Should Cuts Be Made to Domestic Social Programs to Protect the Defense Budget?
Monday, the House Budget Committee, led by Republican Chair Paul Ryan, passed the Sequester Replacement Reconciliation Act and the Sequester Replacement Act in a party-line vote. The legislation is expected to be brought for a vote on the House floor Thursday, but is thought to be dead on arrival in the Democratic Senate, making it a largely political document as it highlights the two parties' different approaches to deficit reductions. The Republican proposals would head off across-the-board cuts mandated by last summer's Budget Control Act when a specially appointed "super committee" failed to agree on its own package of cuts, after a Washington showdown over raising the debt ceiling threatened a default on the country's loans. Unless Congress takes action, the defense budget will face a 10 percent cut and discretionary spending an 8 percent cut Jan. 1, 2013. While both parties agree that such cuts are not preferable, they diverge on how to better address the country's deficit crisis. The Sequester Replacement Act would protect the defense budget--drastic cuts to which, Republicans say, would leave the country defenseless--by shifting cuts to domestic spending programs, including Medicaid, school lunch subsidies, and supplemental nutrition assistance programs for the poor, as well as a fund created by Obama's financial reform to be used if banks ever needed to be bailed out again, as they were in 2008. Republicans argue that their proposals would save $261 billion in the next decade by curbing fraud, trimming waste, and ending "slush funds" and "bailouts." Democrats claim the bill would put the burden of deficit reduction on the backs of the poor, as the bipartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates it will kick 1.8 million people off of food stamps by slashing $35.8 billion from the program, among other cuts to social welfare initiatives. Should cuts be made to domestic social programs to protect the defense budget? Here is the Debate Club's take: