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Editor column

Joe from the Block

August 10, 2011 - I guess we avoided Armageddon last week.

At least that is what the folks in Washington would like to take credit for after they seemingly resolved the nation's debt ceiling crisis.

For those who may have not followed it closely, the deal essentially allows the government to borrow more money – $400 billion immediately and up to $2.4 trillion in total, to stay in business through 2012.

The influx will be used to pay billions of dollars in interest on our national debt and avoid default. Thanks to the trickle-down effect, in theory this should help keep interest rates on our mortgages, auto loans and credit cards in check. The increase in the debt ceiling also should keep a variety of federal programs running – some legit, others questionable.

Of course, there was some give-and-take between the parties. The resolution includes at least $2.1 trillion in budget cuts over the next ten years to help the country balance its budget. Where the spending reductions come from is still sketchy. They have until Dec. 31 to figure it out.

The President and Congress better make the tough budget decisions over the next few months, or we have not accomplished a thing. Some of them will undoubtedly be unpopular, but necessary. Nobody said politicians' jobs are easy, so skip your late-summer vacations and get to work, or Standard & Poor's may downgrade our nation's credit rating even further.

In other words, do not simply kick the can down the street. Make real cuts and spread the pain as fairly as possible. Our state, municipalities and local school districts have had to make painful choices and meet budget deadlines this year; now it is Washington's turn.

Quite frankly, I was very turned off by the political pandering and grandstanding by Congress during the debt

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