Entries in Budget Cuts (28)


Paul Ryan Criticizes Obama on Defense Cuts

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(FAYETTEVILLE, N.C.) -- At a defense roundtable in the town that’s home to Fort Bragg, Paul Ryan spoke out against the looming $500 billion defense cuts, saying the president needed to explain how automatic, across-the-board cuts to the defense budget would affect military jobs and defense contracts.

“Put up or shut up,” Ryan said, addressing the budget cuts.  “The president needs to show us how he plans on putting this in place if he is not going to help us pass legislation preventing it in the first place.”

Ryan, the House Budget chairman, originally voted for legislation that included the cuts, known as sequestration, and praised them at the time.  But on Thursday, his spokesperson Michael Steel said what Ryan voted for was “bipartisan deficit reduction.”

“The president instead went AWOL on the campaign trail and the result is the devastating defense cuts that the president insisted on,” Steel said after the roundtable.

Ryan said in a Romney-Ryan administration they would make sure the cuts “will not happen.”

“We believe in the doctrine of peace through strength,” Ryan said.  “Strength means having strong national defense, and that is why we are steadfastly opposed to the president’s reckless and devastating defense cuts.”

The vice presidential candidate has simplified the reasons behind the cuts on the campaign trail, which are part of a political battle that began brewing last summer.  They are mandated by the Budget Control Act, which was signed into law last August by President Obama in exchange for a $2.4 trillion increase in the debt limit.

House Speaker John Boehner insisted that any increase in the debt limit be matched dollar-for-dollar in spending cuts and reforms, but as the federal government ran critically low on cash, Congress had only agreed to about $1.2 trillion in savings.  Still, the debt limit was increased under an agreement that called on a “supercommittee” to negotiate an additional $1.2 trillion in savings, or face sequestration -- meaning the automatic cuts that include those defense cuts and items unpalatable to each party.

After the supercommittee failed to strike a deal, the country was left with sequestration.  The Obama administration, including Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, has warned what the cuts would mean for the military.

North Carolina has a $23 billion defense industry, and the roundtable was held at the Partnership for Defense Innovation, a tax-exempt nonprofit that promotes economic development.  There were military families onhand, including a gold star mother as well as Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.).

Ryan tried to personalize what the cuts would mean for members in the audience.

“Only in America do you have young people like this who are inspired by the ideals of our country and who have this pathway.  And in this case, a pathway out of poverty and into a life of self-discipline, of self-sufficiency, of pride.  It’s amazing what this does for our culture.  Not to mention our strength as a country,” he said.

The Obama administration almost immediately responded to the event, saying Ryan wasn’t “serious about avoiding the automatic defense cuts” and if he were, “he’d tell Mitt Romney and his fellow Republicans in Congress to work with the president to achieve balanced deficit reduction that includes asking millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share -- as the plan President Obama has put forward does.”

“But he’s not.  In fact, Congressman Ryan voted for the agreement he criticized today, and he walked away from a balanced deficit reduction plan last summer because he thought it would help the President’s re-election prospects.  And Mitt Romney himself has said that he didn’t want Congress to act, despite looming defense cuts. Congressman Ryan and Mitt Romney should show some leadership to avoid these cuts instead of using our military budget to score a political point,” Obama spokesperson Danny Kanner said in a statement.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


GOP Plans to Avoid Automatic Defense Cuts

US Department of Defense(WASHINGTON) -- Remember the failure of the debt-reduction supercommittee? Members of Congress do, too -- and they are already looking for ways to avoid the devastating, across-the-board spending cuts that will kick in early next year.

Five Republican senators Thursday announced a plan to replace the first year of automatic defense cuts, known as sequestration, because of the failure of the supercommittee to broker a deal late last year.

The “Down Payment to Protect National Security Act of 2012” plan would provide $127 billion in savings for this year through attrition, hiring two federal employees for every three that leave federal service and extending the current federal employee freeze, which includes members of Congress, for an additional year and a half.

As negotiated during the debt ceiling debate, the failure of the supercommittee to come up with at least $1.2 trillion in cuts last November is set to trigger cuts starting in January 2013 in defense and domestic spending.  This plan announced Thursday would replace the $110 billion in across-the-board federal spending cuts for 2013 -- for just one year.

