GOP, Conservatives: Budget Plan Rolls Back Sequester Cuts

Image: GOP, Conservatives: Budget Plan Rolls Back Sequester Cuts House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan and Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray announce a tentative agreement on a government spending plan on Dec. 10.

Tuesday, 10 Dec 2013 08:29 PM

By Todd Beamon

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Conservative groups blasted the proposed federal budget deal announced on Tuesday, charging that it would eliminate hard-fought spending reductions targeted through sequestration and vowing to hold Republicans responsible for backing legislation that would reverse those cuts.

"This budget compromise is not just bad policy, it is bad politics," said Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity. "The American people remember hard-won bipartisan spending limits set by the sequester — and they are not pleased to see their conservative representatives so easily go back on their word to rein in government overspending.

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“This is about protecting the pocketbook of average Americans, not about shutting down the government or refusing to compromise," Phillips added. "Lawmakers should simply continue an existing, bi-partisan agreement that has already reduced overspending and has not compromising our modest economic recovery."

Dean Clancy, vice president of public policy for FreedomWorks, told Newsmax: "We strongly oppose it, and we are urging our members across the country to help us defeat it. It busts the budget caps with no long-term entitlement reforms and imposes new taxes under the label of 'user fees.'

"It is a typical Washington deal that increases spending today with the promise of deficit reduction 10 years from now," Clancy added.

"We think that the sequester is a bird in the hand — and the proposed offsets are not worth two in the bush. It would be better to have no deal and simply flat-fund the government at current levels than to have this deal."

Al Cardenas, chairman of the American Conservative Union, called the agreement "the beginning of a more disciplined approach to spending."

He added, however: "The solution is not to walk away from progress and add over $60 billion in spending over the next two years. We are not impressed by the cost-cutting gimmicks, and urge Congress to tell the Budget Conference to get back to work."

Koch Industries, the Kansas-based conglomerate controlled by the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, also urged Congress to stick to the $967 billion spending cap set under the sequester.

"It is essential if our country is to achieve economic prosperity once again," wrote Philip Ellender, the head of Koch Industries' government and public affairs arm, in a letter to Congress. "It is also the right thing to do."

In addition, Heritage Action, the lobbying arm of the Washington-based Heritage Foundation, said that the deal would increase spending "in the near-term for promises of woefully inadequate long-term reductions."

The $85 billion deal was announced by Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the GOP chairman of the House Budget Committee, and Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, who heads the Senate Budget Committee.

The deal averts a government shutdown on Jan. 15, cuts the budget deficit by $23 billion and restores $63 billion in planned sequester cuts.

The increases would be offset by other spending cuts and increased fees elsewhere in the budget totaling about $85 billion over a decade, leaving enough for a largely symbolic cut of more than $20 billion in the nation's $17 trillion debt.

"This budget reduces the budget deficit by $23 billion, and it cuts taxes in a smarter way," Ryan said at a joint news conference on Capitol Hill. "It reduces the deficit without raising taxes and it makes smarter entitlement reforms.

"It is a clear improvement over the status quo," the 2012 Republican vice presidential candidate added. "We don't have to lurch from crisis to crisis."

“We have broken through the partisanship and gridlock and reached a bipartisan budget compromise that will avert a government shutdown in January,” Murray said.

House Speaker John Boehner embraced the plan, though he stopped short of describing it in glowing terms.

"While modest in scale, this agreement represents a positive step forward by replacing one-time spending cuts with permanent reforms to mandatory spending programs that will produce real, lasting savings," the Ohio Republican said.

"Federal spending remains on an unsustainable course," Boehner added. "Whether it is offering a plan to balance the budget, strengthen the federal safety net, or cut wasteful spending on behalf of hardworking taxpayers, only one party has led efforts to bring fiscal sanity back to Washington.

"Republicans will continue to lead that effort because it is essential to growing our economy, expanding opportunity for all Americans, and preserving the American Dream."

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia said the agreement was "consistent with prior Republican attempts to replace the sequester’s indiscriminate across-the-board cuts.

"The agreement protects our national security and improves our defenses in a world that remains very dangerous, especially as Iran marches towards nuclear capability.

"This agreement is a first step, but more work needs to be done," Cantor cautioned.

"Working middle-class families have to balance their household budget and cut spending when they’re overdrawn — and the federal government should be no different.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was among many GOP leaders who said they were reluctant to reduce the cuts called for by sequestration.

“I remain convinced the Budget Control Act has done what it was supposed to do," the Kentucky Republican told The New York Times.

"We’ve reduced government spending for two years in a row for the first time since right after the Korean War. It has been a success, and I hope we don’t revisit it.”

Sen. Orrin Hatch told the Los Angeles Times:"There's a real concern about giving up the sequester. Republicans know that the one major victory they had was the sequester."

In his attack, Phillips of AFP charged that the deal rolls back the sequester reductions that were obtained via a unified Republican front against President Barack Obama.

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"Spending levels were set by law at $967 billion," he said. "Exceeding those levels by $45 billion takes us in the wrong direction, further from fiscal responsibility, and further from the promise made to the American people.

"It is disappointing to see Senator Ryan forget lessons learned this past spring, when House Republicans united to win reasonable spending limits in the face of President Obama's hysterical predictions that even modest cuts would harm our nation."

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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