Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is heaping scorn on the House GOP plan to cut tens of billions of dollars out of such federal domestic programs as clean energy projects, the Environmental Protection Agency, and much more.
“Saying you want to cut government spending is an easy applause line. We all want a lower deficit, and we all wish America had less debt sitting in other countries’ treasuries. None of us wants to leave the most difficult decisions to the next generation. They deserve better from us,” the Nevada Democrat says. “But actually doing the hard work of figuring out what and where to cut? That’s an entirely different story.
“The American people don’t need to hear an applause line. They need us to ease the burden on our nation’s bottom line. And there’s a fine line between doing so responsibly and recklessly,” Reid adds in remarks delivered on the Senate floor.
House Republican leaders this week unveiled budget cuts of at least $61 billion that target an array of Democratic priorities.
Reid suggests a number of areas where federal spending could be cut instead, including the elimination of subsidies to oil companies that are making record profits, cutting billions in wasteful Pentagon spending to contractors like Halliburton, and ending federal tax breaks to companies that ship American jobs overseas.
“Our task is to make our government more efficient, our economy healthier, and our future more secure. Our challenge is to do so in a way that doesn’t put our public safety at risk, or break our promise to seniors,” Reid says. “So we need to think about what we’re cutting, and make sure those cuts aren’t counterproductive. We need to pay attention to the quality of these cuts, not just the quantity.
“After all, you can lose a lot of weight by cutting off your arms and legs. But no doctor would recommend it,” he adds.
If, as expected, House Republicans approve their steep cuts, it will fall next to Reid to figure out how to fight their shaven budget. Reid and other Democrats already are girding against the GOP trying to use a potential federal government shutdown to force Senate Democrats to accept the reductions.
Reid and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) this week pushed House Republicans to disavow the use of a shutdown as a negotiating tactic.
But Democrats themselves need no lessons of deficit-reduction, according to Reid.
“Remember: We’re the party that balanced the budget with President Clinton. Many of the Senators in my caucus – and I proudly include myself – are the Senators who gave President Bush the largest budget surplus in American history, before he turned it into the record deficit we’re fighting today,” the majority leader says. “Any budget debate is going to be about numbers. But that’s not the real priority, and those figures shouldn’t blind us to the real story behind them. Our goal and our charge isn’t to cut billions of dollars just to say we did.”
The publisher of the news site On The Hill, Scott Nance has covered Congress and the federal government for more than a decade.