Forced ‘debt ceiling’ bill is fraud


To the editor:

I represent one of the poorest Congressional districts in America. The fraudulent Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023 — the House bill that raises the debt ceiling until 2025, which was forced upon President Joe Biden by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy — would have a disproportionately destructive impact on the non-negotiable needs of the Bronx, like food, housing and health.

With respect to food, the agreement would make it harder for poor people to access food, and easier for rich people to cheat on their taxes. It would divert $20 billion from enforcement against tax cheating, which drains the U.S. Treasury of $1 trillion a year. It would impose new restrictions on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which provides an average of $2 per meal. Slashing a food budget of $2 per meal is not about reducing the national debt. It’s about punishing the poor.

On housing, the budget for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is projected to have a $13 billion hole left by the loss of Federal Housing Administration receipts. The new spending caps, compounded by lost revenues, would cripple the ability of Congress to close HUD’s budget gap.

It would also deepen the deterioration of public housing, which has been plagued by decades of disinvestment and deferred maintenance.

And on health, Covid-19 has been catastrophic for the Bronx — leaving behind a death toll of more than 7,000 people. That’s more than the number of people who died on 9/11 and Pearl Harbor combined.

The budget agreement would divert nearly $30 billion from federal programs that enable communities like mine to recover from the long impacts of a global pandemic.

In conclusion, I believe President Biden and his team did the best they could to water down the ransom note from the Republican Party. But in the end, a Republican ransom note — no matter how watered down — is still destined to be a raw deal for the Bronx.

I am voting “no.”

Ritchie Torres

The author is the congressman serving greater Riverdale

Rep. Ritchie Torres, debt ceiling limit, HUD, Department of Housing and Urban Development, fiscal responsibility act of 2023