A compilation of coverage from a news service:
Debt Deal Reached - Will It Fly?
By LINDA GITTLEMAN Gratiot Managing Editor and The Associated Press August 1, 2011
Racing the clock to avoid a government default, President Barack Obama and Republican congressional leaders reached historic agreement Sunday night on a compromise to permit vital U.S. borrowing by the Treasury in exchange for more than $2 trillion in long-term spending cuts.
Officials said Speaker John Boehner telephoned Obama at mid-evening to say the agreement had been struck.
No votes were expected in either house of Congress until today at the earliest, to give rank and file lawmakers to review the package..
It appears that Social Security and Medicare will survive. That's what mid-Michigan seniors are expecting, and that's likely what they're going to get.
"They are concerned, but they think it will be resolved once legislators stop acting like children," said Jo Jones, director of Ithaca Senior center.
Without legislation raising the federal debt limit in place by Tuesday, the Treasury will not be able to pay all its bills,
The federal debt limit would rise in two stages by at least $2.2 trillion, enough to tide the Treasury over until after the 2012 elections.
Big cuts in government spending would be phased in over a decade. Thousands of programs — the Park Service, Internal Revenue Service and Labor Department accounts among them — could be trimmed to levels last seen years ago.
No Social Security or Medicare benefits would be cut, but the programs could be scoured for other savings. Taxes would be unlikely to rise.
If the compromise doesn't get through both the House and Senate and signed by the president, the government will have to pick and choose which bills to pay and which obligations to honor. Interest payments due to Wall Street are likely to be paid first, followed by Social Security checks - due to go out on Wednesday.
….The first step would take place immediately, raising the debt limit by nearly $1 trillion and cutting spending by a slightly larger amount over a decade.
That would be followed by creation of a new congressional committee that would have until the end of November to recommend $1.8 trillion or more in deficit cuts, targeting benefit programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, or overhauling the tax code. Those deficit cuts would allow a second increase in the debt limit, which would be needed by early next year.
If the committee failed to reach its $1.8 trillion target, or Congress failed to approve its recommendations by the end of 2011, lawmakers would then have to vote on a proposed constitutional balanced-budget amendment.
If that failed to pass, automatic spending cuts totaling $1.2 trillion would automatically take effect, and the debt limit would rise by an identical amount.
Social Security, Medicaid and food stamps would be exempt from the automatic cuts, but payments to doctors, nursing homes and other Medicare providers could be trimmed, as could subsidies to insurance companies that offer an alternative to government-run Medicare.
Highlights Of Budget And Debt Limit Pact
By The Associated Press, August 1, 2011
President Barack Obama and top congressional leaders have reached an agreement on a plan to pair an increase in the nation's $14.3 trillion borrowing limit with spending cuts and to create a special committee to recommend bigger savings for a vote later this year. The plan would:
· Immediately increase the debt limit by $400 billion, with Obama permitted to order another $500 billion increase this fall unless both House and Senate override him by veto-proof margins; a third installment of between $1.2 trillion and $1.5 trillion would be made available after enactment of matching levels of additional spending cuts recommended by a special joint committee of lawmakers. The full $1.5 trillion could also be available if Congress adopts and sends to the states for ratification a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.
· Cut more than $900 billion over 10 years from the day-to-day operating budgets of Cabinet agencies. Caps spending passed by Congress for agency budgets at $1.043 trillion in 2012, $7 billion below 2011 levels.
· Create a 12-person, House-Senate committee evenly divided between the political parties, and charged with producing up to $1.5 trillion more in deficit cuts over 10 years. If a majority of the committee agrees on a plan, it would receive a vote in both the House and the Senate. If the panel deadlocks or fails to produce at least $1.2 trillion in additional cuts, or if Congress fails to enact its recommendations, the White House budget office would impose across-the-board spending cuts across much of the federal budget, including the Pentagon, domestic agency budgets and farm subsidies. Many federal benefits programs, however, would not be covered by this, including Social Security, Medicaid, veterans' benefits, and federal retirement benefits.
· Require both House and Senate to vote on a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.
· Establish "program integrity" initiatives aimed at stemming abuses in benefits programs like Social Security.
· Increase funding for Pell Grants for low-income college students by $17 billion over 2012-13, financed by curbs in student loan subsidies.
States Fear Cuts Under A Compromise To Avert Debt Default
BY Susan Haigh And Dinesh Ramde Associated Press August 1, 2011
HARTFORD, Conn. -- The cost of the compromise needed to raise the federal debt ceiling likely will inflict more fiscal pain on states still struggling to recover from the recession and the end of federal stimulus spending.
Although the details of the spending cuts to states remain unclear, lawmakers from both parties have discussed the need to cut or impose caps on so-called discretionary spending over the next decade.
That could mean wide-ranging cuts in federal aid to states, affecting everything from the Head Start school readiness program, Meals on Wheels and worker-training initiatives to funding for transit agencies and education grants that serve disabled children.
There also is concern among governors, state lawmakers and state agency heads that Congress will make deep reductions or changes in federal aid for health services for needy people, most notably through Medicaid. That could shift more of the costs onto states already having trouble balancing their budgets.
