With the boom getting lowered March 1 on the so-called “sequester,” President Barack Obama has taken to the bully pulpit to pressure public to call their Republicans representatives to say no to spending cuts. Worried that new spending cuts would slow the economy, Barack warned lawmakers to spare an $85 billion in slated cuts, threatening to eviscerate the Pentagon and the nation’s popular entitlement programs. Speaking at Newport News Shipbuilding, Barack warned about tossing more middle class folks into unemployment. When a bipartisan commission on the budget couldn’t agree on spending cuts, it automatically kicked in the “sequester” or mandatory cuts. Warning that Newport News is a place “where workers will sit idle where they should be repairing ships, and a carrier sits idle when it should be deploying to the Persian Gulf,” Obama pleaded with Congress to delay the cuts.
At stake for Congress is dealing with a federal budget deficit hovering around $1 trillion and dropping each month as unemployment falls. When the bipartisan budget task force failed to reach a deal on spending cuts Dec. 1, 2010, the sequester provisions of automatic spending cuts went into effect, despite know improvements in the unemployment picture and federal budget deficit. Before it’s too late, responsible members of Congress need to stop the madness of unnecessary spending cuts that will cost thousands of federal workers or contractors their jobs. Tea Party Republicans in the House, like House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) or House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Vir.) need to stop playing politics and acknowledge the same cuts needed in 2010 or 2011 aren’t needed to today to deal with naturally shrinking federal budget deficits.
Recent polls show that impending spending cuts hurt the GOP more than Obama and the Democratic Party. With the drubbing Republicans took in the last election, the GOP can’t afford more bad publicity from punitive spending cuts. For all his oratorical skills, Obama hasn’t yet learned the art of the backroom deal. Whatever happens before cameras and microphones, it’s more important for GOP leaders like House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to save face while negotiating the right deal for the country. It’s helps no one to drive more folks out of federal jobs or to sacrifice private sector government contracting. When former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney pitched his budget slashing plan last year, voters rejected him in the voting booth. GOP leaders on the Hill know that nothing’s changed. No one wants to see more people lose their jobs to reduce the budget deficit.
Today’s report about a growing real estate market bodes well for the stock and market and jobs picture, which, in turn, suggests sustained economic recovery. Slashing spending was always based on the government not generating enough tax dollars to support infrastructure and social programs. Now that it’s clear that the economy’s on the mend, it’s just a matter of time before growing employment eliminates the deficit and balances the budget. Today’s $85 billion sequester is no longer needed to achieve the important goal of balancing the U.S. budget. A recent ABC News/Washington Post poll indicates that 67% of respondents disapproved of Republican approach to the impending spending cuts. If the GOP fails to reach some deal with the White House to avoid spending cuts, polls indicate the blame falls on Republicans. It’s hard to see where the GOP thinks it wins.
With all signs pointing to economic recovery, it’s time for both sides to reconsider the $85 billion in slated cuts. There’s simply no excuse to slash government spending if the Treasury continues to rake in more tax dollars from growing employment. Whatever happens to the stock market is anyone’s guess. Since Barack took office Jan. 20, 2008, the Dow Jones Industrials has risen 85% to its current level of about 14,000. As markets rise, publicly traded companies—and those that do business with them—expand payrolls, reducing unemployment and increasing the government’s tax base. Even the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office expects deficits to continue shrinking until ultimately balanced in 2015. If slashing spending slows the economy, it defeats the purpose of retiring debt and balancing the budget. With a balanced budget—and maybe a surplus—on the horizon, there’s no need to slash spending.
Feverishly trying to persuade Republicans to compromise on the sequester, Obama wants to see a bipartisan agreement to end the cuts and preserve American jobs. Back in 2010 when the bipartisan National Committee on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform was formed, the economy was still in a free fall. Republicans made Obama’s failed economy a major part of their campaign for the White House. No GOP politician before the Nov. 6, 2012 election wanted to cut Barack any slack on the economy, hoping it would put a Republican back in the White House. Since that strategy backfired, the GOP still hasn’t shifted gears to do what’s right for the economy. Faced with $85 billion in damaging spending cuts, it’s time for Republicans to stop playing politics and do what’s best for the economy. With the economy improving, there’s simply no excuse to continue the sequester.
About the Author
John M. Curtis writes politically neutral commentary analyzing spin in national and global news. He’s editor of OnlineColumnist.com and author of Dodging The Bullet and Operation Charisma.