Keep The Cuts
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As Washington attempts to address the current debt ceiling crisis, there is actually an effort to undo one of the solutions to the great debt ceiling crisis of 2011. As a brief reminder, the 2011 debt ceiling showdown saw our nation’s credit downgraded by credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s. The reason wasn’t just the debt ceiling debate though, S&P stated the federal government lacked a “credible” plan to tackle long-term debt.
Fast forward to today: two weeks into a government shutdown, and days away from exhausting extraordinary measures to extend our borrowing authority, some in Congress want to reverse bipartisan spending cuts resulting from the sequestration provision of the Budget Control Act of 2011. These cuts were intended to be a forcing mechanism that would motivate Washington to make smart spending cuts and reforms to reduce our massive annual deficits. As expected, Congress and President Obama failed to agree on a plan, so the cuts went into effect.
While not a long-term strategy to reduce deficits, these cuts did provide short-term relief, contributing to the biggest reduction in the federal deficit since World War II, a factoid the president likes to tout regularly. But now, leaders in Washington are using the current fiscal crisis as an excuse to eliminate those cuts. That’s a bad idea, and here’s why:
First, we didn’t get into this mess because we spent too little. In fact, the reason increasing the debt limit is so important is because we spend so much that we need to borrow to meet our obligations. Today, The Washington Post said that revenue only covers about 70 percent of our spending on any given day. And some in Congress want to spend even more? More spending means more borrowing means more debt ceiling crises.
Second, taxpayers support cuts. A recent Bloomberg poll showed 61 percent of Americas support additional spending cuts with any increase in the debt ceiling. When was the last time 61 percent of Americans agreed on anything?
Finally, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office warns of a “fiscal crisis” down the road if Congress and the president can’t find more cuts and reforms to make. As Americans grow increasingly weary of Washington’s habit of careening from crisis to crisis, now is the time for our leaders to stand up and do the right thing.
The math is clear, public opinion is clear and the potential for future peril is clear. What isn’t clear is the justification for repealing one of the few fiscally responsible steps Washington has taken in the past few years. Undoing BCA-level spending would represent a huge step backward and an indication that Washington is falling back into dangerous old habits with little regard for the future.
America is nearly $17 trillion in debt and the current break from trillion dollar deficits is only temporary. Deficits are expected to surge back up in coming years as mandatory spending programs continue to grow. Washington should focus on finding smart cuts and making meaningful reforms to get the nation off this path.
The Budget Control Act is the law of the land for a reason. More spending is no way to fix a debt crisis.