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GOP Agenda: Shredding the Safety Net While Protecting Defense

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Ms. WOOLSEY. Mr. Speaker, tomorrow this body will vote on a Republican budget bill that is nothing short of reprehensible. Once again, my friends on the other side of the aisle are insisting that the poor and working-class families continue to suffer and struggle because heaven forbid we should ask the Department of Defense to do its share to meet our fiscal challenges.

You can't walk into this Chamber, Mr. Speaker, without hearing a self-serving and self-righteous lecture from a Member of the majority about fiscal responsibility. But when they say, Let's cut spending, what they really mean is, Let's shred the safety net.

So their bill puts a giant bull's-eye on the programs that struggling families need to keep their heads above water, especially in this tough economy. Under their bill, fewer women will get breast cancer screenings, fewer poor children will get meals at school or access to health care, and 1.7 million fewer seniors will get Meals on Wheels and other home-based services. They are willing to cut Medicare child abuse prevention and consumer financial protection, and they want to push 1.8 million people off the food stamp program--a program, by the way, that my family needed to survive when I was a single working mom more than 40 years ago. I don't know what we would have done without food stamps.

But guess which part of the Federal Government--which bloated, well-fed bureaucracy--continues to get lavish support from the majority? That's right--the Pentagon, the military industrial complex. Even though the sequester is supposed to apply across the board, the majority wants to exempt defense and make domestic programs absorb all the cuts. That's the way they do business. They pinch pennies on the very real human needs of the American people. They nickel and dime hardworking families who deserve a fair shot and need a hand up.

For 10 1/2 years, Mr. Speaker, we've been at war. And between Iraq and Afghanistan, the American people are out $1.3 trillion--that's trillion, with a T, Mr. Speaker--$1.3 trillion wasted on a policy that is killing our people, hurting our national security, and undermining our standing in the world.

For pennies on the dollar, we could replace permanent warfare with a SMART Security platform that will keep our country safe by focusing on development, diplomacy, and investment in humanitarian needs in the developing world. And we'd have plenty left over--plenty--to shore up the safety net, fund antipoverty programs, and restore the American Dream.

If we're serious about reducing the deficit, then progressives are willing to talk, but there has to be a shared sacrifice. There has to be a balanced approach. We won't take it out on our most vulnerable people, not when we're waging a failed war that is our biggest ticket item, not when we continue to throw billions of dollars at Cold War aircraft and weapons systems that are serving absolutely no purpose.

And not when we continue to maintain a nuclear arsenal that's enough to destroy civilization several times over. Targeting social services while giving defense and war spending a free pass is not fiscal responsibility. It's ideological warfare.

Let's get our priorities straight. It's time to cut defense spending, Mr. Speaker. It's time to bring our troops home. And it's time to reinvest in the American people. And the time is now.

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