When debate in Washington turns to the year-end “fiscal cliff,” it invariably centers on looming cuts to defense programs, and the Bush tax cuts.
But billions of dollars in annual funding to domestic programs is also on the line. And because it routinely gets short shrift from the majority of lawmakers, nearly 3,000 organizations that benefit from non-defense discretionary spending, including heavy hitters like AARP, have aligned to push Congress to sort out not just the tax and defense issues, but across the board cuts that threaten medical research, border security and everything in between.
“There is bipartisan agreement that sequestration would be devastating to the nation,” the alliance writes in a letter to members of Congress. “The nearly 3,000 undersigned national, state, and local organizations — representing the hundreds of millions of Americans who support and benefit from nondefense discretionary (NDD) programs — couldn’t agree more. Congress and the President must work together to ensure sequestration does not take effect. We strongly urge a balanced approach to deficit reduction that does not include further cuts to NDD programs, which have already done their part to reduce the deficit.”
Last year’s debt limit deal created the sequester as a mechanism to force Congress to cut $1.2 trillion from the deficit. But that came on top of nearly $1 trillion in locked-in cuts to domestic programs over the coming decade. The groups say its time for other parts of the budget to take a hit.
“NDD programs are not the reason behind our growing debt,” the group added. “In fact, even completely eliminating all NDD programs would still not balance the budget. Yet NDD programs have borne the brunt of deficit reduction efforts.”
Both Democrats and Republicans have ideas about how to avoid the sequester. But the election will play a large role in determining how the issue is ultimately resolved.
Read the entire letter here:
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.