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Beijing Blasts US For Failure to Cut Debt

Hearing of U.S. Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, Capitol Hill, Nov. 21, 2011.
Hearing of U.S. Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, Capitol Hill, Nov. 21, 2011.
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Peter Cobus

Chinese state media are attacking the U.S. government for failing to resolve what it says is the "ticking debt bomb" in the world's largest economy.

Blasting the U.S. for the collapse of a congressional committee's effort to trim the country's budget deficit by $1.2 trillion over the next decade, the Xinhua news agency said "Washington's political elites" need to have the courage to defuse the debt issue and show the "wisdom and determination not to further jeopardize the fragile global economic recovery."

The news agency said U.S. politicians "have never shied" from lecturing other countries about their global responsibilities, but that "now it is high time" the U.S. "showed a sense of true global leadership."

The collapse of the U.S. congressional committee's negotiations on cutting the U.S. debt had no immediate effect on the U.S. credit rating, since the panel's lack of agreement triggers $1.2 trillion in automatic cuts starting in January 2013, half of it for national security programs. Two credit rating agencies, Standard & Poor's and Moody's, affirmed their rating of U.S. debt. A third agency, Fitch, said it is reviewing its U.S. rating.

The failure of the 12-member committee to reach a debt-reduction agreement leaves in question spending and tax issues that affect virtually all Americans.

A reduction in a payroll tax for government pensions for senior citizens and financial assistance for the long-term unemployed are set to expire at the end of this year and can only be extended with congressional approval. At the end of 2012, broader tax cuts first approved more than a decade ago will expire. All three measures have sparked contentious debate between President Barack Obama, a Democrat facing re-election in 2012, his Democratic supporters in Congress and opposition Republican lawmakers and presidential contenders seeking to oust the president.

The congressional panel of six Republicans and six Democrats was supposed to come up with a deal this week, but admitted failure Monday. Later, Obama vowed to veto any effort to undo the automatic spending cuts.

With a year before the cuts take effect, analysts say Congress and the White House could still reach an agreement on debt cuts and tax increases. But that almost certainly will be more difficult as the country approaches the presidential election a year from now. All 435 members of the House of Representatives and a third of the 100-member Senate also face re-election.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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