As the 112th Congress gets into full swing, Republicans are positioning themselves to fight for unprecedented cuts in non-security discretionary spending in exchange for their votes to raise the debt limit. Despite Republican threats to bring government to a halt if an agreement is not reached, raising the debt limit should not garner concessions from President Obama or Members of Congress. It is not a move that anyone wants to make, but it needs to be done for the country to function and should not be used as a bargaining chip to obtain across-the-board cuts on non-security discretionary spending. The debt limit is expected to be reached as soon as March, and an agreement must be reached before then. Members of Congress are trying to turn the urgency of the situation into an excuse to threaten cuts to vital programs. While it is difficult to conceptualize what cutting billions of dollars from the federal budget would do, picture 21% cuts on Head Start, Family Violence and Battered Women’s Shelters or the Social Services Block Grant (which happens to serve as the biggest source of funding for the Child Protective Services System).
Raising the debt limit is a painful and necessary reminder that we need both spending cuts and revenue increases to care for our elderly, educate our children, and create infrastructure to remain competitive in the global economy. This is neither a game nor something to use for political fodder. As Americans who are affected by and care about these vital social programs (including something as basic as The Department of Education), we must not allow Congress to compromise the lives of children and the most vulnerable by these political games of “Uncle.”
Congress must be forced to bear witness to the reality that those cuts impose on people’s everyday lives. Making 21% cuts across the board is the easy solution for them. They neither have to dig deeper to see both the true spending and lack of revenue problem nor irritate any particular part of their constituency.
We must not allow these decisions to be easy ones for Congress. There are millions of Americans and hundreds of advocacy organizations in D.C and across the country ready to stand up to Congress and their careless decisions. Congress may believe that widespread cuts would not irritate any particular part of their constituency, but I happen to be