What: All Issues : Making Government Work for Everyone, Not Just the Rich or Powerful : Insuring Government Has Adequate Financing to Function : H.J. Res. 51. Debt Limit Increase/Vote to Minimize an Increase in the Federal Debt. (2003 senate Roll Call 197)
 Who: All Members
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H.J. Res. 51. Debt Limit Increase/Vote to Minimize an Increase in the Federal Debt.
senate Roll Call 197     May 23, 2003
Progressive Position:
Yea
Progressive Result:
Loss

The federal budget is in deficit when total government expenditures on tax breaks and spending exceed the amount of incoming tax revenue to the U.S. Treasury. The public debt, then, is the accumulated financial obligations of the federal government (the sum of all deficits and surpluses over time). By law, Congress must adhere to a debt limit; exceeding that limit requires approval by lawmakers in the House and Senate. Recent spending increases (on the Iraqi war, homeland security protections, and other matters) and $350 billion in tax reductions will likely cause federal deficits for years into the future and, as a result, increase the total amount of public debt (which is currently estimated at $6 trillion). To allow the public debt to exceed the current maximum (which is $6.4 trillion), Republicans drafted legislation to increase the debt limit by an additional $984 billion. During debate on the issue, Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) offered a proposal to reduce the debt limit increase to $634 billion (which would have been $350 billion less than the GOP-bill). Progressives supported the Baucus measure because, in their view, the federal government should spend within its means. A large federal debt, they worried, would burden future generations with interest payments and may require spending cuts on important social programs or tax increases to reduce the debt. Republicans unanimously opposed the Baucus bill and the measure was defeated 47-52.

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