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As Nation Reaches Federal Debt Ceiling Limit, Bergen Residents Say "Enough is Enough"

Residents ask the government to stop spending money and stop raising taxes

Amid the chatter about a possible national financial crisis if the debt ceiling isn't raised, Bergen County residents called on Congress to cut spending while also not raising taxes.

“The problem with the debt ceiling is, why do you have a ceiling if you’re going to keep raising it?” Ridgewood resident Frank LaRosa asked. “Everybody in this country who works is on a budget. I don’t understand why the government can’t be on one.”

The U.S. hit the debt ceiling, or the cap set by Congress on the amount of debt the federal government can legally borrow, on May 16.

In order to give the government enough room to continue borrowing, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told Congress that he would have to suspend investments in federal retirement funds until Aug. 2.

He promised, however, that the funds would be made whole again once the debt limit is increased, and urged Congress to raise the debt ceiling soon to "to protect the full faith and credit of the United States and avoid catastrophic economic consequences for citizens."

If the debt ceiling is not raised by Aug. 2, the Treasury will no longer have the authority to borrow money. Without borrowed money, the government will be forced to either cut spending or raise taxes by several hundred billion dollars, or acknowledge the country is unable to pay what it owes in full and default on some of its obligations. Both options have serious consequences.

Barbara Harriman, who lives in Mahwah, said the debt ceiling should not be raised and the government should curtail spending. The economic situation has caused to her to lose confidence in the government.

“I have no faith in either party at this time,” Harriman said.

But the debt ceiling doesn’t worry Ridgewood's Frank Gillen, because raising it is “inevitable.”

“It’s just a matter of getting it done in a timely fashion,” Gillen said.

Yet a solution will not be reached unless Republicans and Democrats come to a compromise.

“Compromise is always the answer,” Gillen said. “But it’s politics as usual. ... Politics get in the way of good government.”

Ridgewood resident Stephen Robinson has been following the debt debate closely because, he says, the government has been spending recklessly without intentions to stop.

“The government is spending exponentially and very few people want to cut spending,” Robinson said. “The administration’s only way out of the current nightmare that we have is by raising taxes, and that is counter-intuitive, to be spending nonstop without any break or reigning in your expenses.” 

Robinson said he believes the Republican party is acting responsibly by trying to reign in spending, and thinks a refusal to raise taxes is responsible because Americans are already overtaxed.

“This portion of New Jersey, and in Ridgewood, has a lot of high-income owners that would be very affected if they do raise taxes,” Robinson said. “If they keep raising taxes on the rich, who are paying more and more of the entire revenues we take in, at a point we run out of money.

LaRosa, of Ridgewood, said there are areas in which to cut spending, such as the amount of money sent overseas. Social Security, he said, is not one of those areas.

“You pay into [social security] your whole life, and the government keeps playing with the money,” he said.

The budget debate could affect small businesses the most, because if people do not have money they will not longer be going out to eat or spend, LaRosa said.

Kathleen LePage, an Oakland resident, is unsure of what’s to come.

“I’m not sure what it would mean for the country to go broke and not be able to pay its bills,” she said.

It is neither responsible for Democrats to refuse to consider a deal that raises taxes, nor for Democrats to refuse a deal without raising taxes, she said.

“I don’t think either side should refuse to do anything in the first place,” LePage said. “That’s how we’ve gotten in this problem to begin with."

Though some are sure upper-class or lower-class residents will be hit hardest by the outcome of the budget debate, LePage disagrees.

Said LePage: “Probably, as usual, it's just the good old middle-class who will have the most trouble.”

