President Obama vows to block Republican efforts to undo automatic cuts
President Barack Obama vowed to veto any bills to reverse the “sequestration” – automatic cuts to discretionary spending – that will be implemented if Congress is unable to pass a $1.2 trillion deficit reduction package.
“Already some in Congress are trying to undo these automatic spending cuts. My message to them is simple: No. I will veto any effort to get rid of those automatic spending cuts to domestic and defense spending,” said Obama shortly after the Super Committee announced it had failed to produce a bipartisan deficit reduction plan. “The only way these spending cuts will not take place is if Congress gets back to work and agrees on a balanced plan to reduce the deficit by at least $1.2 trillion. That’s exactly what they need to do. That’s the job they promised to do.”
Following the Super Committee’s failure, several Republican lawmakers voiced objections to the sequester’s impact on defense spending. Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said he will file legislation to repeal or alter the sequester to protect defense discretionary spending from deeper cuts.
“I will be introducing legislation in the coming days to prevent cuts that will do catastrophic damage to our men and women in uniform and our national security. Our military has already contributed nearly half a trillion to deficit reduction. Those who have given us so much, have nothing more to give,” said McKeon, who voted for the Budget Control Act that included the sequester.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) announced that they are developing a plan to “minimize the impact of the sequester on the Department of Defense.” McCain voted in favor of the Budget Control Act; Graham voted against it.
However, attempts by Congress to circumvent the sequester would be “disastrous,” according to Erskine Bowles, co-chair of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform.
“I think people would look at this country and say, ‘You guys can’t govern.’ I think people would look at it and say, ‘You know what? They’re really not going to stand up to their long-term fiscal problems. This is not going to be a powerful country in the future.’ And they would think we were well on our way of becoming a second-rate power,” said Bowles. “I think it would be a disaster.”
As part of the debt ceiling deal in August, the Budget Control Act slashed $1 trillion from discretionary spending. The legislation also included automatic cuts of $1.2 trillion if the Super Committee and Congress fail to pass a debt reduction package by Dec. 23. (The Super Committee’s deadline to present its final plan was set for Nov. 23.) The sequestration will cut an extra $600 billion from defense discretionary spending and $600 billion from non-defense discretionary spending in 2013. (Defense spending makes up 56% of the total discretionary budget with the remaining 44% going to domestic spending like education, highways, public health, and income security programs.) The sequester was designed to reduce the deficit, make cuts that would be painful to both Republicans and Democrats, and pressure both sides to compromise and develop a bipartisan deficit reduction plan through the Super Committee.
“One way or another, we will be trimming the deficit by a total of at least $2.2 trillion over the next 10 years. That’s going to happen – one way or another. We’ve got $1 trillion locked in, and either Congress comes up with $1.2 trillion, which so far they’ve failed to do, or the sequester kicks in,” said Obama.
- WhatTheFolly.com: Super Committee fails to reach deficit reduction deal
- WhatTheFolly.com: Transcript: President Obama’s statement on the Super Committee’s failure
- WhatTheFolly.com: Discretionary spending will face third round of cuts if Super Committee’s plan fails
- WhatTheFolly.com: Transcript: Super Committee Sen. John Kerry’s Q&A on previous debt proposals
- WhatTheFolly.com: Debt limit compromise reached; Congress to vote on bill today
- WhatTheFolly.com: House approves debt ceiling compromise 269-161; Senate schedules vote Tuesday
- WhatTheFolly.com: Debt limit increase passes Senate; Democrats shift focus to jobs
- McKeon.House.gov: Congressman McKeon on the Joint Select Committee and Sequestration
- LGraham.Senate.gov: Super Committee failure
- McCain.Senate.gov: Statement by Senators McCain and Graham on failure of Super Committee and defense cuts
- Clerk.House.gov: Final vote results for Roll Call 690 for S 365
- Senate.gov: Roll call votes for S 365 Budget Control Act of 2011
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