Today, arbitrary across-the-board cuts, known as sequestration, go into effect for our Defense Department and many other government agencies. These cuts treat our highest priorities the same as our lowest priorities, and the impact on Rhode Island is unacceptable.
The best solution to all of our economic challenges, including the debt, is to pair long term, balanced reductions with investments in priorities that create jobs to strengthen the middle class. Unfortunately, sequestration's impact on early education could cost more than 60 jobs in our state with hundreds fewer children served. Reducing workforce investment funding would mean more than 1,000 fewer Rhode Islanders getting job training. Many of our defense contractors face negative impacts, support for emergency responders and disaster relief is put at risk, and nutrition assistance for seniors faces cutbacks.
The current policy came about during the 2011 debt ceiling crisis as the only way for enough House Republicans to vote to prevent our country from defaulting on its obligations. I supported that vote knowing the alternative was significantly worse and that Democrats and Republicans must ultimately compromise on a long term budget deal to avoid this poison pill.
We have time to avert the worst consequences of sequestration, but we need a vote on a balanced plan that removes sequestration by combining new revenues with targeted spending cuts.
Unfortunately, Republican leadership continues to follow an ideology that says key investments in areas like education are worth abandoning to protect tax breaks for the wealthiest few and big corporations.
Democrats have put forward a solution that continues to cut spending on top of the $1.4 trillion already enacted in the past two years, while generating revenue from a minimum tax on millionaires, ending tax breaks for companies that send jobs overseas, and closing tax subsidies for oil and gas companies making record profits. These measures allow us to avoid cuts that most harm the middle class and our economy. It's time for a vote.
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