B@B July 16, 2011 at 11:42 AM
Dr. Doom, it is not about "making the rich suffer." As I've said, I don't make anywhere near $250,000. But just as I vote for school budgets because supporting schools is part of living in a community even though I have never had children to go through the school system, if I had to pay, say, another $1500 a year (just pulling a figure out of the air) to help put this country on a sounder financial footing, I'd do it. So why is it anathema to make people who already have more money than they can spend in 1000 lifetimes pay even one penny more?
Dr.Doom July 16, 2011 at 12:46 PM
interesting how people who make 250 are put into the same club as peoplle who make 1000 times more. Also i'm not implying you are making "suffering" point, it's just very popular opinion nowdays. On a separate subject do you notice how "supporting our schools" means increase in tax, cutting programs, increase is salaray for public workers? Those people already paying around $100K in taxes (income + RE tax) couple of more $ wouldnt make a diff, unfortunatly it's not couple more $. each additional % trnslates into $100s/month which is sizable.
TaxPayer July 16, 2011 at 02:08 PM
B@B. Please provide documentation of the 4 to 1 spending vs tax increases. Show me the cuts and then we can discuss redistributing more income. The Ds had no budget last year and did not vote to increase revenue AKA taxes when they controlled all 3 branches of government. Last November the Americian people fired Nancy and almost fired Harry. That election was a mandate on SPENDING. Show us the cuts then we can discuss tax reform (both individual & corporate). PS please use facts and not talking points
TaxPayer July 16, 2011 at 02:38 PM
Congress voted for the Iraq war. Were they stupid or did they do it to get reelected. This includes our Hillary.
MARIO SICARI July 16, 2011 at 03:00 PM
Unfortunately, this critical structural debt problem has a lot to do with monetary policy...which has been to weaken our currency.The bottom eline here the government is in recession...revenus are down, thanks to two unpaid wars, un paid prescription drug and an enormous growth in entitlement benefits, does spending need to go down? Absolutely, but if anyone actullay believs this can only be acheived through cuts, your living on another planet, taxes on the wealthiest Americans need to go up. Because in the end cutting spending will only hurt the people who need govt services the most, our elderly and the poor. They have already felt enough pain from a weaken currency which has caused the price of food, energy and healthcare to sky rocket. The fed reserve is os concerned with bringing down un emplyment and fixing the housing market, it is a task they can never fix, the system needs to heal itsel fover time. this is the price we pay for bubbles...
Ken F. July 16, 2011 at 03:02 PM
It is the one (you) who states something as fact who needs to supply the source of the fact if requested to do so. The burden of proof lies with you, not with someone who doubts your claims. Oh yeah... do you realize James is the editor of this patch?
TaxPayer July 16, 2011 at 03:31 PM
The fed is like a little kid who wants a puppy. I will walk, feed and clean up after him. Next thing you know you are walking in a cold rain and the kid is no where to be found. Bush 41 reached across the aisle and raised taxes if the Ds would control spending and it cost him the presidency and they kept spending. Make the cuts then we can discuss increasing revenue. Put up or shut up.
William Mays July 16, 2011 at 03:46 PM
Brian, Reagan didn't have anything to do with the Berlin Wall being torn down, that was all Gorbachev. My grandparents were still living in Russia at the time so they know. Also Russia wasn't a threat to the US. The biggest tensions between Russia and the US were during the Cuban Missile Crisis, which was 20 minutes before. Its also pretty funny how you think that every news organization except Fox is conspiring against America.
William Mays July 16, 2011 at 03:48 PM
We need revenue to get out of all the debt Bush has put us in. We can't achieve that by tax cuts. Also, when Bush 41 was in office, we had a debt. When Clinton left office we had a surplus, so all that talk about spending doesn't matter. Let them spend as much as they want as long as the end result is a surplus and not a debt.
William Mays July 16, 2011 at 03:52 PM
Funny, its sounds like you are the big old boy here. The only thing you have been doing in this whole discussion is trying to bully others into accepting your factually wrong opinion. Also, I don't think that a person that doesn't know that Is are capitalized in sentences is someone that is worth listening to in a political debate.
B@B July 16, 2011 at 04:58 PM
It's facile to say that Americans voted to cut spending last year. What we saw was voting-by-tantrum. The economy isn't recovering fast enough so they decided to elect a bunch of teabaggers who will "cut spending." The problem is that ever since Reagan, Americans have equated "spending" with "Welfare." But when you ask people what they want to cut, you get a different story. The majority of the Obama 2012 budget breaks down like this: Medicare: 12.86% Social Security: 20.04% Medicaid and Childrens health insurance: 7.28% Defense: 19.27% That's almost 60% right there. What you would call "welfare" ("other income security", food and nutrition assistance, earned income and child tax credits, housing assistance, and unemployment compensation) is a grand total of 14.48% of the total. Want to cut that out completely? Have child deaths and starving people here just like in the third world, while you beat your chest about how "We're #1, yea America!"? Tell you what: Go here: http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget ...and look for yourself. Then tell me what you want to cut that will make any difference at all. Then ask yourself if what results is a country you would want to live in. And also ask yourself if you're so sure that you could never, ever be one of those people who might need assistance someday.
TaxPayer July 16, 2011 at 09:25 PM
First of all it is the Tea Party not the sexual term you use to degrade them. Again tell me where the 4 dollars of cuts to 1 dollar of tax increase is. Please do not use the typical left wing tactic of putting grandma and children in front. We are spending 1.65 trillion over what we collect. A trillion here a trillion there pretty soon we are talking real money (ED). Last ? What percent of someone's income should the gov be able to take.
TaxPayer July 16, 2011 at 09:38 PM
Billy Boy you are correct. Problem is government jobs use more revenue than they create. Who held the purse strings in the 90s? Bill Gates had more to do with economic growth than Bill Clinton. How many computers and cell phones did you have back in the 90s. PS Clinton also deregulated the banks. He was lucky.
