By Rebekah Johansen
Well, it’s happening.
As we’d feared, there are rumblings that Republicans will take the opportunity created from the shutdown fiasco in order to seek spending concessions — in the wrong direction.
On Thursday, the chairman of the policy arm of the House Republican conference indicated that over the next few weeks, he and many members of the GOP want to reach a deal that would reduce mandatory cuts in defense spending due for fiscal 2014 and put the Pentagon on track for its budget to grow at 2 percent annually for the last eight years the BCA covers.
“Is there a way to swap out long-term real reforms for the savings we have and flatten out this check mark, so it doesn’t have a two-year dive — it just starts at two percent increase?” he said, “The only way to do that is to get real reforms in other areas, and what it should be is long-term rather than short-term cuts.”
Lankford also suggested there was little desire in the GOP for abandoning the BCA entirely, but said that there was interest in removing upcoming 2014 cuts. He also suggested that there is “no energy” in the Republican conference for a U.S. credit default, commonly thought to be directly associated with failure to raise the debt limit.
Meanwhile, Rep. Young, R-Fla., chairman of the House Defense Appropriations subcommittee, said he was not aware of any plan to raise 2014 defense spending as a part of continuing resolution and debt ceiling negotiations.
On the other side, Democrats dismissed the idea of offsetting sequestration in fiscal year 2014, but allowing the spending limits to remain for the next eight years, with Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., saying the spending caps for domestic spending are too low. “Everything you want to talk about,” he said, “we’ve cut much too low.”
There’s quite a bit to react to with this latest bit of discouraging news. First, it’s clear that sequestration is imperfect. Certainly, there are theoretically better ways to structure the nation’s desperately needed spending reform.
The problem, of course, is that these measures are purely theoretical. The Budget Control Act and sequestration are the only real spending reform that has happened in our generation. Have there been difficulties in adjusting? Certainly. Should more be cut? Absolutely. But to see strong voices on both sides call for rolling back the first tiny step in the right direction is disappointing, if not particularly surprising.
Yes, there are areas we can cut – both in the military budget and entitlements, the right and left’s prized sacred cows. And we simply must make these cuts, if the finances of our nation are to be secured for this generation and the next. It’s reprehensible that those on both sides are so quick to abandon tiny steps toward necessary reform, and it’s absolutely vital that they be reminded to keep their word on spending reforms.