The high price of spending cuts
The July 31 op-ed by Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon (R-Calif.), “Playing chicken with defense,” was a blatant attempt to rewrite history. During negotiations on the design for the Budget Control Act’s sequester, Republicans in Congress were given a choice: Cut special-interest tax loopholes and end extra tax cuts for millionaires, or allow across-the-board cuts to defense. Republicans chose to put on the chopping block defense rather than tax breaks for special interests and the very wealthy.
They are making that same choice today. Congressional Democrats have repeatedly offered a plan to replace all of next year’s harmful sequester — ensuring that we protect defense as well as education, infrastructure, health care and research from cuts that will threaten our economic recovery and future competitiveness. We would reduce the deficit through spending reductions and cuts to tax breaks for the wealthy and special interests. This balanced approach has been recommended by every bipartisan group that has evaluated our fiscal challenge.
Last year, Mr. McKeon said, “If it came that I had only two choices, one was a tax increase and one was a cut in defense over and above where we already are, I would go to strengthen defense.” Unfortunately, he’s changed his tune. The GOP talks a big game on defense; it just doesn’t want to pay for it. It was this kind of thinking that put the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan on the national credit card.
If Congress followed the clearly established balanced model for deficit reduction, we could replace the damaging cuts from the sequester tomorrow. President Obama and congressional Democrats stand ready to work with Republicans. The question facing them is whether they care more about keeping their anti-tax pledge to Grover Norquist or taking a balanced approach to reducing the deficit and replacing the meat-ax sequester cuts.
Chris Van Hollen, Washington
The writer, a Democrat, represents Maryland’s 8th District in the House and is the ranking minority member on the House Budget Committee.
Regarding the July 31 front-page article “Layoff notices or political cards?”:
Only the Democrats would treat the law of the land as something to be disregarded or negotiated away. Of course, federal contractors are worried. These companies have little choice but to plan for the worst because of the law and because our political leaders continue to place the country and our posterity at risk so they can hurl political bumper stickers at each other.
Even increasing taxes on the “rich” (whatever that means) will not soften the immediate and long-term damage to the local and national economies caused by Congress’s ineptitude.
The February warning by Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben S. Bernanke of an unprecedented “fiscal cliff” suggests that there will also be a widespread slowdown in the economy months ahead of the fiscal cliff, because of the high degree of uncertainty. If the country does, in fact, fall off that cliff, there can be only one main culprit: the Democrats.
Evan Parrott, Ashburn
As I understand it, the position of most Republican politicians has been that: (1) the federal government must cut spending; and (2) federal spending does not stimulate the economy. Now, The Post reported July 31, Republicans (as well as Democrats) are concerned that the deep federal spending cuts scheduled to take effect at the start of next year will lead to massive layoffs for employees of government contractors and that this will devastate the economy. So Republicans (and Democrats) are pushing for a deal to prevent these cuts from happening.
I’m confused. Have the Republicans changed their mind about government spending and its impact on the economy?
Edward F. King Jr., Kensington