"We have the potential for disaster should there be a major realignment in federal funding that results in a cost shift to states," said Nevada state Sen. Sheila Leslie, a Democrat from Reno who recently discussed the issue with Obama administration officials in Washington. "In short, we are teetering on the edge right now, and a cost shift could send us over the cliff."
Michigan and other states already have closed nearly $480 billion in budget gaps since the beginning of the recession, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
State officials across the country are worried about the austerity steps demanded by fiscal conservatives in exchange for raising the nation's debt ceiling, said Brian Sigritz, director of state fiscal studies at the National Association of State Budget Officers. He said the association expects states to be affected by cuts, if not immediately, then in the next year or two.
Although the legislation being considered does not cut entitlement programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, it calls for creating a special congressional committee to find additional savings. That next step likely would lead to specific recommendations to trim spending on entitlement programs.
Darrell Steinberg, president pro tem of the California Senate, said he is concerned about such cuts, especially if they reduce payments to the states for Medicaid, which provide health care for poor and disabled people. The state's version is known as Medi-Cal and covers 7.5 million people.
But not all state officials are dismayed by the possibility of broad-based cuts in federal aid.
Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell said he believes substantial funding cuts would have less of an impact on his state than allowing the federal government to stay on its current course of mounting debt.
Congressional Leaders to Pitch Debt-Reduction Compromise to Caucuses
Published August 01, 2011 | FoxNews.com
Democratic and Republican leaders in both chambers of Congress will meet with their caucuses Monday for a hard sell of a compromise debt-reduction package that gives President Obama up to a $2.5 trillion hike in the debt limit as long as lawmakers can find an equal or greater amount in spending cuts.
But even if they can’t come up with solutions, the cuts will be found for them. If a committee set up by the proposal fails to have their recommendations for additional cuts approved by the end of this year, a “trigger” in the plan will automatically enact across-the-board cuts.
Party leaders are corralling their troops to take a head count of the votes needed to pass the legislation that President Obama said Sunday night will “life the cloud of uncertainty that hangs over our economy” and prevent the nation from potentially defaulting on its financial obligations.
Hard-right Tea Party-backed Republicans, hard-left progressives and Congressional Black Caucus members have already whipped up a frenzy over the deal. But cooler heads are urging cooperation as financial markets abroad rallied over the news.
According to the president, the deal means an immediate cut of $1 trillion in government spending over a 10-year period accompanied by a $900 billion increase in the debt ceiling. That will be followed by the creation of the committee to come up with additional cuts worth at least $1.5 trillion. The debt ceiling will be raised by $1.5 trillion if the committee recommendations are approved by the end of the year.
Each of the GOP and Democratic leaders in the chamber will nominate lawmakers to the 12-member committee to report back in the fall. Tax hikes are not part of the package and a pledge for a Balanced Budget Amendment vote is.
Obama said everything will be on the table and both parties will find some of the cuts objectionable.
"Despite what some Republicans have argued, I believe that we have to ask the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations to pay their fair share by giving up tax breaks and special deductions. Despite what some in my own party have argued, I believe that we need to make some modest adjustments to programs like Medicare to ensure that they're still around for future generations. That's why the second part of this agreement is so important," Obama said from the White House briefing room.
The Senate adjourned Sunday night without a vote on a deal, but Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid said that the parties are going to have to give ground and compromise so the country doesn't default.
"I am relieved to say that leaders from both parties have come together for the sake of our economy to reach a historic, bipartisan compromise that ends this dangerous standoff. The compromise we have agreed to is remarkable not only because of what it does, but because of what it prevents: a first-ever default on the full faith and credit of the United States," Reid said.
Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell will both present the agreement to their caucuses on Monday morning. House Democrats also set a morning meeting to discuss the details.
McConnell, R-Ky., said that the framework calls for a "review that will insure significant cuts in Washington spending."
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said after the president's speech that she'll see what kind of support her caucus can provide.
Several objections are expected, including from Republican defense hawks who don't want the military gutted and from the Congressional Black Caucus, which called the deal a "sugar-coated Satan sandwich."
House Speaker John Boehner told his Republican caucus on a Sunday night conference call that the deal isn't done yet. But Boehner said it does not violate GOP principles.
"We got 98 percent of what we wanted," he said adding that the framework cuts more spending than it raises the debt limit. It also caps future spending to limits in the growth of government.
"It would also guarantee the American people the vote they have been denied in both chambers on a balanced budget amendment, while creating, I think, some new incentives for past opponents of a BBA to support it," Boehner said.
The 12-member committee, composed of six Republicans and six Democrats, three from each party and each chamber, will report the legislation by Nov. 23. The vote, to take place by Dec. 23, would be an up-or-down vote with no amendments allowed.
The trigger would be enacted for across-the-board cuts if the joint committee doesn't reach at least $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction. If that happens, Obama would be allowed to request a $1.2 trillion debt increase and Congress would have to disapprove it subject to a presidential veto.
According to a Power Point presentation presented by Boehner to the caucus, roughly half of the proposal’s automatic cuts would come from defense and half from Medicare.
While the trigger is supposed to hurt as incentive to get Congress to act, other programs like Social Security, Medicaid, veterans benefits and military pay would be off-limits……