May 11, 2012
By Brian Darling
The House is working on a plan to substitute about $300 billion in cuts from waste in domestic programs over 10 years to replace the approximate $100 billion "sequester" of cuts scheduled to gut defense programs next year. This is a good idea.
Late last year, Republicans in the House negotiated an agreement to increase the debt ceiling in consideration for the creation of a "super committee" to make recommendations on $1.2 trillion in cuts over 10 years and a vote on a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution. The law had a provision that would implement $1.2 trillion in cuts, equally divided between defense and domestic programs, if the super committee failed to find savings.
The super committee failed. Now the Pentagon is facing across-the-board cuts that will make America less safe. Looking back, the debt-limit increase was a terrible deal for conservatives who believe in Ronald Reagan's vision of "Peace through Strength."
One of the big problems with the scheduled sequester is that it would implement automatic defense cuts that would slow important Pentagon programs. America's aging defense infrastructure is in dire need of an update in a world with emerging threats from Iran and North Korea, not automatic cuts that will weaken important programs. Military weakness will not be rewarded and may provide an incentive to foreign powers to challenge a weakened U.S. military—making us less safe.
The specific cuts proposed by House Republicans seem like common sense. A few of the reported cuts are caps to medical malpractice awards, repeal of some provisions of Dodd-Frank regulatory law, and cuts to the food stamp program.
The food stamp program, also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, has exploded under the Obama administration to become the fourth-largest entitlement program on the books.
The cuts proposed to food stamps include an elimination of something called "categorical eligibility" to the program that does not use income and assets as a means to test whether these programs are going to people in need. Also, states are rewarded for increasing the welfare rolls; providing an incentive for states to increase participation regardless of need. That may explain why participation has increased since 2000 from 17.2 million to 44.7 million, according to the Heritage Foundation.
The efforts by conservatives in the House to get rid of the defense sequester is a good idea.
First Appeared on The Debate Club.
Senior Fellow for Government Studies
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