The world's largest debtor nation, the United States, is set for a deficit ceiling deal which will result in cuts hitting some of the most vulnerable in society, say critics.
Under the proposed deal, the US debt ceiling would rise by up to US$2.4 trillion. In return, Congress has committed to reducing the deficit by a similar amount over a ten year period.
A bipartisan committee is due to be set up to agree cuts, but those concerned with welfare and social justice - including a wide range of church and faith groups who have been lobbying over the impact of the economy on people and planet - say that the hard-right 'Tea Party' movement is being allowed to set too much of the agenda.
Radical senator Bernie Sanders, from Vermont, explained in a statement issued over the weekend why he had voted against the Senate deficit-reduction proposal.
He declared: "The Republicans have been absolutely determined to make certain that the rich and large corporations [do] not contribute one penny for deficit reduction, and that all of the sacrifice comes from the middle class and working families in terms of cuts in Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, LIHEAP, community health centres, education, Head Start, nutrition, MILC, affordable housing and many other vitally important programs."
Sanders added: "I cannot support legislation like the Reid proposal which balances the budget on the backs of struggling Americans while not requiring one penny of sacrifice from the wealthiest people in our country. That is not only grotesquely immoral, it is bad economic policy."
Representative Raul Grijalva, who heads a group of progressive Democrats in the House of Representatives, said on Sunday 31 July 2011 that he would not back an emerging debt-ceiling 'surrender' crafted by Republican and Democratic leaders.
"This deal trades peoples' livelihoods for the votes of a few unappeasable right-wing radicals, and I will not support it," said Grijalva.