Former Oklahoma lawmaker: Balance needed in Washington to avoid harmful budget cuts
Government improves our daily lives, whether we realize it or not. It provides for the teacher in our children's classrooms. The roads and bridges on which we drive. The research seeking cures for cancer and Alzheimer's. The safe medications we take and safe food we eat. The police who patrol our neighborhoods, and the first responders who help in times of crisis. The air-traffic controllers who ensure our flights get us to our destinations, safely.
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Such basic services and more are all under attack in the name of deficit reduction. Without bipartisan action in Washington, the modern conveniences we all take for granted will be compromised.
There is widespread agreement that our nation is on an unsustainable fiscal path. Several bipartisan “gangs” of experts have recommended we reduce the deficit by $4 trillion over the next decade through a “balanced approach” that addresses both sides of the deficit equation — cut what we spend, and increase revenue through tax reform. Yet members of Congress still remain hopelessly gridlocked. If lawmakers fail to work together to heed these calls for balance, core government functions will be cut to historically low levels. Millions of jobs will be lost, and the critical services upon which Americans depend will be eliminated.
The drama that led to last year's landmark debt ceiling agreement, the Budget Control Act of 2011, set caps on federal spending over 10 years, resulting in $1 trillion in spending cuts. The new law also directed a congressional joint committee to identify an additional $1.2 trillion in budget savings over 10 years. Ultimately, that committee failed to strike an agreement. We are now facing sequestration, a budget procedure where virtually all federal programs will face deep across-the-board cuts on Jan. 2.
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