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Majority of area lawmakers begrudgingly back debt deal

August 1, 2011
In The News

Eau Claire Leader Telegram

By Andrew Dowd

Congressmen representing western and northern Wisconsin took jabs at the debt ceiling compromise, but said it had to be made to prevent the U.S. government from defaulting for the first time in its history.

U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse, put the blame of the last-minute deal on inflexible politicians — specifically Tea Party members — for "playing Russian roulette" with the American economy for political purposes.

"This is a lousy way to run a country and try to build a world-class economy," Kind said in a telephone interview Monday afternoon.

Kind acknowledged the bill facing Congress is what compromise looks like, but said he'd prefer a longer-term set of reforms instead of discretionary spending cuts that will impact job-training programs, research and infrastructure improvements.

Instead, he desired cuts to tax credits for the wealthiest Americans, reforms to health care, defense spending reductions and slashing subsidies to large agriculture conglomerates.

Seen on the House's streaming video feed, U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Ashland, acknowledged the bill's shortcomings, but also praised it.

"It's a deal that not everyone is pleased with," he said. "But the bottom line is I think this is one of the great moments of the House."

Neither political party got everything it wanted, he said, but the solution is good for the American people and starts the government on the path to better budgeting.

"It caps future spending to limit the growth of government, without any tax hikes that hurt our small businesses and manufacturers," stated a press release from Duffy's office.

One Wisconsin politician not willing to support the bill, U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., said the legislation was "a step in the right direction," but also, "simply inadequate."

"Because of President Obama's out-of-control spending, his $2.4 trillion debt ceiling increase will only last until March 2013," Johnson said in a press release.

Johnson said Democrats refused to agree to serious reforms and only conceded $21 billion in cuts for the first year of the Budget Control Act. By not cutting more in spending, he stated that the U.S. could still suffer a downgrade in its debt rating.

U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wis., released a short statement Monday in support of the bill, stating that it put the country on the path to debt and deficit reduction.

"Once this is behind us, we need to return immediately to the most important job, getting our people back to work and getting the economy back on track," Kohl stated.