A roundup of news and announcements we don’t want to get lost in the fast-churning news cycle!
curated by Vee Hua 華婷婷
✨Gleaming This Week✨
- Deadline to Raise Federal Debt Ceiling by June 1 Looms; Federal Government Unable to Reach Spending Agreements
- Bilingual, Self-Directed Walk With Ease Program Helps Manage and Prevent Chronic Diseases
Deadline to Raise Federal Debt Ceiling by June 1 Looms; Federal Government Unable to Reach Spending Agreements
Early Monday evening, Democratic President Joe Biden and Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives Kevin McCarthy met to continue conversations around raising the country’s debt limit — or borrowing limit — so the U.S. Department of the Treasury can continue to pay the government’s existing bills. The U.S. Department of the Treasury describes the debt limit as “the total amount of money that the United States government is authorized to borrow to meet its existing legal obligations, including Social Security and Medicare benefits, military salaries, interest on the national debt, tax refunds, and other payments.”
Raising the debt limit does not authorize new spending commitments, but allows the U.S. to make good on those it has already committed to. Democrats and Republicans must come to an agreement to raise the debt ceiling by Thursday, June 1, which Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen says is the “hard deadline”; otherwise, the government may default on its loans. As of Wednesday afternoon, both sides have yet to come to an agreement.
A default would mean the treasury would run out of cash to fund existing government responsibilities and commitments. Even nearing such a scenario could cause negative economic impacts, such as “financial market disruptions … a loss of consumer and business confidence, and a contraction in access to private markets,” according to a recent Brookings Institute study. An actual default, however, could cause temporary delays in the availability of social services, such as Medicare, Medicaid, and food assistance programs, or even half salary payments for certain government workers.
If an agreement cannot be reached regarding the raising of the debt ceiling, some worst-case scenarios have projected the possibility of an economic recession and widespread global trade impacts, as well as the United States’ credit rating being downgraded in the eyes of international lenders, so it would have higher interest rates for borrowing in the future. According to an interview with The Associated Press, Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, came to the conclusion that “even if the debt limit were breached for no more than a week, the U.S. economy would weaken so much, so fast, as to wipe out roughly 1.5 million jobs.”
Divisions among Republicans and Democrats largely relate to where government budget cuts should be made, and disagreements around raising the debt ceiling have other unintended consequences as well. Earlier this month, the House Armed Services Committee delayed debates and votes around the National Defense Authorization Act — which dictates military policy and outlines the Pentagon’s budget — to after the June 1 debt limit deadline, in anticipation of disagreements.
At the time, Washington State Democratic Congressman Adam Smith, who is also the Ranking House Armed Services Democrat, “accused Republicans of hypocrisy for using the debt limit to force spending cuts while arguing defense needs for money,” according to Politico. He was quoted as saying, “You cannot increase the defense budget while refusing to take the steps necessary to actually raise the debt ceiling, and while proposing to make massive cuts to the discretionary budget.”
Yet following Congressperson Kevin McCarthy’s difficult process of securing the Speaker of the House and earning votes from Republican colleagues earlier this year, many see McCarthy as needing to take a hard stance while conducting negotiations, to maintain his position within the Republican-led House.
Republicans are calling for limiting spending without raising taxes. Meanwhile, Democrats, such as Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington State, warn of potential Democratic backlash, especially among progressives, if the Biden administration and White House agree to budget cuts.If the debt limit is not increased by the June 1 deadline, the U.S. Department of the Treasury may follow the contours of an emergency contingency plan it established in 2011, according to the Brookings Institute.
Bilingual, Self-Directed Walk With Ease Program Helps Manage and Prevent Chronic Diseases
Designed to help the public “manage and prevent chronic conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and arthritis,” the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) has released a free, new walking program, titled Walk With Ease.
“Figuring out how to be active can be hard for people with chronic conditions,” said Kyle Unland, section manager of community-based prevention, via a press release from the DOH. “Walk With Ease provides people with a step-by-step plan to get moving and the support needed to make moving easier.”
Available in English and Spanish, the six-week program helps interested parties develop a walking plan that meets their current exercise needs, even if they have chronic conditions or need to use a walker or cane for mobility. Walk With Ease uses an online portal to invite participants to walk three times a week and track their progress with a guidebook and walking journey. Goals that participants may target include reduced pain and stiffness, increased stamina, feelings of accomplishment, and much more.
The free program can be accessed via the Washington State Department of Health’s website.
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