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Congressman Capuano's
An update from the office of U.S. Representative Michael E. Capuano
8th Congressional District of Massachusetts
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July 28, 2011

Dear Friends,

Debate over raising the debt ceiling continues and August 2nd, the day the US will reach its credit limit, is days away. If we don’t take action, the federal government simply won’t have enough money to meet all of its obligations. I have included a list of our obligations just for the month of August at the end of this correspondence.

It is important to keep in mind that the US had a balanced budget from 1998 to 2001. Those were the first balanced budgets in a generation. We accomplished it through a combination of thoughtful taxation and spending policies.

The first steps on the path toward the deficit were taken when the Bush tax cuts passed in May of 2001. Those tax cuts were implemented without any corresponding spending cuts. I voted no.

After the 9/11 attack, Congress voted to authorize war against those responsible. It had become clear that the terrorists were in Afghanistan, that its Taliban government would continue to protect them, and military force was necessary. We took more steps on the deficit path by financing the war with a credit card, the first time in history that the US went to war without a tax increase to support the enormous cost.

I voted to send our military into Afghanistan in 2001 and thought it was an effort worthy of our tax dollars. However, since 2009 I have been calling for withdrawal because our goals in Afghanistan have been accomplished.

In 2003, America invaded Iraq. I voted against this war. And, again, Congress did not increase taxes to pay for it. Now we had two wars on our credit card.

Worse, in budgetary terms, in 2002 Congress repealed the “pay-go” rule. That one rule forced Congress and the President to pay for every budget addition with either offsetting cuts to other items or increasing revenue. I was one of only 19 Members who voted to keep that rule in place.

In 2003, the Republican-controlled Congress passed the second Bush tax cut. Again, this was done without corresponding spending cuts, and in the middle of two wars. I voted no.

In 2008, the financial crisis enveloped the US and the world economy came close to the edge. This crisis required us to stabilize our own economy. I voted to take positive action and jump start job creation.

So here we are in 2011, days away from reaching the debt ceiling and risking the full faith and credit of the United States. A series of bad policy actions and a worldwide economic collapse have brought us to this moment.

As you think about the answer to this question, I wanted to pass along some information. This month the Bipartisan Policy Center prepared a list of bills that will be due and payable by the federal government between August 3rd and August 31st. The list totals $306.7 billion. During that same time period, the Center reports that the federal government will bring in $172.4 billion which means there will be a shortfall of $134.3 billion. That is why we must extend the debt limit. I am including a link to their report and other related materials if you are interested:

I recognize that some believe it is easy to get from where we are now to a balanced budget. As an educational exercise I have simplified the Bipartisan Policy Center’s list of payments and sorted them from the most expensive to the least expensive obligations. Which obligations would YOU not pay in August? What would YOU reduce permanently to bring us into balance? Would you raise taxes so we don’t have to cut any spending? Or would you do some cutting and some revenue raising for a more balanced approach?

I think that once you review this list you will quickly realize that the ONLY responsible answer is a BALANCED approach – some thoughtful spending cuts, some thoughtful revenue increases and smarter long term policies as we move forward. This is what I have been fighting for in Washington and will continue to fight for as this debate goes on.

Payments due August 3 - 31, 2011


Running Total

Medicare & Medicaid payments due



Social Security Benefits due recipients



Defense Dept - Vendor Payments (e.g. - food, materials)



Interest on Treasury Securities (not paying this is "default")



Federal Employee Salaries & Benefits - all non-military agencies



Unemployment Insurance Benefits



Dept of Education - Pell Grants



Health & Human Services Grants



Food & Nutrition Services (e.g. - food stamps, WIC)



Dept of Education - other programs



Transportation - Federal Highway Admin



Housing & Urban Development - Rental Assistance



IRS Refunds



Dept of Education - Special Education Grants to states



Dept of Energy (e.g. - energy research)



Defense Dept - Military Active Duty Pay



Veterans Affairs Programs



Temporary Assistance for Needy Families



Housing & Urban Development - other programs



Dept of Justice programs (e.g. - FBI, Federal Courts)



Dept of Labor programs (e.g. - job training services)



Transportation - Federal Transit Admin



Dept of Interior



Environmental Protection Agency



Housing & Urban Development - Public Housing



Center for Disease Control



Small Business Admin



All Other Federal Spending



Congressman Mike Capuano
8th District, Massachusetts
Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
Committee on Financial Services

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