“I believe the cuts that would be required by sequestration aimed at the Department of Defense are a threat to our nation’s security and we are opposed to that draconian action,” Sen. John McCain, R- Ariz., told reporters Thursday, “as is the secretary of defense and others.”

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has said that the impacts of these automatic across-the-board sequestration cuts would be “devastating” for the department.

“[Panetta] either needs to be fired because he’s so off base or we need to listen to him and fix the problem,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

“We still live in a very dangerous world and everyone agrees that this kind of sequestration cannot take place,” McCain said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Senators Cry Foul over Plan to Trim Watchdog Agency

U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)(WASHINGTON) -- A group of the most fervent budget hawks in Congress have found at least one spending cut that they don’t like: proposed cuts the Government Accountability Office’s budget.

Claiming that the proposed 7 percent cut will be “overly burdensome” to the government watchdog agency, five senators, including four Republicans and one Democrat, sent a letter to the appropriators Thursday in protest.

“We are, however, concerned that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) is being unfairly singled out with both excessively deep cuts and overly burdensome new mandates that will consume the agency’s more limited resources for no apparent benefit,” they wrote.

The letter is signed by Senators Tom Coburn, R-Okla.; John McCain, R-Ariz.; Scott Brown, R-Mass.; Ron Johnson, R-Wisc.; and Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.

This month, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved Chairman Ben Nelson’s, D-Neb., plan -- within the fiscal year 2012 Legislative Branch appropriations bill -- to cut Congress’ spending by 5.2 percent, amounting to a $200 million saving.

“These cuts are strategic and sensible.  But make no mistake, they are real and will force Congress and the agencies on Capitol Hill to live with less,” Nelson said of the proposed cuts earlier this month.  “As Congress works to bring down federal spending, bring down the debt and balance the federal budget, Congress must tighten its own belt.”

The proposal calls for a 7.6 percent cut to the GAO, the independent, nonpartisan agency that served as a Congressional watchdog investigating how the federal government spends taxpayer’s money.

“While we agree GAO must face the same harsh fiscal realities being applied to every other federal agency and program, the cut to the agency’s budget represents more than 10 percent of the entire reduction proposed within legislative branch spending,” the bipartisan group of Senators wrote in the letter to Chairman Nelson and Ranking Member Hoeven on the Senate Appropriations Committee.  “There is no question oversight of the federal government, a primary function of the legislative branch, will suffer as a result of this dramatic cut to GAO funding.”

In an op-ed in The Washington Examiner Thursday morning, Sen. Coburn dubs this the “Senate appropriators’ secret war against oversight.”

“The logic of the committee’s proposal is tough to decipher,” Coburn wrote.  “At a time when we are running a $15 trillion debt and are borrowing $4.5 billion a day to keep government open and our military deployed, every agency needs to tighten its belt.  Yet, the Appropriations Committee proposal looks like mismanagement at best and pay back at worse.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Defense Chief Panetta Warns of Pentagon Spending Cuts 

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Pentagon is hoping that reducing the national deficit won't reduce its mission to provide national security.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Thursday that the Pentagon will be severely hampered if Washington exceeds the $400 billion in budget cuts mandated by the deficit-cutting package signed into law this week.

Specifically, Panetta said these austerity measures will weaken the military, thus making it more difficult to handle possible future threats from Iran, North Korea and China.

The former CIA chief warned that discretionary cuts alone won't balance budget. Panetta stressed that the government needs to seriously curtail mandated programs such as Social Security and Medicare.

He also asserted that the government needs to raise more revenue, suggesting tacit support for ending Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy.

Panetta knew that he when he took the job, he would have to cut fat from defense spending. However, his latest warnings confirm his fears that the cuts are too deep.


Budget Deal Details: To Avert Gov't Shutdown, What Will Be Cut, and What Won't?

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Lost in all the excitement last Friday over lawmakers reaching a deal to avert a government shutdown was one major detail: no one knows precisely what's in the budget deal yet.

The top leaders on both sides of the aisle said they had agreed on $38.5 billion in spending cuts for the remaining six months of the fiscal year and also reached accord on a number of policy matters, like keeping federal funding for Planned Parenthood, but restricting the local government of Washington, D.C., from funding abortions itself. That agreement between federal lawmakers led Washington Mayor Vincent Gray and five city council members to protest. They were arrested -- albeit symbolically -- by Capitol Police Monday.

At the moment, only certain basic elements are known of the deal to fund the government through the end of the fiscal year.

