars; insisted that we could finance those wars via debt while promoting a false sense of security at home; insisted that the wealthy could manage excessive financial risk, which they could not, ultimately imploding and causing a financial shock around the world and severely wounding the U.S.; and who continue to insist that we reward the wealthy for all the wonderful things that they continue to do to earn their ill-gotten gains. We as a society are on the edge of chaos politically and economically. God save the U.S.A.
—Doug Flood

This whole situation is crazy. The budget was balanced when Bill Clinton left office. We have huge deficits because of the Bush tax cuts, fighting three wars we’ve never paid for and approving pharmacy benefits for Medicare without paying for them. The way out is to stop the wars (or at least pay for them), reverse the Bush tax cuts (and yes, my taxes would increase significantly) and do something to pay for Medicare pharmacy benefits. This isn’t rocket science!
—Paul Haney

The agreement does not go far enough to reduce spending. To rely on future spending cuts and a bipartisan committee to determine them means they won’t happen. Just like any family or business, this country must live within its means. While there may be short-term pain in doing so, the long-term benefits are worth it. This country is like a spoiled child where we just keep buying whatever we see without regard to how to pay for it. The conservatives should have held the line to the bitter end. That’s what they got sent to Washington to do.
—Debbie Gleason

The Republicans are focused on winning the White House in 2012—no matter what it costs the rest of us and our descendants. The Democrats don’t seem to be able to focus on anything. Maybe we’ll learn that the two-party system is totally dysfunctional. But probably not. We may be disgusted today, but we’ll re-elect almost every single one of these characters!
—Tom Gillett, NYSUT

We have major issues to address as a country. The debt and deficit at the federal level are among those. We still haven’t adequately addressed debt and deficit. But that’s only a link to so much more. What of a sustainable, confident economy in a global marketplace? How do we get true tax reform, which, of course, means different things to different people? Where is the will to look seriously at Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid and military spending, and make changes that are prudent and protect these areas? When do we address declining infrastructure? How can we get education to elevate the prospects of all (hint: Parents are key)? Do we discuss needed energy changes for another two or three decades? And who is going to continue to study health care costs and outcomes and undertake reasoned new initiative? Clinging to ideology is not the answer.
—Carolyn Phinney Rankin, president, Phinney Rankin Inc.

I would rather see taxes go up and cuts in all the services the government provides than have this pathetic bill. I wouldn’t really even call it a compromise, since all it does is pass the buck forward to 12 people at some later date.
—Damian Kumor

It is time for compromise, concession and conciliation to replace contempt, contentiousness and combativeness.
—Dave Kennedy, Webster

I am disgusted with how both parties handle the taxpayer dollar. Both parties are fiscally irresponsible. Those who suggested we default by not raising the debt ceiling and let the chips fall where they will are close to traitors toward the American people and nation. That said, spending has got to be reined in—starting with the supersized defense budget.
—Leslie Apetz

Being one of the 99.9 percent of Americans who don’t have a zillion dollars, I am appalled and disappointed at the concessions to the 0.1 percent uber-rich at the expense of the rest of us. Ordinary citizens are not as polarized as politicians!
—Catherine Lewis, Perinton

All we did was kick the can farther down the road.
—Tim Wilson, Fairport

There was no choice but to raise the debt ceiling. The process by which it was done should be embarrassing and maddening to all citizens. I am encouraged that people I talk to understand that process is no way to run the greatest country on Earth. Can it be that only Congress doesn’t care?
—David Lamb, Rochester

We need to reverse our course and start paying our debt, not inversing it. We are in serious trouble already and our government needs to be reined in now, not later.
—Dan Ambrose, Ambrose Mechanical Services Corp.

Once again, we have seen more dysfunctional government in Washington. The solution is simple: Freeze this year’s budget, and freeze next year’s budget (no additional spending)—in fact, decrease spending by at least 5 percent. Then make a flat tax of 15 percent for both personal and business (everyone pays), no tax credits, no deductions, no loop holes and we would be flush with cash. Seems simple to me.
—Jim Duke, Victor

While the Tea Party group appeared to be playing Russian roulette with our economy, it is noteworthy that the Democrats control the executive branch, the GOP controls the House and the Democrats rule the Senate. The Tea Party may be wrong, but they are the only ones working on principals and not concerned about reelection. Essentially, the same lying SOBs who got us in this mess came to an agreement about how to get us out. People like Sitting Bull and Geronimo must be laughing in their graves. At least they got to sit at the table while they were lied to! By the way, an appropriate survey would have had a middle choice of “Neither approve nor disapprove,” but who would have checked that one?
—Bill Lanigan

