Federal budget cuts called “sequestration” are scheduled to hit in just 10 days. The sequestration cuts are not perfect—they’re a blunt instrument to cut spending, rather than a deliberative plan that sets priorities, trims entitlements, and cuts other spending. But they are law.
It would be better to replace them with smarter cuts, but the reality is that Washington has to start cutting spending now. Real program reforms and a balanced budget are the only way to solve our continuing fiscal crises. So it is critical that Congress keep its word and follow through on these spending cuts to prove it is serious about bringing our budget into balance over the next 10 years.
Now that the March 1 deadline is approaching, the President is urging Congress to offset the sequestration budget cuts with more tax increases.
That’s simply unacceptable, says Heritage’s Grover M. Hermann Senior Fellow in Federal Budgetary Affairs, Patrick Louis Knudsen: “President Obama has already pocketed a $618 billion tax increase, so simply holding the line against taxes is a given.”
Lawmakers shouldn’t be fooled by the President’s rhetoric on a “balanced” approach to sequestration or any other budget issue—that simply means he’s looking to raise taxes again.
Instead, they should be focusing on true balance—balancing the federal budget in the next 10 years. Producing a budget would be a start, but balancing that budget is the way to put the country back on track. Knudsen explains:
“Government spending and debt are both too high, and this threatens all Americans with a weaker economy and a lower standard of living. Every opportunity to reduce spending and put the government on the path to a balanced budget must be taken. Anything less is a path to defeat.”
We need spending cuts that are targeted to the programs that need reforms—the entitlements that are the major drivers of our growing deficit.
Sequestration leaves many programs like Social Security, welfare, food stamps, and Medicaid untouched, while having devastating effects on national security. Trying to use defense cuts to balance the out-of-control entitlement spending while we still face growing threats (Russia, China, Iran, and al-Qaeda affiliates) is a fool’s errand that will create a hollow military and do nothing to fix economic troubles.
But if Congress does not replace the sequestration cuts with smarter cuts—like eliminating Obamacare funding or other ineffective programs—then the sequestration cuts will be our first step toward getting serious about federal spending.
Amy Payne is Assistant Director of Strategic Communications at The Heritage Foundation. In that capacity, Amy serves as Managing Editor of The Foundry, Heritage’s public policy news blog, as well as the “Morning Bell,” one of Washington’s most widely read and influential e-newsletters.
This article was originally published at Heritage.org. Used with permission.
The Moral Liberal recommends Thomas Sowell’s Basic Economics: A Common Sense Guide to the Economy