May 31, 2023

Press contact: Olivia Alperstein, (202) 704-9011,

Washington, D.C. – In response to the recent debt ceiling deal that is likely currently on its way to law, Karen Dolan, director of the Criminalization of Race and Poverty Program at the Institute for Policy Studies, released the following statement:

“The debt ceiling deal will cost ordinary Americans. It makes it harder for poor and low-income families to access food benefits and assistance they deserve, while making it easier for wealthy people to cheat on their taxes.

Vital social investment programs are perpetually underfunded and remain below 2010 funding levels, yet this deal makes it even more difficult for families to make ends meet. Meanwhile, exorbitant military spending will continue to increase.

It’s not a compromise when one side gets nothing but more pain. Especially when avoiding a national global financial collapse should never have been negotiable in the first place.

A truly good deal for the American people would include more robust funding for underfunded programs, doing away with flawed work-reporting requirements rather than expanding them,  raising revenue by fairly taxing the wealthy, and cutting the already enormous Pentagon budget.

With Biden’s original budget proposal, we could have reduced the debt — while protecting families — by fairly taxing the rich. Instead, Republicans refused to back that plan and took us all hostage in their quest for brutal cuts.  Now, the new debt ceiling bill will:

  • Put vital programs we all care about — education, childcare, rent, food, transportation, safety, and more — on the cutting board in future budgets.
  • Take food and essential support from the families that can least afford it.
  • Harmfully redefine food assistance as an employment program.
  • Make it impossible for President Biden to further pause student loan payments if the Supreme Court strikes down his Student Debt Cancellation program.
  • Take $21.4 billion away from the Internal Revenue Service — funding needed to stop rich tax cheats and to protect the rest of us from rip-offs when we file our taxes.
  • Increase the military share of the discretionary budget while cutting social investments, shifting our federal spending even further away from the needs of ordinary people and communities.
  • Greenlight the destructive WV Mountain Valley Pipeline, placing already-marginalized communities at risk of further harm.
  • Only postpone the next debt ceiling fight to 2025, when the precedent that this deal has set could become license for a further cuts in exchange for raising the debt ceiling.

The debt ceiling is an artifice that has only been used by conservative lawmakers to shift government resources from the poor to the rich.

Biden should begin the 14th Amendment process for 2025 immediately to prevent the GOP from playing games with American communities’ futures again.”

Karen Dolan is available for interviews and comments. Please contact IPS Deputy Communications Director Olivia Alperstein at (202) 704-9011 or

About the Institute for Policy Studies

For sixty years, the Institute for Policy Studies has served as a leading multi-issue research organization that provides key fact-based support for bold policy solutions to urgent issues from rising inequality to the climate crisis. Follow IPS on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram to learn more about our programs and research.


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