One trillion dollars in spending cuts over 10 years is an average of $100 billion per year. The current total debt is $14.4 trillion. What Congress doesn’t tell you is that all they are doing is reducing the rate of increase in the debt. Some have projected the debt to be $27 trillion in 10 years even with the reduction of $1 trillion over the next 10 years. This doesn’t include the contingent liabilities of an additional $60 trillion to $70 trillion attributed to Social Security and Medicare. This administration and Congress is keeping us on the path to insolvency.
—John Rynne, president Rynne, Murphy & Associates, Inc.

The bill is a fraud—it doesn’t cut a dollar of current spending but only reduces future increases. Actual federal expenditures will continue to rise, as will the size of the deficit. The Democrats won about 99 percent of what they wanted (including continuing trillion dollar deficits), while the Republicans got to posture while actually collapsing on their promises to cut spending. Louise Slaughter, true to her socialist form, voted no because there were no tax hikes. Tom Reed, true to form, voted yes, like a lap dog for the GOP Establishment. Only Ann Marie Buerkle stood for taxpayers in voting no on the principle that it was a sham.
—Bob Sarbane

The Republicans lost when they walked away from the $4 trillion deal with Obama a few weeks ago. Everybody could have won on that deal and Congress could have gotten on with running our country. Now everybody’s angry and partisanship will be more strident than ever. To many it appears the Tea Party, as they continue to fight for no yaxes, continues to be duped by big-money subsidized industries (e.g. big oil) and the lobbyists; plus there is no correction in taxes to get the 100,000 who are making over $250,000 who pay nothing in taxes to pay some share. As the Republicans continue to state there will be no taxes in the next deal, I fear the issue will become a war of words in Congress and further distract them from meaningful governing … while our country slips economically and many needs are neglected. Without COMPROMISE our form of government cannot stand … and the Republicans need to realize that.
—Art Maurer

Currently the Federal Government is spending about $1.5 trillion more this year than its income. ($1.5 trillion is $1,500,000,000,000 when you spell it out.) The debt deal boasts about decreasing the deficit by about $2 trillion over 10 years. (This is $2,000,000,000,000 spelled out.) This averages a reduction in spending of $200 billion a year. So instead of running in the red $1.5 trillion a year – the plan will “only” be spending $1.3 trillion a year more than the government receives in income. This increases the total Federal outstanding debt by $1,300,000,000,000 each year on top of the current Federal debt which is now in excess of $14,000,000,000,000. The Federal government will continue to overspend each and every year by well over $1 trillion – money we do not have. When Louise Slaughter and Harry Reid were first elected to Congress the Federal debt was about $2 trillion – under their watch it is now 7 times that amount. When Charles Schumer was first elected to the Senate in 1998 the Federal Debt was about $5.5 trillion – it is now $14.5 trillion – an increase of $9 trillion on his watch. When Barack Obama was elected to Congress the Federal debt was $7.3 trillion. When he was elected to the Office of the President the Federal debt was $10 trillion. Under his leadership, as President, the Federal Debt increased over $4 trillion. From the time Mr. Obama was first elected to Congress the Federal debt has doubled. On the Republican side, when George W. Bush took office the Federal debt was $5.6 trillion and when he left office it was about twice that amount. John Boehner took office when the Federal debt was $3 trillion – and it has increased almost 5 fold under his watch. The debt crisis is not new – many of the current players in the game have been in Washington for a long time and should bear the blame – but they do not seem to want to take responsibility for any of it. The current spending proposals may reduce the rate the Federal debt increases – but will not reduce the total amount of Federal debt – it will still increase total Federal debt by more than $1,300,000,000,000 each and every year. (That is $1.3 trillion.) All of these politicians should be around to explain this great legacy they are “giving” to all of our grandchildren and great grandchildren.
—Gerry Van Strydonck

This is a travesty, an abdication of responsibilty, a power play of a majority looking to fool the public enough to get re elected. The media made bad guys out of the decision makers who followed their mandate whether from the left or right and heroes of those who really can’t stand any heat particularly when that heat is generated from light of scrutiny. The problem has not solved but the real lines of difference have never been better defined or will ever be as costly to the taxpayer.
—Bob Miglioratti