LivinLocal July 16, 2011 at 09:51 PM
It’s frustrating to see Wall Street blamed for Main Street’s downfall, which began with the implosion of the housing bubble. Especially when it was a government sponsored implosion originating under President Clinton. That Democratic effort started in 1994, culminating in 1999 with both government-sponsored enterprises, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, significantly increasing their sub-prime portfolios of low and moderate-income loans. (1) The debt crisis today is no different. It's a political football of ideology over practicality. Politicians fail to establish policies that consider the scope of their decisions. They swat at problems nesting on a beehive. When the beehive erupts its Wall Street or some other’s fault. Government is not supposed to be a charitable enterprise with the money earned by the sweat of others. Its purpose is to avoid a state of anarchy and protect our “God” given rights. It's supposedly there to, “establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.” So B@B, I think there are too many ‘eyes wide shut’. I don’t believe securing Posterity was to be accomplished by setting up a welfare state with a federal debt dependent on a growing minority of successful people. (1) http://www.nytimes.com/1999/09/30/business/fannie-mae-eases-credit-to-aid-mortgage-lending.html
Dr.Doom July 16, 2011 at 10:32 PM
nicely said "Government is not supposed to be a charitable enterprise with the money earned by the sweat of others. Its purpose is to avoid a state of anarchy and protect our “God” given rights. It's supposedly there to, “establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.”"
standingup July 17, 2011 at 01:56 AM
In my opinion, Billy Mays and Ken F. have been reading too much of Saul Alinskys, Rules for Radicals. Brian and Dr. Doom, you are on the money....
B@B July 17, 2011 at 12:30 PM
G.W. -- since any analysis I link to is going to be dismissed by you as some kind of evil commie heathen liberal plot, why don't you take a look at the president's proposed budget and analyze it for yourself? Every news outlet not named "Fox News" has done so and determined the 4-to-1 figure, but of course they are all commie heathen liberal plotters owned by George Soros, right? (Funny how right-wingers always cite George Soros, when Mark Cuban is also a liberal billionaire. What is George Soros that Mark Cuban isn't, eh -- other than not NEARLY as good-looking?) So for your convenience, here's a direct link to the budget. You will need Acrobat reader for the links: http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget
Dr.Doom July 18, 2011 at 01:36 AM
LivinLocal said that, i just quoted that ...
Dr.Doom July 18, 2011 at 01:37 AM
Clinton was smart enough not to derail the progress, Mr. Bush on other hand was the biggest mistake of the american people in the 21 century
Dr.Doom July 18, 2011 at 01:38 AM
I do agree that democrats helped to create the mess we are in right now, however the drivers were Mr. Bush and Republicans
TaxPayer July 18, 2011 at 12:00 PM
B@B we view this through different prisms. You feel we have a revenue problem, I believe we have a spending problem. You think the fed can solve more problems with more tax, I believe in limited fed gov and more in states rights. NJ is way over taxed, we receive 65 cents back for every dollar we send to DC. One example is WT & WW fund 91% of education with local property taxes, the Abbott Districts pay 15 - 20%, the fed uses our money to fund states that don't tax enough for education. There is not enough space to go into how Medicare and Medicade are underfunded and going broke. My opinions are base on the roll of the fed and state governments. We are paying for stuff here on a state level and sending our money to states that do not.
Carey Grant July 18, 2011 at 01:16 PM
This is not spirited debated. Everything here has been said before. You all either sound like the MSNBC or FOX. Please use multiple sources when formulating your opinions. Don't parrot what you hear. Make informed choices when voting. Your nation needs you to do that. It's your responsibility. Thank you.
Anna July 18, 2011 at 02:05 PM
The anti-tax people have no real interest in solving the debt or deficit problem. Their ultimate objective is to massively reduce the size of government by pushing it towards insolvency. The more debt, the more deficit, the better. That way they can force through a balanced-budget law and force a radical downsizing of the state. That is the ultimate objective in line with their right wing ideology. There is no other true explanation for why they want massive spending cuts and not even modest tax hikes.
Carey Grant July 19, 2011 at 12:52 PM
Ughhhh...more over generalizations. C'mon people. Stop labeling, right wing left wing anti this anti that. Has government grown too big? I think we can all agree that yes, perhaps it has. Do we want to reduce it to the point where nobody gets services anymore? No that's just silly. Government needs to be run by the people. We don't need it telling us what to do and having it poke its nose around our business. Taxes must be raised to support the country and the state and it needs to be done fairly. Let's see if we can't elect some level headed people despite their affiliation and support them to get that done.
REResident July 19, 2011 at 09:13 PM
Makes a lot of sense to me. Government has indeed grown too large.
TaxPayer July 20, 2011 at 11:09 AM
Not just grown to large, has overstepped it's constitutional bounds ever since FDR. The Commerce Clause has been bastardized and the 10th Amendnent has been ignored since the fed told Roesco Filburn how much wheat he could grow and consume on his own land.
charles a pembroke July 21, 2011 at 08:53 PM
First of all if unauthorized immigrants have no ss number how do they collect money from them?The immigrants get ssi,welfare,food stamps and all the benefits that citizens receive.I want cut,cap,balance budget admendment.Cut everything.close the border.
Alan Kierkut July 22, 2011 at 08:21 PM
NealR2000: The country's tax burden does NOT fall mostly on upper income earners but on the much less affluent middle class, And the "tax increases being suggested are mainly by closing tax loopholes and possibly rainsing tax rates on the top level of incomes.
Ken F. July 25, 2011 at 07:13 PM
Would you be so kind as to elaborate? I have only made 2 comments so far in this thread so I am not sure which one you are refering to and your remark is nebulous at best. I have never read Saul Alinsky but I can only guess you must have to make the above comment.
Ken F. July 25, 2011 at 07:18 PM
Yes. Not only has government grown too large but it is also under too much control by business and the military.


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