U.S. Rep. Ron Barber today will vote against a proposal that would make painful cuts to services for children, women, seniors and students while protecting oil company subsidies and tax cuts for the wealthiest.
"The disingenuously named National Security and Job Protection Act would protect neither national security nor jobs," Barber said today. "In reality, it is nothing more than a sham solution and an attempt to fool the American people into believing that serious budget talks are underway. Unfortunately, they are not. I believe Congress should stay in session for as long as it takes to reach a bipartisan solution on this critical matter.
"I am confident that once Americans see what this legislation really contains, they will be as disappointed as I am."
The legislation is expected to pass the House today on a solidly partisan vote. It then will go to the Senate where it is certain to die.
The bill was pushed through by House leaders who claimed it was a solution to sequestration. That is a series of mandatory, automatic cuts to federal programs that was approved by Congress as part of a 2011 deal to raise the debt ceiling.
The cuts were imposed by Congress as a hammer to hold over a bipartisan "supercommittee" that was charged with coming up with a package to cut the deficit. The supercommittee failed, so $1.2 trillion in cuts -- half from the military, half from domestic programs -- are scheduled to go into effect Jan. 2.
The legislation that Barber will vote against today would not stop those cuts. It instead requires Congress to first enact additional legislation to cut spending.
The bill says that additional legislation could not include any revenue increases, thus protecting tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires. It also would protect subsidies for big oil companies. Last year, the three biggest U.S. oil companies raked in more than $80 billion in profits -- about $9.1 million per hour. They also received about $4 billion in federal subsidies.
Barber is committed to supporting our armed forces and men and women in uniform. That is why on July 19, he voted for the Department of Defense Appropriations Act of 2013 that allows for the same funding threshold for the Department of Defense as this bill today.
The legislation that Barber will oppose today would cut benefits to Medicare recipients and student loan programs. Barber has pledged to protect Medicare and stand up for middle class families by protecting student loan programs that help those families send their children to school.
It would also cut spending for nutrition assistance, Medicaid and help for those with disabilities and other vital programs that Americans rely upon.
"It is an absolute necessity that we reduce our deficit, but we must do it in a fair and balanced way," Barber said today. "We must protect seniors, students and middle-class Americans and not insist that they shoulder the entire burden while we continue protecting tax breaks and subsidies for oil companies, millionaires and billionaires. We can and we must do better than this."