This agreement did little to put us on the road to recovery and fiscal responsibility! It should never have gone down to the wire to get this created and I blame that on all parties not working to resolve their differences but instead wasting air time to blame the "other" party for the mess. I am so fed up with our government that I am resolved that I will not vote for any incumbents in the next election as I didn’t in the last. Our government is strongly failing our country and the people. They continually forget we put them there and keep saying we know what the American people want. If they did, this agreement would not have been the one for them to agree on and it would have been resolved much sooner. Frankly I do not see how we can continue much longer without raising taxes and making serious cuts in the budget NOW instead of later. This idea of a Super Committee is just a lot of politicians shirking their responsibility. We need to do what is fiscally responsible for all of us or the consequences will be dire and beyond our control.
—Grant Osman

Thousands of dollars were lost from individuals’ 401k accounts over the past week. Our country looks bad. This debate should not have been tied to future budgets. The debt ceiling is about money that has already been spent. There should have been a one sentence bill that raised the debt ceiling, with future negotiations on the budget. These are two separate issues. The president should have insisted on this rather than allowing this to get tied up in a budget debate, knowing that the Republicans will do anything to oppose him. According to the Office of Management and Budget, there have been 106 increases to the federal debt limit since 1940. More specifically, it lists 18 increases to the debt ceiling between February 1981 and September 1987. In other words, there were 18 increases under President Ronald Reagan. There were seven increases between January 2001 and January 2009 — during George W. Bush’s presidency. George W. Bush doubled the national debt between the wars and the tax cuts. Where was all the outrage by the Republicans then? All this posturing is nothing more than hypocrisy.
—Judy Palmieri, Rochester

What did they do? Are we supposed to say: "Oh, boy, thank you…you kept the country from doing the insipid…..we really dodged that bullet!!" Entitlements weren’t restructured. Our tax structure wasn’t made more equitable. There was no provision for investment in our infrastructure or in research. No jobs will be created by their action. What did they do?
—Jay Birnbaum

I think the U.S. government is a big joke. They are all legalized thieves and should be put in jail. Both Republicans and Democrats do a disservice to this country. We need to have average (middle class) people running this government. We also need to get rid of the lobbyists that are controlling our government. The rich people are basically running our government and it’s coming to point where there will be a revolution. The middle class (aka working poor) cannot continue to absorb the cost of everything (taxes, welfare, wealthy tax breaks etc.)
—Jeanne Stratton

Under this agreement, our national debt will continue to grow at an unprecedented rate. All we are doing is passing the costs on to our children and grand children. This is NOT consistent with “leaving the world a better place than we found it. “ It is reprehensible and morally repugnant.
—Jerry Lighthouse, C.P.M.
What does it take for politicians to do what is right and reduce spending? There is no sanity or reason in this out of control spending money we do not have. Washington politicians have disgraced the United States and it is reflected on its citizens.
—Jim Weisbeck

We needed to make more significant cuts in spending to get the budget back in line.
—John Costello

While I approve of this first attempt to avoid default and decrease spending I don’t believe it was done fairly and did not provide a balanced approach that is necessary. I am looking for a balanced approach to eliminate the debt and to allow spending in a reasonable manner on programs this Nation needs to get the economy growing and increase jobs. I believe that with any debt problem the money has to come from somewhere and cannot be accomplished just by cutting everywhere. The problem is too big for that. While we need to stimulate the economy we also need to pay down the debt. Having said that, I believe the only source for funds to pay down the debt lies in areas we can control that spends in areas that are not necessary in this economic condition and from those whose salaries are disproportional to a reasonable norm. That means we do not need to fund programs that teach shrimp to walk on a treadmill; we do not need to provide incentives to companies who’s net growth is in the billions; we do not need to provide foreign aid to developed countries; we do not need to fund in anyway countries that are trying to kill us; and we do need to tax individuals more that are earning millions, in any form. So to sum it up, the politics we have seen from Congress has been disgusting and does not represent the people but does represent a power struggle in its purest form. They both are not working to help the country and the worst offenders are the Republicans, in any form, that cannot come up with a good plan that does not punish the working class while furthering the upper class. Congress might feel different if they had the same insurances, retirement programs, and exposure to the risks we have. They do not and they are out of touch with the people and are in touch with the lobbyists. That’s disgusting and I’m not sure that any new representatives can solve the problem. I don’t know where we are going but it’s starting to look a lot like what Greece has gone through and this should not be allowed to happen to this Nation.
—Bob Stein 

8/5/11 (c) 2011 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or e-mail rbj@rbj.net.


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