Republicans succeeded in inserting certain provisions, such as a ban spending money to bring Guantanamo Bay detainees to the United States, and a ban on taxpayer funding for abortion in Washington. The GOP also won $1.5 billion in cuts to President Obama's planned national high-speed rail project.

Just as important as what's being cut from the budget is what is not cut in the end. While $450 million of federal funding for an extra engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter plane was cut in H.R. 1, it's unlikely that the engine -- which the President doesn't want and the Pentagon says it doesn't need -- will be cut at the end of the day.

Democrats, meanwhile, succeeded in keeping out of the deal controversial GOP provisions such as riders aimed at defunding Planned Parenthood and NPR and another gutting the EPA. Democrats also were pleased to settle on $17.8 billion in cuts to mandatory spending.

As part of the deal, Republicans will force Democrats to hold two politically-charged votes in the Senate in the coming days. The Senate will vote on defunding Planned Parenthood and on defunding the administration's health care bill, but since both measures will need 60 votes to advance in the Democrat-controlled upper chamber of Congress, neither is expected to pass.

Ultimately, now that the bipartisan budget deal has been struck, both houses of Congress must pass it by the time the latest short-term bill runs out at the end of Friday. While the bill seems destined to sail through the Senate, it could encounter some rough going in the House first, where prominent Republicans like Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., have already indicated that they plan to oppose it.

However, when all is said and done, it looks like the deal will ultimately pass, bringing an end to the great budget war of 2011 -- and providing a sign of what lies ahead in battles over the 2012 budget and increasing the debt ceiling later this year.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 


Sen. Hatch: Dems' Policies 'Killing Us'; Budget Impasse 'Matter of Principle'

ABC News (WASHINGTON) -- The budget showdown, of course, is about government spending. But ask a member of Congress, and it’s also about principles.

Asked how Congress could be on the verge of shutting down the government over a disagreement of just a few billion dollars, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said Friday it’s the Democrats who won’t move off their bargaining position -- and that Republicans are right to stand on principle.

“There's no greater principle than getting this country under spending control. There's no greater principle at this time,” Hatch told ABC News. “I mean, come on. Who's to blame here? Republicans? We didn't control both houses like they did. No, they spent all their time on a lousy health care bill that's going to cost $2.6 trillion and add a huge amount to our total deficit.”

“This is a matter of principle. We just gotta start standing up. And $40 billion? They can't find $40 billion out of $3.8 trillion budget? It just makes ya mad!”

House Speaker John Boehner has already given more than enough ground, Hatch said.

“Boehner's come down from $63 billion to $40 billion. He's got a lot of people who are really upset at how far -- how far we've come down and tried to settle this matter. And now they're going to stop it for $2 billion? Give me a break.”

Hatch continued, “This place is just going to go haywire. And it is haywire because the Democrats have been in charge....I've seen this country go right down the drain because the Democrats' spending policies. And I've got to tell you, they're killing us."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Obama Meets with Congressional Leaders to Facilitate Budget Deal

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Imag(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama said he had a "productive meeting" at the White House Wednesday evening with House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.  It's the second second day in a row the president has met with congressional leaders of both parties to spur negotiations on a deal to avert a government shutdown.

"I thought the meetings were frank, they were constructive," Obama said, adding that the discussions helped focus the issues at hand.

Obama suggested he would keep the pressure on both sides to reach a deal before government funding runs out at midnight Friday.

"My expectation is that folks will work through the night," Obama said. "If we haven't made progress [by morning], we're going to go at it again.

"There is no reason we should not be able to complete a deal," Obama added. "I want to meet the expectations of the American people in terms of delivering with them."

A White House official said in advance of Wednesday's White House meeting that the goal was not to reach a deal, but to keep negotiations on track amid fears they "went off the rails." 

Capitol Hill sources had agreed major developments were unlikely at the White House meeting, but offered a more positive take on the state of negotiations.  A top Republican said he was "much more optimistic" that a deal would be struck to avoid a shutdown. A top Democrat put even odds on avoiding a shutdown, but added of negotiations, "We are pretty much there substantively."

A government shutdown would have wide effects, officials said, including cutting off pay for military personnel and delaying many tax refunds.

At least 800,000 federal employees were expected to be furloughed, the same as during the 1995 government shutdown. But unlike then, it's unclear whether they would receive back pay for the lost time.

