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Fact Check: Looking at debt limit debate

July 21, 2011 10:43:20 PM PDT
House Speaker John Boehner on Thursday predicted Republicans will eventually accept a compromise in raising the debt limit, but there's been no deal so far, and it now appears a House plan involving spending cuts and a balanced budget amendment is headed for defeat in the Senate.

The Republican response to any tax hike is a phrase you've heard before.

"Washington has a spending problem, not a revenue problem," said House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.

Fact Check: The numbers show that's only half right. At 24 percent of the gross national product, federal spending is about as high as it's been in 60 years. But look at the revenue side; federal taxes revenues are at the lowest point they have been since 1950. Democrats blame those Bush tax cuts for the rich.

"The tax cuts I'm proposing we get rid of are tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires," said President Barack Obama.

Fact Check: The wealthiest 10 percent are actually paying a greater percentage of the tax bill. The biggest earners in the country paid 55 percent of all federal taxes in 2007 and that is 5 percent more than before the Bush tax cuts went into effect.

Now that percentage went up in spite of the tax breaks because the rich got a lot richer. In pre-tax income for the top 10 percent went from 37 percent in 2001 to 42 percent in 2007.

"The fact that both spending is at a high and revenue generation is at a low, is an important fact for people to grasp," said ABC7 political analyst Bruce Cain.

Cain says the facts should lay the groundwork for a compromise in Congress. However, on Thursday, Boehner said he will not support eliminating those Bush tax cuts for the rich.

"I believe that would be raising taxes," said Boehner.

And Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Congress must make cuts, it will not make cuts that eliminate jobs.

"Whatever we do has to create jobs," said Pelosi.

"So basically both sides believe they have a winning argument," said Cain.

And that is getting in the way of a compromise because both sides are thinking their argument will be the more persuasive with voters in next year's election.

"The goal of getting total control of the government so that you have more power over policy, that's a very powerful incentive and that seems to be behind the thinking on both sides of the aisle," said Cain.

One positive sign that an agreement might be reached is that both sides said failing to raise the debt limit cannot be an option.

ABC7 would like to thank FactCheck.org and the Congressional Budget Office for providing the numbers. You can find an analysis of FactCheck.org's look at these numbers at their website.

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