News / USA

White House: Budget Cuts 'Deeply Destructive'

Cindy Saine
A White House report released Friday details how some $120 billion in cuts to defense and domestic programs next year will be applied starting January 2, 2013, unless Congress takes action to avert the automatic cuts it approved last year. The risky situation many analysts are referring to as the "fiscal cliff."

Senior Obama administration officials told reporters Friday that the report, mandated by Congress, leaves no question that the automatic spending cuts, known as sequestration, would be deeply destructive to national security, domestic investments, and core government functions.

The report outlines that there would be a 9.4 percent cut to most defense programs, except those exempted such as pay for military personnel and veterans' benefits and medical care.  There would be an 8.2 percent cut to domestic discretionary programs, including scientific research, food inspection, Education Department programs and border security.  Social Security benefits for retired Americans and Medicare health care benefits for older Americans are exempt.

Bipartisan majorities in both the House of Representatives and Senate voted for the threat of sequestration in August of last year, as a mechanism to force Congress to act on further deficit reduction.  Now, lawmakers from both major political parties are deeply unhappy about the prospect of the cuts, and are blaming the other party.

"Sequestration, as these cuts are known, threaten our national security, an estimated 200,000 jobs in Virginia will be lost, jobs that our support our war fighters and their mission around the world," said Republican Representative Robert Wittman of Virginia.
.
Democrats blamed the Republican majority in the House for announcing that the chamber plans to adjourn at the end of next week and to not return until after the November elections.

"Before we adjourn there will be no resolution on the budget, there will be no resolution on the sequester, $1.2 trillion that is causing disruption throughout the country and particularly among the entire federal government, especially the defense industry, which will have to absorb half of that sequester.  It could affect directly about a million jobs, almost 2 million jobs indirectly, but we are not going to do anything about it," said Democratic Representative James Moran of Virginia.

Congress has been consumed by battles over government spending and tax cuts for the past two years.  Democrats insist that tax increases for top earners must be part of any package to reduce the national deficit.  Republicans refuse to include any tax increases, and want deeper cuts to domestic programs such as food stamps for the poor.

Economists are warning that even the threat of spending cuts and tax increases is hurting the U.S. economy.  

"This uncertainty about the fiscal cliff coming early next year has reduced risk-taking.  Businesses, they don’t want to get out on a limb, over-hiring, buying too much capital, because they don’t know if all of a sudden, at one point in time, that we are going to have an increase in taxes, a decrease in spending, and we would literally go off a cliff," said Bob Costello, the chief economist of the American Trucking Association.  
 
The spending cuts would include cuts of $129 million per year over nine years that were to be allocated for the security, construction, and maintenance of American embassies around the world. In the wake of this week's attacks on U.S. embassies in Libya, Egypt and other countries, lawmakers are likely to strongly reject any cuts to embassy security.

Obama administration officials say the sequester is a blunt instrument that was never intended to go into effect, and they hope the almost 400-page report will motivate lawmakers to bridge their differences to avert devastating cuts.

You May Like

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid