Skip to main content

GOP, avert cuts and share credit

By Steny Hoyer, Special to CNN
updated 8:08 AM EST, Thu February 28, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Steny Hoyer: Forced budget cuts take effect Friday unless Congress acts quickly
  • He says Democrats have sought compromise, GOP bent on letting cuts happen
  • He says cuts will have painful effect on jobs and programs from Head Start to defense
  • Hoyer: GOP should compromise, share credit for averting cuts, or they will bear the blame

Editor's note: Steny Hoyer is the House minority whip. He has represented Maryland's 5th Congressional District since 1981.

(CNN) -- An arbitrary and irrational series of automatic budget cuts, also known as sequestration, are set to take effect Friday unless Congress acts immediately. While House and Senate Democrats have proposed serious alternatives to the cuts that employ a balanced approach, many Republicans continue to push the severe spending-cuts-only formula as the only viable solution to our deficit problem.

Since the start of the 113th Congress, House Republicans have failed to bring a single bill to the floor that would prevent the cuts. Indeed, they supported forced budget cuts all along. They introduced the approach as part of their Cut, Cap, and Balance bill in July 2011, which passed the House with 229 Republican votes, before being tabled in the Senate. Now, as the clock ticks down to the forced cuts' implementation, some Republicans are cheering for it to happen; House Republicans seem eager to reject compromise and risk our fragile economic recovery rather than work with Democrats to avert this impending crisis of their own making.

U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer
U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer

One of them, Rep. Mike Pompeo of Kansas, called the forced cuts "a home run" that Americans would not only accept but approve of. And Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters on February 12: "It's pretty clear to me that the sequester is going to go into effect. Read my lips: I'm not interested in an eleventh-hour negotiation."

These sentiments come in spite of the many warnings from the president, leading economists, top military brass, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office and even fellow Republicans such as Sen. John McCain and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood that the devastating cuts promise to deal a sharp blow to our economy and national security.

Every day that passes without an agreement on a balanced plan brings greater uncertainty for businesses and markets, and deeper anxiety for middle-class families. The assertion that these cuts will not do real harm is simply wrong. Sequestration will mean hundreds of thousands of civilian defense personnel could be furloughed and tens of thousands of jobs lost as a result of canceled or reduced contracts.

Become a fan of CNNOpinion
Stay up to date on the latest opinion, analysis and conversations through social media. Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion and follow us @CNNOpinion on Twitter. We welcome your ideas and comments.



Thousands of children could be dropped from Head Start, long wait times added to job training and placement services, and rental assistance pared back or eliminated for thousands of low-income families. Law enforcement and emergency first responders could see personnel cuts and the loss of important federal funding that helps keep our communities safe.

How to define a devastating budget cut
Governor: Forced cuts will hurt economy
Head Start braces for budget cuts

The American people understand that compromise is needed to prevent the cuts. According to a recent Bloomberg poll, almost three in five Americans believe that the budget deficit should be curbed through a combination of spending reductions and revenues, as the White House has proposed, rather than an exclusive focus on severe cuts, as Republicans demand.

The American people are right and the arithmetic is clear: You cannot achieve the amount of deficit reduction needed with spending cuts alone. Additional revenues have to be part of the equation. That's why the forced spending cuts are not a viable path forward. If we identify smart spending cuts and needed revenues, we can reduce the deficit responsibly and have room to invest in a strong economic recovery so that businesses can grow and create jobs, and our manufacturing sector can continue to expand.

Democrats in the House and Senate have proposed alternative cuts that are smarter, close tax loopholes and ask that the wealthiest Americans pay at least the same tax rates as those in the middle class. I am a co-sponsor of the House bill because I believe we must get serious about our deficits and debt -- but we have to do so in a responsible way that will not harm our economy or national security.

We have less than 24 hours to avert this manufactured economic crisis. Republicans' intransigence is nothing new, but to use this strategy when the stakes are so high for so many Americans is irresponsible. Either House Republicans can choose compromise with Democrats, or they can continue standing in the way of moving our economy and our country forward. They can either share credit with Democrats for averting this crisis or fully own the consequences of the dangerous policy they will have imposed.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Steny Hoyer.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 12:41 PM EDT, Wed April 23, 2014
Robert Hickey says most new housing development is high-end, catering to high-earners.
updated 9:17 AM EDT, Wed April 23, 2014
Alexander Motyl says as Russian President Putin snarled at Ukraine, his foreign minister was signing a conciliatory accord with the West. Whatever the game, the accord is a major stand down by Russia
updated 8:29 AM EDT, Wed April 23, 2014
Les Abend says at every turn, the stowaway teen defied the odds of discovery and survival. What pilot would have thought to look for a person in the wheel well?
updated 7:04 AM EDT, Thu April 24, 2014
Q & A with artist Rachel Sussman on her new book of photographs, "The Oldest Living Things in the World."
updated 3:58 PM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
Martin Blaser says the overuse of antibiotics threatens to deplete our bodies of "good" microbes, leaving us vulnerable to an unstoppable plague--an "antibiotic winter"
updated 1:37 PM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
John Sutter asks: Is it possible to eat meat in modern-day America and consider yourself an environmentalist without being a hypocrite?
updated 11:38 AM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
Sally Kohn notes that Meb Keflezighi rightly was called an American after he won the Boston Marathon, but his status in the U.S. once was questioned
updated 8:56 AM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
Denis Hayes and Scott Denman say on this Earth Day, the dawn of the Solar Age is already upon us and the Atomic Age of nuclear power is in decline
updated 4:36 PM EDT, Mon April 21, 2014
Retired Coast Guard officer James Loy says a ship captain bears huge responsibility.
updated 1:08 PM EDT, Mon April 21, 2014
Peter Bergen says the latest strikes are part of an aggressive U.S. effort to target militants, including a bomb maker
updated 9:45 AM EDT, Mon April 21, 2014
Cynthia Lummis and Peter Welch say 16 agencies carry out national intelligence, and their budgets are top secret. We need to know how they are spending our money.
updated 8:35 AM EDT, Mon April 21, 2014
Julian Zelizer says President Obama knows more than anyone that he has much at stake in the midterm elections.
updated 8:55 AM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
Eric Sanderson says if you really want to strike a blow for the environment--and your health--this Earth Day, work to get cars out of cities and create transportation alternatives
updated 10:08 AM EDT, Mon April 21, 2014
Bruce Barcott looks at the dramatic differences in marijuana laws in Colorado and Louisiana
updated 4:47 PM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
Jim Bell says NASA's latest discovery supports the notion that habitable worlds are probably common in the galaxy.
updated 2:17 PM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
Jay Parini says even the Gospels skip the actual Resurrection and are sketchy on the appearances that followed.
updated 1:52 PM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
Graham Allison says if an unchecked and emboldened Russia foments conflict in a nation like Latvia, a NATO member, the West would have to defend it.
updated 9:11 AM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
John Sutter: Bad news, guys -- the pangolin we adopted is missing.
updated 2:25 PM EDT, Mon April 21, 2014
Ben Wildavsky says we need a better way to determine whether colleges are turning out graduates with superior education and abilities.
updated 6:26 AM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
Charles Maclin, program manager working on the search and recovery of Malaysia Flight 370, explains how it works.
updated 8:50 AM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
Jill Koyama says Michael Bloomberg is right to tackle gun violence, but we need to go beyond piecemeal state legislation.
updated 2:45 PM EDT, Thu April 17, 2014
Michael Bloomberg and Shannon Watts say Americans are ready for sensible gun laws, but politicians are cowed by the NRA. Everytown for Gun Safety will prove the NRA is not that powerful.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT