Deep and arbitrary federal budget cuts that will hurt working and middle class families and risk deep job cuts are nearly certain to be implemented this Friday due to House Republican leaders' refusal to negotiate with President Obama or allow an alternative to the cuts to be voted on in Congress, Rep. George Miller (D-Contra Costa) warned Monday.
Anticipation of the unprecedented $85 billion across-the-board budget cut for this year alone, known in Washington as the "sequester," has already injected uncertainty into the economy and sapped the confidence of consumers and the markets. Independent economists warn that, upon implementation, they threaten to undermine job creation while causing irreparable harm to the economy.
"We are witnessing the result of an abject failure in leadership by Republican Speaker Boehner and his Tea Party team in Washington," said Miller. "Let's not forget, they brought us to this point by fabricating a financial crisis and refusing to raise the debt ceiling in 2011, which resulted in the first U.S. credit downgrade in our history. Now, by refusing to ask the wealthiest individuals and corporations to pay a little more and by blocking any alternative to the sequester, they are bringing down a meat cleaver on American jobs and the economy.
"They've wasted months by not coming to the table with balanced plan to reduce the deficit and grow the economy while avoiding these indiscriminate cuts. Congressional Republicans would rather gamble -- again -- on inaction and blame the President than do what's right for our economy, our country's safety and the security of working and middle class families," said Miller. "This is not leadership befitting the party that controls the U.S. House of Representatives. We can and should pass a balanced approach to reduce the deficit and grow the economy this week rather than create another avoidable crisis that will hurt millions of families across the country."
The sequester was put in place as a backstop if no agreement could be reached on a long-term balanced plan to reduce the deficit and grow the economy and was only considered because otherwise Republicans refused to raise the debt ceiling.
Estimates show that budget cuts mandated by the sequester may cost the American economy more than 700,000 jobs, and will affect every aspect of our society including real cuts to education in California, reduced food safety inspections, OSHA inspectors pulled off the job in hazardous workplaces, fewer air traffic controllers and security agents to ensure air traffic safety and timely flights, and less support from FEMA for firefighters and first responders tasked with responding to natural disasters-- a particularly chilling consequence in the earthquake prone Bay Area.
With less than four days remaining, Republicans refuse even to close tax loopholes that allow multinational corporations to get tax breaks for shipping jobs overseas. Instead they will allow children, seniors, and investments in the middle class and our economy to bear the burden of deficit reduction.
House and Senate Democrats have introduced balanced plans that instead would cut spending that won't harm middle class families and that close tax loopholes that benefit only the wealthiest. The Senate is scheduled to vote on its balanced compromise plan later this week, and Miller and his colleagues have called on House Republicans to bring up this week the plan introduced by Budget Committee Ranking Democrat Rep. Chris Van Hollen, which Miller co-sponsored.