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Counties, cities ponder implications of federal default


UNDATED (WSAU) The U-S House plans to vote today on a newly-revised Republican plan to ward off a federal government default next week. But the White House threatens to veto the measure, saying it won’t increase the debt limit enough to ward off a repeat of a budget crisis next year – when Obama stands for re-election. House Speaker John Boehner came up with a compromise that allows the debt limit to rise so the government can pay its bills, while putting caps on federal spending to reduce 900-billion-dollars in deficits over the next decade. But Senate Democrats join the White House in opposing the compromise.

Meanwhile, the stalemate over the debt ceiling has already hit home for a number of government and business leaders in Wisconsin. Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson says he’s been told by Moody’s Investor’s Service that the county’s bond rating could be downgraded due to the uncertainty in Washington. The county is one of just 440 government units around the country with a Triple-“A” bond rating. It’s the best available, and it gives the county the lowest possible interest rates when it borrows. Nelson says years of sound local money management is being jeopardized by the federal impasse. Meanwhile, Bruce Bittles of Milwaukee’s Robert W. Baird-and-Company says there’s too much debt compared to the size of the U-S economy. And Bittles says it could be why the economy has not responded to the stimulus efforts from the White House and the Federal Reserve.