Raising debt limit looms as next fight over federal spending, Tipton says

Budget fights didn’t end with the agreement reached Friday by the president and Congress that avoided a government shutdown. The next battle could arise within weeks, U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo., said.

Congress is to consider increasing the debt ceiling as the national debt approaches $14.3 trillion.

“There’s a lot of angst” about whether to increase the debt limit, Tipton said soon after the shutdown-averting agreement was reached late Friday.

U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., said the increase in the debt ceiling is necessary.

“It’s not like cutting up your credit card,” Bennet said. “It’s like deciding not to pay your utility bill.”

The deal that kept the federal government in business cut $38.5 billion from spending that would have otherwise taken place under the continuing resolution that was left when Congress failed to approve a budget in 2010.

Congress should study additional cuts, “anything we can do to squeeze out $100 billion” in reductions, Tipton said.

The effect of the cuts approved Friday on Tipton’s 3rd Congressional District, which covers most of the Western Slope and much of southern Colorado, weren’t immediately known.

Congress needs to look at the blueprint proposed by the House Budget Committee chairman and hack away at duplicative spending, Tipton said.

The budget agreement reached Friday clears the way to begin looking at additional spending cuts in the 2012 budget, Tipton said.

He pointed to two things to serve as a roadmap for the 2012 budget: the long-term budget proposal by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and a U.S. General Accountability Office report that identified multiple areas of duplicative spending.

Ryan proposed cutting $6 trillion in spending over the next 10 years. Bennet and U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., have supported a proposal by the bipartisan deficit commission that identified $4 trillion in cuts over the coming decade.

The 345-page General Accountability Office report highlighted 34 areas in which federal agencies, offices or programs have redundant objectives or are fragmented across several departments, from defense to human services.

The General Accountability Office report noted that 15 agencies deal with the nation’s food-safety system, and there are 80 programs, across multiple agencies, focused on economic development.

There seems to be an appetite for finding places to reduce federal spending, Tipton said, noting “for the first time I see the Congress of the United States getting into the weeds of the federal budget.”


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