In defense of House cuts, reforms
June 21, 2012
In her commentary “House measures hurtful to seniors,” published on May 22 in the Nevada Appeal, Janice Ayres failed to mention the purpose of HR 5652, the Sequester Replacement Reconciliation Act. She also wrongly characterized as cruel what are in reality common-sense efforts to replace dangerous sequester cuts by instead reducing fraud, waste, and duplicative programs.
The inability of the Supercommittee to enact $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction in December triggered across-the-board cuts, known as a “sequester,” to be imposed on Jan. 2.
The sequester includes a 10 percent reduction in the Department of Defense and an 8 percent reduction to some domestic programs, such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and border security.
According to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, “The impacts of these cuts would be devastating for the department. … We would have the smallest ground force since 1940, the smallest number of ships since 1915, and the smallest Air Force in its history.”
U.S. Army Chief Of Staff General Raymond Odierno agreed: “Cuts of this magnitude would be catastrophic to the military. …My assessment is that the nation would incur an unacceptable level of strategic and operational risk.”
The sequester will also have a significant impact on nondefense discretionary programs, including reducing Head Start by $650 million, NIH by $2.4 billion, and Border Patrol by 1,870 agents.
To avoid the dangerous sequester, House Republicans passed a series of careful reforms, which include:
• Stopping fraud by ensuring individuals are actually eligible for the taxpayer benefits they receive. The Obama administration has actively encouraged states to implement a policy of “broad-based categorical eligibility” to extend food stamp coverage beyond those who are legally eligible. This would end that practice, saving $11.7 billion over 10 years.
• Eliminating government slush funds and bailouts, such as repealing ObamaCare’s Prevention and Public Health slush fund, the failed HAMP program, and the Dodd-Frank bailout fund. This would save $11.9 billion, $2.8 billion and $22 billion respectively over 10 years.
• Repealing social services block grant to the states, which use the money for services duplicative of 70 other federal welfare programs. This provision saves $17 billion over 10 years.
Ms. Ayres is also mistaken regarding the Corporation for National and Community Service, which is not affected by this legislation.
I have found in my nine months on the job as your voice in the U.S. House, the funding issues facing all federal programs rarely lend themselves to accurate, factual discussion if your only goal is partisanship.
I will continue to seek out and consider the facts regarding the best course for both spending reform and resources for meritorious federal programs.
• Mark Amodei represents the 2nd Congressional District of Nevada in the U.S. House of Representatives.