Skip to main content

GOP, avert cuts and share credit

By Steny Hoyer, Special to CNN
February 28, 2013 -- Updated 1308 GMT (2108 HKT)
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
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 1356 GMT (2156 HKT)
Ukraine's president says the downing of MH17 was a terrorist act, but Richard Barrett says it would be considered terrorism only if it was intentional
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 2015 GMT (0415 HKT)
Robert McIntyre says the loophole that lets firms avoid taxes should be closed
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1338 GMT (2138 HKT)
Aaron Miller says Kerry needs the cooperation of Hamas, Israel, Egypt and others if he is to succeed in his peacemaking efforts
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 1535 GMT (2335 HKT)
Jeronimo Saldana and Malik Burnett say Gov. Perry's plan to send National Guard to the border won't solve the escalating immigration problem.
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 1742 GMT (0142 HKT)
Sally Kohn: The world's fish and waters are polluted and under threat. Be very careful what fish you eat
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 1242 GMT (2042 HKT)
Les Abend says threat information that pilots respond to is only as good as the intelligence from air traffic controllers. And none of it is a match for a radar-guided missile
July 21, 2014 -- Updated 1235 GMT (2035 HKT)
Frida Ghitis: Anger over MH17 is growing against pro-Russia separatists. It's time for the Dutch government to lead, she writes
July 21, 2014 -- Updated 1227 GMT (2027 HKT)
Julian Zelizer says President Obama called inequality the "defining challenge" of our time but hasn't followed through.
July 21, 2014 -- Updated 1157 GMT (1957 HKT)
Gene Seymour says the 'Rockford Files' actor worked the persona of the principled coward, charming audiences on big and small screen for generations
July 21, 2014 -- Updated 1417 GMT (2217 HKT)
Daniel Treisman says that when the Russian leader tied his fate to the Ukraine separatists, he set the stage for his current risky predicament
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 1642 GMT (0042 HKT)
Andrew Kuchins says urgent diplomacy -- not sanctions -- is needed to de-escalate the conflict in Ukraine that helped lead to the downing of an airliner there.
July 19, 2014 -- Updated 0150 GMT (0950 HKT)
Jim Hall and Peter Goelz say there should be an immediate and thorough investigation into what happened to MH17.
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 1507 GMT (2307 HKT)
Pilot Bill Palmer says main defense commercial jets have against missiles is to avoid flying over conflict areas.
July 20, 2014 -- Updated 1755 GMT (0155 HKT)
Valerie Jarrett says that working women should not be discriminated against because they are pregnant.
July 21, 2014 -- Updated 1953 GMT (0353 HKT)
David Wheeler says the next time you get a difficult customer representative, think about recording the call.
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 1933 GMT (0333 HKT)
Newt Gingrich says the more dangerous the world becomes the more Obama hides in a fantasy world.
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 1011 GMT (1811 HKT)
Michael Desch: It's hard to see why anyone, including Russia and its local allies, would have intentionally targeted the Malaysian Airlines flight
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 1914 GMT (0314 HKT)
LZ Granderson says we must remember our visceral horror at the news of children killed in an airstrike on a Gaza beach next time our politicians talk of war
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 1206 GMT (2006 HKT)
Sally Kohn says now the House GOP wants to sue Obama for not implementing a law fast enough, a law they voted down 50 times, all reason has left the room.
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 1214 GMT (2014 HKT)
A street sign for Wall Street
Sens. Elizabeth Warren, John McCain and others want to scale back the "too big to fail" banks that put us at risk of another financial collapse.
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 2016 GMT (0416 HKT)
Newt Gingrich writes an open letter to Robert McDonald, the nominee to head the Veterans Administration.
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 1601 GMT (0001 HKT)
Paul Begala says Dick Cheney has caused an inordinate amount of damage yet continues in a relentless effort to revise the history of his failures.
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 1404 GMT (2204 HKT)
Kids who takes cell phones to bed are not sleeping, says Mel Robbins. Make them park their phones with the parents at night.
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 1729 GMT (0129 HKT)
Buzz Aldrin looked at planet Earth as he stood on talcum-like lunar dust 45 years ago. He thinks the next frontier should be Mars.
July 16, 2014 -- Updated 1804 GMT (0204 HKT)
Mark Zeller never thought my Afghan translator would save his life by killing two Taliban fighters who were about to kill him. The Taliban retaliated by placing him on the top of its kill list.
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 1518 GMT (2318 HKT)
Jeff Yang says an all-white cast of Asian characters in cartoonish costumes is racially offensive.
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 0124 GMT (0924 HKT)
Gary Ginsberg says the late John F. Kennedy Jr.'s reaction to an event in 1995 summed up his character
July 16, 2014 -- Updated 1641 GMT (0041 HKT)
Meg Urry says most falling space debris lands on the planet harmlessly and with no witnesses.
ADVERTISEMENT