Congressman Jim Himes (CT-4) today opposed a disingenuous effort on the part of the House Majority to prevent the defense cuts agreed to in last year's debt-limit deal from taking effect. The bill eliminates the hammers designed to force the GOP to the table to negotiate a long-term deficit reduction plan. Further, it would place the full burden of deficit reduction on other areas of the federal budget like roads, schools, and programs to help the poor and disabled. Meanwhile, the bill does nothing to reduce the so-called "fiscal cliff."
"We agreed last summer that cuts to both defense spending and safety net programs would go into effect at the beginning of 2013 in order to compel both sides into an adult discussion about long-term deficit reduction, but now the GOP is walking away from their own deal," Himes said. "We need a balanced, long-term deficit reduction plan, like the one I voted for earlier this year, not political games that make the prospects of the fiscal cliff even more real."
After the dead-limit agreement was reached last year, Speaker John Boehner said on the CBS Evening News, "When you look at this final agreement that we came to with the White House, I got 98 percent of what I wanted. I'm pretty happy."
The bill the Tea Party-led House GOP passed today does nothing to reduce the impact of the fiscal cliff expected partly as a result of the defense cuts (set to take effect on January 2) because it requires that the President propose an alternative plan that pulls the exact same amount of money out of the economy. This bill also explicitly rejects any revenue increases to cut the deficit.
Himes has consistently advocated for long-term deficit reduction. He was among the first lawmakers to embrace the recommendations of the Simpson-Bowles Fiscal Commission. He held town-hall meetings on deficit reduction with David Walker, the United States Comptroller under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, and helped lead a group of 100 Members of Congress who called on the Super Committee to "go-big" and present Congress with a $4 trillion deficit-reduction plan. For his work to reduce the federal deficit, USA Today called Himes "brave", and next week, the non-partisan Concord Coalition will recognize him with the Paul E. Tsongas Economic Patriot Award, which honors those who have "demonstrated a commitment to fiscal and generational responsibility."