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Politicians Continue To Debate U.S. Debt

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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Frustration for Republicans, Democrats and, most of all, the American people.  The president and the Speaker of the House took to the airwaves Monday night to defend their debt plans.

Andrea Fujii has more on the blame game.

President Barack Obama made his seventh primetime address to the nation Monday night to try to end the deadlock over raising the debt ceiling.  With only a week left before the Aug. 2 deadline, Republicans and Democrats are putting forward rival proposals.

Obama spoke directly to the country, blasting the deadlock in Congress over reducing the federal deficit.

“We can’t allow the American people to become collateral damage to Washington’s political warfare,” he said.

The plan he and many Democrats support would raise the debt limit through 2013, while cutting $4 trillion from the deficit and requiring millionaires, billionaires and the biggest corporations to give up certain tax breaks and special deductions.  He says House Republicans refuse to compromise and he called on Americans to make their voices heard.

“If you want a balanced approach to reducing the deficit, let your member of Congress know.  If you believe we can solve this problem through compromise, send that message,” Obama said.

But in a Republican response, Speaker of the House John Boehner pushed a competing plan.  It calls for more than a trillion in cuts and raises the borrowing limit through this year.  Next year, lawmakers would have to find more cuts and vote on another debt limit increase.

The president called it “kicking the can down the road.”  Republicans say it’s the president who refuses to compromise on government spending.

“And the sad truth is that the president wanted a blank check six months ago and he wants a blank check today.  This is just not going to happen,” Boehner said.

As the haggling continues in Washington, the lack of progress is becoming frustrating to many Americans, including seniors and federal workers here in Baltimore.  Hundreds turned out for a rally on the lawn of the Social Security Administration headquarters in Woodlawn Monday.  Many were elderly and worried about cuts to their benefits.

“If you take $10 away, that’s $10 too much,” said one.

“It looks like they want us to go bankrupt.  They want us to not pay our bills,” said another.

“It’s just terrible because nobody wants to bend to work together,” said a third.

The president says he will veto any short-term solution to the debt crisis.  The deadline for raising the debt ceiling is Aug. 2.

Republicans and Democrats both want to hold votes on their proposals Wednesday but neither may have enough support to get their plan passed.

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