Members of Congress, however, will continue to be paid. Every lawmaker must decide which of their employees is considered essential and should be kept on staff while the government is closed.

The clock quickly is running out for lawmakers. Per House rules, legislation has to be posted 48 hours before a vote, which means the GOP leadership has until Thursday morning to post a bill to avert a shutdown.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 


Rep. Pence: 'Shut it Down' if Democrats Won't Agree to Cuts

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- As the federal spending clock ticks down a possible government shutdown on Friday, Republicans are claiming that a failure to keep the government running would be Democrats’ fault, arguing that such a scenario would only come about if Democrats don’t agree to sufficient spending cuts.

But several prominent Republicans are also threatening to vote against any budget deal that in their view doesn’t go far enough in slashing spending.

Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., told ABC News Tuesday that if the only alternative is continuing spending at unsustainable levels, “then I say shut it down.”

“Nobody wants to shut down the federal government. But if we don't take decisive efforts to change the fiscal direction of this national government, we're going to shut down the future for our children and grandchildren, and that would be decidedly worse,” Pence said.

“Look -- if liberals in the Senate and in this administration want to continue to play political games instead of accepting very modest budget cuts, then if they'd rather embrace a government shutdown than make a down payment on fiscal responsibility, then I say shut it down. And I still feel very strongly that way.”

Pence said Republicans should stand behind their proposal to cut $61 billion from this year’s spending bills -- and to insist on denying federal funding for Planned Parenthood, as the House voted to do last month.

“I think that's where we draw the line. We dig in and we say, this far and no further,” Pence said. “Things don't change in Washington, D.C., until they have to. And that's why I think that if the administration and liberals in the Senate don't want to come in our direction and accept that modest down payment on fiscal discipline, then let's just have it out.”

Pence also had praise for the budget proposal put forward Tuesday by House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., while adding that he’ll probably also throw his support behind a measure that would enact even deeper cuts.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


GOP Budget Chairman Paul Ryan's Budget Cuts Spending by $6.2 Trillion

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- While congressional leaders meet at the White House Tuesday morning to haggle over a few billion in spending cuts in this year's budget, GOP budget chairman Paul Ryan will be unveiling a budget for 2012 and beyond that would cut trillions.

In an op-ed piece in Tuesday's Wall Street Journal, Ryan reveals that his budget, to be released at 10 a.m., would cut government spending by $6.2 trillion more over the next 10 years than the budget President Obama released last month.

The details will be released Tuesday, but Ryan says his plan would get savings by changing the Medicaid program for the poor, ending corporate welfare, eliminating Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and reducing discretionary spending to below 2008 levels.

But even with these cuts, the budget would not be balanced by the year 2021.

To address the long-term problem, the Ryan plan would transform the Medicare program beginning in the year 2022, changing it from a government-run system that pays health bills for seniors into a system under which seniors buy insurance plans subsidized by the federal government.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Social Security Commissioner Warns of Painful Cuts

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Elderly Americans would suffer considerably under proposed Social Security Administration budget cuts outlined in House Republicans' continuing resolution, the head of the agency warned Wednesday as budget-related disputes continue to flare on Capitol Hill.

The House GOP budget proposal that would fund the government for the rest of the fiscal year yanks $125 million from the SSA's current levels and $500 million from the reserve fund.

The cuts could cost 3,500 employees their jobs, affecting the quality and quantity of services to Americans, SSA Commissioner Michael J. Astrue testified in Washington.

"I regret we may not be able to keep our commitment to the American people because we don't have the necessary support to move forward," Astrue said Wednesday at a Senate subcommittee hearing. "We cannot meet our stewardship duties unless Congress provides us the funds to do the job."

Democrats who are against the cuts echoed his concern.

"Social Security is the centerpiece of America's social safety net," said Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa. "Delaying basic services isn't just bad for the economy, it's devastating to the most vulnerable citizens who depend on them."

Concerns about the burgeoning budget deficit and its long-term implications have brought new scrutiny to entitlement programs such Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

Economists and experts agree that Social Security needs to be fixed immediately to keep future generations from losing out on an important benefit. But neither President Obama nor members of Congress has put forth any concrete proposals.

The president has acknowledged the need to overhaul entitlement programs and says he welcomes proposals, but Republicans argue that Obama should take the lead.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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