By Tim Mak
A block of influential conservative groups is urging Congress to allow $109 billion in sequestration cuts this fiscal year to begin taking effect as scheduled on Jan. 2.
Banding together, 22 conservative organizations — including Americans for Tax Reform, Club for Growth, FreedomWorks and Citizens Against Government Waste — have signed an open letter to Congress, obtained by POLITICO, making clear they strongly oppose any pushback of the sequestration deadline, any reduction in the size of the planned cuts or the replacement of cuts with tax increases.
The groups urge members of Congress to “stand firm and hold the line on the budget sequester set forth in the Budget Control Act of 2011″ and suggest that delaying sequestration would “only make it harder to get our fiscal house in order.”
“We understand there are concerns that the sequester will disproportionately affect the defense budget, with 50 percent of the cuts affecting security spending, which accounts for only 20 percent of the overall federal budget,” the groups acknowledged. “However, this is a product of lawmakers’ unwillingness to consider serious entitlement reform that would confront the true drivers of our debt.”
There is room to alter the “composition of the cuts,” the groups argue, but not to reduce, delay or otherwise “subvert” sequestration.
“If Congress reverses the cuts or replaces them with future empty promises, it will send a clear message to the American people: Congress is unable to make meaningful spending cuts,” the groups said, noting that the nation’s debt has increased by $1.7 trillion since the Budget Control Act passed Congress in August 2011.
The groups, organized by the National Taxpayers Union, assert that members of Congress should consider enacting “serious budgetary and entitlement reforms” to reduce the deficit further.
This effort comes as many on the right are gearing up a campaign to oppose what they would see as a betrayal by Republicans in the House and Senate.
Grover Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform, which signed the letter, told POLITICO that “sequestration is not the worst thing” and urged members of Congress not to punt the Jan. 2 deadline. “It’s a mistake,” he asserted, “because temporary punts become permanent punts.”
With the elections passed and the fiscal cliff looming ahead, grass-roots conservatives are beginning to pound the sequestration drums.
On Wednesday, prominent conservative commentator Erick Erickson urged Congress to allow the automatic cuts to begin taking place, saying on CNN that Congress should “get what they deserve” for setting up the mechanism in the first place. It was, he tweeted later, “time for D.C. to take its medicine.”
“Sequestration is a terrible, horrible, no-good idea. And we must let it happen,” wrote the popular conservative blogger Ace of Spades. “You know what you call $1.2 trillion in budget cuts? A good start.”