The recession is, according to the official arbiters of such things, officially over. Can you tell?
Millions of people are still unemployed, and nearly every state and county in the country is struggling to fund health care, education, community safety, and even routine things like road maintenance. The recession may be over on Wall Street, but it’s not over where we live.
New rules adopted by the House last week could have a long-lasting effect on our government’s ability to open the road to economic prosperity for millions of people who didn’t get a bailout. These rules allow Congress to increase the deficit by approving more tax cuts without having to consider their impact on the deficit. They also allow the chair of the House Budget Committee, Rep. Paul Ryan (WI), to bypass the usual bipartisan consultation and decide by himself how much, and in what areas, the House will recommend that the U.S. government spend the public’s money.
Ryan and other House leaders want to reduce federal spending only by cutting what’s called “domestic, non-security discretionary” spending. In other words, no cuts for the Pentagon. Federal spending currently supports many sectors of our economy, including agriculture, transportation, commerce, and programs that serve the most vulnerable people right now. Economists across the political spectrum agree that government investment in people during a recession is essential to recovery.
Meanwhile, the House leadership’s proposal exempts the Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security from cuts, despite the many experts who agree that substantial military spending cuts are both possible and desirable.
The new House rules have changed the focus of the congressional debate from how to cut the deficit to how to cut federal spending for investing in our people and our future. House leaders have promised to hold votes each week on spending cuts. Please contact your representative to urge her or him to put Pentagon spending on the table when spending cuts are considered, as recommended by the bipartisan National Commission on the Deficit.
Read our reflections on the new House rules and their potential consequences: “House Frames the Issues: Even More Guns, Even Less Butter.”
Last week, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates made headlines when he told members of Congress about his plan to cut programs from the military budget totaling $100 billion between 2012 and 2016. Cutting programs is not the same as cutting spending. In fact, these “program cuts” would lead to a budget increase for the Pentagon in FY 2012. Find out how in this blog post from FCNL’s Ruth Flower.
Finally, get FCNL’s ten reasons why U.S. military spending should be cut to curb the federal deficit.